Documentaries, books, I want it all!
February 22, 2012 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Please give me some suggestions for documentaries and books I might like.

To give you an idea of what I'm looking for...
Documentaries I've watched recently that I want more of:
--PBS Frontline: The Suicide Tourist, Undertaking, and Facing Death
--Choosing to Die
--The Most Hated Family in America (about the Phelps family of Westboro Church)
--Jesus Camp
I LOVE documentaries, really I've seen more than this in recent months but these few stick out...if it makes me cry or makes me pick up my jaw from the floor so I can yell at the screen, I wanna see it. Please don't suggest Dear Zachary...have seen it and for some reason it seems to be 'the must see' in my preferred viewing categories LOL.
(Sidenote: if anyone can find "Dying at Grace" online, or where it's available to purchase for less than $20, that'd be awesome...I keep seeing it in the $100+ range...and I want to see it but NOT that bad.)

Books I've read recently and want more of:
--The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs
--A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
--Stiff by Mary Roach
--Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (and others by him)
--Lots of autobiographies by Dick Van Dyke, Ron Jeremy, Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball (my favorite), Ozzie Osbourne, and Julie Andrews
--Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose
--The Help by Kathryn Stockett
--Does This Mean You'll See Me Naked by Robert D. Webster
--Death's Acre by Bill Bass (my hero)
You get the idea. I found out I LOVE autobiographies, biographies as well. And because of my major/minor in college, the medical examiner, funeral director, and forensic stuff appeals to me a bunch. The Help was quirky and funny, and that along with Charlaine Harris' smartass and hysterical Sookie Stackhouse series are some of my favorite fiction books ever.

For what it's worth, there's NOTHING that offends me. I want stuff from any and all views and walks of life. Can be from the ultra-religious to the ultra-atheist, conservative to liberal, etc. I like to get riled up, to cry my eyes out, to be jumping with joy, and all in between. I ain't scared. =D
AskMeFi's past questions along these lines are where I found many of the things I watched listed above, as well as some of the more recent books. I've exhausted the older AskMeFi questions, and I'm sure there are new members like myself who have good suggestions! Fire away!
posted by PeppahCat to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Trembling before G-d (about Hasidim in America) is right up your alley.
posted by Melismata at 11:36 AM on February 22, 2012

Hell House is another look at an evangelical community. It's slightly more sympathetic and even-handed than Jesus Camp.
posted by minorcadence at 11:41 AM on February 22, 2012

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families
And the Band Played On
Rosa Lee
Also, the Post Secret book series always gets me.
posted by AlliKat75 at 11:43 AM on February 22, 2012

Deborah Blum's The Poisoner's Handbook?
posted by jeather at 11:49 AM on February 22, 2012

King Gimp - documentary. I think there was another ask not too long ago for documentaries as well, but I am off to a meeting and cannot look right now. But watch this one.
posted by maxg94 at 11:50 AM on February 22, 2012

Also, Murderball - a documentary about quadriplegic rugby.
posted by minorcadence at 11:57 AM on February 22, 2012

Would you like to watch a 3-hour-long documentary that manages to be hilarious and sad and autobiographical all at once?


Sherman's March is ostensibly about a filmmaker who sets off to trace General Sherman's army's path through the South. But then he gets all depressed and lonely and drinky. So he films himself wondering about whether he should keep filming, he films his family bitching at him to put the damn camera down, he films himself on uncomfortable first dates explaining to puzzled women why he's filming them, he films himself drunk and morose and consumed by self-doubt in cheap hotels. Will he make a movie about Sherman's March and the New South that arose in its wake? Will he find love? Will this movie ever end?

It's touching and hilarious and raw and one of my favorite "documentaries" ever.

On Netflix Instant. (Or it was. Should still be there, I hope.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:59 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which Way Home
Born Into Brothels
Death in Gaza
National Geographic: Inside North Korea
Please Vote for Me
Stranded: I've Come from a Plane
Frontline: The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan
Independent Lens: Seoul Train
The Day I Became a Woman
National Geographic: Solitary Confinement
Bus 174
POV: Lost Boys of Sudan
Wetback: The undocumented documentary
Baghdad ER
Facing the Habit
The Boys of Baraka
posted by Sal and Richard at 12:04 PM on February 22, 2012

Thomas Lynch, the subject of Frontline's The Undertaking, has a book by the same name.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Staircase
Man on Wire
March of the Penguins
posted by stampsgal at 12:09 PM on February 22, 2012

Oops, the link for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks didn't show up in my last post. Here it is.
posted by stampsgal at 12:10 PM on February 22, 2012

Current TV network had an interesting series of specials they called 50 Documentaries To See Before You Die. They're all pretty recent -- I think the earliest is from the 1980's - and like any sort of Canonical List, the inherant worth of each entry is a matter of opinion. But it makes for an interesting "suggested viewing" list. (If you can catch any of the reruns of the specials - they do that occasionally -- check that ot as a preview for some of them; or check out the Wikipedia list which has hyperlinks to each documentary's Wikipedia entry.

