Wow, I came to this faster than I expected. I almost can’t believe that I am already posting about the 3rd quarter of the top 100 list that I have been watching. I actually checked 3 times to make sure that I didn’t skip any of these.
Its also hard to believe that I have watched approximately 75 documentary films on such a range of subjects, some that I would have never even thought of watching or probably have even come across. I feel that this entire experience has enriched my life and given me an experience that I will always look back on. As corny as that sounds, and especially when you think “You just watched a bunch of movies”, it’s more than that. Documentaries are stories; they are the story of one person’s or a group of people’s experience or point of view and you are the story’s listener. Movies are entertainment; Films are experiences.
Let me tell you about my latest experiences:
51. How to Survive a Plague: This was a story of the aids epidemic in the 80’s. It tells the story about how the LGBT community was basically left to die by the Reagan administration. Like any minority community, the LGBT community found ways to fix the broken system and try to survive. It was saddening to see these people basically left to die by bureaucracy.
52. We Were Here: This was the story of the beginning of AIDS in the San Francisco area. It tells the horrifying beginnings of this disease and it’s impacts on the gay community of San Francisco. Again, like “How to Survive a Plague”, it also shows the community coming together and trying to survive what was the very beginnings of the AIDS Epidemic.
Honestly, I recommend watching both of these films; however I would recommend watching “We Were Here” first, and then “How to Survive a Plague”. After watching these in “list order”, I wish I had done the same.
53. All American High Revisited: Basically, High School in the US in 1984 with a Finn exchange student then at the VERY end of the film they play catch up after 20+ years with kids from the film. It was entertaining, and I cringed at some points at the 80’s fashion. I liked it and found it entertaining/cringe-worthy.
54. Maidentrip: OK, this is one of the films that I: 1) Wanted to see & (2) Wanted to right about. This little girl is fucking amazing. She just goes and gets a boat, has her dad help her get it sea-worthy, fights the courts in Holland to let her sail, and BOOM! She is gone! She fucking sails seas that seasoned sailors nuts shrivel up at. She is amazing and the ending, just floored me. YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!
55. Undefeated: Did I mention that I don’t like sports? Well, I don’t. So, I really don’t want to sit through a 2 hour film about teams, and practice, and coach’s big speech. Fuck that. So far, every time I have said something like: “I am going to hate this film” is when I end up loving it. This film is a typical story. An underfunded, inner-city, football team that is struggling. You have seen it, you have heard it, but dammit if this film didn’t get to me and I ended up loving it. I won’t say it is a must watch, but if you ARE a sports fan; then yeah you need to sit down and watch this film (bring tissue).
56. Medora: Unlike the previous sports doc, I couldn’t care less about these kids, this team or this town. I didn’t see the same drive and determination as I did with other kids. I didn’t see the same fire as with the other coach. [SPOILER ALERT] Which is probably why the team lost so goddamn always. Honestly, I didn’t see the point of this film, or why it was on the list.
57. Rich Hill: OK, one of the other films that I was waiting to write about. This film highlights the lives of 3 kids. 2 kids have behavioral problems, 1 kids parents are just not based in reality and don’t know how to get their shit together. The two kids that have behavioral problems, neither are medicated or in any form of treatment. One of the kid’s parents pisses me off to no end because she thinks at the age of 12/13 that he should be able to manage his own psychiatric problems and medication and basically just lets him go, but screams at him when he makes mistakes. There’s a difference between a kid being a little shit and needing help. What it did show to me is that the issues that come with poverty, aren’t a racial thing because these kids are all white, and this is in a rural white town. It was good to see some diversity & I would definitely recommend watching this film.
58. White Earth: Wow, this was eye opening to an issue that is happening now in North Dakota with the oil industry. Apparently a year or so ago, mass drilling operations started in ND. So, a lot of people and their families migrated to there. It’s an interesting piece of recent history that has occurred that no one really has mentioned.
59. The Overnighters: During the mass migration of people seeking jobs in North Dakota, a lot of people were sleeping in their cars. Hotels, Motels, and even RV parks were filled due to the massive influx of people into these small towns. A church pastor starts housing people at his church and a complete shit-storm starts because of it. I honestly could believe some of it, and some of it I could not. The absolute hell that this man goes through to do what he believes is right is commendable. I honestly couldn’t believe some of the things that happened in this film.
