Documentary, my dear Watson

If you haven’t noticed, we’re avid documentary watchers in this house. I’ll watch them here and there—if I’m working out or scrapbooking or something like that—but I’m not an inspired picker. I tend to go with more obvious choices like the National Geographic specials and what-have-you.

I like those overly-saturated shots of coral reefs and cute baby cheetahs.

I’m cliche like that.

Carl usually finds the really good ones, and I know the unidentified They say you should never, ever bring the flat panel into the bedroom lest you disturb the sanctum of sleep or trouble the pool of tantric pleasure… but I have to tell you there are few things cozier than watching documentaries at one in the morning with a box of crackers between you and the cheese in easy reach.

So far the only downside are crumbs in the covers.

We endure.

We’re also happy to take recommendations. And in the spirit of exchange (and the Oscars this weekend—woot), here are some of our recent favs.

1. Exit Through The Gift Shop. I know I’ve mentioned this before, so apologies etc. But truly it’s the best documentary I’ve seen for a year at least. Funny, fascinating, weird world of street art. I’m not even into art, and I know nothing about graffiti, but I thoroughly enjoyed this ride.

2. The September Issue. Ok, I actually picked this one. It follows the staff at Vogue as they’re preparing, shooting, editing, and bickering over the September issue, the most important month for any fashion magazine. A fascinating look—not even at fashion—but at the people behind the empires: working, focused, creative, bickering, and sometimes ambivalent over the meaning of their work at the end of the day. It’s a good one.

3. Restrepo. So… I don’t know if you’ve noticed but we’re still in the USA’s longest war ever. Before you feel tempted to get huffy on either side of the equation, this documentary’s not especially political. It just follows a platoon of soldiers during their tour of duty in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. An amazing snapshot. Information is a good thing.

4. The Real Face of Jesus. This came out about a year ago and is a welcome update on the Shroud of Turin research out there. I don’t know that enjoyed is the right word, but we both put this one on our movie lists for the year.

5. The Cove. I’ve read articles now that question how skewed this documentary might be, but it sure is sad and infuriating to watch. It’s about a cove in Japan where dolphins are slaughtered every year… and the activists who are trying to bring the grisly truth to light.

6. I Have Never Forgotten You. Heartbreaking, interesting, inspiring, this one’s about Simon Wiesenthal, an Austrian-Jewish architect who survived the Holocaust and spent the rest of his life documenting and locating former Nazi soldiers and officials in order to bring them to trial. Not as fast-paced as some of the others, but a good one.

Those are the cream of our crop. We’re also eyeing up Waiting for Superman (education system in the USA), Food, Inc (if I work up the nerve), and a couple of others. It’ll be fun to see what wins at the Oscars this weekend and if we actually saw it. If you have any favorites, keep me posted.

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4 thoughts on “Documentary, my dear Watson

  1. I remember those newlywed days of watching movies at all hours. Sometimes we would go to sleep at a normal time, wake up a while later, and decide to run down to the local strip mall for a movie from Blockbuster and jalapeno poppers from Kroger. Then it was back to the apartment for blissful coziness. It was great fun. Life is different now. Still really fun, but very much changed, like leaving the coastal highway and driving up into the mountains. Things are still beautiful, but the terrain is nothing similar. We haven’t seen a movie in so long. I think it’s been like two months. That last one was a documentary, though, oddly enough, the BBC’s Trouble in Amish Paradise (I know, I know SO ironic that *we* were watching a movie by that title, but I digress). It was fabulous, so good that we both posted it to our Facebook profiles before toddling off to bed.

  2. I heard that Exit Through the Gift Shop was a hoax. I still want to see it though. Congrats on your Oscar win last evening. Some time, I have some questions for you about Helena Bonham Carter.

    • Yeah, we read a couple of articles about Exit after we saw the documentary. It looks like there’s some doubt over certain aspects of it (or certain shots being a bit staged), but I haven’t seen any proof that it’s a hoax in the main. Would be super interested to see that if you know of any good sources. I think even if there IS an element of prank in the making, the glimpse into street art is worth it.

      As for HBC, ask away! I do sort of love her.

  3. Thanks for the documentary tips. I wrote them all down (Andrea’s too!). With Dad being so tired now, we’re back to that happy no-kid (no needy kid, I mean) honeymooning stage, so we’re super into movies now, and probably will be for another couple of months until Dad gets his energy back.

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