View Full Version : What are your Favorite Docs and Why?

08-16-2004, 02:26 PM
Just curious,
What are your fav documentaries and what do you like about them? I'm always looking for other docs to buy/rent for reference material. I've gotten some good ideas on shooting style, lighting, etc. from some that I've been able to implement in the doc I'm doing.

Here's one I just saw and liked: Stone Reader by Mark Moskowitz. It was shot on 16mm and looks great. I like the way he used cutaways of nature and the environment around him to make the interviews more interesting. He also did a lot of his interviews outdoors, some while even walking. I think it is an excellent reference for anyone who might be including themselves as one of the subjects of thier doc.

So, what doc should I watch next? :)


08-17-2004, 06:24 AM
"Gates of Heaven" by Errol Morris.

It's really a testamant to the skill of Errol Morris in pulling people into the camera and letting them be what they are. While the film is about a pet cemetary, it ends up being an exploration of the characters interviewed, a painting of personality that has very little to do with a pet cemetary in the end.

Not to mention that Werner Herzog had to litterally eat his shoe to pay off a bet about the film.


08-23-2004, 03:42 PM
"Streetwise." A beautifully shot and unsentimental portrait of Seattle street kids, based on Mary Ellen Mark's photo book of the same name, and an article written by Cheryl McCall. Oddly, not available on DVD.

"Crumb." By turns hilarious and depressing, a consistently compelling exploration of the artist, his dysfunctional family, his work, his times.

"Gimme Shelter" by the Maysle brothers. A concert film-turned-social document. Great Stones music plus a harrowing microcosm of the death of 60's idealism.

"American Movie" and "Lost in La Mancha." Both terrific docs on filmmaking. Anyone who's ever struggled to make a movie can relate to both these films. "La Mancha" shows that just because you're an established director with a substantial budget, doesn't mean your project can't go completely awry. "American Movie" is painfully funny and strangely inspiring; its subject, Mark Borchardt may not be the most talented filmmaker but his passion for his projects comes through.

08-23-2004, 03:51 PM
La Mancha is awesome.

I like all of Nick Broomfield's, *Heidi Fleiss, Kurt and Courtney, etc cause Broomfield gets himself into such awkward and tense situations in all of them, very compelling to watch.

08-24-2004, 06:27 AM
I loved "American Movie" and "Lost in La Mancha" but my favorite doc in recent years was "Spellbound." I don't care one bit about spelling bees, but the filmmakers still got me caring about the kids and how they were going to perform in the bee. Itw as just a really entertaining flick.

08-24-2004, 02:39 PM
i must check that out

08-25-2004, 12:47 PM
All the Alan Berliner documentaries, specially "Nobody's business" and "The sweetest sound". ;) They shocked me when I watched the first time. It's like Woody Allen but in documentary field. :)

08-29-2004, 08:41 AM
If you're lucky, your local video store might have a copy of Bennett Miller's "The Cruise" with Timothy Speed Levitch. A low budget, one man production shot on VX1000, we follow a tour bus guide with an encylopedic knowledge of philosophy and New York City. Absolutely riveting, hilarious, and engaging, though at times self-absorbing. Released on tape a few years ago, I don't understand why this isn't on DVD yet.

08-29-2004, 11:49 AM
I've heard good things about Spellbound and American Movie too... They're on my rental list for next week. I'll let ya know what I think!

08-31-2004, 08:38 AM
American Movie is one of my favorite movies. Fantastic.

09-21-2004, 04:33 PM
Loved "Spellbound"- I was cringing waiting for the bell. Enthralled with "Fog of War". Errol Morris in general straight up rules, love "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control". Hertzog too, though his stuff can drag at times "Little Dieter needs to Fly" is one of my favs from him.

"Touching the Void" was great, for the story and the cinematography.

"Sound and the Fury" - about deaf culture, a subject I never really thought about. Not so great technically, but the story/subject got me.

"American Movie"- hilarious. "Lost in La Mancha"- I felt soooo bad for T.G. If it weren't for bad luck, he wouldn't have had any on that set.

I think I'm headed in the documentary direction myself. I'll never get rich, but I'm sure it will be interesting.


09-21-2004, 05:16 PM
Sort of along the lines of American Movie is one called Mule Skinner Blues, directed by Stephen Earnhart. Has anyone here seen this? It is among my favorite all-time movies for the message it puts out: "Dont be afraid to follow your dream. If you fall in the mud, you might come back as a gorilla." I met the director and several of the people who are in it when a local theater premiered it. It was filmed in Mayport, Florida near where I live. heh! I still see some of the people in that movie at the grocery store. Its funny when that happens.

09-22-2004, 09:22 AM
Errol Morris, Vernon, Florida

09-22-2004, 10:45 PM
Winged Migration- astounding to watch.

The Decline of Western Civilization- Great documentary on punk rock.

Dogtown and Z Boys- By far my favorite documentary, the history of skateboarding, lots of fun to watch.

09-23-2004, 12:02 PM
Winged Migration - simply amazing. Too bad the narration has such a bad sound.

Spellbound - I'd never think a spelling bee could be so funny and emotional. The Indian guy of a father was simply hillarious. I feel sorry for his boy, though...

10-03-2004, 10:43 PM
Another vote for Winged Migration... the making of the film was also featured in DV magazine and they did a lot of interesting and experimental ways of filming this docu.

10-05-2004, 02:16 AM
I just watched "Stoked," it's a documentary about an old pro skater "The Gator" it was really interesting. Picked it up for $5 at blockbuster. :)

10-14-2004, 10:40 PM
Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks (HBO 2000)

Excellent doc about a very unique and creative individual who had success as a photographer, novelist, journalist, poet, musician and filmmaker... highly reccomend for those who have not seen it.

Does anyone agree..?

10-15-2004, 02:38 PM
The Gleaners and I. By Agnes Varda.
The best i īve seen lately. A lot of humor and poetic inside a social theme.
She did a second part (a two years after) which could be avoid it.

Thanks to this threat (J. Barnes) I watch Lesson in Darkness. Great images. I just hope i could watch it on a big theatre. A poor tv wasnīt the best place to enjoy it.

10-25-2004, 09:14 AM
My two favorites docs have more to do with the subject matter than the actual film style. I just happen to like the fillms.

1. Crumb (totally worth watching especially if your gonna watch American Splendor as a companion piece.)

2. Disc 5 last part of Band of Brothers (don't know that it actually counts, but I love listening to the first hand accounts of the men of Easy Co. as they describe what they experienced. Not to mention the sweet job of lighting they achieved to set the tone.)


11-03-2004, 05:37 AM
Nobody mentioned "Rivers and Tides" yet? Very inspiring -- about Andy Goldsworthy's work.