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Old 01-30-2007, 05:08 PM   #1
El Diablo
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Documentaries

lapoker posted these recently and requested they be posted here. I'm a huge fan of documentaries, so let's kick things off here w/ lapoker's recent documentaries list:

some of these have probably been discussed before, but...

cocaine cowboys - chronicles the cocaine trafficking boom in miami during the 70s/80s. features interviews with the two biggest transporters and one of the top enforcers. exposes a number of key figures who are largely unknown and dispells the myth that pablo escobar was the top dog in the business. a compelling mix of news footage and interviews. this was the best of the bunch - really awesome.

dark days - follows a group of homeless who live in an abandoned, underground railroad tunnel in new york. they have "houses" and electricity etc. in their little world. this sounds like it would be interesting, but for whatever reason it was boring. i only made it halfway through.

mayor of the sunset strip - biography of music scenester rodney bingenheimer, the first dj to play blondie, van halen, duran duran, coldplay and hundreds of other big bands. he's kind of like the forrest gump of the music world as he has befriended everyone from bowie to cher to gwen stefani. an interesting look at a weird dude. i had high hopes for this one, and was reasonably satisfied. lots of interviews and original footage.

dig! - follows the rise(?) and fall of two bands - the dandy warhols and the brian jonestown massacre. it's billed as being a comparison between the two frontmen - courtney taylor and anton newcombe, but taylor is so uninteresting that most of the footage follows necombe as he creates trainwrecks at every opportunity. though he is compared to dylan and lennon and plays over 80 instruments, his addictions and mental health problems leave him nothing more than tragic. the film was shot over seven years and cut from 1500 hours of film. i enjoyed it.

slasher - john landis directs this look at a traveling car salesman who is employed by dealers in need of immediate inventory reduction. in the film, the slasher travels to memphis with his entourage to rescue a dealership . though it was well done, the characters failed to grab me, which is surprising because i generally find good salesmen to be intriguing. worth a watch.

stevie - during his time in college, steve james (who directed hoop dreams), became a Big Brother to stevie, a kid growing up in poor, white, rural illinois. ten years after they lost touch, james returns to find out what has become of stevie. with little going for him, stevie has been in and out of trouble with the law and has a life that is sad at best. the film takes quite a turn as during filming, stevie is accused of sexually abusing a young girl. though completely disturbing, this is one of the more powerful films i've seen in years. i'm not even sure i enjoyed it, but james is so good at making documentaries and such an amazingly compassionate guy, that i somehow feel better for having watched it.

the poet and the con - a guy documents the parallels between his life and the life of his criminal uncle. i don't even feel like writing any more about it - it sucked.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:15 PM   #2
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Re: Documentaries

I really enjoyed The Fog of War which is about former secretary of Defense Robert Mcnamara. It gave a interesting historical account but I thought the best parts were the words of wisdom Mcnamara himself provides as the film moves along.

Mr. Conservative : Barry Goldwater (HBO) was also one that I enjoyed and learned from. If you are a conservative or enjoy politics I think this would be worth seeking out
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:23 PM   #3
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Re: Documentaries

Baghdad ER on HBO was quite good.

Hookers on the Point is excellent. I learned that whatever changes, the gaaaaaame remaaaains the saaaaaame.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:27 PM   #4
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Re: Documentaries

[censored],

The Fog of War is by Errol Morris. He is one of my favorite documentary filmmakers.

Here are three other of his films (I think he has 8) that I really liked. I look forward to seeing the rest of them

Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. - about an electric chair inventor who denies the Holocaust happened.

The Thin Blue Line - About a police murder and a guy wrongfully convicted for it.

Vernon, Florida - Can't describe it. Wacky people.

Some other of the many documentaries I love:

Crumb - about a crazy comic book writer/artist.

Rank - professional bullriding circuit

Murderball - wheelchair rugby. intense.

Spellbound - spelling bee

Word Wars - scrabble

Cowboy del Amor - about an old guy who sets up American guys w/ Mexican brides

That's just a few. Happy to elaborate on any of them, but I really enjoyed all of them. They all followed the same pattern of focusing on the stories of a few key participants in these worlds.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:29 PM   #5
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Re: Documentaries

The Thin Blue Line by Errol Morris - got a man released from Death Row. Doesn't get better than that.

