What’s this, a double review? Yes, I sometimes review more than one thing, if they are part of a series, for special reviews. But here are two unrelated documentaries showing at Fantastic Fest. Or maybe, they are related?
You see, with A Life on the Farm, it is about some old VHS tapes made in the 1990s, about Charles Carson. He was an old man with a farm, in England, who decide to start filming what can only be described as promotion films about his farm, and life on it.
With Chop & Steele, it is about a fictional duo named Chop & Steele. But the people who play this fake body building champion duo, Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, are actually friends for decades who have made history pranking local TV news stations and collecting VHS tapes. You know, tapes they have shown at their Found Footage Festivals on tour, with audiences laughing about the absurdity of things people filmed from television or in their own homes.
One of those VHS tapes they found, being the A Life on the Farm series, which was one of their biggest hits. And hey, that is the other documentary! Boom, connection, let’s talk about both.
Oh my god, so many skeletons on this farm.
Charles Carson is the archived star of A Life on the Farm. He has won people over through his edited shots and set up scenes around his farm, using very limited technology at the time, and doing it at his old age when most people would assume he would know very little.
But more importantly, because like him for the things he did. Like, having his dead mother, pre burial, on a wheel chair around the farm, filming her saying goodbye to the land. A lot of folks would be creeped out by a dead body, but not him. He is death positive, and just wants to ensure that they get to pay their last respects.
In terms of the footage, I bet the actual unedited stuff is great, especially with a nice MC putting it in better context, and with a group of folks. But a documentary about the footage, its history, and it being broken down, did not make it seem more exciting. It just felt weird and uncomfortable split up this way, not the jolly interesting time I was hoping and expecting.
These guys are swoll.
Now, in this documentary we can learn more about Nick and Joe. It is how they got started, their first festivals, and their first pranks! Like pretending to be an expert Yo-Yo expert, while not being an expert Yo-yoer. And more importantly, their Chop & Steele persona, which got them real big and famous because…they were sued over it!
Yep, a parent company of a TV station, once they found out they were a prank team, sued them for Fraud and more. They wanted it to be settled, and to apologize to the station, but the pair of course did not, and wanted to go all the way with it. It did become a talking point on other morning news shows, noting that this just shows that journalists didn’t do their first job. And also, eventually it did lead them to getting to America’s Got Talent, which was a claim they made to get on the shows!
But honestly, a lot more is just about the duo and their lives. Their friendship. Their direction in life. What their future plans on. Is it acting, or writing, or splitting up eventually? It brings a lot of heart into this documentary, much more than I expected about a few pranksters. And much more than I expected after watching the former documentary in this review.
It breaches a lot of good topics, while also being funny in its own right. I can’t wait to see what Nick and Joe do in the future, and if they plan on going any new direction with their antics, or if they dial it all in and retire.
1 out of 4. / 3 out of 4.