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FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES 
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Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Thanks for all the suggestions. I have my work cut out for me.

I'll start on the UP series one of these days. Sounds very promising.

Loved Dog Town and ZBoys.

Thanks again.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:54 am
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Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
sheryl wrote:
anything by errol morris is worth watching.

all my faves have already been mentioned - fog of war, capturing the friedmans, paradist lost, hoop dreams, grizzly man,
enron, deliver us from evil, spellbound, daughter from danang, touching the void, the documentary about movie ratings (i forget the title) etc.

i didn't like born into brothels, crazy love, and jesus camp too much. but they're still interesting.


How is it possible you have not seen the Up movies? The whole project is easily one of the most compelling and astounding endeavors undertaken by a filmmaker. And, in an era when "reality TV" is so popular, you can't get more real than this. (It amazes me that so many of the subjects have stuck with Apted for so long, and that even some of those who have dropped out have returned from time-to-time.) When it comes to sequels, this is the ultimate.

Bizarrely, this somehow is NOT in my Top 100, which is surely an oversight. It needs to be slotted in there somewhere.


Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:38 am
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Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
3 Maysles docs I completely forgot about, all of which are amazing; Gimme Shelter, Salesman, and Grey Gardens


Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:12 am
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Ok, most of my list has been mentioned (All the Errol Morris stuff, Murderball, Hoop Dreams, Paradise Lost etc.) except one.

Unless I missed it, I'm surprised no one has listed Microcosmos. The only time in my life I've felt like cheering for a dung beetle.


Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:38 pm
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
James -

I don't know how UP slipped by me. It's been on my list for a while, but I guess I've been too busy reading reviews to watch movies. In most cases, if you read the review, you don't even have to watch the movie. ;)

Can I just blame it on your Top 100? If it's not there, it's not worth watching, right?

Seriously, thanks to you and everyone on the site for your help.


Peace.


Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:33 am
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Apart from the many excellent documentaries mentioned, may I suggest two relatively obscure ones, which are well worth seeking out?

Darwin's Nightmare

Despite of the title, this film has nothing to do with the creationism vs. evolution debate. It is about the introduction of the Nile perch into lake Victoria in central Africa and the socio-economic consequences. That certainly doesn't sound too interesting, but I promise it'll be one of the most shocking films you'll ever see:

[Reveal] Spoiler:
The Nile perch has been introduced to lake Victoria due to its commercial value. Ever since, it has been top of the food chain and been responsible for the extinction of a number of native species of fish. On the commercial side, large fishing trawlers and corporations have taken over from the local fishermen. The workers, who are filleting the fishes in factories for consumption in Europe, are surveilled as if they were in a prison, in order to keep them from misappropriating any desirable parts of the fish. The carcasses are thrown away and salvaged by locals, who transport them to the hinterland on open-top lorries in the tropical heat. These maggot-ridden carcasses are a major source of food in poverty-stricken villages. The fish filets, on the other hands, are exported to Europe and paid for in goods rather than money, usually assault weapons.


King Leopold's Ghost

This is a historical documentary about how the King of Belgium Leopold II managed to establish the so-called Congo Free State and turn it into his private fiefdom, resulting in an exploitation of the Congo during the rubber boom, which can only be described as genocidal. For example, the militias who were "recruiting" rubber collectors by taking their families hostage, were suspected of using their ammunition for hunting rather than shooting human beings, so for each bullet spent, a severed hand had to be presented to their superiors. Severed hands actually became a sort of currency in Congo.

For film-lovers, it may be interesting to note that Apoclypse Now's Colonel Kurtz is based on the "Mr. Kurtz" character from Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" (made into a film starring Tim Roth). In "King Leopold's Ghost", some historical persons are identified as possible real-life inspirations (one colonial official was fond of surrounding his house with heads on pikes etc.).


Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:43 am
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Added to the list.

Thanks for the help, everyone.

I may make it through all of these before I die.

(By the way, Robert Holloway: impressive list.) :shock: Holy cow.


Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:05 pm
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Sicko was the only Michael Moore flick I truly enjoyed. I think it skims the surface in terms of what defines documentary given that his movies end up being more about him than the issue and he doesn't neccessarily play both sides - however as entertainment, this one really did it for me. The 'communism' montage with public libraries, firehouses, and schools was hilarious.

"Sorry miss, how much did you pay for that baby?"


Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:53 am
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
The King of Kong was a very good recommendation. It proves that, if done well, a documentary about virtually anything can be fascinating. The players within the film are unlike anyone I've ever met -- or so I believe -- and still, the Herculean struggle for the record took on a weirdly mounting excitement. By the end I was nearly thrilled.


Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:16 am
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

This made made me so sick to my stomach...and I couldn't stop watching.


Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:24 am
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
majoraphasia wrote:
The King of Kong was a very good recommendation. It proves that, if done well, a documentary about virtually anything can be fascinating. The players within the film are unlike anyone I've ever met -- or so I believe -- and still, the Herculean struggle for the record took on a weirdly mounting excitement. By the end I was nearly thrilled.



