Fistful documentaries?
November 26, 2007 7:24 PM   Subscribe

I just watched King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters and loved it. Any other pop culture type documentaries out there I might like?

I'm really looking for more upbeat/humorous type documentaries as opposed to say, Jesus Camp, which would most likely just make me angry. Is this a one off? Or are there more fun documentaries out there?
posted by hiptobesquare to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Wordplay was really fun. Spellbound was also good.
posted by Gary at 7:28 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I believe that they're making a sequel to King of Kong. Billy Mitchell is setting up something BIG according to the last rumors on Twin Galaxies.

Rumor has it he's going to set up multiple arcade machines and kill multiple records in one shot.
posted by LiquidKarma at 7:32 PM on November 26, 2007

Word Wars, about competitive... make that obsessive Scrabble players, is a lot of fun.
posted by Naberius at 7:43 PM on November 26, 2007

2nd-ing Wordplay and Word Wars- loved BOTH. Also check out Mad Hot Ballroom.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 7:51 PM on November 26, 2007

Sorry, link: Mad Hot Ballroom
posted by pinksoftsoap at 7:53 PM on November 26, 2007

For some folks it may be fan-servicey, but 'Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns' about They Might Be Giants is pretty entertaining...
posted by pupdog at 7:59 PM on November 26, 2007

Maybe I'm nerdier than you, but these two suggestions touched on my pop culture...

Try American Movie about these guys who had been making low budget horror movies since they were teens.

Last week I caught Darkon on IFC about Live Action Role Players.
posted by thinds66 at 8:10 PM on November 26, 2007

nthing Word Wars.
posted by pompomtom at 8:17 PM on November 26, 2007

Darkon | Air Guitar Nation | Tribute | My Kid Could Paint That | The Real Dirt on Farmer John | Up For Grabs

I call them quirkumentaries.
posted by doublesix at 8:18 PM on November 26, 2007

Hands on a Hard Body is about a contest where a couple of dozen people put their hands on a fully-loaded brand-new truck -- last person standing keeps the truck!

Off the Charts is about the people that actually record the songs for those "we'll set your poems to music" ads from the back of magazines.

American Movie is about a very determined wannabe-horror-film-director beset by his own limitations.

Also, check out Errol Morris -- particularly Fast, Cheap and Out of Control and Vernon, Florida.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 8:18 PM on November 26, 2007

Oh, and Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? and Super Size Me.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 8:22 PM on November 26, 2007

B.I.K.E | Bingo! The Documentary | Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea | Genuine Nerd

that's to make up for thind66 beating me to Darkon
posted by doublesix at 8:24 PM on November 26, 2007

Project Grizzly.
posted by Camel of Space at 8:28 PM on November 26, 2007

Not sure if its the same one Camel of Space is thinking of, but Grizzly Man is an interesting film. Just not a lot of fun at the end.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:48 PM on November 26, 2007

As far as being similar to King of Kong, I would second Word Wars, Air Guitar Nation, and American Movie. If you want to go really weird you can also check out Crumb, but that one has some very dark aspects and its definitely not for everyone.

By far the funniest most upbeat and quirkiest documentary I've ever seen is Sherman's March: A Mediation to the Possibility of Romantic Love in the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation. It was originally intended to be a straight documentary about the Civil War, but it quickly devolved into a study of the director's attempts at finding a girlfriend. It has the most laugh-out-loud moments of any documentary I've seen, and as far as pop culture references, the director has an unlikely feud with Burt Reynolds.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:59 PM on November 26, 2007

Project Grizzly
posted by Camel of Space at 9:03 PM on November 26, 2007

I really enjoyed Trekkies.
posted by kitty teeth at 9:10 PM on November 26, 2007

2nd Hands on a Hard Body. Great little slice of American pop culture.
posted by mediareport at 9:22 PM on November 26, 2007

So Wrong They're Right about people who collect 8-track tapes.
posted by brujita at 10:27 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Kevin Kelly's True Films site will have many films you may find interesting.
posted by JABof72 at 11:27 PM on November 26, 2007

my kid could paint that is brutal, this just as a warning.

good but brutal.
posted by krautland at 11:46 PM on November 26, 2007

I actually prefer "Chasing Ghosts" to "King of Kong" - it seems to be a more accurate, all-encompassing and thorough documentary (it's more focused on the arcade game subculture as a whole, rather than just Donkey Kong/Billy Mitchell). I highly recommend it.