I recommend watching both of these; however you should go ahead and watch these two in “list order”.
60. Detropia: Wow. The state of decay that Detroit is in is horrific. Little to no manufacturing work is there anymore and over 60% of the population has left the city. The city is broke, and the state had to eventually take over management of the city. Its sad that one of the largest automotive manufacturing cities in America is now a ghost town.
61.Caucus: This was the sideshow that was the Republican Iowa Caucus in 2012. It was fun to see all of these “next presidents of the United States” parade about, spout non-sense, praise the lord and eat corn dogs.
62. The Square: This film actually brought back some memories. I remember sitting and watching these videos of the violence of Tahrir Square during the revolution. Seeing people being shot down by their own government, being beaten and then having it happen all over again, and again. It’s this kind of resilience and patriotism that you have to admire. I would definitely recommend watching this film.
63. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room: I thought I knew the story about Enron. Horrible investments, fraud, and everyone lost their 401k. This film shows that’s just the tip-top of the iceberg. The way these guys fucked up and fucked over is amazing. It is a beautiful painting of bullshit and greed. You need to watch this film.
64: Kids for Cash: Wow… I am still wrapping my head around this one. I actually posted another post (that is extremely long, just FYI) because it just infuriated me that not only could this kind of thing could happen, but that there are elements in the schools today that elevate the risk factor of the threat of a child becoming part of the criminal justice system for issues that shouldn’t be involved in the courts. If you have a child in school, are a teacher, or school administrator then you should definitely watch this film. Matter of fact, just everyone watch this film.
65. The House I Live In : I have never thought about why drugs are “bad”. How did we decide that heroine is “bad”. How did we decide that cocaine is “bad”. This film shows how the war on drugs is a farce, and how other factors came into play when deciding that certain drugs are “bad”. It was informative and had a lot of history in it, along with personal stories from people in prison. I would spend the time to watch this film.
66. The Farm: Angola USA: This was the story about Angola prison in Louisiana and some of the people in it. I have never seen such care for people as I did in the COs and the Warden, and such sorrow but acceptance in the prisoners. It did raise the question of how we spend money on our prisons and how that the current way things are done is completely flawed (And that’s coming from the COs and the Warden). It really changed my view point and way of thinking on the penal system.
67. Evolution of a Criminal: I loved this film. I loved the way it was done. I loved the subject matter and I loved the story that it told. I am not going to tell you anything about this film. That’s right, nothing. You need to go watch it.
68. Making a Murderer – Generally, I skip the films that I have already seen and chances are that you have already seen this one or at least heard about it. If you have not seen this film series (yes series) then you need to. You will never see the criminal justice system in the same light again. This series will leave you angry and crushed. You have been warned.
69. Which Way Home: This film really did something to me. It moved me to tears, it infuriated me, and it confused me all at the same time. First the description is completely wrong (SOME SPOILERS):
This documentary follows three children who make a dangerous trek through Mexico en route to the U.S. border, hoping to reunite with their parents.
It starts with 2, both have left home and their parents in Central America. Then they pick up 2 more that either have left their parents or do not have parents, if I remember only one is from Mexico the other is also from Central America (I could be wrong). So, none of these kids are trying to reach their parents (Actually, I think 1 is but he doesn’t know where he is in the US or if he is still there). (SPOILER ALERT) The film crew then finds two other VERY YOUNG small children but looses them. This made me almost sob, and definitely cry.
The thing that infuriated me was while interviewing these kids and some adults along the illegal train ride through Mexico. Everyone seemed to have this sense of entitlement to come into the United States. Now, I am not anti-immigration. I have a buddy of mine that has a wife that is going through immigration/citizenship right now. Yes, it’s long and costly. Our immigration policy needs an overhaul; however opening the borders or giving rights to illegal immigrants isn’t an answer in my book. If you want to come to America, awesome! The line starts over there. The other thing that infuriated me was the parents of the kids. They were banking that their pre-teen child would survive the 1000+ mile trip to the border and then survive crossing it (which usually means crossing the dessert). One kid’s mom was highly disappointed that her child didn’t make it and now she couldn’t “get ahead in life” for her other kids and new husband.
