Movie Revolt’s Streaming for Your Pleasure: Documentaries
Article By: Dan Clark
Welcome to the first installment of Streaming for Your Pleasure where I highlight interesting and unique films now available on Netflix Streaming. Right now I am just focusing on Netflix but may expand to Hulu Plus and Amazon streaming in the future. In each segment I will focus on one major overall category. This first time around I am looking at some intriguing Documentaries that are worth checking out.
Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade
Directed By: Lincoln Ruchti
Synopsis: At the unassuming Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa, early gamers fought for bragging rights at the 1982 Video Game World Championships. See how competitive gaming started, and meet arcade owner Walter Day, who still oversees scoring.
Why You Should Check It Out: There is just something about that arcade experience that I really miss. Today’s online gaming world is full of foul mouth preteen kids mocking you in almost every turn. Back in the day those kids were standing right next to you instead of coming through your headset. It was just more organic that way. Any ways Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade brings us back to those classic arcade days. This will be easily compared to another similar documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, because it deals with as similar topic and has many of the same people involved. King of Kong is more of a narrative story while this is more informational tale. I think King of Kong is better, but Chasing Ghosts is worth checking out as well.
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Directed By: Constance Marks
Synopsis: Beloved by millions of children, Elmo is a global icon. H owever, few people know the soft-spoken man behind the furry red monster: Kevin Clash. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary follows the Clash’s remarkable career as a puppeteer.
Why You Should Check it Out: While this film focuses on Kevin Clash’s story, which is a great one, it also touches on a lot of classic Muppet history as well. If you are at all a fan of the Muppets or anything Jim Henson or Frank Oz related you’ll be in for a treat. There’s tons of great archival footage, and this really puts in prospective how influential they were.
Directed By: Ben Steinbauer
Synopsis: This entertaining documentary explores the phenomenon of Jack Rebney, who became an Internet sensation after a grainy, nearly 20-year-old video of him furiously swearing up a storm while filming a Winnebago sales video made the rounds online. Traveling to a mountaintop, filmmaker Ben Steinbauer tracks down Rebney — who’s become known in underground circles as the “Angriest Man in the World” — and tries to discover what makes the loner tick.
Why You Should Check It Out: You may think the idea of becoming famous due to some outlandish video clip is a new phenomenon brought on by the power of YouTube. The fact is, while YouTube has made it easier it didn’t invent the idea. The perfect example of this is the famous Winnbegao Man clips. These clips first became popular not through a website but through the down and dirty act of passing out VHS tapes. The doc looks into how it happened and also the repercussions of this fame. You see how hallow it can be, and the negative impact it can have on one’s life.
Directed By: Wernor Herzog
Synopsis: Renowned nonfiction director Werner Herzog chronicles the tragic and untimely death of outdoorsman Timothy Treadwell, who devoted his life to studying grizzly bears living in the Alaskan wilderness — only to have one of them maul him to death.
Why You Should Check It Out: I believe there is a large misconception with this film. People believe the it is some sort of environmental propaganda about the mistreatment of bears, but that is not at all what this movie is about. The core of this movie is on man and his misguided desires, in this case Timothy Treadwell’s obession with Grizzly Bears. Wernor Herzog is a filmmaker who always attempts delve deep in the human psyche to figure out the true motivations behind what someone is doing. This was the perfect example as it is as enthralling as it is horrifying.
Directed By: Kirby Dick
Synopsis: Kirby Dick’s provocative documentary investigates the secretive and inconsistent process by which the Motion Picture Association of America rates films, revealing the organization’s underhanded efforts to control culture. Dick questions whether certain studios get preferential treatment and exposes the discrepancies in how the MPAA views sex and violence. Interviewees include John Waters, Darren Aronofsky, Maria Bello, Atom Egoyan and more
Why You Should Check It Out: A lot has been made recently of the decision of the MPAA to rate the documentary Bully “R”. That fact only makes This Film Is Not Yet Rated even more important as it focus on the issues with the current rating system. After watching this you realize just how baseless it often becomes, and how much independent films are hurt with the process. If you are at all a fan of movies I would advise checking this out.
