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BEST (George Best: All By Himself) – In Cinemas Friday – From I Am Ali to I’m Still Here: Best Biographical Documentaries

21 February 2017

An intimate and revealing documentary about George Best, BEST (George Best: All By Himself) lands in cinemas this Friday 24th, a unique insight into the glittering career, and notoriously turbulent private life of footballing legend George Best.

The documentary offers comment from former Manchester United teammates, as well as his family and friends. There’s a voiceover from George himself, offering depth around a much talked, but seldom understood icon.

To celebrate, we’re taking a look at five insightful biographical documentaries, that changed and enhanced our understanding of their subjects in unique ways...




I Am Ali

A rare and intimate look at Muhammad Ali, self styled ‘Greatest of all time’, with unseen footage, unheard recordings of phone calls, and wonderful anecdotes from his friends, foes, and family. For a man who was so publicly brash and outspoken, and truly The Greatest in his field, the likes of which have never been equalled, little was truly known about the private family life of Muhammad Ali. This documentary gave a thrilling insight into his relationships, his connections with his children, with a particularly sweet moment where you can hear him singing to his daughter over the phone. Ali kept an audio journal throughout his life, and even the most die-hard fans can find something now in this deeply personal account.





Asif Kapadia, previously known to UK audiences for the incredible Senna took a heartbreaking look at the rise and fall of Amy Winehouse. A compilation of previously unseen and intimate footage revealed a witty, extraordinarily talented, but ultimately damaged and vulnerable girl, and you couldn’t help but feel complicit in the media circus surrounding her notoriously troubled life, which eventually led to her tragic death. Amy’s family, particularly her dad, were not pleased about the documentary, which alleged that Mitch Winehouse had flogged Amy’s talent for all it was worth, refusing to send her to rehab in favour of having her perform. The jury is out on that, but it was certainly a damning account of the people around her that should have looked out for her.




Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Directed by Brett Morgen, this documentary was the first to have been fully authorised by Kurt Cobain’s family. He was given unprecedented access to the legendary Cobain’s lifetime of journals, recordings, demos, and artwork, building a previously unseen picture of the famously private and tortured musical icon. The documentary even featured an interview with Courtney Love, who is seen in intimate VHS recordings of her and Kurt early in their relationship, and as new parents to Frances Bean. Taking its name from a musical collage that Kurt made, this documentary is a must for fans of the icon.




Listen To Me Marlon

Compiled of press coverage, and Marlon Brando’s audio journals, which he kept meticulously throughout his incredible life and career. The documentary dives deep into what really made Marlon tick - he also recorded his hypnotherapy and therapy sessions. From his feelings around his early work, to the notoriously difficult Apocalypse Now, through to the decline of his career in the years up to his death, Listen To Me Marlon is a unique take on the documentary genre. Opening with a hologram of Brando, talking about the future, he posits that all actors will be holograms. With the recent spate of celebrity deaths requiring digital recreations of actors, his prediction may not have been far wrong….



I’m Still Here

A slight curveball here, the documentary that turned out to not be a documentary...bear with us. In 2008 Joaquin Phoenix shocked Hollywood when he abruptly announced his retirement from acting. Casey Affleck, his then brother in law, filmed what unfolded, and it was revealed he’d decided upon a career as a rapper, managed by Sean Combs (or Puff Daddy, P.Diddy, Sean John etc.) Bearded and unkempt throughout the filming, staying in character for the purposes of the hoax, it genuinely seemed for a while as though Phoenix had lost the plot. Revealed in 2010 as being an elaborate hoax, Phoenix returned to David Letterman’s show looking totally different to his mid-rap career getup, this time to promote ‘I’m Still Here’, the best kept secret in Hollywood.




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