1 hour documentary on philosophy & art/music/culture?
March 8, 2017 3:29 PM   Subscribe

What's a good 1 hour documentary film on philosophy/art/music/culture to show my (easily bored) first year uni students studying music/music business/audio? I've got a couple of ideas, but they don't quite fit, and I'm stuck!

I'm teaching a unit on Critical Thinking for budding musicians and music industry types. Due to a quirk of our academic calendar we have an extra hour to fill, preferably with a film (because reasons).

I'd like to have it be as relevant as possible to what we're teaching the rest of the time, but also not send them to sleep. Things and thinkers we talk about in the lectures are aesthetics & music, ethics & music, Adorno, Attali, little bit of Kant, a whirlwind tour of phenomenology & perception (Husserl-->Heidegger-->Sartre-->Merleau-Ponty-->Ihde), and some bits and bobs which seem to be cribbed from Cultural Studies literature (not my specialty, but it's cool stuff).

I don't want to show a straight music doco. They'd enjoy it, but it seems like a misuse of time considering what we're doing overall. Ideas I've had that don't quite fit: Berger's Ways of Seeing (I love it, but the sheer oldness of it might make these guys glaze over); Scruton's Why Beauty Matters (it's good, but considering the talk we've had about aesthetics already I'm worried their eyes will roll so hard at his 'death of beauty' hand-wringing they'll fall back off their chairs).

I'd like to show them something that gives them another couple of tools to ask questions about the world.
posted by threecheesetrees to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Netflix's Abstract focuses on visual art & design rather than music, but a single episode fits your time requirement and the variety in the disciplines they look at makes me think that some of what they're getting at will be broadly applicable to different areas of art. I just started, though, so I can't recommend specific episodes.
posted by nvvd at 3:54 PM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Vic Reeve's "Gaga for Dada" on YouTube is completely marvelously entertaining and will help with the looking at new ways of thinking aspect of art/philosophy.
posted by merocet at 3:59 PM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

In your place, I would browse around the Berklee College web site to pick up a name or two, then call and ask about films they may have that you could use. I took an online course from there which was pretty much an ad for the college, but the videos were interesting and well done. They might have some student projects as well.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2017

It's 90 minutes long, but Lars Von Trier's The Five Obstructions is very thought-provoking. Von Trier's mentor is charged with remaking his own film five times, with different restrictions in place that challenge creativity and aesthetics. It's a fascinating look at the divergent ways in which an artist might approach an idea.
posted by xo at 4:40 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I Dream of Wires is a great new documentary on Netflix about modular synthesis and synthesis in general...lots of great interviews, history, and theory...
posted by sexyrobot at 5:30 PM on March 8, 2017

I don't know if it would be philosophical enough, but based on the crowd of students you described, a chunk of soundbreaking might work.
posted by umbú at 6:32 PM on March 8, 2017

Tim's Vermeer.
posted by lpsguy at 7:56 PM on March 8, 2017

Tim's Vermeer.
posted by lpsguy at 7:58 PM on March 8, 2017

Best answer: If you have one hour, you could pair part one of Berger's "Ways of Seeing" (30min) with Lorna Mill's brilliant hypercontemporary update creation-in-the-internet-age "Ways of Something" (30min). They won't be able to sleep through that last 30 minutes, and I think the experience of directly pairing the two itself would be a fascinating thing for them to think through
posted by Chipmazing at 1:26 AM on March 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

Why Man Creates
posted by roll truck roll at 7:42 AM on March 9, 2017

Best answer: Orson Welles' F for Fake

William Greaves' Symbiopsychotaxiplasm

I think both movies could spark some really interesting discussions.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:24 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Something by Jonathan Meades could definitely fit the bill, a user called Meadesshrine put most of them up on youtube and Vimeo. Commissioned by the BBC, but quirky and provocative in a way that doesn't fit with the beeb's usual style-guide (although I suppose Adam Curtis' stuff is also doing something that's anti-Auntie), there are huge range of topics, and although they cluster around philosophical ideas about art and architecture, they're all well worth your (and your students') attention. Mostly up to an hour, but some are shorter/longer.

On the Brandwagon – contemporary architecture seems to be more about making branding statements about 'regeneration' and global capital than being properly about the places and spaces that people actually inhabit.
Surrealism - a meta-documentary tracing the development of Surrealism, the origins of which he believes lie in the human impulse to express the stuff of dreams
Remember the Future - long after Meades made this in 1997 we've more recently seen the birth of 'hauntology', and the (ubiquitous) nostalgia industry, where our visions of futurity can't escape an obsession with the 1970s attempts to get us there.

posted by Joeruckus at 2:50 PM on March 9, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I'm spoiled for choice now. Lots of great food for discussion :)
posted by threecheesetrees at 11:09 PM on March 9, 2017

City of Gold is about an LA food critic, but it's also a love letter to Los Angeles' diverse culture.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:34 AM on March 13, 2017

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