Saturday, July 6, 2013

Bullet Points: Documentary Obsession

If it wasn't for the perplexing trailer of Catfish, I would have never been compelled to seek out documentaries (although I'd eventually be influenced by the Film Junk Podcast).  Whether it comes from the subject of the film or the documentarian themselves, it is their Obsession that makes me enjoy these movies the most.  Documentaries are living proof that anyone can create something if they have the passion (hence one day I want to make a printed book of Tarantino Comics).  Anyways, here are some documentaries I've recently watched, all in which you can see on Netflix:
  • Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (Director Jon Foy):    Besides Catfish, this movie really got me into documentaries.  It's about these tiles inscribed with the "Toynbee Idea in Movie 2001 Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter" somehow mysteriously get embedded into the asphalt of busy roadways of Philadelphia (although they have appeared in many other areas including South America).  Displaying pure obsession, this documentary explores why and how these tiles magically appear.  Mix in some conspiracy theory, this is a gripping movie to watch.
  • Indie Game The Movie (Directors Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky):  I dabble with video games here and there, but in no way do I consider myself a gamer.  However, this documentary makes me really appreciate those simple games I used to play in the computer lab before going to class.  This movie takes you on a journey of how the creators of three Indie Games (Super Meat Boy, FEZ, and Braid) put all their emotions and livelihood into their game's development and hopeful success.
  • Cropsey (Directors Barbara Brancaccio & Joshua Zeman):  In Staten Island, the boogieman named Cropsey has been blamed for the disappearance of young children.  However, can this urban legend be linked back to the convicted child killer named Andre Rand?  Starting with stories of childhood fears to Geraldo Rivera's claim to fame (with the Willowbrook State School), this documentary does a good job exploring Andre Rand as the possible monster named Cropsey.
  • The Thin Blue Line (Director Errol Morris):  Not the best documentary I've ever seen, but it's probably the most influential.  Acclaimed documentarian Errol Morris presents the murder case of Dallas Police Officer Robert Wood after he was shot and killed while pulling a stolen car over.  Morris claims Randall Adams was wrongly accused of the murder while scrutinizing the corruption that exists in the justice system.  By providing reenactments based on the narrations of interviewees, Morris paved the way for the modern "A&E" documentary.
  • Into the Abyss (Director Werner Herzog):  This triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas is told by another Documentarian Legend - Werner Herzog.  Herzog doesn't defend the convicts.  However, he analyzes what possessed them to kill and if it's right for society to condemn them to death.  Making strong points on both ends of the spectrum, this story is heavy, but good.
  • Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression (Director Max Good):  When I first saw this title on Netflix, I thought it was going to be about men dressed up like Batman beating up thieves, murderers, and rapists.  However, the term Vigilante in the film's title can be replaced by the word "Buffer" - Meaning those who rid the street of graffiti.  Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this film because you meet these crazy characters who are obsessed with cleaning up their streets.  Nevertheless, an argument exists:  If these unsanctioned Buffers paint over street art with grey paint, aren't they just as guilty of committing graffiti?
  • The Imposter (Director Bart Layton):  This may be my favorite documentary I've seen thus so far.  In 1997, Frederic Bourdin impersonated Nicholas Barclay, a young Texan boy who disappeared at the age of 13 in 1994.  Although Bourdin has no resemblance to Barclay (different colored eyes and hair), he somehow convinces the family and town that he's the long lost Nicholas.  With involvement of the FBI and a possible eerie twist, this is truly a story stranger than fiction.
  • Shut Up Little Man! (Director Matthew Bate):  Before there was YouTube, Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman may be the first personalities to go viral.  Back in San Francisco in the late 1980's, two tenants of an apartment recorded crazy arguments and conversations of their alcoholic neighbors through a microphone hanging out their window.  These recordings were eventually spread across the United States through underground audio cassette tape circuits.  Haskett and Huffman gained a cult-like status through comic strips and comedic plays.  I really can understand this obsession as I used to collect and record prank calls of my favorite shock jock while I was growing up.  This is definitely a recommended watch.

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