Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I Love Documentaries - Part 3

I am a man of few interests outside of sports, it seems. Just about everything I do other than being an All-American dad and husband seems to relate in some way, shape, or form to the wonderful world of sports. I have no regrets nor apologies for this truth, just thankful that I found a living where that makes some sense.

However, somewhere very high on my list of hobbies that do not involve sports (usually) would be watching documentaries. Pretty crazy, right? Documentaries to me are simply the non-fiction department in your bookstore, and they simply remind me that real life is better than 90% of stories that are imagined and created.

What you are about to read is my 3rd list of "Bob's approved documentaries". These are not all 5 stars out of 5, but rather documentaries I have seen since last time I did a list that I deem to be worth your time. I watch quite a few more than these, but the following 24 docs passed my test for keeping me properly entertained for 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Please note: There are no 30 for 30's, HBO Sports documentaries or any other sports films, really, on this list. I may do sports docs at another time, but I didn't want to include them on this list, because there are already 2 dozen films on here.

Also, Please note: I don't have a "Top 10" of all-time list. Again, maybe somewhere down the road, but I don't know how to compare drastically different films and ideas against each other real well. Maybe later.

List #1 from August, 2008 is here: I love documentaries, Part 1. That list includes 25 films.

List #2 from March, 2010 is here: I love documentaries, Part 2. And that list includes 14 more.

So, add in these 24 and you now have 63 films to watch next time you are looking for a good documentary. Many of them are available right now for instant streaming on Netflix or iTunes, so I don't want to hear you are bored again.

The New List - Docs I have seen in the last 24 months that I really like (in no particular order):

Good Hair (2009) - Chris Rock explores the wonders of African-American hairstyles.

Taxi To The Dark Side (2007) - An in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed in 2002.

Superheroes (2011) - A journey inside the world of real life caped crusaders. From all over America, these self-proclaimed crime fighters, don masks, homemade costumes and elaborate utility belts in an attempt to bring justice to evildoers everywhere.

God Grew Tired of Us (2006) - Four boys from Sudan embark on a journey to America after years of wandering Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005) - Daniel Johnston, manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist is revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love.

Inside Job (2010) - Takes a closer look at what brought about the financial meltdown.

Catfish (2010) - Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost document a story involving Ariel's brother, Nev, a 24-year-old New York-based photographer, and Abby, from rural Michigan who contacts Nev via Facebook, asking for permission to make a painting from one of his photographs.

Food, Inc (2008) - An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) - The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner.

WalMart: The High Price of Low Cost (2005) - A look at the impact of the retail giant on local communities.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008) - A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend's ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son.

The Cove (2009) - Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.

Deep Water (2006) - A documentary about the disastrous 1968 round-the-world yacht race.

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (2009) - A year in the life of the White family, well known for Jesco White, the star of the "Dancing Outlaw" documentary.

Pearl Jam 20 (2011) - A documentary on the band Pearl Jam that marks their 20th anniversary in the year 2011.

Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (2011) - Michael Rapaport documents the inner workings and behind the scenes drama that follows this innovative and influential band to this day.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) - A documentary on the life and career of Joan Rivers, made as the comedienne turns 75 years old.

Restrepo (2010) - A year with one platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan.

Page One: Inside the NY Times (2011) - Unprecedented access to the New York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity.

Senna (2010) - A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

Dig (2004) - A documentary on the once-promising American rock bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols, and the friendship/rivalry between their respective founders, Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor.

Waste Land (2010) - A social documentary based around the lives of garbage pickers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a man by the name of Vik Muniz creates art out of recycled material.

Tyson (2008) - A mixture of original interviews and archival footage and photographs sheds light on the life experiences of Mike Tyson.

The Thin Blue Line (1988) - A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

That should hold you for a few days.


Barry Green said...

"One Day In September."

Academy Award winning documentary about the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. It's almost bizarre that this continues to be missing from your lists.

offroadjoe said...

Hey Bob. I love the reviews you give on the documentaries, helps me not waste time watching the bad ones. It is my favorite form of film entertainment. I enjoy the mindless Hollywood junk sometimes but no story is as good as the real story, and documentaries provide that. Here is a good link for some of your readers and listeners to check out some of the films you suggest if they don't have Netflix or some other way of watching them. It's also a good place to find new ones. Check it out:

Keep up the good work Bob. Godspeed.

jmains said...

PJ20 was awesome.

Jeff H said...

Check out one called "Knuckle". It's about feuding families in Ireland meeting on back roads to engage in fistfights.

Dave said...

How about a list of documentaries that don't want to make you weep for yourself, the subject or humanity? I find too many of them too sad to watch. Riveting, yes, but too sad. Even ones that appear to be inspiring (Wasteland) could go the other way (these people are collecting garbage for art? What does that say about their standard of living?

Either way - good post. If you haven't seen them "Why we go to war" and "Who killed the electric car" are two more to make you weep for society.