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What Are Your Favorite Documentaries?

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image credit: the outbound life

Calling all my savvy, in-the know friends! Can you help a lady out?

Dustin has this thing, y’all. He can not stay awake while looking at a screen. At all. I am not exaggerating. It sounds funny, BUT IT IS NOT FUNNY, PEOPLE. Okay, maybe a little funny. Mostly incredibly annoying, though.

It doesn’t matter where we are or what time of the day it is, the man will fall asleep within 5 minutes of watching a television show or movie. And it goes wayyyy back…apparently at HIS OWN birthday/slumber party as a child, when “Raiders of The Lost Ark” had just been released on VHS (gawwwwd, we are old), he fell into a deep slumber within minutes of the movie commencing. Yes, he missed his entire party due to SIN. (Not “sin,” for crying out loud…clean up that mind, you heathen! But S.I.N. – a very serious and very plausible disorder, Screen-Induced Narcolepsy, the name of which I personally created. About five minutes ago. We’ll be selling a SIN wristband to raise awareness for this calamitous disorder very soon.)

Due to this disorder, we have seen a grand total of…wait for it…5 movies in the theater since we started dating in 2001. Let me do the math for you…that equals 15 years. One movie every 3 years. Fabulous. And guess what, friends? I like movies. I would enjoy seeing a movie with my husband once in awhile. Alas, not in the cards.

Until last week. Upon hearing about the death of Bill Cunningham, I mentioned interest in watching this documentary released a few years back. Dustin agreed that he was also interested. I sharply inhaled when I heard this statement. Could it be? COULD THIS BE THE ONE?! I prayed to the screen gods as I accessed the documentary via Amazon Prime.

And you guys. He stayed awake. For 124 blessed minutes. (And that’s pronounced blesid, like the adjective. Say it aloud with me, one-hundred and twenty-four blesid minutes. Feeeeeel that important distinction in pronunciation.) Dustin did not suffer the ill effects of SIN. Glory be to the highest!

As we finished the documentary, and I brushed away my tears of happiness, he said to me, “I think I might like to see some more documentaries.”

FRIENDS. HE WANTS TO SEE SOME ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTARIES. Could this be our turning point? Could his SIN go into remission due to a robust supplement of varied documentaries?

Help me, dear friends. Help us. Keep Dustin in SIN remission, and please share the best documentaries you’ve seen – any and all subject matter welcomed. #putanendtoSIN

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  • SGG

    June 29, 2016 at 10:28 am

    “Muscle Shoals” – available on Netflix. If you enjoy music, at all, this is utterly fascinating. Here’s the description from IMDB:

    Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America’s most creative and defiant music. Under the spiritual influence of the ‘Singing River’ as Native Americans called it, the music of Muscle Shoals changed the world and sold millions upon millions of copies. At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, he brought black and white together in Alabama’s cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations while giving birth to the ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’ and ‘The Swampers’. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Percy Sledge, Gregg Allman, Clarence Carter, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Bono, and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals’ magnetism, mystery, and why it remains influential today.

  • Heidi

    June 29, 2016 at 10:37 am

    I watched the Iris Apfel one on Netflix and loved it… Such a unique individual. So inspiring, too.

  • Meg

    June 29, 2016 at 10:52 am

    My longtime favorite is Dancemaker about Paul Taylor and his dance company. I don’t know why that one has stuck with me for so long. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf7GQTpfpRM

  • Chris Castro

    June 29, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Hands on A Hardbody

    I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

    Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter

    Born into Brothels

  • Jill

    June 29, 2016 at 11:10 am

    The Stories We Tell is a beautiful documentary about a filmmaker and actress (Sarah Polley) searching to understand who her mother was. Here’s the trailer:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytq4VZ2Nyxg

    Also, this one is looonng but really good–the OJ Simpson: Made In America documentary series that recently aired on ESPN. I’d highly recommend it, though it’s 5 parts and very dark.

  • Chrissy barr

    June 29, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Making a murder is so good. It’s a series on Netflix. Dear Zachary, meet the Patels, the Queen of Versailles, ballet 422, blackfish, and Actress. I think they are all on Netflix. Love documentaries!!

  • Anita

    June 29, 2016 at 11:29 am

    If you like sports, the 30 for 30 ESPN documentaries are all well done and there are a lot on Netflix. I particularly like the basketball stories, with the ones about Christian Laettner and Reggie Miller being my favorite. HBO has excellent documentaries as well, The Jinx and Citizenfour are both good. I did not enjoy Making a Murderer on Netflix – too one sided. I have heard great things about The Roosevelts on PBS and it is creeping up my to-watch list.

  • Mandy Burt

    June 29, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Super interesting in the ‘what did you say?’ way; “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”
    Hilarious and heart-warming: “Tig”
    Made me google the documentarian and the subject to lean more: “Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson”

    Happy Viewing!

  • lynn

    June 29, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Agree on The Jinx. If you are into photography/art/strange people, check out Finding Vivian Maier. For armchair psychoanalysis/political weirdness, Weiner was fascinating. And if you like The National (maybe even not, but I love so I’m biased), Mistaken for Strangers is fun. Also loved First Position, but very much about the dance world.

