Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Top 10: Documentaries
My days of watching documentaries are relatively small as I've only recently (as in, the past few years) gotten into the habit of giving them a view. At the current moment, that will be reflected in this particular list. You'll notice that most of the inclusions are recent pictures, but that shouldn't deter you from giving any of them a view. And as with my other 'Top 10' lists, this one will be ever-changing based off the new films I see.
And so, without any further delay, here's a look at the top ten documentaries I have ever seen:
10. Zombie Girl: The Movie (2009)
Over the years, the making of a number of films has been chronicled through documentary features, but I'm not quite sure that any has taken on the task of displaying the directorial debut of a twelve-year-old girl. When Emily Hagins started working on her zombie flick, Pathogen, a crew of documentarians took interest and gave the world an insight into the making of her first feature-length venture. What results is an honest look at the world of independent filmmaking, and it's going to make you root for Hagins from start to finish.
9. Cropsey (2010)
Billed as a documentary that delves into the concepts of urban mythology, Cropsey ultimately proves to be a blend of the documentary, courtroom and horror genres. By taking the real-life events of missing children cases in Staten Island, filmmakers Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman create an always-engaging piece that's going to leave you wondering. It's going to haunt you for a while, and I think that was the film's intention all along.
8. Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)
Speaking of films that are going to stay with you... Dear Zachary is one of the most emotionally exhausting films you are ever going to see. It tells the tragic story of one man's attempt to create a film for the infant son of his late best friend, who was murdered in cold blood. Although you always know it's a documentary, Dear Zachary is edited in a way that it almost seems like a dramatic thriller. What makes it so emotionally responsive is the fact that it is a true story. I'd dare anyone to try and watch this without shedding a tear or two.
7. Waking Sleeping Beauty (2010)
Many of my readers will know that I'm a bit of a Disney fanatic, and when given the opportunity to watch a documentary about Disney, you'll be sure I'll jump right in. Add the fact that this particular gem follows the brilliance of the Disney Animation "renaissance" period, which created films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, and you've got yourself the makings of something that everyone in my generation is going to love and enjoy.
6. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
I've never been much of a video gamer, but I do tend to enjoy your classic arcade games. The King of Kong showcases a number of hardcore gamers attempting to stamp their name in the record books as the best of the original "Donkey Kong" arcade game. What makes this film so engaging is the fact that, despite it being a documentary, we're given a clear protagonist and antagonist. We know who we want to cheer for and who we want to root against, and that makes it all the more entertaining and emotionally powerful.
5. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
One of the first documentaries I ever watched based off its critical merit, Exit Through the Gift Shop took me into a world I knew nothing about and made me care about it immensely. It tells a very interesting story about one man's dream to become one with the street artists around the world, and he manages to do so, even if it means bringing the art down to his own level. With a finale that's going to evoke a number of emotions, this one's definitely one to keep your eye on.
4. The People vs. George Lucas (2010)
Any fan of Star Wars is going to want to take a look at this particular endeavor. It managed to capture my own personal feelings about George Lucas and his take on the original films in comparison to the more recent prequel trilogy. We're seeing a very strong love-hate relationship from fans in relation to Lucas, and I think that these emotions carry quite well throughout the film. Once again, if you love Star Wars and you haven't seen The People vs. George Lucas, do yourself a favor and watch it right now.
3. Jesus Camp (2006)
Although this film was released in 2006, it took me a few years before I actually sat down and gave it a view. Having spent nearly eight years working with the teenage youth program at my own church, I was shocked to see just how differently some organizations and religions take their camps. Of all the films on this particular list, Jesus Camp might be one of the most horrific. It's going to leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, but I think that's just what the filmmakers intended. It's a hard watch, but in a way, it might be a necessary one.
2. The Bridge (2006)
When I re-watched this film last night, it spurred me to create this particular list. The subject of suicide is generally taboo and often times off-limits, but The Bridge handles it with the grace and respect it rightfully deserves. It's not an easy film to watch - you're going to see snippets of jumpers plunging to their deaths - but if you can stomach that, then the stories from family and friends should shed a lot of light on the emotions that people face when suicide enters their lives.
1. The Cove (2009)
Arguably the most angering and emotional documentary I've ever seen, The Cove details the story of a rag-tag group of activists attempting to shut down the dolphin slaughters in Taiji, Japan. To do this, they covertly set up a number of cameras in the cove where the slaughter takes place in order to show the world the atrocities that occur each year. All animal lovers beware: you see the slaughter in full, and that was the film's desire all along. The images may be horrifying, but they may be the only way to pull people into action in order to stop this annual act.
And that concludes my 'Top 10' list of the best documentaries I've ever seen. I hope you enjoyed it! Check back next Tuesday for the next list!