Who doesn't love going on a good documentary binge? We've all had that craving, those nights when we want to put on a movie that explores something going on in the real world. Bowling for Columbine, Super Size Me, Blackfish and March of the Penguins are just a few examples of iconic documentaries that you've likely seen or at least have heard of.
So, the question is: What can you watch after an hour and a half of Michael Moore lecturing you about the NRA? Or, how about when you've watched two hours of a killer whale documentary that'll make you hate Sea World forever? Luckily for you, I have just the thing — a list of five documentaries that might have flown under your radar.
1. Honest Man: The Life Of R. Budd Dwyer
It's an image that we've all seen time and time again when talking about shocking moments captured on film; one of the most horrific moments in political history and in TV history. The death of R. Budd Dwyer is one that is viscerally horrific, the image of a man putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger is instantly terrifying in so many ways. That's the image we all have of Budd Dwyer, and this documentary works to fix that.
For those of us who were born after his tragic suicide, we learn about the man, the events that lead up to that fateful moment and, perhaps most horrifically, the revelations after his suicide that maybe he never even had to do it in the first place. We learn about his family, his friends and about what kind of a man he was. It's an exploration into the life of a man who most of us only know for one shocking action.
It's a truly gripping documentary that's currently available on Amazon Prime.
IMPORTANT WARNING: They show the suicide in full. They do not cut away. You will see Budd's final moment alive and it is essential to the documentary not to shy away from it. So, if the notion of that is too much for you, then fast forward through that scene; the story that leads up to that moment is too important to be forgotten.
One of the big scandals that rocked the sports world in recent years was the revelation that Lance Armstrong was doping in order to give himself an advantage in races. For the first half an hour of Icarus you're sucked into a story that appears to be one man trying to prove what doping does to a human being, like Super Size Me on literal steroids. However, it quickly evolves into this investigation into the Russian doping scandal, specifically trying to protect the man who did most of the grunt work for that scheme.
It's a fascinating look into the world of doping and what certain countries may or may not have condoned for their Olympic athletes. Watching the man who basically created the doping system trying to make things right — while also being terrified about what's going to happen to him for exposing it — is heartbreaking as hell.
It's a gripping film with twists galore, and is currently on Netflix.
For years there has been something of moral battle when it comes to language. People discussing what words we can and can't use is nothing new, but this documentary takes on the word that probably divides opinion the most — the word "Fuck." This film not only looks into why it's such a fun word to say, but also discusses/analyzes why it's considered so offensive to so many.
It's got an incredible cast; from Billy Connolly to Miss Manners and Ron Jeremy, all of them have a very different opinion on just how important the word "Fuck" is. Also, this film is very careful in giving both sides a chance to make their case and never really treats the side against the word "Fuck" badly just because they don't enjoy the four-letter expletive.
4. This Film Is Not Yet Rated
One of the most important elements of the film industry is the ratings board, specifically the American ratings board known as the MPAA. Strangely though, no one knows who is on that board because it's kept secret. This film elaborates on the MPAA, looks into why they rate some films as NC-17, and who is actually on the board. The director actually hired a private investigator to go find out the identities of the MPAA board members and, in the process, explores what directors go through when they submit their films for review. The examination into what films get an R and what films get an NC-17 alone will make your blood boil.
If you're in the US it's available on Netflix right now.
One Texas morning in 1966, a man climbed to the top of the tower in the middle of the University of Texas with a high-powered rifle. From that spot, he committed the first mass school shooting. This documentary presents that day right in a way that no one has done before — by animating it.
With a combination of archival footage and rotoscoped animation, the filmmakers recreate that day in all its horror and put viewers right in the middle of it. There is so much to love about this movie — the way it introduces us to the victims, the style, and the fact that the killer remains unidentified. He's not named, his face isn't seen, he gets the exact treatment he deserves: He's forgotten.
Tower is currently available on most streaming services.
There you have it — five fascinating feature films that I hope will keep you entertained during your next documentary binge.
What's your go-to documentary when you have a documentary binge?