This film confused me because you have these kids that are trying to escape shitty home lives, shitty situations and try to make a better life; however we have people here that are citizens that are trying to do the same thing, we have refugees that are trying to do that same thing and we have people that are going through immigration legally that are trying to do the same thing; however it’s hard to think about this when you are seeing these kids go through all of this hardship right on your TV screen. Thus the confusion. As you can see, this film really provoked a lot of thought and feelings in me. I suggest watching it and seeing what it does for you.
70. These Birds Walk : This film was an interesting subject and shed light on the issues of child-rights and treatment in Pakistan. There aren’t a lot of surprises, to be honest, but it does give you hope that there are people out there trying to do good.
71. Call Me Lucky: Before this film, I couldn’t have told you who Barry Crimmins was or why he was important. After watching this film, I now want to see every bit of stand-up he has ever done, and every speech he has ever made. This man took personal tragedy and made it into a weapon. He took on things, from the Government, to AOL and held his ground. He is an interesting and inspiring man. I am glad that I watched this film.
72. Girl Model: I always knew that the modeling industry was horrible. It was a machine that physically and emotionally devoured women and shat them out empty & broken. This film is just about that, but with young teenage girls. I have never seen such soullessness in a human before. It’s like they were vipers preying on some type of small bird. It turned my stomach. If you have a daughter, and she wants to be a model, sit down and watch this film with her. If you have a daughter that is currently trying to get into modeling…stop and watch this film.
73. Iris: Like sports, I could also care less about fashion. I don’t care about trends, whats in, whats out. Fuck it. I am wearing a shirt and jeans with my All-Stars. That’s if I am wearing pants that day at all. This film goes into the life of 93 year-old fashion icon Iris Apfel. This lady is a riot! What she does with clothing and accessories is awesome, and I like the stuff she comes up with; however why she has a cult following or is an icon I don’t know. This is a delightful film about a little lady, with too many clothes and accessories, a cult following in the fashion industry, who knows how to haggle and her and her husband are funny as hell. It was a welcome break to all of the soul crushing that occurred in the previous few films.
74. Mad Hot Ballroom: This film pissed me off within the first 6 minutes. Apparently, ballroom dancing is a required class in elementary schools in NYC and is a 10 week course. I do not understand why this is required. You are forcing children to learn a skill that they will (more than likely) not need later in life. Want to make a class mandatory in elementary schools? Try typing/keyboarding. To play devil’s advocate, it did give them some social skills that most kids do not have at their ages; however another thing popped up that just pisses me off about how we reward kids. I cannot stand the idea of the participation trophy. The way this was set up was that all of the kids that lost the semi-finals were 2nd place (Silver Level) and they got ribbons and gift bags. All of the kids that advanced were 1st place (Gold Level) and they got to advance, plus got ribbons and gift bags. This continues all the way to the finals, with the exception the winner got a big ass trophy. Even if this film had none of the above things that just grind my gears, I still wouldn’t tell you to watch it.
75. Gasland: This was one film that hit close to home, because I live in a town on the Barnett Shale and I have one of these wells about 500′ behind my house. Actually, my town was kind of famous for awhile because we started having earthquakes. From Nov 2013 to Jan 2014 my little town had 27 earthquakes that were about magnitude 2 , a few were higher. These were the first earthquakes that have been felt in my area in 150 years. After testing, The Texas Railroad Commission shut down 2 of the waste water wells. We haven’t had an earthquake since. So, when the film starts going into other details about the dangers of fracking, I paid attention. What this film showed, horrified me. I really think everyone should see this film and pay attention to it.
I am currently watching #76 FrackNation and it is a must watch RIGHT AFTER “Gasland”. Its basically the counter point to that film and it is something that you must watch after. This film blatantly goes for the throat to dispel all of the key points of “Gasland”. The film maker (who was backed by Kickstarter donations) goes to show you that a lot of the images and points used in “Gasland” were false. Again, I think that both films should be watched and your own conclusions drawn.
I am now on the final films. The last 25(ish) and then I am done. I don’t know what the hell I am going to do after I finish this list. Maybe I will start my own, who knows.