Ten Amazing Documentaries! Sex! Death! Comedy! Siberia! Fantastic Non-Fiction You Need To See!!

best documentary films

Time For Some “Truth!”

I love documentaries. They can be deadly serious or comically absurd – they can be lurid, spiritual, political and everything in between – here are ten examples of great documentaries you need to see!

Roger and Me documentary

“Roger and Me”!

With the recent water events in Flint, Michigan, Michael Moore’s first documentary is even more prescient. He looks at the decline of his hometown, a decline that helped lead to the current crisis that exists today.

Here is the trailer for what many consider to be “The Godfather” of modern docus, “Roger And Me”:

Wow, time flies – it was more than 25 years ago when this “in your face” documentary was considered radical! Moore told the story of the decline of his hometown Flint, Michigan – and his attempts to meet with Ford’s Chairman Roger Smith.

best documentaries of all time

What he did was usher in a new era of non-fictional storytelling, leading to some of these I want to share!

Workingmans_death

Workingman’s Death!

Some of the world’s most dangerous jobs are highlighted in this compelling documentary. These professions are virtually unknown to most people – like sulfur mining…

WorkingManDeath

The filmmaker’s style allows us a voyeuristic look at the lives of these workers…like these miners who risk their lives to slide back into abandoned crevices where small chunks of leftover coal may still cling to the abandoned walls…

most dangerous jobs in the world

This is an incredible work of art, and the late Documentary filmmaker Michael Glawogger also made a film that looked at the world of prostitution:

Whores' Glory

You can read more about these compelling films by clicking here:

https://johnrieber.com/2015/11/22/searing-expose-docs-workingmans-death-whores-glory-brilliant-documentaries-showcase-life-on-the-edge/

Sometimes, an interesting story turns into something much bigger as the filmmaker rolls the camera:

Marla Paints

“My Kid Could Paint That!”

This heartbreaking documentary is about a child prodigy – or not. The filmmakers began the project when they heard about a four-year-old girl with special artistic abilities…but then it turned into a much more troubling story.

My Kid Poster

This story is so compelling – and so many questions are still unanswered – that is the power of the documentary – to reveal truths – and yet so sad…you can read more about it here:

https://johnrieber.com/2012/03/25/killer-fish-kids-who-paint-and-mid-west-horror-best-documentaries-pt-1/

Now, to something that you would think is amazingly harsh, yet is in fact so “Happy!”

Happy-People-Poster

Celebrating The Harsh World Of “Happy People!”

Director Werner Herzog, who has made a number of terrific documentaries like “Grizzly Man”, took a long-form Russian TV documentary and turned it into a compelling two-hour journey to Siberia!

happy_people_a_year_in_the_taiga

It is some of the most unforgiving land on earth, but the people there are happy! See more here:

https://johnrieber.com/2013/07/18/into-the-wild-siberias-happy-people-werner-herzogs-new-documentary/

And if you want to bring a smile to your face, have I got a joke for you…

aristocrats-poster

America’s Funniest People Tell The World’s Filthiest Joke! Meet “The Aristocrats!”

The history of the world’s filthiest joke is hilariously profane, and amazingly insightful! Penn and Teller allow some of the world’s greatest comics to tell one joke – a legendary joke in the world of comedy – and each re-telling gets more and more obscene – which is the point of the joke!

The Aristocrats – 2005

Comedy veterans and Magicians Penn and Teller, along with Comedian Paul Provenza capitalize on their insider status and invite over 100 of their closest friends–who happen to be some of the biggest names in entertainment, from George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg and Drew Carey to Gilbert Gottfried, Bob Saget, Paul Reiser and Sarah Silverman–to reminisce, analyze, deconstruct and deliver their own versions of the world’s dirtiest joke, an old burlesque too extreme to be performed in public, called “The Aristocrats.”

The-Aristocrats documentary

George Carlin: The joke leads me down one path and then it switches the path on me suddenly and hits me with a hammer. It’s just, “Here we go folks.”

The terrific website IMDB has some interesting trivia about the joke: “This joke has been used by comedians for years as a mental stretching exercise. They would tell the joke to each other as a warm up for their acts. While the setup and punchline remain the same throughout, the middle section, describing the actual family act, is always varied to get the juices going by throwing in the most they can and keeping it funny. There are stories of parties where performers will jam and keep it going for almost an hour.”

