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Single Subject Documentaries
October 9, 2011 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Over the past two nights I watched two great documentaries each focused on a single person: Bill Cunningham: New York and The Cruise. I would like to see more documentaries in this mode! Your suggestions, please.
posted by ocherdraco to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was really taken by Man on Wire.
posted by amanda at 7:56 PM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Fog of War
posted by Fairchild at 8:00 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Devil and Daniel Johnston... don't be intimidated by the title.
posted by pwally at 8:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


American Boy
The Kid Stays In The Picture
Marjoe
Francis Bacon
posted by rhizome at 8:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Being Elmo
posted by marais at 8:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]






Marwencol.
posted by xingcat at 8:09 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any films about women?
posted by ocherdraco at 8:09 PM on October 9, 2011


(Though you don't have to stop recommending titles about men.)
posted by ocherdraco at 8:11 PM on October 9, 2011


The September Issue
posted by marais at 8:17 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Live From Shiva's Dance Floor
Buckminster Fuller - Thinking Out Loud

The Line King
Anything by Les Blank!
posted by goalyeehah at 8:17 PM on October 9, 2011


War Photographer about James Nachtwey.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:18 PM on October 9, 2011


For a documentary on a fascinating, complex and somewhat sinister woman I cannot recommend Forbidden Lie$ enough.
posted by smithsmith at 8:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grey Gardens
F for Fake, to an extent, about Elmyr de Hory.
posted by carsonb at 8:41 PM on October 9, 2011


About an interesting woman: The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:42 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I watched Crossing the Line on Netflix streaming -- it's about an American soldier who defected to North Korea. Incredibly interesting and bizarre. My jaw was dropped open pretty much throughout.

And Grizzly Man.
posted by imalaowai at 8:45 PM on October 9, 2011


My Architect, although it's kinda a father/son duo, it's mainly about Louis Kahn.

Although it's spread throughout fourteen people, have you considered the Up series?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 8:45 PM on October 9, 2011


Nico Icon
posted by rhizome at 8:51 PM on October 9, 2011


Cold Lurkey, I love the Up series. There are a couple others in these answers that I've already seen, but I don't want to discourage anyone from adding answers—after all, presumably I'm not the only one who likes this kind of movie!
posted by ocherdraco at 9:39 PM on October 9, 2011


Not about a single person, but Herb and Dorothy was very interesting if you just want to see a doc about interesting New Yorkers (like your examples).
posted by cazoo at 10:40 PM on October 9, 2011


For a documentary about a woman, there's Bhutto about the female prime minister of Pakistan who was assasinated. I'm not sure how it compares stylistically or thematically with the documentaries you mentioned.

You may want to explore the POV series on PBS. I can't remember if they had many documentaries focusing on individuals, but there are a lot of them and definitely some focused on or directed by women.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:59 PM on October 9, 2011


The King of Kong
American Movie
Anvil
posted by falameufilho at 11:34 PM on October 9, 2011


Eyes of Tammy Faye
Tabloid
Blind Spot Hitler's Secretary
Keep the River on Your Right
Phil Ochs
Mayor of Sunset Strip
Joe Strummer
Beaches of Agnes
The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack
New York Doll
Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life
A Man Named Pearl
What Would Jesus Buy?
Theremin
Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
Trumbo
Stevie
My Best Fiend
The Nomi Song
Maya Lin
Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suess
Alice Neel
Get Bruce
Hats Off
The Brandon Teena Story
Saint Misbehaving
Dr Bronner's Magic Soapbox
Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh
Bush's Brain
The Man who Bought Mustique
The Last Mogul
Smash His Camera
Butterfly
The Execution of Wanda Jean
posted by brujita at 11:56 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just saw "Senna," about the Brazilian F-1 driver Ayrton Senna. I'm not into racing, but it was fantastic. You might still be able to find it in a theater.
posted by dunadan17 at 2:33 AM on October 10, 2011


Little Dieter Needs to Fly, doc by Werner Herzog, upon which movie Rescue Dawn was based.
posted by cyrreb at 5:27 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I Think We're Alone Now focuses on two people obsessed with Tiffany.
posted by Cwell at 6:31 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are decent documentaries on Lacan, Zizek, Darger, Cassavetes, Phil Ochs. Haven't seen the Scott Walker one yet but there is one. Herb and Dorothy is a couple, not just one person, but has a singular story feel to it.

The best thing about Man On Wire is you start out thinking it's gonna be all about this solo gifted guy and as it develops you get a bigger picture about teamwork and the sacrifices people who loved him and believed in him made for the sake of his achievement (Petit himself is not even particularly likeable).
posted by ifjuly at 8:01 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might like this AV Club list of documentaries about ambitious outsiders. That's where I heard of The Cruise, Dancing Outlaw, and I Like Killing Flies.

Other suggestions:
Lemmy
Manufactured Landscapes
posted by Gortuk at 9:15 AM on October 10, 2011


Thanks, all! My queue has been most thoroughly filled.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:09 AM on October 11, 2011


wait, not lacan, derrida duh!
posted by ifjuly at 2:56 PM on October 11, 2011


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