Directors Top Documentaries on DVD

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Tom Scholfield, Jul 20, 2003.

  1. Tom Scholfield

    Tom Scholfield Stunt Coordinator

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    I am getting very big into documentaries, what would you guys say are some of the best documentaries to pick up on DVD?
     
  2. Larry Talbot

    Larry Talbot Second Unit

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    I saw Hearts and Minds on DVD not too long ago. Excellent Oscar winning documentary on the Vietnam War. Not exactly the most uplifting subject, but definitely worth watching.

    Dogtown and Z Boys is a more modern doc on a group of influential skateboarders. Even if you don't care about skateboarding, Dogtown is still an interesting look at a group of unique individuals and their various fates...

    These are just two off the top of my head. There are many more.
     
  3. Scott Hamilton

    Scott Hamilton Stunt Coordinator

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    1) Go Tigers
    2) The Donner party
     
  4. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    Startup.com. Besides being a microcosm of the dot com crash, it's also a movie about how friendships can withstand crises.
     
  5. Grant B

    Grant B Producer

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    Here are some I rented from netflixs lately that I really liked:
    Louise Brooks: Looking For Lulu, 1998
    F. Scott Fitzgerald: Winter Dreams, 2001
    Standing in the Shadows of Motown, 2002
    Also a PBS documentary on US Grant
     
  6. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Riding The Rails (1997), a documentary on the lives of hobos during the Great Depression is an amazing piece of work.

    Night And Fog (1955), the first non-fiction film on the Holacaust is now available as a Criterion edition and still very powerful and affecting.

    The World At War (1973), the World-famous mini-series on various aspects and events of World War II is availble as a boxed-set or as five individual 2-disc editions. Absolutely riveting. A must-have for those interested in History - and that should mean everyone.

    Gimme Shelter (1970), the infamous Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway is a pivotal moment in Rock 'N' Roll - and American culture, in general, and the Maysles Brothers and Charlotte Zwerin captured it all in gloomy 16mm. The DVD is a Criterion and is awesome.


    Lots more great documentaries are on DVD - actually, isn't there a site that is dedicated to documentaries on DVD? But there's a also a lot of great docus not on DVD - like Titicut Follies and The Thin Blue Line.

    And Scorsese's documentaries: Italianamerican and American Boy.


    Gordy
     
  7. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    I have three personal favourites I can't help but recommend to everyone I know.

    Tokyo Olympiad - Kon Ichikawa's document of the 1964 Olympic games is one of the most visually astounding and exhilirating films I've ever seen. The DVD presents an impeccable anamorphic transfer and tells you everything you could ever want to know about the film and its subject matter in a breathless commentary by Peter Cowie, a superb 30-minute video interview with Kon Ichikawa and a booklet crammed with essays, a massive transcript of a roundtable critics dissertation on the film and complete listings of all winners in all games (not something the film itself is exactly preoccupied with).

    General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait - An absolutely jaw-dropping day-in-the-life look at Uganda's infamous dictator. Hilarious and deeply disturbing, it's a jovial look at one of the most appalling mass-murderers of all time, and serves countless repeat viewings. Barbet Schroeder's interview on the disc should definitely be viewed before the film itself - it's the perfect introduction.

    A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese through American Movies - Scorsese's contagious enthusiasm is guaranteed to refresh (or even spark off) anyone's love for movies with a veritable shopping list of films to get hold of once the credits have rolled. Simply staggering stuff.
     
  8. Mark_vdH

    Mark_vdH Screenwriter

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    Nice topic. [​IMG]

    I've tried a few documentaries since I own a dvd player (before that, I hardly ever saw one), and I think it's a great genre. I currently own the following on dvd:

    Salesman
    Funny but also sad documentary about Bible salesmen. Pretty expensive dvd regarding its price though. 9/10

    Tokyo Olympiad
    Also expensive, but not to be missed if you're at least a bit interested in sports. Great commentary by Peter Cowie BTW. Spot our Dutch Queen (then pretty young and still princess) in the movie and in the dvd menu... [​IMG] 10/10

    Gimme Shelter
    Hard to recommend if you don't like The Stones, but still a great and frightening documentary about the violent Altamonte concert. Comprehensive extras, and great AV quality (well, not if you hate a bit of grain [​IMG] ). 9/10

    Lost In La Mancha
    By the same team that did the Hamster Factor doc on the set of 12 Monkeys. This documentary is comparable to that piece, although much more tragic because of the dramatic developments on set. 8/10

    For All Mankind
    I don't particularly care for the space program, but this was still very fascinating. 8/10

