Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rating Game Redux (33): Nothing But the Truth

Our local paper's Rating Game wanted the truth on Best Documentaries. Not happening, with only three allowed on the list. But here--with all due apologies to Robert Flaherty, Frederick Wiseman, the Maysles brothers, and even that Big & Tall Man gadfly, Michael Moore--is a good start. In cinema veritas!

Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976)
Kentucky coal miners strike in 1973, and Barbara Kopple marches right along, through double-dealings, drive-by shootings, homespun egos and hard-won (partial) victories. Talk about your bitter Americans.

The “Up” Series (1964-present)
Michael Apted has followed a group of English boys and girls from age seven onward (49 Up in 2005) in an epic series that explores personal and social change—and continuity.

Gates of Heaven (1980)
Errol Morris’ first documentary, an exploration of pets, pet cemeteries, the American Dream, and endless tangents, as Morris aims his camera at his subjects and lets them take over. A slyly manipulative “anti-documentary” in which the periphery becomes the story.

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