Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by PaulKTF, Dec 28, 2008.
Preferably one that's available on DVD. A brief summery of what it's about would be helpful. Thanks!
I always found Paradise Lost 2 Revelations, a good documentary. It says a lot about documentary making as well as the American Justice System.
Also King of Kong is very good.
The Agronomist (a Jonathan Demme film) (DVD available)
"A profile of Haitian radio journalist and human rights activist, Jean Dominique. It includes: historical footage of Haiti's vivid and tumultuous past; interviews with Dominique, himself and with Michele Montas--his heroic wife, life-long love, and extraordinary partner." - IMDB
"Project Grizzly is a 1996 National Film Board of Canada documentary about the lifelong project of Troy Hurtubise, a man who has been obsessed with researching the Canadian grizzly bear up close, ever since surviving an early encounter with such a bear.
The film documents Hurtubise's diligent work to improve his homemade "grizzly-proof" suit of armour, his efforts to test its resilience, and his forays into the Rockies to track down the grizzlies he dreams of meeting. The film manages to capture the humor of the project as well as its sincerity." -Wikipedia
Available on DVD of course.
Word Wars. A look at the world of Scrabble
Two I liked were Girl 27, about an underaged girl in Hollywood in the twenties gets what she thought was a part at a big studio but was serving and being eye candy at a huge party. She was sexually assaulted and badly hurt. The story follows how the studios cover up destroyed this poor girl and her family to the point where in her eighties and in seclusion she was still panicked "They" would find her and kill her. Think the Fatty Arbuckle story with a real and evil crime.
Another is Enron, The Smartest Guys In The Room. Details the rise and exposes the fall of Enron
Available on Netflix, I'd give a hearty recommendation for Heavy Metal in Baghdad -- a great doc for music fans of all political and musical stripes. It's really about the belief in the transformational power of music more than anything else, IMHO.
I put it one one evening and my wife begrudgingly starting watching it with me, and ultimately ended up liking it almost as much as I did. This turned out to be a really engrossing movie that put a uniquely human spin on events we all may know something about -- one showed that some issues are more complicated than just black and white. And oh yeah, the band in the movie -- Acrassicauda -- really tries to slam like mad.
Buena Vista Social Club (1999) Aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro's takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians' careers. In this film, we see and hear some of the songs being recorded in Havana. There is also footage from concerts in Amsterdam and New York City's Carnegie Hall. In addition, many of the individual musicians talk about their lives in Cuba and about how they got started in music.
Bowling for Columbine (2002) Whether you love or hate Michael Moore, this film has a lot to say. It focuses upon the late 1990's school shooting at Columbine and how guns and violence terrorize the United States. Moore brings his audience humor and blantant confrontation in order to get his point across and he does it well. It coming out just after 9/11 adds to the theme. Watch for an eye-opening discussion with Terry Nichols' (responsible for the Oklahoma City bombings) brother.
The Last Waltz (1978)was a concert by the Canadian-American rock group, The Band, held on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Billed as a "farewell" performance after 16 years of touring, the concert saw The Band joined by more than a dozen special guests, including Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood and Neil Young.
The event was filmed by director Martin Scorsese and made into a documentary of the same name, released in 1978. The film features concert performances, scenes shot on a studio soundstage and interviews by Scorsese with members of The Band. A triple-LP soundtrack recording was issued in 1978. The film was released on DVD in 2002 as was a four-CD box set of the concert and related studio recordings.
"The River - The Origin of AIDS"
Hearts Of Darkness, a documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now. It's an excellent film.
Tales Of The Rat Fink, about Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.
Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey (1994)
A documentary about the inventor of the first electronic synthesiser instrument and his subsequent life after he was abducted by the KGB as well as a history of his instrument.
Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns) (2002)
Documentary about the music group They Might Be Giants.
A cinematic portrait of the controversial comic book writer/artist and his traumatized family.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love.
New York Doll (2005)
A recovering alcoholic and recently converted Mormon, Arthur "Killer" Kane, of the rock band The New York Dolls, is given a chance at reuniting with his band after 30 years.
“Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives,” PBS NOVA
For most of Mark Oliver Everett's life, things didn't add up. "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives" follows Mark, better known as E, the lead singer of the rock band EELS, across the country as he attempts to understand the fantastic possibility of parallel universes and unravel the story of his troubled family and the father he never really knew—iconoclastic quantum physicist Hugh Everett III.
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD - Werner Herzog's trip to Antartica. Beautiful images.
I LIKE KILLING FLIES - I found this one of Netflix and rented it largely because of the title. It's a look at a long-standing Greenwich Village eatery and its owner.
I second that! Everyone I have recommended this film to has loved it. Kind of difficult to describe it properly though and get across the right feeling...it's funny, weird, shocking, and somehow even emotionally affecting too. Great film.
