If you recall, I have been on a trek through the top 100 documentaries on Netflix for 2016 . I posted my thoughts on the first 25 on another post and now here I am with my thoughts (and rants) about the next 25!
Here we go:
26. Paris is Burning: This film focuses on the gay/drag balls of the 80’s. It gives a great history of gay culture and I really enjoyed the film. It did show that while we have changed as a society and have become more tolerant, some things are still the same and are still heartbreaking. This documentary shows something that is part of the history of a sub-culture that is now fairly mainstream. I know it’s not going to be for everyone, but I would suggest it.
27. Moana With Sound: So this documentary was originally filmed in the 20’s and then remastered with sound later by the original directors family. It’s about life on the Polynesian islands and was an interesting film to watch; however if you hate silent films or subtitles, then you will absolutely hate this film.
28. Manakamana : OK, I have been waiting to write about this film. I have been chomping at the bit to tell you all how fucking infuriating this film is. It’s not about pilgrimages to a temple. No, its about people riding in cable cars while sitting uncomfortably in front of a stationary camera for 9 minutes usually in dead silence ( Oh, and don’t get me started about the “goat sequence”). The only parts that were remotely interesting was watching these two ladies try to eat ice cream, which is apparently new in Nepal, and the death metal kids with the kitten. Seriously, I about raged 11 minutes into this film and skipped it.
29. Approaching the Elephant: This documentary is about the concept of free schools. Free as in the students decide what they want to do and learn and they have an equal voice equivalent the staff. This actually inspired me to research this and write another post. I definitely recommend watching it & drawing your own conclusions.
30. Actress: This was a boring documentary. Honestly, I fell asleep a few times. Basically it’s about Brandy Burre who left the acting world to focus on family and now is basically bored and wants to get back into acting and has family drama that ends up tanking her marriage. Oh yeah, she also can’t get any acting gigs that she wants. I honestly thought I was watching a Lifetime movie at a few points. Honestly, I don’t see why this or Manakamana were on this list at all.
31. The Civil War: The thing that I dreaded when I took this to task was hitting a documentary series. I likened it hitting a Whammy! on Press Your Luck (ask your parents or Google it, kids). Luckily, however, this 9 part series was ACTUALLY about the civil war! It was amazing! I learned things that I never knew about the civil war, some that were just astonishing! I really don’t want to spoil it, because I hope that you will actually go watch it. It was amazing and a must watch.
32. Los Angeles Plays Itself : This film gave a few facts about how Los Angeles is used in movies and not represented correctly in the narrator’s opinion. I can see his point, but the film eventually becomes an almost 3 hour bitch session about how Los Angeles is not used properly in movies and you also get a geography lesson. Unless you are just a huge fan of L.A. , sorry, Los Angeles in the movies, there’s no reason to watch this.
33. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology: I absolutely loved this film. I loved the way the concepts of Ideology are broken down with popular films (Especially “They Live!”). I love the way my own views of Ideology were challenged and I loved the way this film was shot. It was both intellectually stimulating as well as visually stimulating. I definitely recommend watching it and I will probably be watching it again.
34. The Nightmare: If you have never heard of sleep paralysis and want to learn more about it, find another film besides this one. While this film covers the topic, it does it in more of a “horror film” kind of setting. You never really understand what sleep paralysis is, other than the basic definition, and you just get to hear stories from people with this disorder while the film maker tries to scare the ever loving shit out of you with creepy effects. While I love a good horror movie, I watch documentaries to learn things and this was more show than substance. Again, why is this here?
35. Side by Side: Basically, Keanu Reeves goes to a bunch of directors/cinematographers and they talk about “is Film dead?” and go over the difference between celluloid film cameras and digital cameras that use CCDs and hard-disk drives. I liked it because it gave compelling arguments about digital vs. analog on the different aspects of data storage and I learned about CCDs now shooting in 5K. If all of this sounds like a foreign language, or you don’t give a shit about cameras or how movies are made, then skip it.
36. Casting By: This film was amazing. You learn about Casting Director Marion Dougherty and the way she helped make… well pretty much every fucking movie that any of us love because of the cast come true (Midnight Cowboy, The Graduate, The World According to Garp, Lethal Weapon just to name a few). She helped launch careers of pretty much every major movie star that you can think of (Warren Beatty, John Voit, Jon Lithgow, Mel Gibson, Bette Midler, Cybil Sheppard just to name a few). She was unappreciated by the Academy, but loved by every actor and director that she dealt with. I found myself saying “Holy shit, she did that!?” a lot during this film. I highly recommend watching this one.
37.Lost in La Mancha: This film is about the making of a film that doesn’t get made (sorry to spoil it, but you will come to that conclusion with in minutes of watching the film). It’s about Terry Gilliam’s epic struggle to bring Don Quixote to the big screen. It’s an almost comedic tragedy that also has Johnny Depp in it. If you are a Monty Python fan, or just like Terry Gilliam, I would recommend it.
38.Virunga: I have never thought much about other countries going after resources like oil and such as the U.S. does. After watching this film, I now know that everyone gets their hands dirty. This documentary revolves around the Virunga National Park, home to the last group of Mountain Gorillas. The rangers here have to defend this park from poachers, squatters, and rebel soldiers. I don’t want to give too much away, because my hope it that you will watch this film. It’s definitely on my must watch list.
39. War Don Don: This revolves around the civil war that occurred in Sierra Leone and the international special court that is gathered for the trial of war criminals, specifically Issa Sesay. The atrocities that occurred during this conflict are horrendous and almost unthinkable (and I have a pretty fucked up imagination). The whole film swings you between a “hang the bastard” mindset to almost a “maybe he was a patsy” way of thinking pretty much the whole way through. I would recommend it.
