Documentary Kick

I love documentaries. I know they only show one point of view and most have an agenda, but I like that they open my eyes to something I probably knew nothing about. I don't believe everything I see and if it's something I feel passionately about I'll do more research, but I still really enjoy them. Here's what I've been watching lately:

The Armstrong Lie  This movie started as a documentary about Lance Armstrong's comeback to cycling in 2009, but once the allegations about doping came out the director put it on hold. He picked it back up when Lance decided to tell the truth, which changed the theme of the film. I actually really loved the movie. I learned a lot about the sport and the controversy and corruption in the Tour de France. It's a huge mess and some could argue that Armstrong had to dope because "everyone else was doing it." But he's still an asshole. He was horrible to the public, his charity, his friends and teammates. I remember being totally caught up in his success story. I wore that stupid yellow Livestrong bracelet and actually watched the Tour de France on TV a few times! It all makes me feel pretty stupid. It was a long, but totally engaging documentary.

The Act of Killing The filmmakers wanted to hear about the 1965-66 Indonesian mass killings from two death squad leaders. Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry eagerly agreed to reenact the real life mass murders in different movie genres such as gangster, western, and musical. What a f*cked up way to tell the horrific story of killing a million people. I thought it was a really strange idea and had a hard time watching how enjoyable it was for the killers to to tell these tales, but still, it was something I previously knew nothing about, which is sad in itself. 

Mitt Mitt Romney and his family were followed through his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Of course we all know the outcome, but this behind the scenes look was actually very interesting. I'm a nerd for political stuff like this. It definitely showed a more personal (and likable) side to Mitt and focused on the toll it took on his family, rather then the campaign war room and political team behind him. Mitt genuinely worried about letting people down, which isn't always the story in politics.

Cutie and the Boxer This film shows the preparation of Ushio Shinohara's upcoming art show, which he hopes will revive his career. It also explores the dynamic of his forty-year marriage to Noriko, who has always taken the backseat to his art. I thought the movie was interesting, but also a little depressing. I guess it's meant to show the sacrifice you make for art? I liked it, but probably wouldn't have watched it if it wasn't nominated for an Oscar. I really love Ushio's boxing paintings though. Would it be terrible if I had Jacob recreate one for me? I mean, he's a real life boxer at least!

We Were Here Told through the personal accounts of five people who lived in San Francisco in the early '80s during the AIDS epidemic (or "gay plague") that killed 15,000. In the interviews, the caregivers, activists, researchers, friends, lovers, and AIDS survivors explained how their lives changed, the impact on the city, and the social and political problems that arose. It's a simple movie with just the interviews from those five people, but it was very engaging and, well, very sad. I feel like it's an important story to be told.

Dirty Wars Based on the book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, the film follows journalist Jeremy Scahill who travels to Yemen, Afganistan and Somalia, where the US government has taken military action. He investigates government cover up of the death of civilians during the Khataba raid, the assassination of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, and shares testimony from warlords who are backed by the US. It's not at all as boring as it sounds. It plays out more like a movie than an investigative documentary, and it's very disturbing. 

The Central Park Five This film examines the 1989 brutal rape of a white female jogger in Central Park and the arrests of five African American and Latino teenagers. Although the teens confessed, they later retracted and said they were coerced and intimidated into making false statements. After a crappy trial with no proof, they were convicted of the crime. They each served between six and thirteen years in prison, before a serial rapist confessed to the crime in 2002. It is heartbreaking. I don't even know how else to explain my feelings. My heart is so, so sad for those men and I can't imagine how the city could have screwed up so bad.

The Square This is the best documentary I've seen in a loooong time and my pick for the Oscar this year. The Egyptian Revolution has been going on since 2011 and this film gives a battle ground peek at what has been happening. This intimate look at the revolution shows corruption among government officials and in elections, protests, and police brutality, combined with inspirational and heartbreaking personal stories of the young revolutionaries. I cried a lot and I was on the edge of my seat for 104 minutes. I paid a little attention to the turmoil in Egypt (when Anderson Cooper was there), but this was eye opening and shocking and made it feel so real and a lot more scary. Watch it!


Misty C. said...

I haven't watched a documentary in a really long time. Sad.

Jen K said...

Dirty Wars sounds interesting to me. My brother was in the army. He said there is so much crap we don't know it's scary.

Melanie Montgomery said...

I'm just now on a documentary kick starting with The Cove and The West Memphis Three. Both are a little older but so good. And the West Memphis Three hits close too home cause it happened thirty minutes away from my town.

Suze said...

I'm a huge documentary nut (thanks, Netflix, for the never-ending documentaries!), nbut the only one of these I've seen is Mitt.

SMD @ lifeaccordingtosteph said...

I can't bear stories of people wrongfully imprisoned. I don't know how they deal with life after such injustice.

All very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Kathrin@shopschoolsleep said...

i would love to see Central Park 5!! that case (when it was being talked about with the real killer's confession) was fascinating!! I miss having Blockbusters because I would watch all sorts of documentaries

Micah said...

I was on a documentary kick not too long ago as well. "Bully" really hit me hard. I cried. "Craigslist Joe" picked me up again.

Karen M. Peterson said...

I felt the same way about "The Act of Killing." It took me three sittings to get through it because it was so unthinkable.

I LOVED "The Square" too! One of the best documentaries I've probably seen EVER. It was fascinating to see some things that I don't remember ever seeing on the news, only to have the participants scouring the internet and shocked that no one was reporting them. Really well done.

I don't think I can watch "Mitt." I'm still too heartbroken about the election.

Tiffany @ Polka Dotted Cats said...

Dirty Wars is on my imaginary and ever growing list of things to watch! I haven't heard of most of these others, but they sound really awesome. And you should definitely have Jacob recreate a boxing painting :)