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Best Documentaries

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49 replies to this topic

#1 of 50 OFFLINE   Neil_Duffy


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Posted February 08 2004 - 08:11 AM

I was wondering if anyone can provide me with a list of top quality documentaries on dvd? Standard stuff, like Mr Death, Gimme Shelter, Hell's Highway... please post lists. Cheers.

#2 of 50 OFFLINE   Mick Wright

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Posted February 08 2004 - 08:27 AM

These are my favorites: The Filth and the Fury Crumb When We Were Kings Koyaanisqatsi
"What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes."

#3 of 50 OFFLINE   TimJS


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Posted February 08 2004 - 09:40 AM

Here is a list . Needs to be updated, but a good place to start.


#4 of 50 OFFLINE   Dane Marvin

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Posted February 08 2004 - 09:56 AM

I think the funniest documentary I've ever seen is American Movie. You simply cannot go wrong with this Wisconsin "slice of life" tale of low-budget filmmaker Mark Borchardt and his struggle to complete a "Coven", a film whose profits are to be used to fund the film he's really wanting to make. It seems, despite their many flaws, that all the characters you meet along the way (the hilarious ex-junkie Mike Schank, the penny-pinching, over-the-hill uncle Bill, etc.) really are possessed with hearts of gold.

Also set in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Death Trip is finally coming to DVD February 27th. The DVD will also include the documentary of the making of the documentary (pretty confusing, isn't it?) that was done by different filmmakers. WDT is the tale of the bizarre history of a small Wisconsin town whose past has been littered with human suffering, unspeakable acts, and just plain bad luck. Based on the picture-filled book of the same title.

Crumb, recommended above, is a fascinating account of the life of underground cartoonist Robert Crumb ('60s-present, responsible for "Fritz the Cat"), who was recently portrayed as a supporting character in the acclaimed "American Splendor". Crumb is amazing and can be viewed as somewhat depressing or uproariously funny. I chose the latter.

Any of the Ken Burns documentaries, while expensive, are definitely worthy of consideration: The West, The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, etc.

Also recommended: Trekkies and The Beatles Anthology.

#5 of 50 OFFLINE   Casey Trowbridg

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Posted February 08 2004 - 09:59 AM

I agree with the Ken Burns documentaries that Dane mentioned, 1 that is available put as an extra on a DVD that like enough to mention here is the Battle Over Citizen Kane.

#6 of 50 OFFLINE   LarryE


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Posted February 08 2004 - 10:37 AM

I love this thread! I almost posted the same thing last night. I watched Standing In The Shadows Of Motown, and was blown away. If you like music, and more importantly Motown, you will love it.

#7 of 50 OFFLINE   ChrisBEA



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Posted February 08 2004 - 11:18 AM

I'd recommend Lost in La Mancha, the documentary about a movie that was never to be....

#8 of 50 OFFLINE   Phil Florian

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Posted February 08 2004 - 12:15 PM

My favorite of all time is Brother's Keeper, which is about three apparently cognitively disabled brothers living in a ramshackle farm house who allegedly put to death a sick fourth brother. This is an AMAZING movie. The filmmakers get into their lives and get to know the three remaining brothers and it is very sad, funny, haunting and eye opening. The filmmakers become town fixtures as well and interview tons of folks during the investigation right up to the trial. They don't pass judgement though you can see through the interviews that they became fond of the three brothers. At times difficult to watch but at the same time very watchable.

I want to see another movie of theirs called Paradise Lost.

I don't know if it is VHS or DVD right now, but I saw on PBS a very cool short doc called Refrigerator Mothers which is about mothers from the 1960's who had children with autism. At that dark period in our medical history, autism was blamed on the mothers, calling them "frigid" and distant and thus causing similar symptoms in their children. This was obviously very, very wrong but the story is a cautionary tale about following the herd and pop culture medicine. The doctor who made these claims was kind of the "Dr. Ruth" or "Dr. Atkins" of his day. He did tons of television shows, wrote a lot of articles and what he said about child psychology stuck, even if wrong. Very cool, very touching and powerful stuff.

