Monday, May 21, 2012

Best Documentaries on Netflix

Documentary films have been one of the most overlooked genres in the world of popular media. Sure, we have our fair share of attention garnered for reality TV programming, but a lot of documentaries are overlooked due to the social need for weekly celebrity anguish. And why advertise a great documentary when you can gain a greater profit from a Michael Bay inspired explosion-fest... not that I'm saying anything is wrong with that.

A majority of the work I've done so far has been documentary-based, which has forced me to spend a lot of time studying the techniques of popular filmmakers on Netflix. So it was only a matter of time before I created a list of must-watch documentaries. So without further adieu, here's the Top 10 Documentaries on Netflix (in my honest opinion):

10. When You're Strange
You couldn't find a better character to base a documentary on than Jim Morrison. The man was without a doubt one of the most interesting men of the late 60's/early 70's. And let's be honest, The Doors are an amazing band that is often overlooked due to their quick flash of brilliance.

9. Exit Through the Gift Shop
An excellent look into the world of graffiti artists, as well as the hypocrisies of art. This film does a great job of not only showcasing some of the brilliant minds of the early underground world of street art, but also how even an idiot could be seen as a art prodigy if they manipulate people enough.

8. Gonzo
I find Hunter S. Thompson to be one of the most inspiring yet unpredictable men I've ever studied. He is without a doubt a pioneer of modern day journalism and his impact on the media world is often overlooked. Of course the man is bat shit crazy due to the life he chose to live, but sometimes you have to be bat shit crazy to survive.

7. Collapse
Any film that gets me thinking is one worth watching again. You can go into this film with your own opinions but you'll leave questioning a lot of things in this world. Hopefully you're not a conspiracy theorist because you might even leave with a completely paranoid sense of thought.

6. Bastards of the Party
A topic that's often completely misunderstood. A lot of individuals think that gang warfare has always been apart of our nation. This documentary goes deeper. It's great to know the history and some of the role-players and game-changers who were actually trying to revolutionize society but ended up with a bloody mess.

5. Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead
Oh man, get ready to become disgusted with what you're doing to your body. This film is an inspirational piece that shows how huge changes in what you eat can completely alter your mind, body, and health. Change that comes through fasting with a diet of nothing but fruit/vegetable smoothies. Yeah, definitely easier said than done. You'll finish this movie with a sudden urge to drive to Wal-Mart and buy a juicer.

4. Religulous
Even if you are obsessed with your religious beliefs, you should still watch this film. It's great to hear all sides when dealing with something that is such a gigantic part of most people's lives. Plus, it's just fun to question ideas and stories that have been apart of our society for centuries.

3. Being Elmo
I was beyond ecstatic when I found out that Netflix was beginning to stream this one. This film leaves you wanting to accomplish all of your childhood dreams. The voice of Elmo, Kevin Clash, is such an inspiration for anyone that wants to make it in a world that has placed the odds against them.

2. Dear Zachary
Get the tissue box ready because you are going to cry. This film will make you hate people and always think twice when dealing with the strangers you meet. There isn't an emotion that this film doesn't tug at. So prepare yourself before turning this one on. Plus it's a very compelling story.

1. Man on Wire
James Marsh is a great documentary director and he shows it here. This is one of the only films on this list that I can call not only moving but also beautiful in it's own sense. I also learned more from the techniques used here than any other documentary I've watched. Marsh's other film, Project Nim, is also a great one but it's currently not on Netflix.

Honorable Mention:
Bowling For Columbine
DMT: The Spirit Molecule
Food Inc.
How Beer Saved the World
Nightmares in Red, White, & Blue
Winnebago Man
WWE Rivalries: Michaels vs. Hart


The Guess Who
"These Eyes"
The hurtin's on me, yeah
And I will never be free, no, no, no
You took the vow with me, yeah
An' you spoke it, an' you spoke it, babe

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

No Sleep Till Success

Holy cannoli have I been a busy beaver. By the way, that opening statement was me trying to swear less. Mission somewhat accomplished at the cost of my own dignity.

Anyways, life's been jam-packed. I moved into an apartment a little closer to downtown Portland so that I can guarantee myself a more interesting summer. Then the day we were suppose to move in, we show up and the tenant currently occupying our rooms was just beginning to bring empty boxes up to start packing; leaving us in limbo with what to do. Of course, I did what any person expected from me... I went out for wings and beer to calm myself down.

It did the trick.

We put our sheets back on our former beds and gave the tenant another day. Then the next day, we return around 12pm to find out that the guy has barely even started packing. At this point I have no idea what to do. I don't want to call the cops but at the same time I have the sudden urge to chuck an older man out from a 3 story high window. Once again, I refrain. The guy says he'll be out by 4:00pm so we once again leave for calming beers.

4 o' clock comes, and the man is no where to be found. The only things missing from the apartment are a few boxes and the dining room table. The place is still filthy and covered with his stuff. At this point I have to sit.

I sit some more...

He finally comes back acting all apologetic with excuses up the wazoo because he doesn't want to get the popo involved. Neither do we so he's got us there. We come to the conclusion that we're just going to have to sit and watch him and his crew of flunkies empty out this apartment. So we did. 5 hours later, we finally have our apartment. It looks disgusting and needs a complete makeover, but dammit we have it.

Then 2 days later and barely enough time to clean/unpack I'm running around Portland, ME for an episode of MSN's "re:discover". I had a great time and learned a lot more about the area but the 12 hour work days and considerable amount of stress can really get to a man. Luckily I had the day of Cinco de Mayo to collect myself a bit and get back to conquer the last 2 days of shooting.

But what really brings me down is the fact that I should be starting another lengthy production job right now. I had to make an extremely hard decision on a 2 month shoot down in Manchester, NH. I was in contact with Leftfield Pictures who will be in the area working on a show for the National Geographic Channel and we were close to a deal for me to help them out but I had to decline. It might have been the hardest thing to do just because I was so interested in the content and what the company has done in the past. It was just really bad timing for me professionally but the individuals I talked to over there were great and I hope to work with them down the road. Best of luck.

So now I'm here. Back at the desk with some interesting stuff coming up but still in search of something beyond that.

Something greater.

But on an optimistic note, I'm looking forward to another summer in Portland, ME with my friends and the awesome scenery that I've grown to love. If last summer was the best I've had my entire life, then this one is definitely looking to surpass that by a huge margin. I'll get into the details of that in a later post. But for now...


Beastie Boys
"No Sleep Till Brooklyn"