A few weeks ago I went through a documentary binge. A good documentary can be a powerful thing and whenever I see one I always wish I watched more of them, but for some reason tv series and movies tend to win out at home. Of the 6-7 films I watched that week, these four were my favorites.
The Staircase tells the story of author Michael Peterson and his arrest following the death of his wife, Kathleen, who was found in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in their home. The film clocks in at 360 minutes, which are split into 8 parts, and I managed to watch the first 5 parts in one evening. Learning about Michael's personal history, the trial process, how forensic experts work, etc. was all so fascinating and the outcome of the trial was shocking. I don't want to give anything away, but I will say that it seems like a lot has happened since the trial ended and this case is definitely not closed!
The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector
I've always been intrigued by Phil Spector. I've long admired his production and songwriting and he's worked closely with some of my favorite recording artists ever. Anyone familiar with Spector's work will readily call him a genius, but he also happens to be insane. There are many legends in which Spector points guns at famous musicians, like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Ramones, and John Lennon, to convince them to let him produce their songs exactly the way he wants. In 2009, Spector was convicted of murder. The documentary is essentially a 2-hour interview with Spector, cut with videos from his legendary career and much-publicized trial.
This documentary was talked about a lot when it came out in 2008 and now I see why. I've been a vegetarian for 12 years now and am generally a pretty "clean" eater- it's important to me to know where the food I buy comes from and what's in it. That said, I'm not naive about the horrors of the food industry, but this documentary still managed to completely shock me. I was absolutely amazed and sickened by what big businesses are comfortable giving to their consumers. I feel like this film is something everyone should see before they step foot in the grocery store again!
The Queen of Versailles
I found out about The Queen of Versailles when reading this interview with the film's director Lauren Greenfield. I found the Siegel's story (from their relationship, to the sheer excess of building America's largest home, to watching their dream crumble during the recession) captivating. In the end the film is less about the home than it is the Siegel's home life, which typically felt incredibly empty and sad. Such a great film.
What's your favorite documentary?