Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 7, 2011 - 5:26am

So what are your favorite documentaries?

I love documentaries.  When I'm watching TV alone, I prefer documentaries.

I think one of the more entertaining documentaries I've seen in the last year was Catfish.  While there was some speculation that it is fake or that the directors might have seen the end coming and just decided to ride it out, I don't care.  I still thought it was a pretty good movie.

Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room.  Not only was pretty much everything that the top level guys were doing at Enron illegal, it was amazing the balls they had while doing it.  They didn't try to hide anything.  They were blatent and cocky.

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.  This was produced by Johnny Knoxville.  If you've ever heard of Jesco White, this film is about his family.  Jesco is known for tap dancing in country music videos.  This family is the most stereotypical red-neck family on the planet I would say.  These guys getting together, doing drugs, drinking, and just being crazy - makes for pure gold entertainment.  Nothing to learn here, but you won't be disappointed.

Jesus Camp and Hell House.  I put these two together because they both tell the same story.  They are stories of religous extrememist.   Jesus Camp  is self explanitory what it's about.  Hell House is about the annual haunted house that this church community puts together featuring the  seven deadly sins (plus some if I remember right).  You will be horrified.

A Film Unfinished is about the nazis filming a propoganda film about how good the jews are living in one of the ghettos that they segregated them to.  I still find the horrors of World War II unbelievable and shocking.  This movie tells a different side part of that story which you may not even be aware of.

Those are a few I could think of off the top of my head.  I'm sure the second I hit "post" I'll come up with ten more.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 7, 2011 - 5:28am

Also this seems like a pretty good list.

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HoboWriterDK from Upstate, New York is reading White Teeth, by Zadie Smith October 7, 2011 - 5:43am

I'll second Jesus Camp... that movie was absolutely creepy.

Some of my other favorites are:

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

The U.S. vs John Lennon

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Food Inc.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 7, 2011 - 6:18am

ive been watching frontline on netflix, and i think everyone should watch THE MEDICATED CHILD

oh, and food inc is fucking awesome.

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william.c.cathey from Georgia is reading What Is The What October 7, 2011 - 8:49am

Generation RX

Exit Through The Gift Shop

For The Bible Tells Me So

Allison Urban's picture
Allison Urban from the bodies of people she's never met is reading Frankenstein October 7, 2011 - 9:27am

Burden of Dreamsis - Werner Herzog's struggle to make Fitzcaraldo.

The Rape of Europa - 12 years of the Nazis' pillaging works of art throughout Europe.

Man on Wire - Follows a man's dream to tight rope walk across the twin towers

The King of Kong - Steve Wiebe challenge's Billy Mitchell's long standing Donkey Kong high score

Marwencol - After a terrible beating left Mark Hogancamp brain damaged, he began creating models of a fictional town, Marwencol, to process the trauma.

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man - About the influential but enigmatic Scott Walker, an artist who shunned pop stardom for a relatively reclusive existence in which he rarely released new music -- but when he did, it was unbelievable.

Darkon - Ordinary folks trade in their street clothes for medieval costumes, faux weaponry and full-contact battles in Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer's documentary about Darkon, a group that acts out fantasy war games based on complex rules and customs.

Grizzly Man - Werner Herzog chronicles the tragic and untimely death of outdoorsman Timothy Treadwell, who devoted his life to studying grizzly bears living in the Alaskan wilderness -- only to have one of them maul him to death.

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Achillez from Long Island, New York is reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway October 7, 2011 - 11:03am

Waco: Rules of Engagement

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Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 October 7, 2011 - 11:11am

I love documentaries, they are like a visual reading.

Food INC.
Gonzo: Hunter S. Thompson
Bukowski: Born into this
The Beautiful Truth
All Zeitgeist collections (Free on Youtube)
The Yes Men Fix the World

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies October 7, 2011 - 11:15am

If you feel like being absolutely devastated and outraged: Dear Zachary.

Man On Wire is fantastic.

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten was incredibly good - far more interesting than any music documentary I've seen.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 7, 2011 - 1:02pm

Wow, Dear Zachary sounds good.  I've added that to my netflix queue.

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club October 7, 2011 - 2:58pm

I recently watched Forks Over Knives: about the American Diet and how eating healthy has the potential to reverse tumor growth.  Extremely eye opening.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch October 7, 2011 - 3:25pm

Allison, you sold me on those documentaries.

