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Mon, Dec 22, 2014

PICKIN' ON FILM: Favorite documentaries feature people at best


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Continuing in last week’s vein, here are my Top 5 favorite documentaries.

'The Kid Stays in the Picture'

This film focuses on the career of Robert Evans, who rose from being a small-time actor to the head of Paramount Pictures when he was only 38.

The title comes from Evans’ acting days, when he was set to play a famous matador in the film adaptation of Hemingway’s classic "A Sun Also Rises" against the wishes of Ava Gardner and Hemingway himself.

The producer, Darryl F. Zanuck, refused to cut Evans from the film and said, “The kid stays in the picture.”

Although he hasn’t produced a film since 2003, Evans’ canon speaks for itself.

"Love Story," "Chinatown," "Rosemary’s Baby," and the "Godfather" trilogy were all made under this producer’s watch.

He turned Paramount from being the ninth biggest studio into No. 1 in Hollywood.

His career has had large ups and downs and makes for a fascinating story.

Evans is a character to say the least.

'Grizzly Man'

Acclaimed director Werner Herzog made this fascinating film about the life of Timothy Treadwell, a self-proclaimed protector of grizzly bears.

Treadwell spent 13 summers in the Kodiak wilderness of Alaska filming and interacting with ferocious bears, often getting within inches of the deadly creatures.

After growing up with drug problems and severe depression in his life, he decided to start camping in Alaska and filming his exploits.

He was obsessed with keeping poachers away from the grizzlies but only filmed a few instances of people treating them poorly.

During his life he was called everything from a saint to a psychopath.

Interestingly enough, it was on his 13th trip that his fate would be settled.

I’ll leave you to find out what happened to him.

It can be hard to watch, so prepare yourself.

'Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures'

This film focuses on the career of one of the most prolific and talented directors in the history of film.

Narrated by Tom Cruise and featuring the making of his most films, from "The Killing to Eyes Wide Shut," this documentary brings us into the mind of a man who was vilified, celebrated, and often misunderstood.

The movie also pulls no punches when it comes to his highly controlling personality.

Kubrick was not afraid to demand take after take in an effort to make perfect films.

I’m not just saying that.

The man made perfect films from "The Shining," to "Full Metal Jacket," "A Clockwork Orange," and others.

If it tells you what a perfectionist he was, he holds the Guinness World Record for longest constant movie shoot, at 400 days.

Interviews with actors, as well as directors like Martin Scorcese, Steven Spielberg, and Woody Allen are also included.  

The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing

This film gives an interesting look at how movies are made.

It shows the past, present, and future of how filmmakers make the movies we love to watch.

Narrated by Kathy Bates (who was born and raised in Memphis) with interviews from incredible actors and directors, it provides a glimpse into movie magic. A great film.

'Wordplay'

This film focuses on Will Shortz, the editor of The New York Times’ crossword puzzle.

If you’re not familiar with this highly revered crossword section, Monday’s issue contains the easiest puzzle, progressively getting harder throughout the week and concludes with the very tough Sunday Times puzzle.

Interviews include the people who go to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament as well as aficionados of the Times puzzle, a few being former President Bill Clinton (who can finish a Sunday puzzle in under five minutes), Jon Stewart, and documentary great Ken Burns.

Even though it might seem like a boring movie to watch, it’s pretty fascinating.

 
 
 
Tagged under  Grizzly Man, Media History, Movies, Pickin On Film, Stanley Kubrick A Life in Pictures, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Wordplay



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