Pumping Iron. Gov. Arnold v Lou Ferrigno and a look at the bodybuilding world circa 1976.

Hoop Dreams. Probably the best documentary of the 1990s. It is an unbelievably good film.
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/...IEWS/410210301
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:29 PM   #6
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Re: Documentaries

CT: A bunch of those hooker/pimp documentaries on HBO are great. American Pimp is another documentary on that topic that's pretty entertaining.

ND: Pumping Iron and Hoop Dreams, two great picks.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:29 PM   #7
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Re: Documentaries

I am Trying to Break your Heart - about the making of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Great Documentary, even if one is not a fan of Wilco. Examines a unique situation of an excellent record that gets dropped by the label due to concerns of its sales potential with regard to money the label had already spent. The second disc is more for fans and includes excellent concert and behind the scenes music footage.

When We Were Kings - Ali/Foreman, Rumble in the Jungle - on espn classics frequently, but nonetheless one of my favorite documentaries of all time.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:31 PM   #8
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Re: Documentaries

I just saw something on the news last night about The Bridge which is about people committing suicide off the Golden Gate bridge over the course of a year. It stirred controversy for several reasons, and I think I'm going to catch it. The filmmaker used four cameras at two locations to film, and then afterwards, talked to the families about the person who jumped. It looks like it's still making the rounds in art house theatres, but has anyone seen it?
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:32 PM   #9
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Re: Documentaries

Hoop dreams is easily my favorite documentary and one of my favorite films of all time.

From wikipedia:
Quote:
Hoop Dreams is a 1994 documentary film directed by Steve James. It follows the story of two Chicago, Illinois high school students and their dream of becoming professional basketball players. Originally intended to be a 30-minute short produced for the Public Broadcasting Service, it eventually led to 5 years of filming and 250 hours of footage. It premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Despite its length (171 minutes) and unlikely commercial genre, it received high critical and popular acclaim. It was on more critics top ten lists than any other film that year, including Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, and Quiz Show.

The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program. Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and acclimating to a foreign social environment, Gates and Agee struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market with heavy competition. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of hardship.

The film raises a number of issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America. It also offers one of the most intimate views of inner-city life to be captured on film. Yet it is also the human story of two young men, their two families and their community, and the joys and struggles they live through over a period of five years.

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Old 01-30-2007, 05:34 PM   #10
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Re: Documentaries

El D,

I recommend "Gates of Heaven" as your next Errol Morris documentary. It's pretty amazing.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:34 PM   #11
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Re: Documentaries

Mail order wife is hilarious how sad the guys are, they could be any 2 guys from 2+2.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:35 PM   #12
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Re: Documentaries

Dope Sick Love about heroin addicts in NYC is a little dated but entertaining.

Also there was a good documentary about Rikers island prison but i can't remember the name.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:35 PM   #13
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Re: Documentaries

I found Rize (Dave LaChapelle) a documentary about Clowning/Krumping dance styles to be real interesting.

Obviously Inconvenient Truth was good.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:36 PM   #14
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Re: Documentaries

Grey Gardens: 60s doc about these two crazy old wasps ladies (mother and daughter) on Cape Cod living in a crumbling old mansion that's overgrown with weeds. One of the first docs to acknowledge and address the impact a filmmaker has on his subjects.

Of course, Grizzlyman does this more explicitly, as do most Wener Herzog docs.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:36 PM   #15
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Re: Documentaries

I enjoyed the following

51 Birch Street - Documentary filmmaker Doug Block didn't plan on doing a documentary on his parents. However, within months of his mother's sudden death, his father marries his former secretary and Block realizes his parent's marriage may not have been as good as he thought it was.

In the Realms of the Unreal - Fascinating documentary about Henry Darger, a janitor who lived a poor, solitary life. At the end of his life his landlord discovered a 15,000 illustrated novel entitled "In the Realms of the Unreal" in his room. Dakota Fanning narrated. In the Realms of the Unreal

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine - A look at Kasparov's match against Deep Blue from his perspective. The documentary deals with Kasparov's suspicion that human intervention was involved and the affect it had on him and the match.