(Another reason to check out the specials - JESUS CAMP is number 31 on the list, and they actually visit one of the kids featured from the movie - Levi, I think -- to see what his life was like post-filming. You may be intrigued.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:17 PM on February 22, 2012

Krakauer's history of Mormonism: "Under The Banner of Heaven"
posted by empath at 12:32 PM on February 22, 2012

I think you might like the documentary Forbidden Lie$ based on the ones you listed. However I think the film works best if you have not read any kind of synopsis of it at all, including the one-line summary you would get at IMDB or whatever. I will say here that it deals with an honor killing in the Middle East but really you should just watch it without any preconceived notions about it.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:01 PM on February 22, 2012

Look up the Storyville series, which shows on the BBC here but I think is co-produced with a US organisation. Winnebago Man ran on that strand, but I also saw one of their films about French pastry chefs competing for honours which was unexpectedly fascinating. I think Winnebago Man got released theatrically in the US, so a browse through the archive might turn up some gems.

There's also Wonderland, which is a BBC series loosely based around modern technology - the first in the strand was about relationships in Second Life - but has expanded to cover hoarding, chicken rescuers and fatherhood.

As far as books go:

The Boy Who Fell From The Sky by Ken Dornstein is one of the most intriguing books I've read int he past five years or so - a brother pieces together the life of someone who died in the Lockerbie incident.

Dress Codes by...can't remember...about a woman whose father underwent a sex change and struggled with his sexuality.

Name All The Animals by Alison Smith is abotu a family after the death of the only son. A lot more cheerful than it sounds, and incredibly well written.

Also, I really liked the graphic novels Fun Home, It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken, and (apologies if this is an obvious suggestion) Maus. All of which are autobiographical.
posted by mippy at 1:02 PM on February 22, 2012

Also, have you read any other Bill Bryson books? His first two, Lost Continent and Neither Here or There, are the best ones in my view. I read them when I was sixteen and I'd never read snarky, cynical travel writing before.
posted by mippy at 1:04 PM on February 22, 2012

Documentaries I have liked:

Marwencol (a glimpse into a man's post-trauma inner world, a miniature WWII village populated by dolls)

The Rock-afire Explosion (the fascinating story of the fandom, such as it is, for the Showbiz Pizza animatronic house band, later assimilated into Chuck E. Cheese, and the private collectors who own Rock-afire Explosion setups)

I Think We're Alone Now (a look into the lives of two adult fans of Tiffany, the singer for the eighties; one is a well-meaning but slightly off-kilter trans woman and the other is a guy with Asperger's who believes in the theories of Wilhelm Reich and is mostly known for being Tiffany's stalker - this could easily just be a freakshow and there's a lot of cringe to it but it treats these people with surprising dignity)

Cropsey (two filmmakers set out to make a documentary about a local urban legend which turns into an engrossing look at a man convicted of child kidnapping)
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:35 PM on February 22, 2012

Here are some of my favourite recent docs:

Bill Cunningham New York
Nostalgia for the Light
Project Nim
Hot Coffee
Page One: Inside the New York Times
Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields
Corman's World
posted by Chenko at 2:50 PM on February 22, 2012

Seems you might like Sons of Perdition. (" An inside look at polygamist teens who have become religious refugees in mainstream America. ")

I also think you would LOVE "Overnight" ("A documentary on the rise and stumble of Troy Duffy, the bartender-cum-filmmaker.."
posted by mrmarley at 3:15 PM on February 22, 2012

How has no one yet suggested Grizzly Man? Deeply affecting -- I saw it years ago and was a wreck for days.
posted by mochapickle at 3:31 PM on February 22, 2012

The Elephant in the Living Room is a documentary about people who keep exotic animals as pets. I saw it at least a month ago and I still find myself thinking about it.
posted by gentian at 3:45 PM on February 22, 2012

I love the following docs:

For the Bible Tells Me So is about homosexual Christians, their families, and their struggles with/triumphs over negotiating their sexual orientation with their faith.

See What I'm Saying explores the world of deaf entertainers and the trials they experience trying to integrate themselves into the entertainment sphere of those who can hear.
posted by dean_deen at 6:39 AM on February 23, 2012

Response by poster: I love MeFites. My Friday is going to be the least productive day ever, but I will be entertained! =) Thanks!
posted by PeppahCat at 8:37 AM on February 24, 2012

« Older In a haze, and I don't know what to do about it....   |   San francisco photography Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.