The Seven Five (2014) – Crooked New York City police officers get a filmed perp walk in this examination of the city’s infamous 75th precinct, which was a hive of corruption in the 1980s. Ringleader Michael Dowd talks about how taking money from drug dealers to offset his salary woes led to an increasingly complex and dangerous web of deceit.
The Central Park Five (2013) – Director Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” series on Netflix has brought renewed attention to the Central Park Five case, which saw five minors wrongly convicted of attacking a jogger in New York’s Central Park in 1989. “The Central Park Five” co-directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns, and her husband David McMahon examines the case, from the coerced confessions of the boys to their attempts to clear their names.
Killing for Love (2015) – When married couple Derek and Nancy Haysom are found dead in their Virginia home in 1985, suspicion falls on their daughter, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth’s boyfriend, Jens Söring. Was Jens a co-conspirator or just a pawn in Elizabeth’s game? Watch and find out.
Without Charity (2013) – In 2000, police discover a trio of construction workers murdered at an expensive house in Indiana. As police dig deeper, they uncover Charity Payne, a woman who might have helped a group of robbers break in and commit the murders.
Out of Thin Air (2017) – In 1974, two men in Iceland disappeared. A police investigation led to six men, who were all eventually sent to prison after confessing to the murders. Decades later, new evidence casts doubt on their version of events—and whether they killed anyone at all.
Filmworker (2017) – Leon Vitali had it all in the 1960s and 1970s as a star on the rise, but he gave it all up when he met Stanley Kubrick. A heartfelt and stirring documentary about the right-hand man of one of cinema’s greatest visionaries, director Tony Zierra charts Vitali’s career from its early promise to his tutelage by Kubrick to his eventual role as protector of the legendary director’s legacy after his death.
This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006) – Since its inception, the Motion Picture Association of America’s Classification and Ratings Administration has been met with the ire and derision of filmmakers, but director Kirby Dick’s “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” was the first full-frontal assault against the organization. The documentary explores the hypocrisy and corruption behind the business of rating movies,
That Guy…Who Was in That Thing (2012) – From directors Ian Roumain and Michael Schwartz, “That Guy…Who Was in That Thing” explores the frustrating phenomenon of actors who are in everything, yet aren’t household names.
Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015) – Taking a simple idea and elevating it to essential cinema, director Kent Jones assembles a diverse group of voices—from Scorsese to Fincher, to Kurosawa, to Linklater—to discuss the famous meeting that took place in 1962 between Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut that cast a light on the auteurs’ cinematic process.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014) – There are lots of well-respected film studios, but Cannon Films isn’t one of them. And thank the movie gods because, without Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, we wouldn’t have such classics as “Ninja III: The Domination,” “King Solomon’s Mines,” and “Cobra.”
Abducted in Plain Sight – The words “bonkers,” “crazy,” and “wild” might come to mind while watching true crime documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight.” The film tells the truly disturbing story of the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan was abducted not once but twice by their neighbor Robert “B” Berchtold.
De Palma – “De Palma” is an absolute must-watch for any and all cinephiles, whether you’re a fan of Brian De Palma’s work or not. The film’s presentation is filmmakers and De Palma fans Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow sit the legendary director in front of a camera and pepper him with a litany of questions that cover his entire career, for which De Palma is more than happy to be absolutely candid.
Five Came Back – The three-episode docuseries “Five Came Back” is an adaptation of author Mark Harris’s non-fiction book of the same name, which looks at World War II though the eyes of five filmmakers who helped the war effort in different ways: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. These iconic Hollywood directors were enlisted to make various documentaries during the war to rally support, train troops, and document horrific experiences.
Long Shot – The less you know about Jacob LaMendola’s 40-minute documentary “Long Shot” the better, because its twists and turns are absolutely shocking. The film focuses on Juan Catalan, who was accused of a murder he didn’t commit, and the lengths he had to go to in order to prove his innocence.
