Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What the f#@% documentaries

I love documentaries. Does that make me a nerd? Perhaps. But I don't care. I'm a cute nerd, right?

Learning about new subjects or people or history through imagery and narration and interviews and theories is completely fascinating to me. I guess that's why I'm a journalist.

Documentaries with random topics have a special place in my heart. I still remember that one day in American History class during my junior year of high school, when my teacher made us watch a documentary on President Garfield. James Garfield was only president for less than a year (before being assassinated). My fellow classmates were bored to tears with the film. Most of them slept at their desks, others talked quietly amongst themselves, and a few worked on assignments for other classes (these were the days before texting or ipods). But I was riveted. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. There was one harrowing moment during the documentary, when the narrator described the tragic death of Garfield's infant daughter. It had me in tears. I was so moved, I didn't even care that the hottest guy in class was staring at me like I was insane. The documentary was THAT GOOD.

With all the dozens of documentaries I have seen in the past few years, there are a few that I know will stick with me forever. They are the most bizarre, most random documentaries I have ever seen. They are the ones that had me staring at the screen, thinking "um, wtf."

I decided to share these gems with you. Put them on your netflix list, rent them at Blockbuster, or check them out at your local library. You won't regret it. Trust me.

Grizzly Man


Werner Herzog is the strangest and probably most brilliant filmmaker in the world. His 2005 documentary, Grizzly Man, shows us why. He follows the story of Timothy Treadwell, a man who was so obsessed with bears, he moved to Alaska to LIVE with them. Like, as a fellow bear. While doing this, Timothy also manages to snag an actual girlfriend who comes to live amongst the bears with him. (She was either crazy in love, or just crazy. Maybe both). Unfortunately, the moral of the story is that humans can't live with grizzly bears.


The King of Kong


I picked up this 2007 documentary from the library, thinking it would be harmless and fun. Instead, it kind of creeped me out. The story revolves around Steve Wiebe, an all-American husband and father who decides to take up the video game, Donkey Kong, while unemployed. Steve is just a nice, suburban guy who thought it would be fun to try and beat the world record for the game. But when he tries, he finds himself caught up in the seedy underbelly of the Donkey Kong world, which is ruled by Billy Mitchell, the current champion of 25 years. Scary Billy & his middle-aged fan club circle poor Steve like sharks, making sure his scores don't even come close...


My Kid Could Paint That


Have you ever seen a piece of modern art at a museum and thought it looked like something a kindergartner drew? Well, it might have been. This 2007 documentary focuses on four year old Marla Olmstead, of New York, who became a huge hit in the abstract art world with her paintings. In fact, her paintings became so popular, they started selling for thousands of dollars per piece. The documentary takes an interesting turn when it examines whether or not Marla was even the one creating these phenomenal artworks, or if she had help. Also, if a four-year-old is scribbling on a blank canvas, without any reasoning, should it really be considered art?


In the Realms of the Unreal


Sometimes geniuses can be found right under our noses. This 2004 documentary, narrated by Dakota Fanning, reveals the brilliance of Henry Darger, a janitor who had no friends or family. While alone in his pitiful little apartment, he spent hours working on his 15,000 page novel, titled, "The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion." It was illustrated with hundreds of drawings and watercolors. His life's work was only discovered after his death in 1973. Warning: This documentary will make your head spin.


The Devil and Daniel Johnston


Another genius, but this time a musical one. Daniel Johnston is a manic-depressive singer, songwriter, and performer who shook up the burgeoning alternative rock scene in the 80s and 90s while living in Austin, Texas. His bizarre and raw material turned off a lot of people but also brought him a huge cult following, which includes fans such as Kurt Cobain and Johnny Depp. Its his heartbreaking personal life, however, which makes this documentary a must-see.


So, what are some of your favorite documentaries?

43 comments:

Leia said...

I love documentaries, too! I'll definitely have to look some of these up.

How are things with you, dearest Jen? How's the bf situation/job hunt/etc. going? xx

Cesc said...

Doccies rock! I'd love to watch the one about the four-year-old...sounds interesting.

Haute World said...

I used to love documentaries (and like you, loved watching them in school as well), but only catch them when I happen to zap past one on the tv. Must check these out. The Donkey Kong one does sound bizarre... who knew?

quixotic.knight said...

"I didn't even care that the hottest guy in class was staring at me like I was insane. The documentary was THAT GOOD."

lol.....I bumped across your blog accidently and i absoufuckinly Lovvveee it jen.Its "Fabulous"

Have u seen "Zeitgeist"??? It's another documentry abt controversies and secret societies and all tht...but this one really makes ur head spin....can be downloaded for free frm net.....must watch

Mina said...

I also am in love with documentaries. That's a funny story, the hottest guy in class was looking at you like you were insane. Cracked me up. I'm going to take you up on some of these documentaries. Definitely The Realms of the Unreal and Grizzly Man. :) Great post as always!

English Rose ♥ said...

I loveeeee documentaries!

Merci beaucoup for stopping by darling, hope you are well =]

Stay safe and chic ma chérie,
English Rose x
http://iamanenglishrose.blogspot.com

Imogen said...

This reminds me of my bf who loves almost all documentaries. I quite like them but it really depends on what they are about. I must say that the one about the bears sounds crazy. That really made me laugh.

Robin said...

This is fantastic! Thanks for the heads up- I want to check out Grizzly Man and My Kid Could Paint That.

You enjoying the nice/rainy/nice/rainy weather we're having?

daisychain said...

What a fantastic post. I love documentaries as well x

Amelia is... said...

'A Complete History of my Sexual Failures' is a really, really funny british documentary about a young guy trying to find out why he constantly gets dumped. My favourite documentaries to watch though are about 9/11 or 7/7 - there is something so moving about seeing how a city or country can overcome devestation on such a huge scale.

www.ameliais.blogspot.com

Rachel said...

