Top 10 Must-See Documentaries
I’m not really one for TV. Unless it’s Mad Men, Girls or The Wire, I find most things to be a bit ‘meh’. Documentaries however, I love me a good documentary. I’ve recently had, what basically amounts to a film festival in my house – with my own private screenings of some wonderful docs. Some I’ve watched for the first time, some are old favourites that I watch fairly regularly for inspiration and because I’m such a giver, I thought I’d share with you my top 10. Check ‘em out…
As you know, I’m a massive boxing fan and dabble in a bit of boxing training myself so tend to absorb any films or literature on the subject. I came across this gem quite by chance and I’m sure glad I did. It follows Dmitriy Salita, a 25 year old Russian immigrant living in New York. He’s a professional boxer and observant Jew. The documentary follows him over three years as he marries these two elements of his life. It is really interesting to see his dedication to both his profession and faith and if you’re a fight fan, there’s some pretty sweet fight action in there too.
Directed by Martin Scorcese, this doc follows the author Fran Lebowitz. Lebowitz is somewhat of a personal hero of mine. Utterly hilarious with a pretty freakin’ fantastic view on life. Essentially, I hope to be her one day. This doc is made up of interviews with her and clips from her various speaking engagements. If we wanna talk about women who’ve carved a path for us to have a platform to speak our minds without fear, Lebowitz should be the poster child.
I keep abreast of current affairs, but sometimes I get a little lost – I lose the chain about why particular conflicts started and such like. So if you, like me, felt a few brain cells explode when the financial crash happened, you need this documentary in your life. It’s a fascinating look into how and why it happened and what governments did afterwards. Be warned though, it will give you the rage. But it will also give you much needed knowledge.
Entourage star Adrian Grenier (well hello! Ding dong!) examines the relationship between the celebrity, the paparazzo and society. He was randomly papped by 14 year old paparazzo Austin Visschedyk one night which prompted the whole project. He follows Austin as he runs down celebs and hangs with the pap pack while they await the perfect shot. Young Austin is a classic moody, spoiled, American teen. He is also BALLIN’! He makes mad money from the shots he takes so it’s interesting to see Grenier try to reconcile the moral side of a young kid doing this with the fact that he is really quite enterprising. Either way, it’s a pretty interesting look into our fascination with celebrity culture.
Beats, Rhymes and Life
This is a must see for any A Tribe Called Quest fan. Michael Rapaport (whom I love) takes a look at the history of the group and gets all their perspectives on the drama and ultimate break up. It’s pretty moving stuff. They were such pioneers of a movement and made some truly excellent music – the doc is worth watching just for that alone, but also gives great insight into how the industry can ultimately tear apart a good thing.
If you were reared on Sesame Street, as I was, this documentary is an absolute must. Your soul will just burst. I went to see it at the cinema when it came out and was alternating between goofy grinning and crying the whole time. This is the story of Kevin Clash, the man behind one of the most loved characters of our generation. It’s fascinating to see how he started out as a puppeteer and developed the Elmo character, his love and admiration for Jim Henson and how he just took in everything Jim taught him like a sponge. What he has created with Elmo is truly magical. Seeing the effect it has on children in the documentary will melt your stone cold heart.
Bill Cunningham New York
This documentary is an absolute game changer. If you don’t feel inspired to get off your ass and just burst with creativity after watching it, you did it wrong. Bill Cunningham is one of the most noted fashion photographers in New York City and a pioneer of street style photography. Without him, there is no Scott Schuman or Garance Dore. His work ethic is unrelenting. He’s worked at the New York Times for decades and spends his every spare moment photographing people. He lives in one room, crammed with filing cabinets full of negatives. His life is fully, 100% about his passion and this look into his work and influence is so inspiring. It’s also proof that you don’t necessarily need to shout the loudest to make the most noise.
I wrote about Catfish when it first came out at the cinema a couple of years ago. I think this is a must see documentary of our time. Looking at the relationships we have with those on the interwebs, this follows the journey of a guy who befriends someone online, which develops into a relationship, which then, eerily turns out to be something else altogether. It’s partly a look into how all our relationships are changing as a result of online life and partly a cautionary tale.
This great documentary takes a look at the way women are presented in the media and the effect that has on both women and men. Prepare yourself for a healthy dose of feminist rage. What really stands out is how few women there are in positions of power and influence within media organisations to help change these images. It is frankly heartbreaking to hear the teenage girls in this documentary speak about the portrayal of women in the media and how it effects them. By the end, you want to go on a rally, burn a building down and punch a random man in the face.
Yup, another boxing doc and as you might guess by the title, yes, it is about Mike Tyson. I’m a huge Tyson fan and this fact often causes controversy. I used to find him genuinely petrifying and was disgusted by the things he did in the past and his attitude to women. But at the same time, as a fight fan, I loved his work. He was poetry in motion in the ring. One of the best to ever do it. I started looking into his past, his story and learned a lot, then I saw this documentary. The guy has had a crazy life. This doc shows a broken man trying to piece his life back together and be a better person. To watch him pick himself apart and learn lessons and grow is truly fascinating. He’s as disgusted by his previous behaviour as the next person, but he is truly doing everything he can to turn his life around. You may not end up loving him, but you may understand him a bit more.
All of these documentaries are available to watch on Movie2K
Tags: A Tribe Called Quest, Adrian Grenier, Beats Rhymes and Life, Being Elmo, Bill Cunningham, catfish, documentaries, Film, Inside Job, Michael Rapaport, Mike Tyson, Miss Representation, new york, Orthodox Stance, Public Speaking, Teenage Paparazzo