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25 of My Favorite Documentaries

  • Aug 15, 2009
A peek into the life of famous underground comicbook artist. As weird and kinky as he is it turns out that he's the well adjusted member of his family
Hoop Dreams
It's hard not to get involved in this extended study of 2 boys from the projects who have a chance to get into a good high school and maybe even college because of their basketball prowress.
Why We Fight

President Eisenhower warned us but we didn't pay any attention, and now here we are living in the middle of what he predicted--an economy driven by corporations that thrive on war.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
The Showdown at the OK Corral. The ultimate good guy versus the bad guy...but the bad guy never shows up and then says he won anyway!
Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy
Every guy who has ever seen porn loves Ron Jeremy. If this guy can be a porn star then there is hope for them! I can't help feeling sorry for the guy. He wants to be a straight, legitimate,  actor, but the industry will never acccept him. He's destined to be a punchline in the history of movies.

Jesus Camp
Oooohh. Scary stuff here.
The U.S. vs. John Lennon

J.Edgar and the government in general fought like crazy to keep this evil doer out of the country! Maybe if they had succeeded he'd still be alive.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Maybe not all that smart, their own greed got them caught and that's pretty stupid.
Grizzly Man
Werner Herzog's movie about Timothy Treadwell, a strange little guy who mistakenly believed that his knowledge of the bears would keep him safe. (Note: Bears do not have a secret handshake)
DVD cover of the movie
For some people EVERYTHING is a conspiracy. Sometimes severely depressed musicians just kill themselves and that's it. Still it's an interesting documentary if only to watch them try to weave their theories.
Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer
You might feel ashamed of your fellow human beings after seeing how they used and abused "America's first female serial killer" AFTER she was imprisioned.
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
4 TALES OF OBSESSION, all of them fascinating.
Chicago 10
A better look at the 1968 Democratic Convention protests than the one Mayor Daley was handing out!
See the full review, "THE WHOLE WORLD'S WATCHING".
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices

You've got to see this if you think that going to Wal-Mart is saving you big bucks. Afterward you'll probably want to drive them out of town--except that'll cost you even more money! They're really sneaky!
And you just thought that Bush only stole the 2000 election!
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A Family Portrait
An interesting bunch of recollections by most of the primary actors. No Tobe Hooper, no Marilyn Chambers, but still of interest to any horror fan.
My Kid Could Paint That
This documentary was originally made by a painter who wanted to prove his theory that any child could paint a highly regarded work of modern art. But when he turned the camera on this child prodigy he began to suspect that her father might be helping her out. Was he?
Crazy Love
Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy stalks and disfigures girl by throwing acid on her, boy gets significant jail time, boy and girl get married---HUH!!??!!
Jupiter's Wife

The story of a homeless woman in Central Park.
The Up Series
"Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man." This series of interviews was conducted every 7 years with British school children in order to see if class and education realy did make that much of a difference in their lives. Could they/ would they rise above it? Would they live out their dreams?
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
After seeing this film I have a much better understanding of why Polanski bolted rather than face trial. If you think you know it all, I assure you, you don't.
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.
Hired to prove the Holocaust did not occur, he agreed. Happily things did not go well for him after that.
Pumping Iron 2: The Women

The world of body building conventions gets set on it's ear in this critical year. How should women be judged? By who has the biggest muscles, or who is the sexiest?
Roger & Me
What happened in Flint, Michigan, was the shape of things to come for the rest of the United States.  And yet we still want to believe that the Gordon Gecko's of the world are right--that "Greed is good" and if the rich only get rich enough it will eventually trickle down to the rest of us! Get real.

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August 17, 2009
Awesome list. I totally agree with you "The U.S. vs. John Lennon", "My Kid Could Paint That", and "Why We Fight". How come your #1 talks about a female serial killer when it's about underground comix writer and artist Robert Crumb? Also, you have to see "In the Realms of the Unreal" about outsider artist and recluse Henry Darger, "Taxi to the Dark Side" about extraordinary rendition and the torture tactics used by the Bush administration, and Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke" about the U.S. govenrment's failure to effectively respond to Hurricane Katrina and prevent flooding in Louisianna. All of them are amazingly well-done and would go on my top documentary list in a heartbeat. Also, why did you not explain #22?
August 18, 2009
Beats me! I've been telling people that I've had problems with things when I go to edit them. No one has mentoned this up 'til now. I'll have to go back and check to see what else has happened. On #22 the gremlins wiped out my text every time I entered it, so I just gave up. I guess they just don't like Polanski.
August 18, 2009
Now I want to see a documentary on the on-line gremlins and find out why they have a conspiracy against you. ; ) But really do check out those three I recommended because they're easily three of the best documentaries I've ever seen.
August 18, 2009
Oh, trust me, I will. They're on my list for when the docu-mood strikes.
September 26, 2009
See any of them yet?
September 26, 2009
Not yet. You should see my NetFlix list! I've got a couple other documentaries that are about to come up though. The first one is CONSTANTINE'S SWORD.
August 17, 2009
Nice list! Some I've seen other's are on the list to be seen. I just saw The Cove at the theater and you might like that too.

What's (not so) funny about Roger & Me is that he could make a sequel about the entire state of Michigan right now.  :(

I have been in a documentary phase lately and now you've given me fresh material to look at. THANKS!
August 17, 2009
It's got to be even MORE grim in Michigan now. Down in Florida we used to have a joke--"Will the last person to leave Michigan please turn out the lights." I only put one of Moore's films on the list because I needed to make room for others. I like his stuff--it's sort of a mix of street theater and documentary. It's why people watch his films when most documentaries never get seen at all. I take it THE COVE is a genre flick? I'll put it on my list. I've been watching a little too much Bollywood lately. I need to get back to my roots.
August 17, 2009
The Cove is definitely a documentary, but it is part detective, part cloak and dagger, part action thriller and a whole of heart string pulling.

Yeah, Michigan is in a tough spot right now.  I grew up there and it's sad to go back and watch the slow death.

I have a love/hate with Michael Moore, his voice drives me crazy as does his condescending humor.  I think of them as more visual opinon-based entertainment than true documentaries. 
August 17, 2009
Oh yeah, he never pretends that they aren't totally reflective of his opinion and they fact that they are entertaining is what gets the butts in the seats. I'm looking forward to THE COVE. It sounds like a different kind of experience.
August 17, 2009
Oooooh, I love documentaries.  I haven't heard of about half of these, so thanks for giving me suggestions on what to watch next!  I've been particularly interested in The Up Series after they were spoofed on The Simpsons.  And I agree with you about Jesus Camp being scary!
August 17, 2009
The UP SERIES sort of lost its momentum after 42 UP because the people were starting to drop out and the producers in turn stopped asking the more penettrating questions in order to keep them participating. But one of them, Neil, is still there and his story is by far the most tragic and interesting. I love documentaries too, and it was hard narrowing the list down to only 25.
August 17, 2009
That's unfortunate. I guess it's understandable though since they're prying into their lives. There needs to be an American version of it that isn't The Simpsons. And perhaps you can make Favorite Documentaries List 2! :P
August 17, 2009
One day sooner or later it'll happen. The first kids to drop out of UP were the wealthy aristocrats. I think they realized at 21 how pompus and overbearing they had appeared at 14. =)
About the list creator
karen ()
Ranked #17
I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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