Otherwise, two docs by Ron Mann that are great: "Comic Book Confidential" (about, well, comic books) and "Twist" (a really excellent look at old rock-n-roll/soul dancing).

I also really enjoyed "Sci Fi Boys" - has some great footage of the old special effects guys, like Ray Harrhausen. Totally inspiring.
posted by bienbiensuper at 11:54 PM on November 26, 2007

Gehghis Blues,a documentary about Paul Pena, a blind bluesman who taught himself how to throat sing and traveled to Tuva Previously

Also Alone in the Wilderness the story of Dick Proenneke who, in the late 1960s, built his own cabin in the wilderness at the base of the Aleutian Peninsula
posted by Giant luck at 1:18 AM on November 27, 2007

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession was fascinating (also a little sad).
posted by otio at 5:19 AM on November 27, 2007

A League of Ordinary Gentlemen is about the fall and rise (?) of professional bowling. The personal focus on a few different bowlers reminds me of King of Kong.
posted by minimal at 5:29 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by MsMolly at 6:28 AM on November 27, 2007

I would recommend 'The Home Movie'. I believe that's what it's called, but imdb is blocked from work. Its about maybe 4-5 people who live in unique homes. Its upbeat and entertaining.
posted by kookywon at 7:41 AM on November 27, 2007

"Rize chronicles a dance movement that rises out of South Central Los Angeles with roots in clowning and street youth culture." Really enjoyed this one.
posted by Onanist at 7:43 AM on November 27, 2007

The Eyes of Tammy Faye -- Tammy Faye Bakker's journey from traveling evangelist to weepy, scandal-scarred cult icon is chronicled in this tongue-in-cheek documentary from Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. The film (which was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival) details the affair that ended the PTL Ministry of Tammy and husband Jimmy Bakker as well as Tammy's emergence as a hero to alternative-lifestyle communities. RuPaul Charles narrates.

The Cruise -- A double-deck bus tour guide with the heart of an urban poet, Timothy "Speed" Levitch doles out a fascinating overview of New York City history that's nearly impossible to forget -- due mostly to his passionate asides about life, love and the pursuit of "the cruise." Denouncing the rigidity of New York's grid plan through a rambling story about a woman in "sexual slacks," Levitch reveals as much about himself as he does about the city he loves.

Okie Noodling -- Noodling, a type of fishing activity that uses hands as bait, rod and reel (and that's banned everywhere but four states in America) is the subject of this engrossing documentary by Brad Beasley. With a healthy dose of humor and panache, Beasley captures noodling in all its eccentric glory, presenting it not merely as folly but as a true sport in Oklahoma, where he trails a band of men (and their sons) who've taken to "extreme" fishing.

Devil's Playground -- When Amish teens turn 16, they have the opportunity to venture out in the "Devil's Playground" (the Amish's term for the outside world) and indulge in 21st century vices such as drinking and smoking. At the end of this period, called "Rumspringa," they can choose to commit to the church for good. Or not. This documentary tracks 18-year-old Faron's struggle to reconcile his drug addiction with his deeply ingrained desire to live the Amish life.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill -- This documentary tells the true story of a Bohemian St. Francis of Assisi and his amazing relationship with a flock of wild parrots. Mark Bittner, a homeless street musician in San Francisco, adopts the flock as he searches for meaning in his life. The weird thing is, he's unaware that the wild parrots will bring him everything he needs. The film celebrates urban wildness (human and avian) and links the parrots' antics to human … antics.

And seconding Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
posted by subajestad at 8:22 AM on November 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Super Size Me? (I thought it was funny)
posted by monarch75 at 9:45 AM on November 27, 2007

Heavy Metal Parking Lot - painfully short but awfully funny.
posted by Neilopolis at 5:45 PM on November 27, 2007

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