I will add My Best Fiend by Warner Herzog, about Klaus Kinsky and the making of Aguirre, the Wrath of God. I would recommend Aguirre if you haven't seen it - filmed in the Peru wilderness, a sort of Heart of Darkness with more madness and with monkeys - and with a boat carried over a mountain. The documentary is even more fascinating than the movie itself, because apparently Klaus Kinsky was a mad genius, hard to work with, to the point that the natives hired as extras in the movie offered to kill Kinsky, when Herzog was driven nuts by him.

Food Inc. is very enlightening but I could only watch it once (cringing) because it's very graphic. You can imagine, since it has to do with the meat industry and how animals are treated.

Maybe the most beautiful documentary I can think of is Antarctica: Encounters at the End of the World. You may not think much happens in the coldest place on earth, but there is a community there of rejects of one sort or another, and of dedicated scientists. Plus a lot of freezing water with lots of secrets.

william.c.cathey's picture
william.c.cathey from Georgia is reading What Is The What October 7, 2011 - 9:17pm

@Pete

Dear Zachary is good, i forgot to put that on my list, but a touching documentary.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 8, 2011 - 10:11am

I just finihsed Dear Zachary.  It was really good.  But so sad and disturbing.  I might have teared up in at least 10 places. 

.'s picture
. October 8, 2011 - 10:53am

A quick story on The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. A couple of my friends met Jesco and Mamie at Headliners in Louisville, Kentucky after they tapped they're shoulder and told them they had weed. They got the whites to the parking lot where they smoked and my friends told them they had mushrooms. The Whites gave them they're hotel room number (where they later ate mushrooms and sipped moonshine.) One of my buddies even had to give Mamie a foot massage haha. The moral of the story?-- your never too old to hang out with the tap dancing champion Jesco White.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun October 8, 2011 - 10:59am

I second Darkon

Please Vote For Me - Each year, an elementary school in China has holds a democratic election to determine who will be the teacher's assistant. The first thought you have is "Why would the Chinese government let kids do this?" You then see that even young kids immediately figure out how to exploit the system. Fascinating and highly entertaining.

The Boys of Baraka - A group of "at risk" youths from Baltimore go to a boarding school in Kenya. Really interesting to see how they adjust and how their outlook on life changes.

I Think We're Alone Now - ​A few people, who are totally creepy and obsessed with 80's pop star Tiffany. Really odd and creepy.

Beer Wars - ​If you love craft beer you should see this. A lot of insight about the industry and it's difficulties. I've been a big supporter of craft beers for years. After seeing this, I immediately stopped drinking any beers owned by any of the big companies. As an interesting note, there is a good section in here about why the big brands in the US are basically all the same horse piss.

After Innocence - If you support the death penalty, you probably won't after watching this. Guys who spent years in prison (like 20+) are finally released when new evidence proves they were wrongly convicted. In some instances, the DA knowingly withheld information to put the wrong guy in jail. It's a serious bummer because you get to see how these guys have all the odds against them.

kah's picture
kah from Ewan is reading everything on al gore's information super highway October 8, 2011 - 11:04am

http://www.theparkinglotmovie.com/

Great doc about a parking lot in Charlottesville, VA, at UVA

Often described as the documentary version of Clerks, The Parking Lot Movie follows a select group of parking lot attendants who work at The Corner Parking Lot in Charlottesvile, Virginia. The eccentric brotherhood of attendants consist of grad students, overeducated philosophers, surly artists, middle-age slackers and more.

 

Located nearby the University of Virginia and tucked in behind a number of bars, the assortment of overeducated attendants who work at The Corner Parking Lot have to deal with throngs of drunken frat boys, vandals, and SUV-driving jerks who either take off without paying or fight them over sums as low as $0.40. Fortunately in this establishment the normally agreed upon rules of customer service don’t exist. Disrespect the staff and face the consequences.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 8, 2011 - 12:25pm

Kirk: Please Vote For Me - Each year, an elementary school in China has holds a democratic election to determine who will be the teacher's assistant. The first thought you have is "Why would the Chinese government let kids do this?" You then see that even young kids immediately figure out how to exploit the system. Fascinating and highly entertaining.

That sounds good.  Just got added to my instant queue on netflix.

chickie's picture
chickie from Memphis, TN is reading subterranean kerouac October 8, 2011 - 2:34pm

Hot Coffee was really good.  (http://hotcoffeethemovie.com/) . 

It starts with the infamous lawsuit about the hot coffee at McDonalds.  While the case was heavily mocked in the media, the woman, Stella Liebeck, was seriously injured (http://travis.pflanz.me/2011/hot-coffee-2011/).  From there, it explores the other ways big business has infiltrated the US legal system via mediation, and appointments and elections of judges who favor corporate interests. 

