Louis Theroux

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domino harvey
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#1 Post by domino harvey » Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:50 pm

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I don't know if there's any fans here, but the BBC just put out a four-disc Best of Louis Theroux set and thanks to Amazon.co.uk's speedy shipping, I managed to get it only two days after it streeted in the UK! It's pretty wonderful, eight of the sixteen episodes of Weird Weekends (doesn't include the UFOs or Hypnotist eps from the original Best of Weird Weekends release, but include two different eps, Thai Brides and Black Nationalists), 5 of the 6 When Louis Met... episodes (the one with Max Clifford couldn't be included because Simon Cowell wouldn't sign a release), plus four segments from TV Nation, all amazing (one has Louis asking an extremist, "After the race war, when we're all on other planets, maybe we can keep in touch by phone?"), Louis and the Brothel, and then of course, Louis and the Nazis, worth the price of the set alone. I only mention all this in detail because I bought the set without having any information available as to what exactly was on it and thought this might be helpful if there's any other Theroux fans who were on the fence.

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#2 Post by Lino » Thu Oct 11, 2007 4:41 am

Domino, re: Theroux - does it include the episode about The Phelps? I recently watched it on TV and it FREAKED me out completely!

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#3 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:39 am

I don't think that set contains the Most Hated Family In America episode, but that does mean that there is hope for another set of that, the Las Vegas episode from earlier this year (which is OK, but a kind of obvious subject, following people gambling themselves into bankruptcy while putting a brave face on it, though I did like the little old lady spending all day every day playing the slot machines while her sons sits surprisingly calmly at home watching his inheritance dwindle away!) and the most recent episode about plastic surgery in Los Angeles, where Louis has liposuction!
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#4 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:37 am

colinr0380 wrote:I don't think that set contains the Most Hated Family In America episode, but that does mean that there is hope for another set...
Correct.
For what it's worth, this summer the BBC passed every episode of Weird Weekends thru the ratings certification process in the UK so there's still a possibility more could show up if this set sells well, though the liner notes indicate a great deal of material couldn't be included due to clearance issues.

I too liked the Phelps doc (as I like most of Theroux's work), yet I think it ultimately fails to be as interesting as Louis and the Nazis because in the latter, Theroux explores how their actions counter their polemic claims and ends up humanizing them in the process. Everyone from the Prussian Blue mother to the ex-lawyer for Pablo Escobar prove to be fascinating subjects. In the Phelps doc, nearly everyone interviewed is so far gone into their cartoon-version of Christianity (which Theroux smartly recognizes as simple hate) that they're seemingly beyond possessing anything behind their mask of intolerance-- a frightening but ultimately less-interesting result. As comical as Phelps' "Asked and answered" responses to every question are, the piece seems weightless, resonating solely as entertainment (and don't get me wrong-- it's very entertaining). However, at the end of the special, Theroux's fascinating exchange with the Phelps daughter in the car ends the special on a fantastic high note with a conflicted, real human being. One gets the impression that at the time of filming, she's not entirely lost to her family, and because she's the only member who allows humanity to show, she remains the most memorable and tragic figure depicted.

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#5 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:18 pm

domino harvey wrote:One gets the impression that at the time of filming, she's not entirely lost to her family, and because she's the only member who allows humanity to show, she remains the most memorable and tragic figure depicted.
That was an amazing moment, and it gave me a sense of the awful position that girl was in (and that the younger kids will be in when they realise what the slogans they chant and the banners they wave are saying). I sort of hoped that she'd be able to break with her family, but realistically I don't think that can happen - even if she did break away and make a new start would other people let her if they knew about what her family did? And then it seems awful to have to break away from your own family - I wouldn't wish for anyone to have to do that. In a horrible way I was left feeling the daughter would be better off if she was absolutely involed with her family's view and didn't have that glimmer of questioning whether her family's views were right or not - at least then she wouldn't be in the position of being between a rock and a hard place.