Tarnation - Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette's documentary on growing up with his schizophrenic mother. Probably a bit to disturbing to say I enjoyed this, but it was interesting viewing.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:41 PM   #16
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Re: Documentaries

I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard great things about No Driection Home: Bob Dylan http://imdb.com/title/tt0367555/. A documentary about Dylan directed by Scorsese - what more could you want?

Hoop Dreams is my personal favorite doc as well. It's probably the only documentary I've watched several times, and every time I get through it, I think the same thing - "I can't believe that movie is 3.5 hours long." It just flows so well, and is really easy to get immersed in and sit through.

The only other recommedation I can think of off the top of my head is Dust to Glory http://imdb.com/title/tt0386423/, an entertaining film about the Baja 1000, an annual off-road race held in Mexico. The scenery and camerawork are particularly top-notch. A well-put-together piece for such a low-budget movie.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:42 PM   #17
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Re: Documentaries

American Dream (imdb link) is a great documentary about a labor strike at a Minnesota meat packing plant. I was impressed with how well the film shows the different parties affected by the strike: the workers and their families, the townspeople, the management, and the union negotiators; and manages also to paint higly personal individual portraits.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:43 PM   #18
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Re: Documentaries

the smartest guys in the room - enron scandal. solidly made. entertaining. helps explain a lot of the scandal to a lot of people who really have no idea of what happened at all.

the kid stays in the picture - highly entertaining 'documentary' about the life of famous producer robert evans. i really, really enjoyed this film. it was fast and engaging. narrated by evans of course, who does an amazing job.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:44 PM   #19
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Re: Documentaries

El D,
I seem to remember you mentioning being a fan of The Flaming Lips. I think there's a documentary called Fearless Freaks, if you haven't seen it/heard of it you may be interested in checking it out.


I've been wanting to see Cocaine Cowboys for a while now seems like it would be really good.

I actually own 20% of a documentary about Ramblin' Jack Elliot and a few other old musicians called Pioneer Troubadours. The project is kind of still unfinished and my involvement is only financial but hopefully the guys doing it will get their act together and finish the movie. At this point I'm kind of doubtful it'll ever be finished (hippies....) but they're good people and I'm holding out hope it'll happen eventually.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:44 PM   #20
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Re: Documentaries

Quote:
I just saw something on the news last night about The Bridge which is about people committing suicide off the Golden Gate bridge over the course of a year. It stirred controversy for several reasons, and I think I'm going to catch it. The filmmaker used four cameras at two locations to film, and then afterwards, talked to the families about the person who jumped. It looks like it's still making the rounds in art house theatres, but has anyone seen it?
Recent thread.

Still haven't seen it yet.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:45 PM   #21
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Re: Documentaries

My favorite Errol Morris documentary is Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. It's basically all talking-heads interviews and old stock footage, but it tells the story of 4 different weird, eccentric people. Thematically it's about what human existence is like. Good stuff.

Also, most HBO documentaries are typically very solid. One that stands out for me was a couple years back called Small Town Ecstasy. It was done by the same guy who did Capturing the Friedmans, and it's about this dad who parties and does drugs with his kids. Messed-up stuff.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:45 PM   #22
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Re: Documentaries

The Michael Apted 7 Up series.
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:46 PM   #23
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Re: Documentaries

Be Here to Love Me about singer-songwriter Townes Van Zant is one of my favorite music documentaries.

He was a really troubled guy from an affluent family who walked away and became basicly a vagabond musician. Many critics agree he was one of the great songwriters of our time. He was given electro shock therapy for depression and it ended up erasing most of his childhood memories. A fascinating story.
Trailer
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Old 01-30-2007, 05:46 PM   #24
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Re: Documentaries

hopefully bdk3clash will chime in, he's the documentary master. a good one about andy goldsworthy, one of my favorite artists, is rivers and tides.

goldsworthy makes sculptures and other things out of things he finds while exploring nature. he also does some installations. here's a black hole with leaves:

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Old 01-30-2007, 05:49 PM   #25
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Re: Documentaries

Also very good was Capturing the Friedmans. Particularly since that was a huge bit of local news for me when I was growing up.
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