We have been on a movie kick in our house recently. We've been picking movies at random from our Instant Watch queue on Netflix, or taking turns choosing influential movies that shaped us throughout our childhoods and early years of adulthood (see last month when Charlie made me watch Short Circuit, one of his favorite childhood movies).
We tend to gravitate toward documentaries in our house, so I thought I'd share some our favorites. You'll be happy to know most of these are available on Instant Watch, so you might want to go ahead and add them to your queue now.
The UP Series
The Up Series is a series of documentary films that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old. The children were selected to represent the range of socio-economic backgrounds in Britain at that time, with the explicit assumption that each child's social class predetermines their future. Every seven years, the director, Michael Apted, films new material from as many of the fourteen as he can get to participate. Filming for the next installment in the series, 56 Up, is expected in late 2011 or early 2012.
Touching the Void
Touching the Void is a 2003 documentary film based on the book of the same name by Joe Simpson about Simpson's and Simon Yates' disastrous and near fatal attempt to climb the 6,344 metre (20,813 foot) Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. The film combines documentary footage of interviews conducted with Simpson, Yates and Richard Hawking with a reenactment performed by actors Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron and Ollie Ryall. The film was directed by Kevin MacDonald.
Following Sean is a 2005 documentary film directed by Ralph Arlyck, and a follow-up to his 1969 student short "Sean," which features four-year-old Sean Farrell's thoughts on marijuana, police presence, and freewheeling lifestyles. Following Sean picks up in the mid-1990's and turns Sean's story into a meditation on generational changes and legacies that are handed down as a result of choices made in heated political climates.
No Impact Man
No Impact Man is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein. The film follows Colin Beavan and his family during their year-long experiment to have sustainable zero impact on the environment.
Man on Wire
Man on Wire is a 2008 documentary film directed by James Marsh. The film chronicles Philippe Petit's 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. The film is crafted like a heist film, presenting rare footage of the preparations for the event and still photographs of the walk, alongside reenactments and present-day interviews with the participants.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a 2007 American documentary film that follows Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for the arcade game Donkey Kong from reigning champion Billy Mitchell.
Winged Migration was shot over the course of four years on all seven continents. Shot using in-flight cameras, most of the footage is aerial, and the viewer appears to be flying alongside birds of successive species, especially Canada geese. They traverse every kind of weather and landscape, covering vast distances in a flight for survival. The filmmakers exposed over 590 miles of film to create an 89-minute piece and roughly two months of filming in one location would edit down to less than one minute of the final film.
Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner. The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy in a way that is abusive of animals and environmentally harmful. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.
The Boys of Baraka
The Boys of Baraka is a 2005 documentary film produced and directed by filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. Twenty at-risk boys from Baltimore attend the seventh and eighth grades at a boarding school in Kenya. The documentary follows them in Kenya and in Baltimore, before and after attending the Baraka School in Kenya.
American Teen follows the lives of four teenagers--a jock, the popular girl, the artsy girl and the geek--in one small town in Indiana through their senior year of high school. We see the insecurities, the cliques, the jealousies, the first loves and heartbreaks, and the struggle to make profound decisions about the future. Filming daily for ten months, filmmaker Nanette Burstein developed a deep understanding of her subjects. The result is a film that goes beyond the enduring stereotypes of high school to render complex young people trying to find their way into adulthood.
If you have a favorite documentary to share please do!
Film descriptions via Wikipedia