I've never been very into documentaries. But I definitely need to check some of these out!

Josie said...

I wish I could get more into documentaries! I really should. I'm DEFINITELY going to check out "My Kid Could Paint That" because it looks aAMZing.
xxoo Josie
http://winksmilestyle.blogspot.com

Damsels said...

i love documetaries! i wanted to see the one about artists ..but havent seen it .. .to me the grizzly man is a must see ..i loved it

Lawgirl said...

Grizzly Man still haunts me. I don't why it moved me so much - I guess that I can't believe someone would be that misguided.

OceanDreams said...

I haven't watched hardly any documentaries, I need to be better about educating myself! The grizzly film looks intriguing, I will have to check it out!

pilgrimchick said...

"My Kid Could Paint That"--that is a definite addition to my Netflix list.

Your story about the documentary shown in class reminded me of my sophomore Biology class "film strip day." Notably less riveting.

Taj Acosta said...

Documentaries rock! I want to see the Grizzly one now! Great post doll xoxo

COCAMIA said...

If Loving documentaries makes me a nerd, then I will be the best nerd there is! The Grizzly Bear/Man was so weird and haunting and oh so fascinating! Great post!!!

Melanie's Randomness said...

We are wayy too much alike Jen!! Seriously!! I love documentaries! Hearing stories that make people from history Human just fascinate me. I saw one on Regean & apparently his wife the day he got shot told him to remember to duck his head when he got in the car...when she showed up at the hospital after he got shot he told her, "Sorry hunny. I forgot to the duck". I especially documentaries on Eyptian discoveries. WHen they do about mummies & they try to do computerized images of them, I love it!!! =)

Jen Ben said...

King of Kong is one of my favorite movies of all time. No joke! XOXO, love you!

JUST ME said...

Those were fantastic recommendations. I might check a few out.

Grizzly Man freaked me when I first saw it. I don't think I'll ever get those last scenes out of my head.

Chloe, Butterfly Cupcakes said...

I've seen the documentary 'My kid could paint that' I actually found it really sad, it made me quite depressed. I think the people that were complaining about the painting not actually being painted by the kid were obviously buying the paintings for the wrong reason.

.:JoaNNa:. said...

documentaries are so interesting! your picks sound good, i may be checking out some later! ;) thanks for sharing xoxo

bollywoodstylediaries said...

thats was a really good, informative post. I haven't seen a whole lot of documentaries but 'My kid could paint that' sounds really interesting becoz my kid really paints like that:-)

sonali

Tights Lover said...

hahaha...Yes, you're definitely a 'cute nerd'!

I love documentaries, myself. I get sucked into marathons on the History Channel like once a week almost!

I haven't seen any of these so I'm going to definitely check them out.

...and 'the seedy underbelly of the Donkey Kong world'? Yeah...that gets a 'wtf' every time!

Glam Girl said...

Interesting post, thanks for sharring

Kristin said...

I've seen Grizzly Man and it's amazing! Have you seen the doc on Aileen Wournos?

mariahsmile said...

I saw Grizzly Man and it is insane! Freaks me out a little!

Patricia Snook said...

Ha ha ha. Oh dear. I have a confession, after watching the lady who was attacked by a chimp on Opera, I became obsessed with similar documentaries, I lost 4 hours to youtube. These though.... uh, maybe I'll give them a skip!

Have a brilliant weekend,

xoxo

Fashion Court said...

i'm a sucker for documentaries! also, i enjoy the history and biography channels. that should say enough :p

kumar said...

i like this documentaries,

thanks for this post i learned some thing new here today

J. said...

I love documentaries too! I figure you might as well try to learn something when you watch tv and movies, but of course, it's not the only thing I ever watch or anything, but I prefer documentaries over fiction.

My list of faves would be wayyy too long though. But I did get some new ideas reading this post, so thanks for that! :)

Noble Beeyotch said...

I love watching documentaries too...especially on the topics I have a particular interest in! "my child could paint that" sounds lovely...i'll have to check online for that!

Cheers!
www.callmestylista.blogspot.com

Audrey Allure said...

I love documentaries, I'm definitely adding some of these to my Netflix queue!

Cafe Fashionista said...

Honestly, I'm not sure whether I've seen any documentaries before; but the "My Kid Could Paint That" one sounds entertaining!! :)

Mouthwash said...

OOh I love biographies - bio's and doc's are somewhat the same...in a way. Right? Love this post!

I really want to see "My Kid Could Paint That".

Amber
ambersmouthwash

The Trendy Fashionista said...

I also love documentaries although I don't really have a favorite.

-The Trendy Fashionista
http://thetrendyfashionista.blogspot.com

Tamanna A. Shaikh said...

My kid could paint that' looks interesting!! Thanks for sharing honey.

I have been slacking in blog-reading so sorry I missed out on your older posts because of a major exam but I will surely catch up!! :)

Couture Carrie said...

Fabulous post, darling!
Will have to see some of these!

xoxox,
CC

Samantha said...

great post.
http://www.onceuponafad.blogspot.com

gleenn said...

i think that the best documentaries that I've seen are the ones that I work hard to bury in mind. stuff that i'd like to forget 'cause they're too scary or sometimes, I don't find logical. that's why i can't even name a single one ;)

Sophia said...

These really seem interesting. I'm really interested in the 4 year old art one. I'll be sure to check them out!

xo, Sophia

Ela said...

Wow, I definitely want to see these. Though I think I'll skip the Donkey Kong guy. S is a big fan of documentaries and I've learned to love them. I used to think they were snorefests but now I find them so interesting!

Yay for cute nerds, right? ;)