*New Series: A Collection of My Favorites
Only within the past few years have I developed a true appreciation for a good documentary film. I don’t know why it took me that long, because now I’m hooked! I love how a solid doc has the ability to expand our thought process, open our eyes to different experiences, and introduce ways of life which ordinarily may not be part of our personal small world. A documentary gives people, places, and animals a voice and a
platform to be not just seen and heard, but also understood. By watching them, the power and responsibility is transferred to us, the audience, to expand our views, to educate ourselves (and sometimes spawn us to carry it further by doing our own additional research), to advocate for something we believe in, and to try a different way of doing things. These films can be a fantastic tool for the public to be educated, to be entertained, and to grow empathy.
Bonus: I watched them all for free and at my leisure, thanks to PBS and the library. Yesss!
Here are my current favorites:
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work – I’d always liked what I knew of Joan and had a high appreciation for her comedy. However I didn’t realize the extent to which her work ethic and drive propelled her life and career into full gear for decades, even up until the end of her life when she was in her 80’s. What a remarkably determined, strong woman!
Blank City – The first documentary that I fell in love with! I grew up taking day trips to NYC and am tied to it by ancestral roots, so I got a big kick out of being transported to parts of the city in the 1970’s and early ’80’s, to see what it truly looked like and how it affected its residents. Some of the featured players, like Debbie Harry and the Ramones, were influential in my life along the way, and it was a real treat to see raw footage of them and other now-famous musicians, actors, and directors palling about the city together, making 8mm films and goofing around as friends do. I’m ready to watch it a third time. P.S. – You get to see a young Steve Buscemi!
Iris – Before this film came out, I didn’t know much about the fashion world and hadn’t heard of Iris. It was inspiring to see the impact she made and her entrepreneurial spirit in action during her early days in the fashion industry, as well as years later in her present life as a professional.
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me – A look into her farewell tour and a peek at what goes into being a performer. A true account of the challenges presented by illness and aging. And, another strong, determined woman with a big personality and monumental career.
Who Gets to Call It Art? – Admittedly I held off watching this one for a few weeks after I checked it out from the library, because it didn’t sound super exciting to me and the DVD cover was drab. (Ha! The power of imagery!) Luckily I finally gave it a chance, and my assumptions were shattered as it proved to be top-notch. I learned a ton about contemporary art, particularly its introduction into the U.S. in the 1960’s and ’70’s and the initial negative reaction from Americans. Overall it was a very entertaining, thought-provoking, and inspiring film.
Next on my list is the Ken Burns series, Jazz. What are some of your current favorites or recommendations?