Documentary Films

The Way We Get By

ThImagee Way We Get By is a documentary that starts out focusing on the work of the “troop greeters” in Bangor, Maine.  This group of senior citizens goes to the Bangor International Airport at any hour of the day or night to greet outgoing and incoming US troops. Oddly enough, Bangor is the main departure and return point for those serving overseas . The greeters, some retired military themselves, offer service men and women a warm welcome, snacks and free cell phones to call their loved ones. Those arriving at 3 am receive the same enthusiastic greeting as those coming at  11 am, rain, sleet or snow. This seemingly small gesture has a big impact on those returning from overseas, many unsure of how they would be received or concerned about returning to life in the US.

But there’s another layer to the story, one that’s possibly even more touching- that of the lives of the greeters themselves. Focusing on three of the senior citizens the film becomes a study of aging, loneliness, and the universal search for a sense of purpose in our lives. Read more »

Only the Young

ISBN: 
896602002487

 “Ah, these kids today!”

It’s the collective sigh huffed by every adult generation in history: our youth have no respect, no direction, no values. Fortunately examples like Only the Young (Oscilloscope Laboratories), the debut feature-length documentary from Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims, remind us that today’s teenagers are more than pop-cultured iPhone zombies—that perhaps they’re even human, and not so hopeless, considering the world they’re growing up in.

Only the Young follows skateboarders Garrison and Kevin as they navigate their high school years in a small town outside of Los Angeles. Thanks to the rapport the filmmakers earn with the boys, we’re able to roll right along with them—to an abandoned house, to the skatepark, and into their homes and their social circle. We meet Skye, who as the boys’ cohort, confidante, and sometimes-girlfriend becomes an integral character in the film herself. Read more »

Always Heard, Never Known

ISBN: 
6307573279

This is the story of a band that everyone has heard and yet most people don’t even know their name.  They played on more hit records than Elvis, than The Beach Boys, than The Rolling Stones or the Beatles ….combined.  They were responsible for the driving beat of the Motown hit factory.   The riffs you remember to so many songs were arranged and performed by them;  yet  if I mentioned some of their names, James Jamerson,  Richard Allen, Joe Messina, to name a few there would be no flash of recognition in your mind. Read more »

Kumare

Kumare is a 2011 documentary about a guy from New Jersey who tries to discover the meaning of spirituality. His methods of doing so are very questionable and I disagree with them but this documentary is redeemed in the end because Vikram tells his followers the truth. Vikram dresses up as an Indian Guru and cultivates a cult following. He does not reveal to his followers that he is a fake until after he leaves town. In the end both Vikram and his followers learn that happiness comes from within. The library has one copy of this on dvd.

Benji

ImageBenji is a new ESPN documentary covering the legendary rise and fall of high school basketball star Benjamin Wilson. In 1984 Benjamin "Benji" Wilson was ranked as the number one high school basketball player for that year. There seemed to be no doubt about his ability to succeed as one of the greatest basketball players of that time.

Having grown up on the tough streets of Chicago's south side, Wilson faced formidable challenges such gang violence, drugs and poverty. Despite it all, it was rumored that Bob Knight had traveled to Illinois to recruit the teen for Indiana University. As you could imagine there were many other competitive offers. All seemed well as Wilson was set to go to college and perhaps end up in the NBA but all the changed on November 20th, 1984.

This is a documentary takes you on a trip down memory lane as you go back in time to the 1960's. If you love basketball and its rich history, then you'll love this documentary. The ending is both sad and hopeful. The library has one copy of Benji available for check-out.

Best Worst Movie

ISBN: 
767685230329

In 1989 Italian film director Claudio Fragasso directed a movie that achieved an honor of dubious distinction; it was hailed as one of the worst movies ever made. The film was Troll 2. My personal feeling about the film is that from what I've seen, it just might win the title of the worst movie ever made. I can't say this with certainty because my sensibilities  which can usually handle bad films with very little cringing, forced me to turn it off after only about ten minutes. I wouldn't recommend it; this is good because the library doesn't own the title. I do however strongly recommend the documentary about Troll 2's rising cult status the Best Worst Movie. Read more »

Brain Games

National Geographic has produced three television episodes on the biology, psychology and other interesting parts of the human brain. Each episode has several tests to follow along with on the screen. After completing each test the viewer learns why the human brain behaves in the way that it does. There is no need to feel embarrassed about what we don't know since this is a characteristic of all human beings. It seems that we all have blinds spots and things that we miss in our every day interactions. It turns out that the reality that we construct is an illusion and is filled with many gaps and misunderstanding. Each fifty minute episode focuses on a different aspect of reality and how our brains work to construct them. Towards the end of the program there are a few suggestions to help you improve your long term memory. The library has one copy on DVD.

 

My Life as a Turkey

ISBN: 
9781608835690

What would you do if someone left a puppy or a kitten on your doorstep? I imagine most people would adopt it, put it up for adoption or take to the nearest humane society for safe shelter. Now consider what you would do if someone left a bowl full of (fertilized) wild turkey eggs on your doorstep. This happened to a Florida man named Joe Hutto.

This is the unexpected but fascinating documentary story about Joe Hutto's experience of raising sixteen turkeys from birth to adulthood. Joe allows himself to be imprinted upon and thus become the full-time mother of all sixteen turkeys. As is the case with all nature documentaries, some of them survive and some of them don't. Some of them are friendlier than others and they all have very different personalities. The ending will leave you a little shocked and sad but don't let that frighten you.

This is a one hour PBS nature-film presentation. This film is rated PG. The library has one copy on DVD.

Buck

Buck is a documentary about legendary horse trainer Dan "Buck" Brannaman, the modern day horse whisperer and inspiration for both the book and film alike. His horsemanship skills are legendary because he can train a horse to do just about anything in nearly ten minutes without touching the horse.

 

Read more »

Nature: A Murder of Crows

You can always count on the PBS Nature series to be interesting and have beautiful videography. But I was especially captivated when I recently watched A Murder of Crows. It didn't sound that interesting- a documentary about crows, but when I read the description of crows as "apes with feathers" I was intrigued. I had no idea how intellligent these birds are.
 
 
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