Two I can recommend (yes, in my own thread) are March Of The Penguins:
I saw Gift of the Game on tv a couple of years ago and was just fascinated by baseball in Cuba with Bill Lee, the Spaceman from the RedSox
GIFT OF THE GAME, a documentary (DVD. 59 Minutes, suitable for all ages). This is the story of a letter from Lorian Hemingway to acclaimed Florida novelist Randy Wayne White that sends White on a journey recorded in The Gift of the Game. Lorian’s grandfather, Ernest Hemingway, had founded a little league team for his son Gregory when they were living in Cuba called the Gigi Stars. Despite his reservations about returning to Cuba - he was trapped by the Cuban military during the 1980 Mariel boatlift - the idea of finding these men who had been coached by one of America’s greatest writers was something that he could not pass up. White assembles his friends Bill “Spaceman” Lee (former pitcher of the Boston Red Sox), Jon Warden (former pitcher of the Detroit Tigers) and a ragtag group of 50-something-year-old baseball buddies and heads to Cuba to uncover this missing chapter from Hemingway's life.
Armed with little more than the address of Hemingway’s Finca, cartons of baseball gear, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, the group finds the boys-now-men who were once Gigi stars and in the process embark on a comic and dramatic journey into the fabric of their own lives. Some film highlights include former GiGis reminiscing about playing ball with "Papa;" legendary Cuban pitcher the Man with 100 Moves; Bill Lee’s Zen tactics, and an eerie recollection of the dark days of Mariel.
A playful and warm-hearted film, Gift of the Game offers a refreshing look at the possibility of building bridges between disparate cultures.
Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story
The story of the legendary Memphis record label that gave us Otis Redding, Sam And Dave, Booker T. And The MG's, Isaac Hayes and many more.
Carl Sagan's COSMOS. The best science series ever. All about the universe, everything in it, how it came to be, and how it works.
Victory At Sea
Does This Is Spinal Tap count?
Love the other choices so far!
I've seen many of the films recommended so far. If Larry L's suggestion of Hearts Of Darkness takes your fancy, you may also want to consider Burden Of Dreams which is a documentary about the making of Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo.
For long-form documentaries, I would recommend:
The World At War - a 26-part history of the events that led to WWII, the war itself, and its aftermath. It is generally regarded as the best WWII documentary, and one of the best documentary series ever. I have watched it numerous times since it first aired in 1973. It contains interviews with virtually every (still living at that time) major player from both sides.
The Up Series - a fascinating series of documentaries that chart the lives of a number of British children from the ages of 7 through to 49 (the latest in the series). You get to see them describe their childhood dreams for their future lives, and then see how their lives turned out. There are many funny and sad moments. The programs are called 7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up 42 Up and 49 Up, and all parts are contained in a DVD set. The final part of the series, 56 Up, is due in a few years time.
Shoah - a 9.5 hour film of interviews with victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust. A sad but important reminder of what can happen when people do not question authority.
The Beatles Anthology - I know including The Beatles in every thread is something of a forum joke, but there is no denying that this is still a great trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it, or a great introduction for those that did not.
For short-form documentaries:
Hearts And Minds - a documentary about the futility of the Vietnam War that was released just as the war itself was ending. It tends to polarize opinions.
The Fog Of War - a fascinating film about the life of Robert McNamara, who played such a central role in the Vietnam War.
Clear The Skies - in the days that followed 9/11, one of the strongest memories I have is of the silent skies. This is a documentary about the immediate aftermath of 9/11 in which the decision was taken to ground all flights over the US, and how that was achieved.
I LOVE docs!-Here are some of my favorites from the last few years--all should be at Netflix--
"Hell House"- about a group of Fundamentalists who run a Halloween horror house designed to scare the hell (literally) out of the non-believers-great story, many layers, fascinating.
"Last Days of Chasen's"-about the famous Hollywood red-meat-and-martini hang out that seemingly closed just before the whole "Swingers"/Rat Pack craze would have revived it. One of the best documentaries about Hollywood ever.
"Grizzly Man"-recent Werner Herzog (that guy again!) film about an obsessive man who films himself living among the bears and apparently had hopes of becoming a "Crocodile Hunter" type of character. Instead, he gets eaten by the #1 Threat to America.
"Off The Charts: The Song-Poem Story"-about people who would send their music into a company that would then turn them into songs. Never condescending, but hilarious, portraits of the songwriters and the professional hacks who would turn song about Jimmy Carter, vomit, UFOs, you name, it into songs. Surprising and surprisingly touching.
"Daughter From Danang"-a young Vietnamese woman who was airlifted out of the country as an "orphan" and grows up in Tennessee returns to Vietnam to find her birth family. A great film about culture shock and family expectations.
"Confessions of a Superhero"-the story of four different people who dress up as superheroes and hang out in front of Mann's Chinese Theater and take pictures with tourists-again, touching, funny, unexpected.
Capturing the Friedmans
I second Fog of War. There was another film about the military industrial complex that starts with Eisenhowers last speech..cant remember the name...but its good also.
Sunshine Superman: The Musical Journey of Donovan
I'm about half way through the three hour doc. dics, totally amazing 60s footage.
Disc two has another 2 and a 1/2 hours of footage...
A dream real machine time through trip space...
+1 for CRUMB and GRIZZLY MAN...
and for non dvd-yet, the doc of 2008 for me was Religilous...
Separate names with a comma.