It had to come to this. Now monkeys -- sorry, chimpanzees -- are making their own documentaries.

Well, that's not entirely correct, but that's the angle by which tomorrow's BBC special The Chimpcam Project is being reported by most media. The reality is that the doc is about a behavioral scientist, though it does feature footage shot solely by 11 chimps from the Edinburgh Zoo. And the producer who gave them the smash-proof cameras is now looking to put other kinds of animals in the director's chair as well.

I wish I could say I find the idea fascinating, or even adorable. But honestly, I haven't been this annoyed about the implied ease of documentary filmmaking since Jonathan Caouette made every young wannabe think they can and therefore should make a film about themselves with his very cheap and very self-indulgent Sundance hit Tarnation (which can now be seen, in parts, on YouTube, where it belongs).

Just because you can make a documentary doesn't mean you should make one. And just because someone seems like a good subject for a documentary doesn't mean he or she should be one. For example, the new documentary Off and Running is about a black teenager raised by two white lesbians -- along with their other adopted children -- who seeks out her birth mother. Sounds like a great subject for a film, but this particular doc, directed by Nicole Opper, is actually quite dull and pointless.
categories Columns, Cinematical