RobinWilliamsMagnum

The late Robin Williams does a variation of the joke in the film, as does Princess Leia, whose Mom is Debbie Reynolds…who isn’t sacred for the sake of the joke…

Carrie Fisher: “My mother was a golden shower queen.”

According to his biography, “I’m Chevy Chase and You’re Not”, Chevy Chase filmed a version of the joke as well. However, at the last second he decided not to sign the release form as he was afraid of what his daughters would think of the joke’s content.

Bob_Saget

The highlight is when the film ends with Bob Saget’s version of the joke – the most obscene, rambling and hilarious take on it imaginable…hilarious, profane, and insightful – how can you argue that?

And if profane is your thing…

American swing documentary

Shed Some Clothes And Get Down With Some “American Swing!”

New York in the 70’s was a time of sex, drugs and swingers, and for awhile, there was actually a club that allowed casual sex among its members!

platos retreat mattress rules

If you’ve never heard of “Plato’s Retreat”, it’s exactly the kind of place that Ted Cruz was railing against – and it was legal!

“American Swing” is a fascinating document of a long-lost time – as told by the people who partied there…see it here:

https://johnrieber.com/2012/04/06/how-can-i-offend-you-best-documentaries-pt-2/

Of course, the subject of sex is always a big seller – and here is an amazing look at the sexiest moments in cinema history:

thatssexploitation movie

“That’s Sexploitation” is a wild romp through the annals of grind house cinema, courtesy of Something Weird Video…read more here:


https://johnrieber.com/2016/04/20/thats-sexploitation-terrific-documentary-captures-the-seedy-majesty-of-grindhouse-cinema/

I know, you are getting a bit worked up right now…if you want a mellow change of pace, dig into the story of one of the greatest bands in the world:

TheEagles-1975

Not Such A “Peaceful Easy Feeling!” It’s The History Of The Eagles!

A “warts and all” documentary, made all the more powerful because the members of the band – old and new – took part. Their brutal honesty, along with amazing archival material the band collected from day one, gives viewers a riveting inside look at one of America’s most beloved bands.

RIP Glenn Frey Eagles

Fans were stunned by the recent death of Glenn Frey, who comes across as a very driven member of the band…this documentary lasts over four hours and digs into all the professional and personal conflicts in the band…

Eagles documentary

You can read more about it here:

https://johnrieber.com/2012/10/04/eagles-no-peaceful-easy-feeling-here-just-heartache-tonight/

While we are on the subject of music, have you met’s rock’s craziest drummer?

Ginger Baker documentary


“Beware” Of Rock’s Wildest Drummer!

Ginger Baker was the drummer in Cream, and has had one of the craziest lives imaginable, and one movie captures it all!

Ginger Baker documentary

“Beware” is right, and if you want to know why, click here!

https://johnrieber.com/2015/01/13/beware-of-mr-baker-brilliant-ginger-baker-documentary-creams-drummer-throws-down/

As someone who loves to travel, I find the climate change debate sad – politics shouldn’t enter into the discussion, when there are entire countries at risk…

island-president


A Rising Political Tide! “The Island President!”

As the ocean levels rise, entire nations are at risk. Here is the inspiring story of a President who wouldn’t let his country drown due to inaction…

maldives islands

These islands will be underwater within our lifetime – unless something is done…and one courageous President allowed cameras to follow him as he tries to tell the world what lies ahead…

the-island-president-trailer-01

This is one of my favorite documentaries of all, read more here:

https://johnrieber.com/2015/05/07/the-island-president-a-tragic-compelling-documentary-a-nation-underwater/

There you have it – some of my favorite documentaries…leave a note to tell me your favorite!

with camera in bed



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3 replies

  1. Thanks for this! There are a few here I haven’t seen and want to check out!

    • Thanks for reading, and for commenting – “Island President” and “Workingman’s Death” are both fascinating…Herzog’s Siberia documentary as well…condensed from a 7-hour mini-series!

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  1. “Slow TV” Is Here! Netflix Shares Norway’s “Watching Paint Dry” TV! – johnrieber

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