Sunday, 19 January 2014

7 Great Documentaries

Recently I have been going through a bit of a documentary phase on Netflix, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites that I've watched over the past year. Let me know if there's any other good ones you'd recommend.


1. The Act of Killing
In this Oscar-nominated documentary, film maker Joshua Oppenheimer travels to Indonesia to interview some of the people responsible for the mass killing of 'communists' living in the country in the 1960s. What follows is quite hard to believe, as the perpetrators re-enact their crimes, dressing up in ridiculous outfits and making light of the terrible events that occurred, making you wonder if they feel any remorse for what they did. This was a fascinating film and the final scene is so powerful it really stayed with me - definitely worth seeking out.


2. Blackfish
This moving documentary investigates the consequences of keeping Killer Whales in captivity, namely for entertainment purposes at Sea World in America. One such whale, Tilikum, was captured from the wild at a young age, and since then has been responsible for the deaths of three Sea World trainers. Looking at the history of the whales and how they are kept in confinement, it's easy to see why these beautiful creatures are not suited to living in captivity. One of the scenes where a mother whale is separated from her calves is heartbreaking to watch, and really highlights how unfair Sea World's practises are, and the lies they tell in order to make a profit.



3. The House I Live In
After watching The Wire and Breaking Bad it was interesting to learn about the history of America's war on drugs, and the way the criminal justice system deals life-changing blows to anyone caught up in drug crime. With contributions from those working in law to dealers on the street, it really hit home how the current justice system just isn't working, and how millions of American families are being let down by the harsh penalties in place for people already struggling to survive.



4. Food, Inc.
This film looks at the way in which our food consumption has changed in the past century. Food now travels thousands of miles before it hits our plates, and the health and safety of people and animals is so often put at risk in the process, in order for huge companies to provide fast food at a low cost.



5. Indie Game, The Movie
Although I'm not the biggest computer game fan I still really enjoyed this documentary, which revolves around a group of computer programmers trying to create their own games and release them to the world. The film features several interesting characters and, after seeing how they gave up so many hours to pursue their passions, I was really rooting for them to be a success.


6. Best Worst Movie
In 1990, a movie called Troll 2 was created which has since been dubbed the worst movie ever made. Twenty years on, the film's child star attempted to track down the other people who acted in it, including a likeable dentist who became a cult movie icon.


7. Bill Cunningham in New York
I really enjoyed this film which profiles 80 year old fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who cycles around New York City taking photos of the creative outfits he spots along the way.

9 comments:

  1. That scene in blackfish you mentioned, almost killed me :( I love a good documentary: Senna, One day in September, We were Here, You've been trumped and Capturing the Friedmans, amongst many others.

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    1. Oh I'll have to search out some of those, thanks!

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  2. I saw The Act of Killing recently and wasn't really prepared for how disturbing it would be, despite knowing what the film was about - I don't think a synopsis can really convey how stomach turning and often bizarre the film actually is. Well worth a watch though, if only to be more educated about the history of a different part of the world.

    Blackfish looks good. Strikes me as quite unbelievable that in this day and age organisations are still allowed to keep such massive wild creatures in tanks for public entertainment. Shocking, really. I like the look of The Best Worst Movie too (perhaps watched in a double-bill with said worst film?). Food Inc got me right back on the vegetarian bandwagon when I watched it (although I've since fallen off). I might be due a re-watch...

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    1. Yes it was hard to describe the Act of Killing accurately as it was such a unique and strange film. I'd thoroughly recommend Blackfish and you're right, a Best Worst Movie double bill with Troll 2 would work well! (I did nearly watch all of Troll 2 on Friday night but started falling asleep halfway through as it was getting late, that's my excuse anyway!)

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  3. Oh, and a favourite documentary of mine is Jiro Dreams of Sushi. I also keep meaning to watch Grey Gardens which is meant to be brilliant.

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    1. Yes I watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi too and it was great. I've heard good things about Grey Gardens too and another one on my (netflix) list is Cutie and the Boxer which is also Oscar-nominated this year.

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  4. OMG, I've seen Troll 2, it truly is awful. But in an amazing way - so bad it's good! I really like Being Elmo, a documentary about the puppeteer who came up with and performs Elmo on Sesame Street. Bobby Fischer Against The World, about the Chess grand master is also great, even if you're not particularly interested in Chess! One of my friends at work has been saying Black Fish is amazing, so I think I have to give that one a go, and the others you recommend.

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    1. Yes I've seen Being Elmo and Bobby Fischer as well, both really great documentaries!

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  5. Oh My, Blackfish was amazing! I cant stop thinking about it and I watched it weeks ago. Thanks for listing your favorites. I will take a look at these, always up for a good doc

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