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Jairo Arana is reading Perdido Street Station by China Mielville and The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu October 13, 2011 - 11:29am

I saw King of Kong, the other day. Really fascinating look at retro-gaming and very David vs Goliath story. Happy to see that documentary was mentioned earlier in the thread.

Darkon looked cool, but didn't get a chance to finish seeing it. Had to leave somewhere and forgot to set up the DVR.

Loved Aguirre Wrath of God - not a documentary - but would love to see the documentary My Best Friend, which is, speaking of Heart of Darkness, like the documentary which complements the film as a "making of" documenatry.

If you love the movie Apocalypse Now, I recommend Heart of Darkness, documentary film on the making of Francis Ford Coppola's epic war film. Apocalypse Now is about the insanity of war. Heart of Darkness is about the insanity that went into making the film. Francis Ford Coppola nearly went crazy and Martin Sheen suffered a stroke.  

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Jairo Arana is reading Perdido Street Station by China Mielville and The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu October 13, 2011 - 11:43am

Forgot to mention Man Bites Dog, documentatry - or mockumentary, rather - in which a film crew follows a hitman. Funny, in a darkly humorous way. From Belgium, I think and from 1992, or 1993, if I'm not mistaken. Worth a look.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 13, 2011 - 4:09pm

Monster Road about animator Bruce Bickford with awesome soundtrack by Shark Quest

Rivers and Tides about sculpture artist Andy Goldsworthy

You May Need A Murderer about the band Low and being fucked up and Mormon

Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus about alt country and the South, I guess

American Movie about some fuckin guy that likes to make movies

F for Fake about Orson Welles talking about art forgers

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies October 13, 2011 - 4:14pm

There's a documentary about Low?! Fantastic. 

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Laramore Black from Joplin, Missouri is reading Mario Kart 8 October 13, 2011 - 8:09pm

I watched Dear Zachary yesterday, sad stuff.

I'm currently watching Generation: RX, it's making me wonder which parts of me are me or which parts were made by being a chemical guinea pig to the medical industry as a child...

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Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz October 13, 2011 - 8:24pm

@ Jack and Allison Man on Wire is excellent. 

Wasteland is beautiful.

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club October 15, 2011 - 3:22am

Just finished watching Vanishing of the Bees.  It reminded me of a book I've read fairly recently: Sleepless by Charlie Huston.

 

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money ~ Cree Indian Proverb

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Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 15, 2011 - 3:28am

Couldn't get through Sleepless, totally disappointed.

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club October 15, 2011 - 3:34am

I struggled soooo hard to finish it.  I wanted to throw the book across the room multiple times while reading it, but I was glad that I stuck it out.  Sleepless is definitely different than Huston's other works, but I think it's worth finishing.  How far into it did you get?

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 15, 2011 - 4:02am

somewhere between 50-80 pages, an okay near-future speculative idea, but generally lackluster.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions October 15, 2011 - 5:02am

Don't think it's been mentioned yet, but Crumb is a classic.

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies October 16, 2011 - 9:03am

This is a bizarre one, and very hard to sell to you all, but I'm a big fan of these Star Wars Prequel reviews on Youtube. Each is just over an hour long.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. How stupid does that sound? 

But:

1) They're funny. They're narrated by a character who's both pathetic and terrifying.

2) The criticisms aren't just things like "Hey, isn't Jar Jar crap?" but rather analyses, in an accessible way, exactly what things are required by film, and exactly why they completely fail on all levels.

Here's the first part of the first review:

jyh's picture
jyh from VA is reading whatever he feels like October 16, 2011 - 10:07am

Fog of War

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz October 16, 2011 - 10:40am
Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 17, 2011 - 1:41pm

Raelyn:  Just finished watching Vanishing of the Bees. 

I just watched that this weekend.  It totally sucked me in.  How sad for those farmers that lost thousands and thousands of hives.  Their livelyhood ruined. 

But I have to agree with that one hippie guy that said that the bees aren't meant to be "mass produced" and shipped all over the country into different areas and different crops.  I think it should be more like thousands of people with a few hives as opposed to a few people with thousands.

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club October 17, 2011 - 2:01pm

@Pete - I agree with that as well.  There's so many things wrong with the world's agriculture system in general.  Right now I'm watching a documentary called The Future of Food.  Not only is it sad, it's down right scary. 

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon October 17, 2011 - 2:22pm

I'll add that to my queue.

Nick's picture
Nick from Toronto is reading Adjustment Day October 18, 2011 - 7:54pm

lynx_child's picture
lynx_child from Seattle is reading The Dresden Files series October 18, 2011 - 8:22pm

Today I watched "Butch" on Netflix Instant.  It's about the guy who was the inspiration for The Horse Whisperer.  Really interesting documentary.  He's pretty incredible.

