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7 Documentary Movies You Can & Should Watch Now

Submitted by on July 13, 2010 – 3:35 pmNo Comment
Michael Moore upon receiving his free gun at t...
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We love documentaries as a genre at movie times because they provide the audience with ability to truly see one side of an issue in depth, compared with the 30 second mcnugget sized bits of information we usually get from TV.  Since we have started streaming free movies on this site we decided to recommend a few to you, our loyal audience, that you could watch right now on your computer or TV.

39 Pounds of Love:

This documentary tells the moving story of Ami Ankilewitz, an Israeli man who developed a rare form of muscular dystrophy at the age of 1, unable to move any part of his body except for a finger. Ami’s mother was told her son would not live past his sixth birthday, but at age 34, he’s proved medical science wrong. Returning to the United States, the 39-pound miracle faces the doctor who said he would not survive and makes amends with his brother.

Patrons of the 2005 Palm Beach Film Festival remember this winning documentary as a 5-hanky surprise. At the heart of the journey is a wrenching love story…and some horrible (but adorable) animation. You will absolutely love Ami.

The Flaming Lips – Fearless Freaks:

Alt-rock favorite The Flaming Lips invite filmmaker Bradley Beesley, who directed many of their music videos, to join them on a journey through the past as they take a look back at their countless escapades. See what the band is like onstage and on the road; listen to the members reminisce over the highs and lows of their 20-year career; meet the people who surround them via interviews and video footage; and more.   Highly engrossing documentary on alternative/psychadelic rock band the Flaming Lips. I’ve only heard a couple of their newer albums and loved them, and after seeing this movie I am looking for their early work. The lead singer is shown as one of the most hardworking people in the music biz. One particularly heart-wrenching scnene shows the strung-out drummer talking about how he can’t kick his heroine addiction and how he’s lost all his money, his car and his girlfriend because of the drug…and while he’s telling you this he’s preparing to shoot up again. The movie has some hilarious scenes as well, like when the singer re-visits his hometown.

The Future of Food:

Before compiling your next grocery list, you might want to watch filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia’s eye-opening documentary, which sheds light on a shadowy relationship between agriculture, big business and government. By examining the effects of biotechnology on the nation’s smallest farmers, the film reveals the unappetizing truth about genetically modified foods: You could unknowingly be serving them for dinner.  Anyone following the legal policies of Monsanto – the massive company with the “Imagine” tagline – or the plight of the North American farmer will need to watch this movie, even if they already believe they know everything they need to. But the rest of us need to watch ‘The Future of Food’ as well, since a sustainable food supply should be at least of some importance. Consider some points in the movie: * the insecticide and herbicide companies have bought out the majority of seed companies * these companies are genetically modifying the seeds and patenting them * today just a few companies own the rights to the majority of farm-grown products * large corporations (i.e., Monsanto) are winning lawsuits against much smaller farmers because genetically modified seed that is patented has blown onto their farms. The film conveys somewhat one-sidedly and briefly the history of food, but focuses mainly on the court cases and the how the individual farmers were affected by them. So is the movie good. Absolutely. Written and directed by Deborah Koons Garcia, wife of the late Jerry Garcia, the film has a low-budget feel that seems to enhance its accuracy and relevance. Is the film great? It could have been easily, but all the interviews and background information supported the director’s premise. Obviously, Monsanto refused to comment – it is not a forthcoming company. But hearing from the other side, would not have impacted the conclusion the movie imparts and would have added a journalistic objectivity to this superb film.

Trembling Before G-d(2001) UR

Two hot-button issues — homosexuality and religion — are thrust together in this revealing documentary by Sandi Simcha Dubowski. Gay and lesbian Jews who have been cast off by their families and by religious figures are interviewed in major metropolitan areas across the globe. Even in societies where homosexuality is gaining acceptance, many of those interviewed still struggle with balancing an intolerant faith with their sexual orientation.

“Trembling Before G_d” is an intelligent, even-handed documentary exploration of the struggle within the Jewish orthodox faith to figure out what to do with their gay people. The film is mostly concerned with the point of view of lesbians and gay men whose deeply-felt religious convictions and Jewish identities collide with the orthodox belief that homosexual behavior is not OK. The movie, however, is not one-sided. Conservative fanatics, though present, are thankfully not given much airtime. Rather, we are privileged to observe some truly compassionate and reflective Rabbis struggle with the question of how to reconcile their teachings with the obvious pain that some brave gay orthodox Jews bring before them. Highly recommended for its thoughtfulness, balance, and heart.

Super Size Me(2004) PG-13

On the heels of recent lawsuits against McDonald’s, director Morgan Spurlock takes a hilarious and often terrifying look at the effects of fast food on the human body, using himself as the proverbial guinea pig. For one month, Spurlock eats nothing but McDonald’s, ordering everything on the menu and “super-sizing” his order whenever asked. The result is a sobering examination of the line between personal and corporate responsibility.  this documentary takes a look at the harm in eating fast food. It does this by following Mr. Spurlock in a quest to eat Mc Donald’s food for 30 days straight. Spurlock offers a very genuine look into several controversial issues, and a touch of humor helps it go down easier than a vanilla milkshake. He examines the obesity dilemma in the US, problems in the United States public school system, and corporate greed and neglect. Unlike Michael Moore documentaries though – Spurlock achieves this w/o humiliating people, slanting perspectives, or acting obnoxious. Going into this film I believed that personal responsibility was the sole necessity in staying fit. Walking out, I believed the same thing though I am questioning…if we crack down on big tobacco’s advertising schemes we must consider limits on fast food tactics as well. Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel may have more in common than we think.

Famed filmmaker and left-wing political humorist Michael Moore tackles America’s obsession with firearms in this Oscar-winning documentary that focuses mainly on the Columbine High School massacre of 1999. Moore also visits a bank that gives each new customer a free gun, recites statistics for gun deaths in the United States and interviews folks ranging from National Rifle Association spokesman Charlton Heston to shock rocker Marilyn Manson.

Contrary to what some believe, at no point in this film does Michael Moore suggest that we write any new laws about gun ownership; in fact it seems his point is simply that we as a nation should examine our fear-based society to better understand the horrific tragedies we inflict upon each other. The fear pervades our minds so thoroughly that many who watch this film somehow feel their rights threatened and react with knee-jerk defensiveness. The only way out of this fear-based thinking is to look closely at the things we fear, and have real discussions about them. This film is a good start. P.S.: *Any* piece of filmmaking involves an editing process. Decisions are made of what to film, how long to film it, and in what order to arrange the segments. Bias is inherent in the media itself. There is no such thing as an “unbiased documentary.”

In this fascinating Oscar-nominated documentary, American guitarist Ry Cooder brings together a group of legendary Cuban folk musicians (some in their 90s) to record a Grammy-winning CD in their native city of Havana. The result is a spectacular compilation of concert footage from the group’s gigs in Amsterdam and New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall, with director Wim Wenders capturing not only the music — but also the musicians’ life stories.

The personal lifes of the musicians and the portrayal of their comeback to international fame in old age after being “nobodys” during most of Castro’s reign is very touching. It’s kind of like Sinatra, whom I am using to make the point; had been cut-off in his prime and left in obscurity for 40 years due to a regime change, only to come back to well deserved international fame and recognition in old age. Some people have critized Ry Cooder. While he was an unknown musician to me prior to this movie, he should at the very least be given credit for changing all these peoples lives in such a dramatic and positive way. I found nothing wrong with his sitting in. This is a sweet and touching documentary and the music is terrific

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