I got on a documentary kick this winter and saw three that I’d especially recommend.
1. Searching for Sugar Man
This documentary won an Oscar this year, and I’m so glad it did. It’s an amazing story about the unpredictable nature of artistic influence and recognition.
Since we saw the film, I’ve been listening to Rodriquez’s gravely song “Cause.”
(Note: Don’t read too much about this documentary before you see it. The narrative structure of the film is part of why it’s brilliant.)
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
Here’s another Oscar winner. We didn’t get around to seeing Exit through the Gift Shop until last month, but it’s an incredible — and thought-provoking — documentary that, like Sugar Man, asks us to think about the nature of art and its intersection with artistic recognition. It has a fascinating meta-level that you can read about after you see the film — and then you’ll examine all the film’s questions from yet another, more challenging angle.
(This is another one you don’t want to read too much about before you see it.)
This documentary is much different from the previous two. It features Will Arnett and Jason Bateman, so it’s often very funny even as it touches on some legitimately interesting topics related to appearance and masculinity. At times the documentary feels a bit cursory (it’s too big of a topic, really, for this film to take on), but the segment about the beardsmen is outstanding — funny and touching and utterly fascinating. And the documentary overall is so wholly enjoyable to watch that I can forgive its not always being rigorous. For a hard-won Friday night, it’s an excellent choice.