There are such a lot of documentaries on the market. Typically, it looks like too many. The quantity’s additionally ballooned additional within the 20-30 years, due to the emergence of comparatively inexpensive recording tools that enables many individuals to seize no matter they select to. Contemplating that skilled films will be shot on cellphones, it stands to motive that the instruments to doc folks, locations, or occasions are actually within the fingers of extra folks than ever earlier than.
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All meaning is that the overwhelming feeling you would possibly get when choosing a documentary to look at isn’t going away any time quickly. There’s a handful of nice, distinctive, and fairly unusual documentaries that you just may not have seen earlier than. Undoubtedly, all are value a look ahead to any documentary aficionado. To maintain the theme of choosing lesser-known documentaries, all the next have been seen by 5000 viewers at most on the movie-focused social media app, Letterboxd, as of the time of writing.
Table of Contents
‘Tokyo Olympiad’ (1965)
Famed Japanese director Kon Ichikawa was tasked to doc the 1964 Summer season Olympics in Tokyo. He did so in a totally daring and creative approach. The ensuing movie — clocking in at virtually three hours — captures the grace and great thing about all of the Olympic occasions in a approach that strange broadcasts on tv normally fail to do.
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Implausible digicam work, enhancing, and music make this participating from the opening ceremony to the closing one and all through all of the sporting occasions lined in between. You don’t even must be an enormous fan of watching sports activities to understand this for the filmmaking alone, and it nonetheless stands because the gold customary for sport-related documentaries.
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‘Land of Silence and Darkness’ (1971)
One of many earliest function movies of the good German director Werner Herzog, Land of Silence and Darkness, is a glance into the lifetime of Fini Straubinger, a lady who lived most of her life being each deaf and blind. All through the movie, Herzog paperwork different people who additionally reside with Straubinger’s situation and provides an perception into how life is for individuals who can neither hear nor see.
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The result’s unhappy, shifting, and really engrossing. To observe it’s in all probability the closest most will come to understanding how such a situation would influence one’s life. However alternatively, to see how they perform, talk, and discover happiness is inspiring in its personal approach. Herzog handles the entire documentary completely, being respectful and by no means exploitative to the people he covers all through.
‘Arms on a Hardbody: The Documentary’ (1997)
Arms on a Hardbody has a easy, rock-solid premise. It covers an endurance problem the place folks place one hand on a truck and aren’t allowed to take a seat down, lean on the truck, or take their hand off. The final particular person left standing with their hand on the truck wins the truck. That’s it.
Its simplicity makes it a satisfying watch, and the quirky contestants who viewers come to know all through add one other layer of leisure to the proceedings. It’s fairly weird, however humorous at factors, and it even will get surprisingly suspenseful throughout the latter levels of the competitors. It is a must-watch for anybody involved in seeing a unusual group push their our bodies and minds to the bounds in a good quirkier problem.
‘The Emperor’s Bare Military Marches On’ (1987)
The Emperor’s Bare Military Marches On is a tense and provocative Japanese documentary. It bears some similarities to 2012’s Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing, as each look again at and make clear horrible atrocities that a lot of the world appears to need to neglect about or ignore.
In The Emperor’s Bare Military Marches On, these atrocities have been dedicated within the closing days of WW2, and ex-soldier Kenzo Okuzaki, the topic of the documentary, is proven going to excessive lengths to seek out out the reality about what occurred and decide who’s accountable. He’s pushed equally by his need for private redemption and his hatred of authority, and he makes for a fascinatingly complicated central determine. It’s a tough documentary that provides no straightforward solutions and discusses many troubling subjects, however it’s fascinating, distinctive, and an important movie.
‘Homicide on a Sunday Morning’ (2001)
A real-crime documentary that’s actually nice — and will be watched with out carving out a complete afternoon — Homicide on a Sunday Morning covers the trial of a teenage boy in Florida who was accused of taking pictures and killing a 65-year-old lady in a botched armed theft.
It options tight enhancing, a powerfully instructed story, a suspenseful closing act, and a few implausible perception into the issues of the American justice system and the best way it may well endanger harmless folks. On the similar time, it’s a considerably uncommon, optimistic depiction of the occupation of protection legal professionals, as public defenders — who argue for the boy’s innocence — Patrick McGuinness and Ann Finnell come throughout as fairly heroic, all issues thought-about.
‘Relics: Einstein’s Mind’ (1994)
Documentaries don’t get rather more oddball or obscure than this. It appears to solely exist on YouTube, and solely as a result of it seems like somebody recorded it off a Swedish TV station earlier than placing it on YouTube (so it’s important to watch it with Swedish subtitles, mainly).
However fortunately, it hasn’t been misplaced to time as a result of it’s a surreal, humorous, and distinctive little documentary. It follows a Japanese professor by the identify of Kenji Sugimoto as he travels to the USA with one objective: to seek out (and hopefully research) the mind of Albert Einstein. His dedication could be very endearing, and an excellent chunk of the movie is him going as much as random folks and asking them in the event that they know the place Einstein’s mind is. It must be seen to be believed.
‘The Killing of America’ (1981)
The Killing of America is a surprising and hard-to-watch documentary about among the most impactful acts of violence dedicated within the USA all through the center of the twentieth century. Utilizing typically disturbing archive footage, it argues that Western civilization and its morals are in decline, so it’s not precisely a cheery watch.
However it’s compelling, and the insights it offers guarantee it doesn’t simply really feel prefer it’s being surprising and provocative for the sake of it. A troublesome-to-watch documentary about powerful, brutal instances, it, sadly, stays related so long as violence exists.
‘Massive River Man’ (2009)
Massive River Man virtually looks like a documentary rendition of Apocalypse Now, besides there’s no conflict or homicide, the principle character swims as a substitute of being on a ship, and it’s a lot funnier. It covers Martin Strel, an bold, middle-aged man who loves a drink or ten, as he units out to swim throughout your complete Amazon River… all 3000+ miles of it.
It feels prefer it might be a mockumentary at instances, however it’d nonetheless be nice even when that have been the case. It’s humorous, offbeat, and even inspiring in its personal bizarre approach. Deliberately or unintentionally, it looks like one of the best Werner Herzog documentary that Werner Herzog by no means made.
‘Dying at Grace’ (2003)
Dying at Grace is simply in regards to the hardest to look at documentary on the market: the truth that it’s not as well-known isn’t shocking. In 2.5 hours, it depicts the previous few months of life of 5 sufferers at a hospital in Toronto, all the best way up till they breathe their final breaths.
It’s confronting and troubling to look at, particularly as a result of it’s all so inevitable. For these nonetheless alive who’re courageous sufficient to look at it, you could end up appreciating the life you reside greater than earlier than. However to get there, it’s important to confront the grim certainty of life-ending all through this movie, and among the sights and sounds inside are unattainable to neglect. It’s a brutally sincere double-edged sword of a documentary.
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About The Writer
(49 Articles Revealed)
Jeremy is an omnivore relating to films. He’ll gladly watch and write about virtually something, from outdated Godzilla movies to gangster flicks to samurai films to traditional musicals to the French New Wave to the MCU. When he’s not writing lists for Collider, he additionally likes to add movie evaluations to his Letterboxd profile and Instagram account.
From Jeremy Urquhart
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