Tag Archives: documentary

Craft in America (2007-2017)

craftamericaThe PBS series Craft in America presents artists currently working in the U.S.: furniture makers, blacksmiths, weavers, jewelry makers, glass blowers, and more. Often times, artists have learned their craft from parents and grandparents, and it’s inspiring to see that these traditions can be kept alive from generation to generation—the way other skills such as cooking or gardening can be passed down. If you want an inside look at how a craft object is created—from the materials used, and the design process, to the workshop where it all comes together—you’ll want to check out Craft in America!

I Am Not Your Negro (2016) PG-13

notyournegroRauol Peck’s documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, about the lives of his friends, civil rights leaders Medgar Evans, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and their assassinations, will grab you with its powerful imagery and narration. Actor Samuel Jackson provides the voiceover narration pulled from Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript and passages taken from his other works. Old news reports, archival footage of Baldwin speaking, clips from classic movies, images of the civil rights movement and from the present accompany the narration. In I Am Not Your Negro, Peck has crafted a powerful, relevant examination of race in the United States from the civil rights movement to Black Lives Matter.

Spotlight: Lady Gaga

lady_gaga_-_joanne_official_album_coverOnce you’ve listened to Lady Gaga’s album Joanne, you won’t be able to stop. You’ll listen to it during your morning shower, in the car on your way to and from work, and before it’s time to sleep at night. Joanne may be a clear departure from the usual Gaga style of her previous albums, but it’s no less powerful. Songs such as the titular “Joanne” and “Come to Mama” will keep you coming back again and again. The stylistic change also especially makes far more sense and has far more meaning after watching the Netflix documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two. Experience a year in the life of not Lady Gaga, but Stefani Germonatta. It follows the year in which she was releasing Joanne up until her performance at the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show. You will live, love, laugh, and cry with her up until the very end. Don't have a Netflix subscription? Watch for free using our roku.

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth (1988)

powerofmythStar Wars fans may not be familiar with mythologist Joseph Campbell whose work influenced George Lucas’ Star Wars. In 1988, conversations between journalist Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell about mythology and its importance to society were filmed at Skywalker Ranch. Campbell’s book The Power of Myth was based on these conversations and includes many references to Star Wars characters. I recently re-watched the documentary, The Power of Myth, and found that Campbell’s ideas remain relevant and thought-provoking.

Gotta Dance (2008)

gottadanceFollow the joys and struggles of twelve senior women and one man as they try out, train, and perform as a dance team for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. It is exhilarating and inspiring to watch this determined diverse group of people deal with the pressures of learning new routines in order to fulfill a dream. The crowd goes wild when the team comes out during halftime seemingly to perform a Gene Kelly number and instead breaks into hip-hop. A media frenzy ensued, and they were featured in US News and World Reports and on The Early Show, Saturday Night Live, and the Today Show. This documentary film shows age is a state of mind, not a date of birth. Gotta Dance has inspired a Broadway musical. See if it inspires you.

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead (2010)

fatsickdeadThis entertaining documentary may not inspire you to go out and buy a juicer, but it will make you aware of the debilitating effects of obesity and an unhealthy diet. Australian filmmaker Joe Cross is overweight and suffering from the side effects of a steroid he takes to treat an autoimmune disease. In desperation, he goes on a 60 day juice fast as he travels across the United States. As he regains his health (and loses weight), he shares his story with people he encounters, including a morbidly obese trucker from Iowa who suffers from the same autoimmune disease Cross had. Find a copy of Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead at the library—and then watch Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead 2 on Hoopla.

The living matrix: a film on the new science of healing (2009)

TLM-Cover_frontDespite somewhat of an infomercial look and feel, The Living Matrix captures the viewer's attention. The opening scene of a child with Cerebral Palsy tugs at one's heartstrings. Anyone who has a chronic illness, disease, or an afflicted loved one is gently persuaded to continue listening to the success stories. Experts in their fields share research on bioenergetics, quantum physics, reconnective healing, energy fields, the placebo effect, and other cutting edge scientific developments. The term miraculous is used loosely, but the spiritual aspects are never explored. Those interested in holistic health and alternative methods of healing owe it to themselves to watch this 83 minute documentary. Find additional resources on The Living Matrix website.

Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones: Live at the Checkerboard Lounge (2012)

On November 22, 1981, the Rolling Stones were in Chicago for a concert and stopped into Buddy Guy’s Checkerboard Lounge to hear Muddy Waters and get back to their blues roots. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Ian Stewart joined in. It was incredible watching a young Mick Jagger singing and interacting with the father of modern Chicago blues and Keith Richards jamming on the guitar. Buddy Guy, Lefty Dizz, and Junior Wells are also featured. Bootleg copies existed, but this is the first official film recording of the historic night. The Rolling Stones were named after the Muddy Waters song, “Rollin’ Stone.” Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones reminded me of the historic night at Sun Records in 1956 when Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley had an impromptu jam session. No film footage exists, but most of the sound was recorded and released as The Million Dollar Quartet. This event spawned the musical, Million Dollar Quartet.

The Queen of Versailles (2012) PG

At the beginning of The Queen of Versailles, a fascinating documentary, we meet the impossibly wealthy Seigel family: patriarch David is the founder of Westgate Resorts, a timeshare company; and the family is in the midst of the construction of their own version of Versailles, billed as the largest private home in the U.S. Before too long though, the economic crisis of 2008 leaves the company floundering, construction halted on Versailles, and the family making extreme cuts to their extravagant lifestyle. David’s wife Jackie is the “Queen of Versailles” and she is the quirky, stoic, and often over-the-top heart of the movie. Jackie married into money and has enjoyed it to the fullest, but in the face of an uncertain future she is resiliently planning how to cope if her life takes yet another dramatic turn.

Spotlight: European Travel

I love to visit Europe. And in between those rare trips, I enjoy learning more about a new place. So whether you’re an armchair traveler or planning your next vacation, we have the DVDs to get you started on the right path. Samantha Brown hosted Passport to Europe on Travel Channel. Check out the DVDs on France & Italy or England, Ireland, & Scotland. Each set contains 22 minute episodes on different regions in each of the countries listed. As your guide, Brown presents a charming mix of history and entertainment. And then, of course, there is PBS darling and European travel guru Rick Steves. For the past 40 years, he’s spent about one-third of each year traveling throughout Europe. Take advantage of his expertise by checking out one of the Rick Steves’ Europe DVDs. The 30 minute episodes from 2000 to 2012 traverse the continent from old favorites England and France to newer shows on Sweden and Croatia. See episodes arranged by country with this complete guide to shows.