Directed By: Steve James
Synopsis: The filmmakers of this groundbreaking documentary meant for it to be a short movie, but wound up weaving a widely celebrated feature-length film spanning years filled with grace and honesty. Meet Arthur Agee and William Gates, two young boys from equally rough Chicago neighborhoods who make use of their prodigious basketball talents to aim for a life outside the ghetto. But strife and setbacks befall them at every turn. Will they succeed?
Why You Should Check It Out: What makes Hoop Dreams great is its ability to tell you the story of these kids without any type of agenda or underlying message. It immerses you into their enviroment to provide some understanding of what these kids’ lives are actually like. That normal Hollywood filters are replaced with unyielding realism. While the runtime may seem overwhelming at first, as it is over 170 minutes long, in the end it’s worth it.
Directed By: Luke Meyer and Andrew Neel
Synopsis: Ordinary folks trade in their street clothes for medieval costumes, faux weaponry and full-contact battles in Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer’s documentary about Darkon, a group that acts out fantasy war games based on complex rules and customs. Neel and Meyer capture the drama as padded swords clash, armies advance and a ruler crosses the line, while off the battlefield, participants open up about what keeps them coming back for more.
Why You Should Check It Out: While the subject of this movie is about a game of make believe it captures some true life drama and conflict. There is something admirable about watching people doing what they love and there’s plenty of that here. Geekcast Radio is all about, “Unleashing the Geek”, and these people took that idea and really ran with it.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
Directed By: Kirt Kuenne
Synopsis: Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne’s poignant tribute to his murdered childhood friend, Andrew Bagby, tells the story of a child custody battle between the baby’s grieving grandparents and Shirley Turner, Bagby’s pregnant ex-girlfriend and suspected killer. Initially, Kuenne made this documentary as a memorial for Andrew’s loved ones, but it morphs into an emotional legal odyssey when Turner goes free on bail and is allowed to raise her son.
Why You Should Check It Out: This is one of the most intriguing, uplifting, startling, and depressing films I ever watched. Sure that is a lot of emotions, but that is because while watching this I went through them all. Perhaps the strangest thing of all is the fact this story is real. You hear that fact is always stranger than fiction and this proves it. The twisting nature of the story keeps you wondering how it will all play out.
Directed By: Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Synopsis: Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, teamed with photographer Tim Hetherington and spent a year embedded with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan, chronicling the hard work, fear and brotherhood that come with repelling a deadly enemy. Hunkered down with the soldiers in one of the region’s most strategic valleys, the filmmakers uncover the dark humor, sleepless surreality and constant anxiety of war in this Oscar-nominated documentary.
Why You Should Check It Out: Earlier this year the film Act of Valor came out and it advertised how it was starring real life Navy Seals. In the end that film was nothing more than an action movie. To see a film that actual shows you a true representation of the lives of soldiers go watch Restrepo and stay away from Act of Valor.
Directed By: Matt Ogens
Synopsis: On Hollywood Boulevard, wannabe movie stars dress up as superheroes and pose for photos with tourists. Matt Ogens’s documentary follows four of these quirky dreamers, who are just killing time until they’re discovered. You’ll get to know a Superman who takes his role to heart, an Incredible Hulk who sold his prized video game system for a ticket to Tinseltown, a Midwestern beauty queen-turned-Wonder Woman and a Batman in need of a little therapy.
Why You Should Check It Out: Being a lifelong fan of comics the idea of dressing up as Superheroes for a living seems like it might be fun. After watching this it was clear that was not the case. It was sad to see these people have to constantly try to sell themselves in order to make a few tips here and there. You see that dressing up as these superheroes is a lot more than a money ploy. It speaks to their inner demons and inability to find a place in the real world. These people didn’t have a secret identity; they had a lack of one. It spoke to that part of us that is always trying to find its place in the world.