What’s Up Docs?

I’m going to keep on going with the Netflix theme because my life has been consumed with movies. Work, movies, sleep. That’s it. And I love it.

I just bought Netflix for myself. I had been using my parents for streaming purposes, but they got the DVDs by mail. $10 is worth it this summer to get any movie I want in the mail. Plus I get to rate movies with my own profile and then have Netflix make recommendations for me and only me. It recommended Irreversible for me earlier, and at that point I had to have a life evaluation. Definitely the hardest movie to watch EVER. Don’t watch it. Seriously. At all. Worse than Human Centipede. You’re going to go watch it now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There are two reasons I love Netflix so much:

1- I get to catch up on movies I should have seen already but haven’t, such as Terminator, Star Wars, Back to the Future, etc.

2- I get to see types of movies I haven’t even heard of and otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to at all.

And that’s where this blog post is going. Foreign films and documentaries are two of my favorite movie genres and that is all thanks to Netflix. Without the streaming service, I wouldn’t have access to hardly any of the great foreign and docs that I’ve seen. Next time I’ll do my favorite foreign films, but now I’m going to count down my favorite documentaries. Documentaries are real, for the most part. The involve real people and real situations that these people get into. There’s no need to flash “This film is based on actual events.” It’s understood, and awesome.

For my taste, there are two ingredients to an awesome documentary. The first is that it has to be about normal people. The common man. The second is it has to be un-political. I love political documentaries, and I’d say over half of the docs on Netflix are politically driven somehow, but in order for one to really stand out for me it has to leave all that stuff at the door. The political ones are interesting, but I can only take so much negativity. And pretty much all political documentaries involve something that’s bad about society and needs to be changed. But no more stinkin’ thinkin’.  Let’s get started.

All of these I watched on Netflix Instantly. They might not all be on there still, but I’d bet most of them are.

5. Hoop Dreams

Widely regarded as one the best, if not the best, documentary of all time. ‘Hoop Dreams’ is a story about two inner city middle schoolers from Chicago who have the dream to make it to the NBA. It follows them from 8th grade all the way through high school as they pursue their dreams and deal with all the turmoil that comes with it. The best part about this movie is the span of it, how it follows them for over four years of their lives. It’s long: 3 hours. But it doesn’t seem like it. If you’re into sports at all, this is a must see.

4. Exit Through the Gift Shop

Nominated for best documentary this past year at the Oscars, ‘Gift Shop’ has had people talking and arguing for months. Made by the maybe the most famous and certainly the most secretive street artist alive, Banksy, this film has a shift in tone like any other. It’s difficult to discuss at length without giving anything away, but this one will leave you wanting more at the end without a doubt.

3. The Human Experience

No other movie made me want to get up off my ass and do something with my life more than ‘The Human Experience’. This one follows two college age kids who are living in an orphanage in New York. They decide to look far and wide in search of whatever they consider to be the human experience. They start out living on the streets of NYC for a week, then head to South America to a low income school. They end up in Africa at a leper colony. I didn’t know those still existed. It’s tough to say if this movie was motivational or depressing. It was motivational by making we me want to do something with my life, but depressing because all these people they run into seem happier than anyone I’ve met in America, while possessing so much less. It also has the best soundtrack of any movie I’ve heard in awhile.

2. The Cove

An exception to my political rule, this is a film about ‘dolphin genocide’ happening in Japan. Part political commentary, part ‘planet earth’, part action thriller, The Cove has it all. Try to watch it without crying. Completely deserved to win best documentary at the 2010 Oscars.

1. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

This is probably the most intense documentary about old school video games I have ever seen (joke, because I haven’t seen any but this one). Steve Weibe is a down home high school teacher who happens to be really really good at Donkey Kong. He sends a tape of him beating the record to “the powers the be” on video game record holders. He challenges Billy Mitchell, who in my opinion is alongside Bill the Butcher from “Gangs of New York” as some of the greatest movie villains of all time. He’s so cunning and deceiving, and will stop at nothing to destroy Weibe and claim his reign at the top of the record books for Donkey Kong. I can’t recommend this movie enough. I could watch this film over and over and over and over again and still love it so much. How intense and suspenseful this one is for being a documentary about a video game I care nothing about is what makes this my favorite doc out there.

So there you have it. I’d love for some reccomendations of more obscure documentaries out there. I’m trying to see all I can. Learning from movies can actually be fun, trust me.

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