Gareth's picture
Gareth from Melbourne is reading Franz Kafka October 18, 2011 - 11:47pm

I second Fog of War - amazing stuff.  Tonight I'm hoping to watch Inside Job.

enough's picture
enough from Indiana is reading Warmed and Bound October 22, 2011 - 2:40pm

Did anyone catch PJ20 on PBS last night? A documentery of Pearl Jam created by Cameron Crow. I was around for the whole Grunge thing and like Pearl Jam, so I really enjoyed this.

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Nighty Nite from NJ is reading Grimscribe: His Lives and Works October 22, 2011 - 7:14pm

Cropsey was pretty damn good. It's about an urban legend kids told growing up in Staten Island, NY and how it related to a string of child abductions/murders during the 70's and 80's.

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Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 23, 2011 - 12:19pm

I can't think of my favorites of the top of my head, but one that I saw recently and really liked was I Think We're Alone Now. And one that I saw way back and loved was Gates of Heaven.

JGates's picture
JGates from Lancaster October 24, 2011 - 12:53pm

I recently watched Hoop Dreams and I'd recommend that to any one. Great documentary. King of Kong and Bukowski: Born Into This are other favourites. I loved Bukowski's novels a few years a go, yet I don't know whether it's the writing or than man that I'm more interested in. Same with Jim Morrison and The Doors. I think by the time I'm thirty I'll without doubt detest Morrison.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 24, 2011 - 8:06pm

Bukoswski seems like one of those kinds of writers whose writing and life go hand in hand since all the "fiction" and poetry that I have read by him seem to be autobiographical with the exception his last novel, Pulp, and a few short stories (maybe from Tales of Ordinary Madness). For me, the appeal is how he translates his life into writing. His honesty. If it wasn't for his writing, I don't think I would find him interesting unless I had some sort of amazing encounter with him one night before he died.

.'s picture
. October 24, 2011 - 11:47pm

"This is the last damn run of liquor I'll ever make." Follows the man known as Popcorn Sutton and his last run of moonshine. I think it's only available in parts on youtube but it's completely worth it.

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 5, 2011 - 3:15pm

I'm watching Talhotblond right now.  I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.  But the story is crazy so it should be good.

"This is the true story of a love triangle that takes place entirely online. Lies lead to murder in real life, as a teenage vixen (screen name 'talhotblond') lures men into her web. Revealing a shocking true crime story that shows the Internet's power to unleash our most dangerous fantasies. "

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postpomo from Canada is reading words words words December 5, 2011 - 5:20pm

anyone seen Marwencol? Fascinating story, but I get the feeling it may be tragically sad at the same time.

the last documentary I saw was Steep - big fun if you love alpine skiing.

miked's picture
miked from Los Angeles is reading White Noise December 5, 2011 - 6:18pm

A lot of great recommendations here!

Three I didn't see mentioned that I really enjoyed are

  • Beyond the Mat: Follows both well-known and up-and-coming professional wrestlers. You get to see a pretty ugly, realistic side of their lives. 
  • Bigger, Stronger, Faster This examines the role of steroids in culture and in the health / supplement industry. This is the only documentary that comes to mind where they genuinely give each side of a an argument equal weight. I know people who didn't like it for that reason and would have rather been given the Michael Moore treatment.
  • Capturing the Friedmans: Very disturbing, but well done documentary about a family who was suspected for potential child molestation. 

 

Pete's picture
Pete from Detroit is reading Red Dragon December 5, 2011 - 7:33pm

So that documentary I was watching, Talhotblond, was pretty good.  I recommend it.

If you've seen Catfish, it's similar.  But much more fucked up.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. December 5, 2011 - 11:02pm

Bad Writing - (from the Amazon blurb) Margaret Atwood, Nick Flynn, David Sedaris, Lynn Emanuel and other noted authors explain what makes director Vernon Lott's admittedly bad writing so awful; they also share insights into the opposite: what makes good writing good.

(disclaimer, I'm related to the writer/producer and to the director)

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Brian Ingham from Stillwater Oklahoma is reading There is No Year by. Blake Butler December 6, 2011 - 2:43am

Man on wire is one that I've been wanting to watch for sometime now.

Gonzo is excellent! Is Breakfast with Hunter as good as Gonzo?

Enron:The smartest guys in the room is another that I love, alot of the CNBC docs are great. Same goes with History Channel and Discovery, I'm mesmerized with almost any doc they show. Speaking of that, has anyone here seen How Evil are You on Discovery? The Curiousity series as a whole is great.