Oklahoma City – Before the 9/11 attacks, the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil was the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 people and injured 680 others. “Oklahoma City” uses this event to frame and contextualize what drove Timothy McVeigh to plan and execute this horrific act, which in turn is also a chronicle of the early days of the alt-right movement.
1.Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies – The NBA’s defining rivalry forms the basis of one of ESPN’s “30 for 30’s”definitive outings. Told over three parts and five hours, “Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies” is incredibly thorough and includes many of the biggest names associated with the rivalry, including Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
2.The Two Escobars – This outstanding documentary profiles soccer player Andres Escobar and drug lord Pablo Escobar, and how the two men, murdered within one year of each other, shaped and continue to shape the public image of Colombia.
3.June 17th, 1994 – One of the most acclaimed “30 for 30s,” the documentary covers the surreal summer day where major events in the NBA, NHL, PGA, MLB, and World Cup took a backseat to O.J. Simpson’s car chase. “June 17th, 1994” juxtaposes footage from each event to create a compelling snapshot of America.
4.Youngstown Boys – “Youngstown Boys” examines the collegiate football scandal that brought down a legendary coach and his star player, Ohio State University coach Jim Tressel and running back Maurice Clarett, but it zooms out enough to unpack larger issues such as how the NCAA and NFL conspire to profit off of and use star athletes for their own ends.
5.Without Bias – The first truly great “30 for 30” chronicles the death of Len Bias, days after the Boston Celtics took him with the second pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Bias’s death, the result of a cocaine overdose, rocked the league and the city of Boston. It’s a sobering look at what could’ve been and what never was.
The New York Times chief film critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, have released their list of the best movies of 2019 so far. Two documentaries are among the list.
Rolling Thunder Revue – Subtitled “A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese,” this documentary chronicles the free-form concert tour that Dylan and assorted colleagues began in 1975 and blends scenes shot at the time with new, fictionalized episodes.
Manohla Dargis’s Take – “It’s at once a celebration and a rescue mission (it draws heavily on restored film footage), as well as another chapter in Scorsese’s decades-long chronicling of Dylan.”
The Edge of Democracy – “The Edge of Democracy” examines Brazilian politics — two recent presidents in disgrace, the current one leaning toward authoritarianism — from the outraged point of view of the filmmaker, Petra Costa.
A.O. Scott’s Take – Costa’s take “is by turns incredulous, indignant and self-questioning.” Her film is “a chronicle of civic betrayal and the abuse of power, and also of heartbreak.”
Cooked – The original 2016 Netflix series “Cooked,” based on the best-selling book of the same name is a gem waiting to be discovered. Food author Michael Pollan shows the audience how cooking, braising, and baking changes the chemical makeup of food. The purpose of the series is to make the point that we must start cooking for ourselves in order to avoid future food-related health problems such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
That Sugar Film – “That Sugar Film” is perfect for the person with the major sweet-tooth. But beware that the truth of your late-night candy binges might be harming you more than you think. Damon Gameau experiments by eating only foods that are “healthy” but are really packed with sugar. Audiences will get to see the drastic effect of the sugars on his healthy body and shows just how dangerous sugar can be.
Bite Size – The film made waves for its reporting about childhood obesity and its dangers. “Bite Size” shows how childhood obesity affects kids, their families, and society. It also explains how obesity not only diminishes a child’s health but can be a catalyst for bullying, teasing, and low self-esteem.
Why Are We Getting So Fat? – This BBC documentary introduces audiences to new methods that are being experimented with in order to reduce the remarkably high cases of obesity in both children and adults all over the world. It might sound odd, but it seems that the old diet and exercise method just isn’t working for everyone.
Sustainable – The featured character of “Sustainable” is Marty Travis, who is a 7th-generation farmer and food supplier. Travis, who resides in rural Illinois, witnesses his long-running farm fall victim to big-business agriculture sweeping the nation and destroying the sustainability of food in America. This motivates Travis to transform his farm with a bigger picture in mind and start the sustainable food movement in Chicago.