    Hearts And Minds
    A documentary with a political agenda instead of a realistic depiction of events, so it feels more like a visual argumentation - a bit like Bowling For Columbine perhaps. Still, I really like it (but again too expensive at a MSRP of USD 40,-, with only a commentary). 8,5/10

    General Idi Amin Dada
    Surprisingly funny, but not too much replay value IMO. 7/10

    Nanook Of The North
    I thought this silent (first?) doc about Eskimo life was really great, but I lost a bit of my enthusiasm when I found out that many of the scenes were actually staged. 8/10

    Häxan
    Not a "real" documentary, but more of a "re-staging" of events. Beware if you can't stand silent movies. One of the very best dvd's out there, with two versions of the movie, an excellent newly recorded score, an insightful commentary, outtakes and a 1941 introduction by the late director. 8/10 (dvd: 10/10)

    Triumph of the Will
    Leni Riefenstahl's infamous documentary about the 1934 Nazi party rally.

    Can anyone comment on Riefenstahl's Olympiad BTW? I'm thinking about ordering a German copy (witthout subtitles), but I don't know how much German narration the documentary contains......
     
  9. AndrewDOZ

    AndrewDOZ Auditioning

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    COSMOS - (from Amazon.com) - In the course of 13 fascinating hours, Cosmos spans its own galaxy of topics to serve Sagan's theme, each segment deepening our understanding of how we got from there (simple microbes in the primordial mud) to here (space-faring civilization in the 21st century). In his "ship of the imagination," Sagan guides us to the farthest reaches of space and takes us back into the history of scientific inquiry, from the ancient library of Alexandria to the NASA probes of our neighboring planets. Upon this vast canvas Sagan presents the "cosmic calendar," placing the 15-billion-year history of the universe into an accessible one-year framework, then filling it with a stunning chronology of events, both interstellar and earthbound.

    CONNECTIONS - (from http://www.ambrosevideo.com/) - This ten volume series was made in 1978 by turning science into a detective story, James Burke creates a series that will fascinate students and adults alike. This interdisciplinary approach has never before been applied to history or science and it succeeds tremendously. Winner of the Red Ribbon in the American Film Festival, the scope of the series covers 19 countries and 150 locations, requiring over 14 months of filming.

    As the Sherlock Holmes of science, Burke tracks through 12,000 years of history for the clues that lead us to eight great life changing inventions-the atom bomb, telecommunications, the computer, the production line, jet aircraft, plastics, rocketry and television. Burke postulates that such changes occur in response to factors he call “triggers,” some of them seemingly unrelated. These have their own triggering effects, causing change in totally unrelated fields as well. And so the connections begin...
     
  10. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

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    Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures is also excellent.
     
  11. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    All of the documentaries by Ken Burns (Jazz, Baseball, Civil War).

    But pack a lunch first...
     
  12. Simon_Lepine

    Simon_Lepine Supporting Actor

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  13. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    Here's several more:

    Evolution (PBS doc)

    Dark Days - A look at homeless New Yorkers who took shelter in an abandoned tunnel.
     
  14. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Beatles Anthology
     
  15. JasenP

    JasenP Screenwriter

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  16. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    A lot of my favorites have been mentioned, here's a few more:

    A Proposito de Bunuel: About the great Spanish director Luis Bunuel, available on Criterion's DVD of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie.

    Don't Look Back: Dylan tours the UK

    My Metier: Life and work of director Carl Th. Dreyer

    Waco: Rules Of Engagement

    Two unfortunately not on DVD - Hoop Dreams and One Day In The Life Of Andrei Arsenevich
     
  17. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    So far no one has mentioned

    Salesman, a classic by Maysles

     
  18. Larry Talbot

    Larry Talbot Second Unit

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    Mark from the Netherlands did mention Salesman, which I will add my vote too as well. Great doc. Same thing with Hell House.
     
  19. Bob Turnbull

    Bob Turnbull Supporting Actor

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    Some great ones already mentioned. I own some, have a few on order and many of the rest on my wish list.

    Some others:

    Celluloid Closet: A look at the history of gays and lesbians in the film industry. Fascinating stuff.

    Scratch: The art of DJing. Even if you aren't into the hip hop culture, there's some incredible footage in here. You won't necessarily come away liking the music any better, but I doubt anyone would still dismiss "scratching" as something anyone can do.

    Visions Of Light: Great documentary on cinematography and how directors of photography play with light and shadows.

    Monterey Pop: Worth it for Ravi Shankar's 17 minute section of the movie alone. The DVD set also comes with the entirety of Jimi Hendrix's set as well as Otis Redding's (and 2 hours of deleted footage).
     
  20. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Right you are Larry. I thought that Mark had an outstanding list—somehow I overlooked the very first entry.
     

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