That "virtually anything" can be interesting is correct. I would submit "King Corn".

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1112115/

They made it for the small screen, but I would reward these guys with my theater going money long before I'd reward many others who've made big-screen documenaries.


Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:40 pm
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Goubot wrote:
Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man is fascinating. His recent Encounters at the End of the World is also worth seeing. I believe he has done a few more docs, but I haven't seen them.


Little Dieter Needs to Fly is by far Herzog's best doc.


Fri May 01, 2009 9:25 pm
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Crumb and the Paradise Lost movies are about as affecting as I can imagine any documentary being. Far from simply retelling the true events or attempting to argue a case, they simply crawl under your skin and squirm around as effectively as any fiction could.


Fri May 01, 2009 9:51 pm
Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
I love Fog Of War, Gates of heaven, Thin Blue Line, Vernon Florida and Thin Blue Line.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with Errol Morris for a few weeks on a marketing campaign.

Really liked the guy. Very thoughtful, introspective and totally pleasant. Very quiet as well :-)

Rob


Fri May 01, 2009 10:33 pm
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Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Agreed on the Errol Morris and Maysles Brothers siggestions as well as UP. I would also say you can't go wrong with any documentary by DA Pennebaker.

A few others:

Grizzly Man (although I think that one was already suggested)
Any Werner Herzog doc is worthwhile

Four Little Girls by Spike Lee. This one is positively heartbreaking in its portrayal of those little girls killed in that Birmingham Church bombing in 1963.

When The Levees Broke also by Spike Lee

Deliver Us From Evil by Amy Berg. Forget evil in a fiction film. The evil depicted in this documentary on the Catholic Church molestation scandals is the most vile example one can think of.

Tyson by James Toback. This is easily the Raging Bull of sports documentaries.

As far as Michael Moore goes, I will say there was a time when I was a fan. I'm not as much a fan anymore. Not because I went from being a hardcore liberal to a hardcore conservative. I never really fit securely into either category. No, what turned me off of him was the realization that his agenda was less about changing what he felt was wrong with the country and more about advancing his own cause. I sitll do like Fahrenheit 9/11. But his agenda does need and deserved to be questioned. If he's gonna go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao he aint gonna make it with anyone anyhow.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:50 am
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Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Some that I don't believe have been mentioned:
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear vision, a portrait of the artist who designed the Vietnam Memorial when she was 21. At the time, her design was really controversial because it was so simple and unlike previous national memorials. There were strong pressures to modify it, and it was a little, but Lin fought for her vision all the way. You also get the rest of her career, which has been remarkable.

Murder on a Sunday Morning the story of a black kid who was arrested for murder apparently because the police needed to arrest somebody for the crime, and he happened to be in the neighborhood. Evidence? Who needs evidence?

Mad Hot Ballroom. A documentary about the introduction of ballroom dancing in New York City schools--including troubled neighborhoods, climaxing in a citywide contest. The fictionalized version, Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas, screwed up by moving the story to high school. In the documentary, the kids are eleven and you get to know and root for them

Spellbound is about kids competing in the National Spelling Bee, and is surprisingly absorbing, and sometimes really worrying. I fear for some of these kids. In this case, the fictional equivalent is Akeelah and the Bee, which is, amazingly, even better.

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Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:44 pm
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Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
Lots of great suggestions in this thread. I'll add the following.

Control Room - Content is a bit dated now as it focused on the beginnings of the US involvement in the Middle East. It is still an interesting look at how news is collected and reported differently by US agencies and Arab news services (particularly Al Jazeera).

Wordplay - Yeah, I've got a bit of an obsession with crossword puzzles. Will Shortz is a hero of mine.

Waste Land - I saw this one earlier this year. Nominated for an Oscar in 2010. Great story of how one man changed many lives in Rio via art made from the local trash dump. It's much better than that sentence makes it sound.

Food, Inc. - How big business hijacked the food chain and dictates what you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. Scarier than any horror film I've seen in my life.


Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:27 am
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Post Re: FAVORITE DOCUMENTARIES
euphoric_daedalus wrote:
Sicko was the only Michael Moore flick I truly enjoyed. I think it skims the surface in terms of what defines documentary given that his movies end up being more about him than the issue and he doesn't neccessarily play both sides - however as entertainment, this one really did it for me. The 'communism' montage with public libraries, firehouses, and schools was hilarious.


I've always viewed Michael Moore's films more as op-ed pieces than full-fledged documentaries... and I generally agree with his politics.

I don't see many documentaries, but Charles Ferguson's "No End in Sight" and "Inside Job" are both among the best I've ever seen... and will leave you boiling with rage. :| "Jesus Camp" is quite possibly the scariest film I've ever seen (fiction or not), and along that line, I also enjoyed "Religulous," even though, like Michael Moore's works, it's largely a 'preaching-to-the-choir' film.


Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:08 pm
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