WOO! Get your documentary-watching on!
As you probably know, or have figured out, July 4th is the day that American’s celebrate their country’s “independence”—whatever that means. To commemorate, I thought I’d share a short list of documentaries that focus on young people pursuing life, liberty and/or the pursuit of happiness. For some of these people that pursuit ends better than it does for others. Regardless, happy 4th and happy watching!
First Position (Netflix streaming)—This film features several young dancers (including Michaela DePrince, pictured here) preparing to compete in a major dance competition which will, hopefully, jump start their professional ballet careers. This is easily one of my favorite documentaries of all time and you don’t need to know or even like ballet to enjoy it. The filmmakers delve into the lives of subjects so it’s not a full-fledged “dance movie” but it’s entertaining and exciting and you can’t help but really adore so many of the film’s young stars.
Racing Dreams (Hulu plus)—Similar to First Position this film also follows young people chasing a dream … in this case, it’s racing. They’re young enough that they still race karts, but each seems to have his or her eyes towards bigger, better vehicles. Presented in Cinéma vérité style, this film takes us into the homes and lives of the aspiring racers.
Pressure Cooker (Netflix streaming)—So, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a sucker for films about young people pursing dreams. In Pressure Cooker a group of Philadelphia High School students prepare with a very tough cooking teacher for a city culinary competition. Ideally, the students will parlay their chopping and cooking skills into scholarships to culinary school.
Undefeated (Netflix streaming)—This film chronicles a Memphis-area high school football team as they strive to reach the playoffs, an achievement that would be a first for the school. The stakes for the characters truly varies, for some, success is simply making it through the season without being suspended for one reason or another, for others, there are college aspirations on the horizon.
Have a favorite film about a young person pursuing his or her dreams? I’d really love to hear about it (no seriously, I LOVE these movies) so please send me a message. And if I have time today, I will put together a similar list with primarily adult subjects.
AKA - The best thing I’ve ever seen, other than those fake socks designed to look like shoes that babies wear.
So last week I pre-empted a flood of film reviews that never came. My apologies. Due to spotty reception at the film festival venues I was unable to barrage you with reviews and trailers.
I figured now is as good a time as any to share the trailer for my favorite film I saw at the festival. Bess Kargman totally made ‘First Position' for people like me - the ones who are complete suckers for documentaries about kids competing (see also: Racing Dreams, Spellbound and Frontrunners for starters…) and cannot walk away from incredible dance sequences.
Absolutely wonderful film and will be screening around the country next month. Check it out!
For the next few days I will be at a film festival. I apologize in advance for what may be a flood of reviews, recommendations and remarks.
Things will be back to normal on Monday. See you then!
Reverb11 Day 13: What stuck with you? In 2011, what book that you read, film that you saw, song that you heard (or whatever is your preferred sensory experience) really stuck with you? The kind of thing where you keep thinking about it.
Well, above all else, the film Dogtooth. Not just one scene, all of it, EVERYTHING about it. I was really close to declaring my celibacy after seeing that film. It’s just shy of a year since I saw it and I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. I think I did. It was technically quite well done. But, wow. WOW. That film sticks. (I loved a few films I saw this year - Hanna, Beginners and La Doppia Ora to name a few, but seriously non stuck like Dogtooth.)
Some other things stuck with me too. The music of James Blake. It seems to have just been there all year. We saw him twice in 2011 and he was amazing both times. Some scenes from two Joyce Carol Oates books - Man Crazy and Zombie. They weren’t even my favorite books of the year, they just stuck with me.
And of course I saw some incredible docs. I will never forget Better this World - the film itself and the experience of watching it. It was all encompassing - frustration, anger and also just a consuming recognition of the power of documentary. A couple other docs I’ve been thinking about all year (or for 3/4’s of the year) - The Loving Story (which was recently short listed for the Oscar…check it out if you can!) Raising Renee , Guilty Pleasures and The Interrupters*. See them. All of them. If you love documentaries. Seriously.
*The fact that this film was left off the Oscar short list is a fucking crime.
Why I love Fall, Reason #2
…an ongoing series…
New Fall Traditions!
A few weeks ago, Elise, at a Beautiful Mess, encouraged readers to start an Autumn tradition. It seemed like a kind of fun idea, but nothing really jumped out at me. Until…this past weekend when I attended the Big Apple Circus with some wonderful people.
This is definitely among the new Fall traditions! While it’s definitely targeted at families and not really the Cirque du Soleil crowd, I was still incredibly entertained (the rope and trapeze acts were my favorites)! Plus, you can get your fix of childhood-memory-inducing circus snacks!
I think it’s worth mentioning, the decision to see the Big Apple Circus came after viewing the PBS miniseries Circus which is streaming on Netflix and TOTALLY worth the watch.
(Photo credit - yours truly. Although I very stupidly left my zoom lens at home. I’m still annoyed about it. Anyway, apologies for the wide and blurry shot…)
Morgan Spurlock and Current TV recently counted down the top 50 documentaries you (we) should see before you (we) die. As an aspiring documentarian I’d love to know which ones you’ve seen or haven’t seen and which you liked/didn’t like. Feel free to message me!
50. Spellbound (2002)
49. Truth or Dare (1991)
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
47. One Day in September (1999)
46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)
45. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
44. Burma VJ (2008)
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
42. Catfish (2010)
41. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
40. When We Were Kings (1996)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
38. March of the Penguins (2005)
37. Inside Job (2010)
36. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
35. Paragraph 175 (2000)
34. Brother’s Keeper (1992)
33. Tongues Untied (1989)
32. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
31. Jesus Camp (2006)
30. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
29. Man on Wire (2008)
28. Gasland (2010)
27. Tarnation (2003)
26. Murderball (2005)
25. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
24. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)
22. Shut Up & Sing (2006)
21. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
20. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
19. Touching the Void (2003)
18. Food, Inc. (2008)
17. Street Fight (2005)
16. Bus 174 (2002)
15. Crumb (1994)
14. Dark Days (2000)
13. The Fog of War (2003)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
11. Paris Is Burning (1991)
10. Grizzly Man (2005)
9. Trouble the Water (2008)
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
7. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
6. The War Room (1993)
5. Supersize Me (2004)
4. Waltz With Bashir (2008)
3. Roger & Me (1989)
2. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)
(Source: The New York Times)