Does ZU have a community of documentary lovers? Personally I have always been a big fan. Since childhood my favourite television channels have always been Discovery and National Geographic. Documentaries on physics, wildlife, sociology and well, everything.
What are some of your favourite documentaries?
Do you prefer one topic over another?
Don't like documentaries? Why?
Currently I am on a bit of a wildlife Documentary binge. David Attenborough's Nature's Great Events is a great series, but I really love the Joubert's films on the big cats. My favourite being Eye of the Leopard.
Does anyone have any suggestions for documentaries on political theory?
Nothing political for my part as well. Aside from the usual stuff on NG and Discovery, it's MTV's World of Jenks. I shed some tears in most of the episodes, not to mention Jenks knows what to play during the right moments. Intro song fits too.
- Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomski and the Media
Basically talking about how the media controls us, very simply stated. A very common theme in documentaries but I've never seen it done as well as Chomski's work.
- RIP: A Remix Manifesto
Critiquing US copywrite law, by looking at a remixing artist Girl Talk, whose work while technically copywrite infringement is undoubtedly creative. Looking at how the past of culture has always influenced the present and how current copywrite laws restrict such natural culture evolution.
- Man on Wire
Telling the story of Phillipe Petit, the man who in the 70's walked across the Twin Towers on a thin wire without any harnesses or anything holding him up.
- Playing Columbine
Chronicling the violence in video games controversy in general while also examining it through the controversy that surrounded Super Columbine Massacre RPG, a game entered into an indie game competition that while expressing a legitimate message (rather than just shock appeal) was met with a lot of hostility and push back.
- The Up documentaries
A documentary series that started in 1964 and ended in 2005, chronicling the lives of a class of British children from when they were 7, checking up on them every 7 years, seeing how their lives change, how their views on issues change as society changes.
- High School
1968 documentary about the high school lives of students in Philadelphia and the staff of the school who are desperately trying to hold onto the old way of teaching and shaping young people that has been rendered horribly out of date due to societal changes. Looking at the friction this causes, resulting from the generational gap between them.
A 1992 film about a guy who hacked TV satellite feeds, seeing what we're not supposed to see when a show is off the air during commercials. Basically focusing and politicians and people in the political eye who are essentially coached by the hosts of these shows, given what they will be asked and what they should answer. In addition to examining the process of media blackouts.
- Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
Basically talking about Fox News and how its a steaming pile of ♥♥♥♥.
So I'd say my favorites revolve around media, politics and societal friction and change. I might add others, this is by no means a comprehensive list, just some documentaries I found interesting.
I've always been a big fan of documentaries on wildlife, particularly by David Attenborough. When I was younger, I think one of my favourites was "Pride in Peril" - it followed a pride of lions (the "Tokitok pride") in the Ngorongoro crater, and their eventual downfall. I really want it on tape, but I've never been able to find it since I saw it in the '90s.
I also have Attenborough's "Life in Cold Blood" series on reptiles and amphibians. It's really quite fascinating. I highly recommend Planet Earth as well.
I watched the Life in Cold Blood series not too long ago!
It's interesting how much energy mammals expend on keeping our bodies at the right temperature. We spend 80% of our energy on all of that! No wonder so many creatures have evolved to use the sun to control body heat, they literally don't have to eat for months at a time because of it.
I watched Transcendent Man not too long ago. Absolutely fabulous. It's all about the future of technology, how fast our technology is growing, and the idea of essentially becoming "immortal" by uploading our minds to computers. Really cool ♥♥♥♥.
I've been meaning to watch DMT: The Spirit Molecule for a long time but I haven't had the time. It's been sitting on my instant queue for ages now. Has anybody seen it? Is it any good?
I don't watch a lot of documentaries, but there are some that I enjoy. I find the balance between entertainment and information can be a difficult balance to strike in a lot of docs I watch. Some that I enjoy:
Planet Earth and Life, obviously for documentary series. Intro-level nature docs, but watching them in high-def on a big screen is a wonderful way to spend a rainy day. Another nature doc I really like is Sharkwater, which examines the shark finning industry and its impact on the world's shark population. Eye-opening stuff, it inspired to me to write one of my major term papers in my undergrad.
Two docs on the entertainment industry that I like are American Hardcore (on the evolution of the American hardcore scene, obviously) and This Film is Not Yet Rated, which takes a look at the MPAA and its impact of making and distributing films.
And I guess one that I watched recently was Client 9, the doc that examined the rise and fall of Elliot Spitzer. I thought this one was really well put-together, examining all the different players involved and not really making judgements on anyone, more just establishing the context of everything that surrounded the scandal. Really strong narrative work.
I don't normally watch documentaries, but we had to watch one for class called Interventions. If anything, the documentary portion about the substance dependent persons on the show was very informative. However, I do not like that a the end of the show these people who are addicted to drugs are then presented with an intervention because they have essentially been fooled into it. While it is nice that they are able to go to expensive centers to get sober many of the individuals on the show have a relapse.
Other than that, I don't really go out of my way to watch documentaries. The only exception is when it comes to science, and especially outer space. I used to squee whenever we'd watch one of those little 30 minute science things in elementary and middle school, and it would be about outer space. I also find geology interesting (volcanoes, the ocean, etc.).
I have a lot of running documentaries that I constantly watch. One of them is "Spirit of the Marathon," showing two elite runners and several "regular" runners training for the...Chicago? Marathon. Another one covers several competitors in the Badwater Ultra. And then there's various others I own.