Monday, 10 May 2010

Documentary Dilemma

This guest post is a contribution from Robert over at His Eyes Were Watching Movies. Check him out if you will.
Unfortunately, many of even the most avid cinephiles seem to overlook documentaries, especially if they don't get nominated for the Oscar. It is certainly understandable - we go to the movies to escape reality, not to be confronted with it! However, there are lots of documentaries from the past few years that, despite being overlooked by the Academy, are worth a look. Not only might they educate you, but they're often extremely entertaining. Here are a few recommendations, all having to do with forms of artistic expression...
Touch the Sound: A Sound Journey With Evelyn Glennie (2004)
Evelyn Glennie is a Scottish percussionist who, incidentally, is deaf. In "Touch the Sound", we get an intimate and fascinating portrait of Glennie that is 10% biography, 90% music video. Glennie's avant-garde percussion music is hypnotic and the brilliantly edited film melds it with surrounding sounds to create an immersive web of sound. A beautiful and enchanting film that may just get you hooked on Evelyn Glennie's music (as it did for me!).
Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)
This spicy documentary tells the story of the kids of several New York City elementary schools as they learn ballroom dancing and train to compete in a city-wide competition. As we learn the back stories of some of the kids, many of whom are underprivileged, we realize more and more how much this goal means to them and how dance, like all art, can change lives.
My Kid Could Paint That (2007)
This documentary is perfect for anyone who is interested in modern art, detective stories, scandals, hoaxes, or prodigious children. The film starts as a simple profile of Marla Olmstead, a girl famous for her monumental works of modern art. However, as the filmmaker gets more and more intimate with the family, and Marla's father is accused of making the art himself, the film takes a surprising turn that keeps you guessing. This engrossing doc is full of surprises! It's also probably the only documentary I've ever watched twice.
So there you have it - give these films a shot and don't be afraid of documentaries. You never know what new knowledge you may find!
Editor's Note: How many have I I know Hatter recently wrapped up covering some docs, but what was the last documentary YOU saw? Ever seen on these? What's your favourite? Sound off below?


Simon said...

I saw Mad Hot Ballroom. It was adorable.

Luke said...

Oh hurray for Mad Hot Ballroom! Brilliant documentary! Easily one of my top 5 favorites that year. No easy feat for a documentary! :)

Film Intel said...

I think you make a good point about documentary watching and I don't ever remember going to the cinema to check one out but I do watch my fair share on DVD. I remember reading about MY KID COULD PAINT THAT when it came out here but I've not seen that or any of the others here yet.

One I've seen recently that I thought was really, extremely, good was THE KING OF KONG which, although it's a documentary was filmed almost like a thriller - if someone had have told me it was actually a mocumentary with actors playing the parts I would have believed them. I don't usually use the comments field for shameless self-promotion but for ease of explaining how good it is - my review is here:

Robert said...

I'm so glad everyone likes "Mad Hot Ballroom"! It's such a great movie, and so fun. I've always wanted to see "King of Kong", I have to check it out!

Anonymous said...

I always love me a good documentary. As time has gone on, I have started to get away from the more serious or "big" (Iraq, abortion, etc.) documentaries and going toward the more specialist ones.

My Kid Could Paint That is the only one of that list I have seen. I will keep them in mind.