40.The Act of Killing: Director’s Cut: OK, this film was just a little odd for me. All I remember is saying “Man, Indonesia is a fucked up country” multiple times throughout the entire film (Sorry Indonesia). The film is fairly interesting, the main subject is an interesting character; however the whole thing gets a little muddled over by the Indonesian politics/orange clad paramilitary youth-group and the film sometimes feels like it doesn’t know where to focus. The film was just chaotic. I did like it, though.
41. The Imposter: Holy shit. If you are familiar with this story about Nicholas Barclay and his disappearance, then this gives so much detail to that story because it actually interviews the family and Frédéric Bourdin, who goes step by step on how he did it and narrates most of the film. IF you have never heard this story. Stop reading this now and go watch this and be prepared to say “What the fuck?” a whole lot of times. Seriously, go now.
42. Naqoyqatsi: (Takes deep breath and exhales slowly) Alright, I know that these films are creations. They are the art of the film maker. However, this fucking shit stain was a waste of my time and gave me a fucking headache. I tried to see the film maker’s vision. I read the film’s description…TWICE. Matter of fact here it is:
Naqoyqatsi chronicles the most significant occurrence of the last 5,000 years — the transition from a natural environment to a technological reality.
Once I noticed the pattern of images, I got it; however this film made me feel like I just watched the tape from “The Ring”. Seriously, this was 90 minutes of my life GONE! This film is basically something you watch stoned or while tripping balls.
43. Samsara: OK, so this film was kind of like Naqoyqatsi, but a tad more coherent. It basically shows the friction that can and does exist between man and nature, especially when man is living more in a more industrialized/technological society than a tribal/native society. I did like the film, I saw the point in the art; however it’s one you can easily pass on because the message is basically “technology will kill you and the planet” which I found hilarious because the film was shot on a digital camera, probably edited on an Apple laptop and streamed on Netflix. But technology is evil! ಠ_ಠ
44. Touching the Void: OK, I will save you some time (unless you are a mountain climbing junkie and just want to see it). 2 guys climb up a mountain in a dangerous fashion, and make it up the mountain. 2 guys climb down the mountain and 1 breaks his leg (BAD). Guy tries to take broke leg guy down the mountain, but he ends up dangling him off an ice ledge. After a bit, he thinks broke leg guy is dead so he cuts the rope and broke leg guy falls 150′ into a crevice. Broke leg guy survives the fall and eventually tunnels his way out. Both are still friends and still climb mountain like idiots.
45. Last Days in Vietnam: Every documentary I have ever seen is always about what we did while in Vietnam. The battles, the airstrikes, and the use of Agent Orange; however I have never seen a film about what we did to leave Vietnam. I was always under the impression we just picked up our shit and took off. Well, apparently not. This documentary shows how we evacuated Siagon and the Embassy before it was over ran. It was shocking to see some of the compassion and bravery of these men. This is one I recommend watching.
46. Best of Enemies: Before today I couldn’t tell you who the hell William F. Buckley Jr or Gore Vidal were without Googling them. This not only shows them in their famous on air debate, but also shows the shaping of current politics here in the US on both sides. I was amazed at the topics that Vidal covered in his writing at the time and stood up for in debates, and I was not at all shocked by Buckley’s rhetoric as it pretty much is the same shit we hear today. I liked this film, just because I was completely unfamiliar with the subject.
47. Let the Fire Burn: This film was about the MOVE cult (sorry, “organization”) in Philadelphia and the standoff they had with police in 1985. Again, this was a topic that I had no knowledge about so it was extremely interesting. During the film and seeing the events of the standoff, I likened it to the Waco, TX standoff with the Branch Davidians & David Koresh; however in this case the question of “did law enforcement start the fire?” is pretty damn clear. (Sorry, SPOILER ALERT!) It’s an interesting piece of history that is kind of obscure. I would recommend watching it just because of that.
48. The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 : I loved this film. Simply because it shows the other Black Leaders other than MLK, and Malcolm X and their impact on the movement. It sheds light on the US Government’s targeting of Black intellectuals that would be able to rally POC and community programs that would allow black people to stand on their own. It was an excellent film and no matter what color you are, I recommend watching it.
49. Concerning Violence: (Same guy that did The Black Power Mixtape) This film covers colonialism and how it oppresses and continues to oppress people of color to this day in Africa through force and religion. It’s a hard subject to swallow, so I will leave viewing this one up to you.
50. How to Die in Oregon : Let me start off by saying that I had and still have mixed feelings about this subject. Basically in 1994 Oregon passed the “Die with Dignity” law and legalized physician aided suicide for terminally ill patients. It’s the story about people facing their diagnoses and taking that option. At first I was shocked, the programming in my head that suicide was bad kicked in; however these people were going to die anyway. They had months to live (if that). The rest of their lives were going to be full of pain, feebleness, and well, just nothing good. So, the term suicide isn’t really correct. Termination of life is more to the point. Suicide is taking your life when you aren’t terminally ill. Termination is just speeding up nature and going out on your own terms. By the time I was done watching this (and done crying), my view had been changed. I think that everyone should have this right, and that this should be an option for anyone facing a terminally ill disease/diagnoses.
So that’s it! I am half-way done! There’s a few that are coming up that I am looking forward to, some that I have seen, and some that I have no idea what they are. Hopefully, I don’t hit another series and can get through these next 25 fairly quickly.