I think that is the main theme of all Louis Theroux's documentaries though. It isn't really about showing the UFO believers or porn stars or plastic surgery devotees, gamblers or freakish celebrities (though that's the marketable hook), but is more about how they manage to create and sustain their bizarre self-contained worlds. Louis seems far more interested in the people around them who help them do what they do but are also the people who have some awareness that the people they are filming having sex, or their sloganeering family, or the celebrity they work for etc are completely and utterly bonkers! (Usually the people at the centre of these scenes are too far gone into their fantasy world to be at all reachable, or have too much at stake to admit in public that their ideas are deluded!)

Probably the best Louis Theroux episode was that Weird Weekends Christmas special where he brought all the wackos from the previous series together for Christmas lunch - nothing beats seeing the porn star, the person channelling aliens and the survivalist looking at each other across the table and without any trace of self consciousness thinking that the other people there are obviously insane!

It makes perfect sense therefore that the Louis Theroux programme about Michael Jackson remained fascinating despite him never meeting the man himself! The only person who has more rabid fans is Elvis, and I guess Louis has to do a show about Elvis impersonators at some point (even if that might be too obvious a subject!)
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Oct 11, 2007 5:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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#6 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 11, 2007 2:00 pm

Seeing how Theroux handles Lamb and Lynx of Prussian Blue in Louis and the Nazis compared to James Quinn's borderline criminal interference in this past summer's BBC doc Nazi Pop Twins only goes to show just how adept Theroux is at letting his subjects represent themselves. Quinn captures what was already apparent three years earlier in the Theroux doc, that the girls are normal, talented girls being used as pawns for their mother's hate speech, but at the time of filming, they were only fourteen years old. They by no means were ready to confront in an adult manner their mother and Quinn presses the issues with the girls and not surprisingly the girls coil back and revert to defending their mother at the end of the program. This coupled with Quinn revealing that the grandmother has an escape plan for the girls when they turn 16 and then revealing the details of that on camera before they're 16 is inexcusable and infuriating. Of all of Theroux's subjects, the twin girls always seemed the most tragic to me, but Quinn has little faith in his audience and makes sure every two minutes to drive the point home with the subtlety of a WAR cartoon. I need to reread the account of Theroux's return visit in Call of the Weird again.

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#7 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 28, 2008 5:04 am

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Through his many fascinating and compelling documentaries, Louis Theroux has made the off-beat, the unsavoury and the less-visited aspects of life his own domain. Through his unique intimate, un-confrontational interviewing style, Louis is able to present intense and surprisingly revealing portraits of the most disparate of subjects.

'Louis and Gambling'
Louis heads for Vegas to reveals the world behind the myths of casino culture – the slot slaves, high rollers and casino men who keep this town in the middle of the desert green with money.

'Louis and the Most Hated Family in America'
Louis gets to know the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas – whose members are nearly all from one family and are infamous for picketing funerals for fallen soldiers...

'Louis Under the Knife'
In California, where you can be whatever and whomever you want at the flick of knife and a few thousand dollars, Louis attempts to get under the skin of extreme plastic surgery.

'Louis Behind Bars'
Louis goes inside California’s San Quentin – one of America's most notorious prisons – to meet serial murderers, gang members, at risk inmates and guards.

'Louis’ African Hunting Holiday'
Louis Theroux journeys to Limpopo Province in South Africa to join the holidaymakers who flock there to hunt big game.
Comes out October 06! Can. Not. Wait.

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#8 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Aug 28, 2008 1:30 pm

domino harvey wrote:Comes out October 06! Can. Not. Wait.
Never heard of this show, but it sounds pretty amazing. I'll definitely be checking this out.

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#9 Post by domino harvey » Thu Aug 28, 2008 1:53 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
domino harvey wrote:Comes out October 06! Can. Not. Wait.
Never heard of this show, but it sounds pretty amazing. I'll definitely be checking this out.
You should pick up this set immediately while you wait for October

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#10 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:00 pm

Oh, if I had the money, I would be way ahead of you.

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Re: TV on DVD

#11 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:49 pm

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A new Louis Theroux collection will be released in the UK on September 14th, containing these 4 documentaries over 2 discs:

Law and Disorder in Johannesburg:
Louis Theroux travels to Johannesburg, where the residents find themselves increasingly besieged by crime as he looks at the issue of law and disorder.

