Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some Documentaries I Recommend - Christine/Kitty

Last night, we were at our new friends' house, Tony and Emma's, for dinner. They recently immigrated from the UK and it's interesting to compare notes on how we, as former Americans came to view the British and visa-versa, simply by what we learned from tv and movies.  It's hard for us to talk about the elections of 2000 and 2004, Iraq, Guantanamo, and US immigration policies without feeling a kind of cramping feeling, some weird mix of disgust & shame (that we're implicated in all that by simply being born American), but also gratitude, that at least we had options to choose what our lives could become.   And it turns out we're correct in believing that their old part of the world was, weather-wise, much like living under a damp dishrag. I'm so glad they dug a tunnel and we got to meet them here in paradise.  

Anyway, in terms of films we discussed, the 7-Up series, first started in 1964, and now directed by Michael Apted , is amazing.  The latest incremental slice, now the 7th peek into their lives,  is of the group of kids at age 49.  The dozen or so participants were born into a range of socioeconomic classes, some urban, some rural, a few from group homes, etc.  

Interestingly, their one common thread is that they all have come to resent the film crews intrusions every 7 years.  It's fascinating to see their struggles (e.g. mental illness, homelessness, loneliness, poverty), tenacity (financial, marriage) and the differences in how some of them seem to find peace, self actualization, confidence, joy, while others, not at all...and what are the variables there?  And could that come in pill form or....?

Tom and I were surprised Tony and Emma didn't know that series, so we spent a good part of today coming up with our "on a dessert island" movie list.  It's hard to do. What movies would you recommend because they make you feel something? Learn something?  Laugh?  Gush sap? And clearly, we'd recommend different films for different people.  My list got out of hand.  I started breaking it into justifiers and subcategories like "Films I'm Ashamed to Admit I Loved Because A Lot Of Other People Liked Them too and I Need to Feel Special by Having a High Brow List" know: Jerry Maguire, Napoleon Dynamite, Pulp Fiction, American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, The Usual Suspects, Magnolia, Office Space, etc.   I mean isn't that all just a big old sticky apple pie with vintage cheddar on it or what? 

If there is one foreign film that you'll never see unless you're a true Peacock Feather Dance zealot, it's Enlightenment Guaranteed. I'm not sure where you can get it, but there is something about these two brothers getting separated in Tokyo en route to a monastery retreat that changed me...maybe the first time I heard such a clear voice that said "I think it's all going to be okay. We don't know how, but _________(those brothers will find each other, or fill in the blank of whatever you hope will be okay, etc.)."   

Anyway, I generally like documentaries the most. It's like reading the paper, but the ink doesn't make my eyes sting and all I have to do is just sit there.  There aren't a lot of guns and it gives you something to talk about at cocktail parties other than high price of Australian electronics. This isn't an all-inclusive list.  If something wins an Oscar or gets into Sundance, good hell, go see it.  The last few are the more block-bustery ones, the rest a little more obscure. Netflix carries nearly all of them - I miss it terribly, please send it my love. 

Some Documentaries Worth Seeing:
  • Brother's Keeper
  • Aileen (two of them, by Nick Broomfield)
  • 51 Birch Street  
  • Cowboy del Amor
  • Lost Boys of Sudan
  • The Chances of the World Changing
  • Touching the Void
  • The King of Kong
  • Who Killed the Electric Car
  • This Film is Not Yet Rated
  • A Walk To Beautiful 
  • Paradise Lost (two of them)
  • Jupiter's Wife
  • Dogtown and Z-Boys
  • Southern Comfort
  • Capturing the Friedmans
  • Dark Days
  • Taxi Dreams (a PBS series)
  • Stevie
  • In the Pit
  • The Fog of War
  • Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room 
  • Spellbound
  • Super Size Me
  • March of the Penguins
  • The Story of the Weeping Camel
If you can get through even just a handful of these, I guarantee you'll have a fabulous arsenal of random chit chat. Why, you'll know all about:  how Tom and I gauge quantify any problems in our lives by how far it lands from having fistula, what it takes to build a surfboard, superhighway over Mexico City, spell, or really sit on an egg, why I changed my name to Kitty, whether the Memphis 3 (and a bunch of other suspects) might have done it, and how it feels to be a man with ovarian cancer.  Boom chicka bow wow.  

1 comment:

  1. Wow, cool! I'll check out the list! Thanks!

    Hey, forgive the shameless plug, but I've finally gotten 'round to doing something with my blogger account...

    Yep, you guessed it. Free veterinary advice for the people who show up in my office without a clue. And I don't have all the time I'd like to try to help them.

    Also, I have a new personal website, which I custom-built and am inordinately proud of:

    Hugs from damp ol' Portland!