I'm catsitting for some friends who are off freezing in Christchurch for a week. They have a little silver Abysinnian who is so insanely affectionate he climbed on my shoulder and licked my head. They also have huge amounts of books, so I've borrowed Fat Wars,
Lily Burana's Strip City
, and Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety.
And today I saw the LOTR fan documentary, "Frodo is Great...Who Is That?"
This documentary was done with hip-indie flair. Loosely, it follows Brett McKenzie, the LOTR extra catapulted to fame as Figwit
, as his fellow cast members, famous and not famous, observe his phenomenon, and what happens when he goes to the Edinburgh Festival to promote his comedy troupe "Flight of the Conchords" and meet up with some Figwit fans.
Brett himself remains a bit of a mystery, observed with both reserve and tongue in cheek, even as Ian McKellan notes remembering Brett with evident relish and his fellow elf extras shake their heads in amazement. The happy-to-mug-for-camera triumverate of Billy, Elijah, and Dom were commenting, Dom saying something along the lines of, "You work so hard to be an actor and then this sort of thing happens - to somebody else!" Barrie Osborne seemed happy at the extra ka-ching and buzz Figwit had generated and was interviewed at length. When Orlando Bloom was told some said Figwit was "the thinking woman's Legolas," he replied, laughing, "I hope the thinking women enjoy him!" Peter Jackson had the completely deadpan air of a British humorist blended with an introvert who's been asked to be a People Person one too many times. He accused Figwit of ringlust and villany and then said, "The elves didn't really do it for me. We stuck pointy ears on these guys and hoped for the best. The girls seem to like them." His bandmates agreed, noting that at one concert the women had voted Brett the sexiest of everyone on stage - seeing his rather appealing bandmates, this is startling! "They voted Brett the sexiest and we were like, what, this little pixie guy?"
The fans come across very well, too, with all the Figwit devotees having a sense of humor and being charming and balanced, even when the embarrasing subject of elf porn is brought up (illustrated by a demure piece of Earendil/some redheaded dame fan art, of all things.) Extensive shots from fan web sites and pieces of fan art were incorporated into the film without being dull.
Is this the future of web site documentaries? We will see. The most awkward sequence was Brett's visit to the Scottish Fellowship; it was there that the fans had the dreamy nerdiness that makes some people itch. Perhaps it was because Brett's host had almost wallpapered her living room in LOTR movie materials and was wearing elf ears. Brett is shown handling these people gently and dealing graciously overall with his somewhat awkward fame, but I've heard through the local grapevine that he's very shy and antsy when he encounters this sort of thing in Wellington, where he lives.
Overall, it was very charming - another LOTR documentary that it's a pity isn't more widely available. (Also, it turned out that the Black Seeds were playing at the Wellington ROTK premiere and I was so sunbaked and tired at that point that I wasn't paying any attention.)
The directors were there, again (go New Zealand film festival!) and answered questions. They got their entree to meet all these people because they had worked on the techincal side of the movie. There aren't any plans to take the movie to DVD immediately; the film is going to other film festivals around the world, so stay tuned; and, most interesting of all, they're talking about showing the film on TV here in NZ.