  • Kim

    June 29, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Just rented “Weiner” about Anthony Weiner and it was really good and interesting! I also tend to fall asleep when watching movies (although to a lesser extent) and this one definitely kept my interest. I also second Making a Murder, Made in America (OJ), and Blackfish. Also – not really a documentary but “Game Change” on HBO was REALLY good about the 2008 election.

  • Catherine

    June 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It’s about an older Japanese man and his top-rated sushi restaurant.

    Going Clear. Fascinating look at the origin, history, and present-day “religion” of Scientology.

    Gasland: The Movie and Gasland 2. They’re about the environmental impacts of fracking in different parts of the U.S.

    Making a Murderer. You’ll have to build up to it because it’s a series. but it’s really good and worth the watch and ensuing feelings of rage and disbelief. Watch it especially if you liked Serial.

  • Lana

    June 29, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I’ve been watching the OJ doc “OJ: Made In America” and it’s loooong, but really well done and fascinating. Cup of Jo posted about it today actually, if you want more info. Tig was another recent favorite. Surfwise is one that I saw many years ago and has stuck with me more than any other….so interesting…about a nomadic family of surfers travelling and living together in a camper (11 of them!). Also, for episodic docs, “A Chef’s Life” on PBS is really great, and “city.ballet” about the NYC Ballet on AOL is really well done!

  • Laurie

    June 29, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    King of Kong

    Finding Vivian Maier

    OJ Made in America

    American Movie

  • Sarah

    June 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Jiro Dreams of Sushi
    Exit Through the Giftshop (so good!)

  • Maria LeCrone

    June 29, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    1. Iris
    2. Valley Uprising
    3. The Barkley Marathons

    These are some recent watches that my husband & I loved. Some documentaries exist to put fear in us. These 3 are thankfully not at all in that category. Please share with us if you find some good ones! PS-I lovvvvve when you post Odds & Ends! My fave.

    • Maria LeCrone

      June 29, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Also-Chef’s Table on Netflix. It’s a series and it is SO GOOD. The music. The stories. The creativity??

  • Scheherazade

    June 29, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    The Barkley Marathons and Inspired to Ride are two I watched recently and liked.

  • shana

    June 29, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Going Clear was good. I have SIN as well and I usually have to be doing something at the same time as watching a show so I don’t fall asleep but yet, sometimes I can still fall asleep doing two things at once!

  • whoorl

    June 29, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Thank you, everyone! I’m going to need to compile a list of all these gems.

  • Amanda Cofer

    June 29, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    I’m a huge fan of documentaries! My absolute favorite is When the Levees Broke by Spike Lee, along with it’s follow-up, If God Is Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise. Jesus Camp is creepy. Paradise Lost, about the West Memphis Three. The Jinx on HBO about Robert Durst. Good Hair by Chris Rock is fun! The Business of Being Born. I agree with Going Clear–it’s fascinating. Sorry for going a little overboard :)

  • Sarah

    June 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Somm. Jiro Dreams of Sushi. 20 Feet from Stardom.

  • Kat

    June 30, 2016 at 7:12 am

    This film is not yet rated

  • Rebecca Skarky

    June 30, 2016 at 9:03 am

    We love them–these are just a few–Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, Craigslist Joe, Undefeated, Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Eames: The Architect and the Painter, The Elephant in the Living Room, GasLand, The Garden, The Art and the Steal. Let me know if you want some more!! Good luck!!

  • Elissa

    July 1, 2016 at 8:01 am

    “Searching for Sugarman” (about an obscure musician who had a huge following in South Africa)
    “When We Were Kings” (about the Ali/Foreman fight in the Congo)
    “Spellbound” (about the National Spelling Bee)
    “Meet the Patels” (about arranged marriages through the lens of one family)
    “Hoop Dreams” (1990’s film about two high school basketball stars in the Chicago projects)

  • Blythe

    July 1, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    First Position
    The September Issue
    Sound City
    Hoop Dreams
    30 for 30 episodes
    Amy
    Chef’s Table
    20 Feet From Stardom
    Don’t Stop Believin’

  • whoorl

    July 1, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you so much, everyone!! So many great options!

  • Allison Harris

    July 2, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Who the F*#k is Jackson Pollack, My Kid Could Paint That, The High Cost of Low Prices, and one about building the Hoover Dam but I can’t remember the name.

  • Karen

    July 3, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    1. I have SIN! Thank you for giving a name to something I have suffered from my whole life.
    2. This Buzzfeed list of “33 Mindblowing Documentaries You Can Watch on Netflix Right Now” just showed up in my Facebook feed and I immediately thought of you. I cannot speak to these titles because of my aforementioned SIN, but y’all may want to give them a try. Here’s the link:

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/eleanorbate/the-best-documentaries-on-netflix-right-now?utm_term=.qr4p6m7W#.ym56GLaM

  • Elz

    July 31, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Dinosaur 13. So interesting.

  • MMN

    September 14, 2016 at 10:19 am

    I have SIN too, at home only. In the theatre I seem to do fine, except for double features. By the 2nd film, forget about it! I loved the Bill Cunningham documentary. A few more you should check out: Man on Wire, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Man.