There, that's my list. Good luck!


#9 of 50 OFFLINE   Angelo.M



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Posted February 08 2004 - 01:34 PM

Best ever: Hoop Dreams Other good choices: When We Were Kings Lost in La Mancha Ric Burns' New York: a Documentary Film Ken Burns' usual suspects plus Lewis & Clark, Not for Ourselves Alone, Frank Lloyd Wright, The Brooklyn Bridge, Empire of the Air A Brief History of Time Bowling for Columbine Capturing the Friedmans

#10 of 50 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted February 08 2004 - 01:46 PM

Don't forget 9/11...
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#11 of 50 OFFLINE   Tanner


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Posted February 08 2004 - 02:28 PM

Hearts and Minds....suprised it hasn't been mentioned already.

#12 of 50 OFFLINE   Bill J

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Posted February 08 2004 - 02:46 PM

For All Mankind My favorite documentary is Hearts of Darkness, but unfortunately it isn't available on DVD.

#13 of 50 OFFLINE   Justin W

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Posted February 08 2004 - 03:43 PM

Surprised Spellbound hasn't been mentioned yet. If you like Gov't Mule you probably already have Rising Low but I dig it alot. Bittersweet Motel is a doc on Phish and it's fantastic. Roger & Me is great.

#14 of 50 OFFLINE   Raymond_H


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Posted February 08 2004 - 03:56 PM

Some recent ones here that I found to be quite entertaining,

Capturing the Friedmans

A really good movie that has you second guessing all the way through and even at the end you are left kinda upside down.


You will start routing and cheer when these kids get their answers right and you will be depressed, upset when they miss it.


#15 of 50 OFFLINE   ChristopherBlig


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Posted February 08 2004 - 04:06 PM

couldn't agree more with Lost In La Mancha, but I also recommend A Decade Under The Influence about the rise of filmmakers in the 1970s, Smothered about the rise and fall battle with CBS of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Kid Stays In The Picture which is more of a journey in the life of Robert Evans, an actor that went on to become the head of Paramount Pictures at a time when it counted...all are great
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#16 of 50 OFFLINE   Neil_Duffy


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Posted February 08 2004 - 07:41 PM

Thanks so much for everyone who contributed so far. Fantastic selection, I do have some titles mentioned, but there is a lot here I have never heard of and will seek out more info on. Keep it coming!

#17 of 50 OFFLINE   Dick



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Posted February 08 2004 - 08:14 PM

THE ENDLESS SUMMER and ENDLESS SUMMER 2 are fine docs about surfing, even for those who never cared for the sport. Easy-going, funny, hypnotic. MICROCOSMOS - superlative doc about insect life, coming soon to DVD. I would hope Columbia would eventually issue its Academy-Award-winning doc of the same subject matter, THE HELLSTROM CHRONICLE. WINGED MIGRATION - the last word in bird documentaries. THE LAST DAYS; INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS; LONG WAY HOME. These are excellent films dealing with the Holocaust. ATOMIC CAFE - Funny as hell, but with a serious sting to it. All about the cold war nuclear tests and the blithe endangerment of soldiers and civilians, the ridiculous "Duck and Cover" exercises of the fifties, etc. THE CELLULOID CLOSET - A collection of clips from movies which demonstrate Hollywood's homophobia. THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES - Eve Ensler's powerful and enlightening doc about the way both men and women perceive the female genitalia - all men should see this. so many....

#18 of 50 OFFLINE   david_shy



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Posted February 08 2004 - 09:08 PM

believe it or not, Beyond the Mat is a fascinating & compelling behind-the-scenes look at "sports entertainment" (read WRESTLING!)

#19 of 50 OFFLINE   Shane_M


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Posted February 08 2004 - 09:27 PM

Horns & Halos is another good documentary. It's available from Microfilms Inc.
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#20 of 50 OFFLINE   Harold Wazzu

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Posted February 09 2004 - 01:49 AM

Man I remember watchin Hoop Dreams on PBS when I was a kid, I thought that was such a great doc back then and still do.

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