Law and Disorder in Philadelphia:
Louis joins Philadelphia's police department, patrolling an area that has over 400 homicides a year, drug dealers on every corner and where carrying a gun is part of everyday life. But during his time spent with the local cops, he sees a complex picture evolve.

A Place for Paedophiles:
Louis visits the Coalinga Mental Hospital in California, which houses more than 500 convicted paedophiles. Spending time with those undergoing treatment, Louis wrestles with whether he can ever allow himself to believe men whose whole history is defined by deception and deceit.

City Addicted to Crystal Meth:
A show about Crystal Meth and the effect it has on those that take it and the communities it’s taken in.


If the exchange rates weren't so abysmal I'd already have this pre-ordered. I've only seen the Law and Disorder in Philadelphia special so far, but these all sound facinating, particularly the Mental Hospital one - Louis is always at his best when confronting people who are not just criminals or 'bad' people, but are over-the-top, unforgivably terrible.
Last edited by mfunk9786 on Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TV on DVD

#12 Post by domino harvey » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:55 pm

AWESOME, more Louis Theroux is always welcome. These sets must be selling extremely well for them to jump the gun on a third. Wish they'd include the rest of the Weird Weekends episodes though...

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Re: TV on DVD

#13 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:10 pm

I'm guessing that we'll see a new 3-4 doc set every fall.

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Re: TV on DVD

#14 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:13 pm

That 'City Addicted To Crystal Meth' (Fresno apparently) episode is so new it is actually getting its first BBC showing this coming Sunday! (It is difficult to miss the trailers for it at the moment)

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Re: TV on DVD

#15 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:59 pm

In related news, Louis also has a second book coming out in both the UK and USA at the beginning of next year. It's hilariously titled May Contain Traces of Nuts.

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Re: TV on DVD

#16 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Jul 30, 2011 6:49 pm

New Louis Theroux set, The Odd, the Bad, and the Godly out August 15th

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Re: TV on DVD

#17 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:55 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:New Louis Theroux set, The Odd, the Bad, and the Godly out August 15th
Just got this-- seeing Louis Theroux in straight-up suburbia dealing with medicated kids is already making this yet another killer set. Why do we not have a Louis Theroux thread?

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Re: TV on DVD

#18 Post by knives » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:59 pm

Who's Louis Theroux? Google suggests less famous Baron-Cohen.

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Re: TV on DVD

#19 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:01 pm


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Re: TV on DVD

#20 Post by knives » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:59 pm

Less than two minutes into that and my jaw's already dropped. Holy hell how did I not see this before.

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Re: TV on DVD

#21 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:34 pm

domino harvey wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:New Louis Theroux set, The Odd, the Bad, and the Godly out August 15th
Just got this-- seeing Louis Theroux in straight-up suburbia dealing with medicated kids is already making this yet another killer set. Why do we not have a Louis Theroux thread?
I can't stand the guy: he seems to believe he gets an instantaneous psychological insight into all of his subjects, which immediately begs the question why isn't he a psychologist

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Re: TV on DVD

#22 Post by knives » Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:44 pm

Admittedly I've only seen one of his films, but how is supposing that a person's racist father may be the reason a woman is racist to give just one example such a far leap that it deserves the psychologist dismissal?

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Re: TV on DVD

#23 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:50 pm

Yojimbo wrote:
domino harvey wrote:
mfunk9786 wrote:New Louis Theroux set, The Odd, the Bad, and the Godly out August 15th
Just got this-- seeing Louis Theroux in straight-up suburbia dealing with medicated kids is already making this yet another killer set. Why do we not have a Louis Theroux thread?
I can't stand the guy: he seems to believe he gets an instantaneous psychological insight into all of his subjects, which immediately begs the question why isn't he a psychologist
So only psychologists have insight into the behaviour of other humans?

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Re: TV on DVD

#24 Post by Yojimbo » Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:53 pm

Mr Sausage wrote: So only psychologists have insight into the behaviour of other humans?
No, but he's especially annoying because he does it so often

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Re: TV on DVD

#25 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Oct 28, 2011 7:05 pm

Yojimbo wrote:
Mr Sausage wrote: So only psychologists have insight into the behaviour of other humans?
No, but he's especially annoying because he does it so often
Does what so often?

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