Custard and Jelly: Our Telly Recommendations for January

The Danish have a word for hibernation, and it’s called Hygge. Hygge is our new January hobby, and we love it! What we really love is the fact that nothing is really expected of you in a social capacity at this time of year. Spending the night on the settee watching Netflix gets no judgement from your work colleagues when they ask what you did last night. Rock on.

Let us go back to New Year’s Day, this was spent watching series ten of Friends, we won’t lie we had a rather large gin hangover. After watching The New Year’s Concert Live from Vienna (we wanted to scare the hangover off with some culture), we decided Friends and pizza was the only thing taking us through to January 2nd.

Since then we’ve watched The Lobster, for which we have NO words to describe, we are still confused by the whole affair. Even more confused than when we watching the new Sherlock special.

We’ve also watched Slumdog Millionaire, we know, where have we been all this time?! We cried buckets and now we’ve ran out of Kleenex we thought it was time to share with you some of our favourite documentaries we’ve seen to aid some New Year inspiration.

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon
This documentary made us SO HAPPY. A two word review is the is why we are not film reviewers, we don’t think they’d put that on a film poster.
Remember that scene in Almost Famous where the plane is about to go down and everyone starts confessing their deepest sins….’I’m…..I’m…..I’M GAY’! Well Shep Gordon was THERE. THERE ON THAT VERY PLANE.

Shep Gordon in a nutshell is Alice Cooper’s manager, he also lays claim to inventing the celebrity chef and has a whole host of more interesting stories as supported by his famous friends (Michael Douglas, Mick Fleetwood, Sylvester Stallone, you know ‘the usual crew’). We start off in a motel in the mid 60s where Shep meets Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix and gets punched in the eye by Janis Joplin. And we think we’ll leave it right there, all we’ll say is go and watch it on Netflix now.

Love & Mercy
Ok so not technically a documentary, but a biopic documenting Brian Wilson’s life, more specifically the period when recording The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ and afterwards ‘Smile’. Whilst we thought we know a lot about The Beach Boys, this gave us an insight into the particular mental struggles of an iconic man and sound. Paul Dano plays a very convincing part as a young Brian Wilson, before John Cusack appears playing him in later life. Understanding the recording process of Pet Sounds will inspire you to crawl out from under your blanket and learn to play a new musical instrument, guaranteed*. Grab the DVD and share it around you friends this new year.

Bill Cunningham New York
This had been on Netflix for an age before we uncovered it one rainy afternoon. We don’t want the same thing to happen to you, so apologies for those that have seen it, but the rest of you are in for a treat. Bill Cunningham is 80+ and rides around New York everyday looking for subjects to photograph for his legendary New York Times Style column. He’s been doing this since before we were born. Everything from where he lives (Cunningham was one of the last residents of Carnegie Hall) to his daily uniform (you’ll be wanting a blue overcoat by the end of this) is just inspirational. Join Bill on his daily bike rides here, you won’t be disappointed.

The Pixar Story
Feel like your career is going nowhere? Well watch this and then you’ll soon change your mind about what it’s going to take to be successful. John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs all have incredible stories to share about what it took to bring you the animation we have all grown to love and instantly recognise as a Pixar production. After being fired from Disney for believing computer animation was the future in the 80s, he luckily was re-hired by them in 2006 (anyone noticing a pattern here, Jobs was fired from Apple and rehired too) when they bought Pixar, giving him the title CCO. Whilst you wait for Toy Story 4 to come out in 2018 you might want to fill your time with this, followed by a sitting of ‘Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey’.

Show Me a Hero
Ok so this again doesn’t technically fit into the documentary category, but it’s based on real life events so it gets to stay in our recommendations.
Set in New York, Yonkers to be exact in the mid 80’s, this six part series produced by HBO, features a struggle between a mayor (played by Oscar Issac, we last saw him in the Cohen Brother’s ‘Inside Llewyn Davies’, however for you it may have been the latest Star Wars film), and the town’s residents, to build a series of low income housing units. Whilst the brief synopsis doesn’t sound gripping, David Simon is the guy behind it (you may have heard of a little TV show called The Wire) and it’s a roller coaster of emotions. We were hooked, and can’t stop telling people to watch it. If you like this, or The Wire and don’t plan on leaving the house until at least March we’d recommend tuning into Treme. Set in New Orleans after the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina, this four series show depicts the highs and lows of a city trying to recover, with a very addictive soundtrack. We wish David Simon could document the history of the world through his TV shows, can that be our Christmas wish next year perhaps?!

Searching for Sugarman
Proving you are never too old in this life for surprises, this documentary is bittersweet in so many ways. Sixto Rodriguez was a cultural phenomenon in South Africa; everyone had grown up listening to his music. The only problem is he had no idea. That is until two super fans decided to see if the rumours of his death were true, we don’t really want to say anymore as we have a tendency to be plot spoilers and we don’t want that. However we promise you another beautiful soundtrack that makes you think of long hot, sunny days….we can but dream. Watch it here. 

P.S. We had to chop this list down otherwise we’d never actually be able to write it. If you’ve seen these, or raced through them we can also recommend Black FishIris and What Happened Miss Simone. What are your favourite documentaries that you’ve seen recently? Let us know in the comments so we can tune in!

*So much so, Father Christmas brought me a new keyboard (a piano won’t currently fit) so I can write some new Pet Sounds-esque masterpieces….watch this space.