ByLuke Dancer, writer at
Luke Dancer

Here are some documentaries that in my opinion stand out amongst the rest for having the most intriguing and excellent stories, that are told excellently through a documentary.

5. Cobain: Montage of Heck

Cobain: Montage of Heck is directed by Brett Morgan and celebrates one of musics most influential and famous figures. A progression from Kurt Cobain as little boy seen through never before released home videos, to his rise to grunge stardom with his band Nirvana. This documentary tells Kurt's story as it should be told, through his success, not the cloud of conspiracy that shrouds his tragic death and people closest to him. This is achieved from excellent animation and intriguing interviews with Kurt's closest friends and family including what seem to be home recorded tapes of Kurt as teen, as well as his diary entries telling his emotional journey through his rise to stardom. An absolute necessity for any Nirvana fan to watch.

4. Made of Stone

England during the late 1980's and early 1990's was overwhelmed with Manchester's iconic music scene and its unmistakeable culture. The Stone Roses, a band which ruled Manchester and brought the English music scene to its knees came to an abrupt and tragic end after only releasing two studio albums. Shane Meadows, a BAFTA winning director tells the story of the bands legendary return to the music scene and public eye. Part of what makes this so good is seeing that on stage and back stage chemistry between the bands members Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni after so many years in the dark. He in-captures the awe and atmosphere that erupts after The Stone Roses' first ever reunited live set and includes interviews with the band members and fans which consist of some other huge musicians all bond together relish the legends return. An excellent watch which re installs the mania that The Stone Roses caused during the 90's.

3. Dogtown and Z-Boys

A story directed by Stacy Peralta and set in the mid 1970's, that focus's on a group of surfers hanging around the Zephyr Surf Shop in Venice-Santa Monica, who would skateboard whenever the surf was quiet. The story starts in a skateboarding decline, where skateboarding was seen only as a deviant act after a popularity boom in the previous decades. Riding on polyurethane wheels the labelled "Z-Boys" re invented the style of skateboarding on the asphalt slopes of the neighbouring streets and then onto the empty swimming pools during California's drought. They astounded people when entering the Del Mar championship, and within a year the skaters such as the legendary Jay Adams and Tony Alva, take paths to be in better financed pro teams. An exhilarating story of how passion can transform peoples lives and drive them to stardom from the lowest point of a persons life.

2. King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Seth Gordon directs a documentary which bring the world of competitive gaming to a surface. The legendary game "Donkey Kong" was conquered by the name of Billy Mitchell who held the highest record for almost 25 years. The documentary follows a challenger of the title, Steve Wiebe, an honest teacher from Washington who fell in love with Donkey Kong after buying an old arcade machine and playing profoundly in his garage while unemployed previously. Alongside these two, Walter Day is a sole personality in the documentary, who formed the video game annual tournament "Funspot" and the organisation which manages competitive arcade gaming "Twin Galaxies", both of whom are sole figures in dictating who has the top spot in the Donkey Kong world leader-board.The story is similar to the David and Goliath tale, although in a more modern sense of course. This may be one of the greatest underdog stories I've ever seen unfold on screen, with heart-warming sequences and intense footage of live gaming. A must watch for any classic arcade gaming fan.

1. Riding Giants

The number one spot goes to Riding Giants. Another masterpiece directed by Stacy Peralta, follows the origins of surfing history and culture to the massive water-sport that it is today. The documentary reaches as far back as Duke Kahanamoku in the surfing bloodline, the first surfing pioneer, to the arguably greatest that ever lived Laird Hamilton. Peralta's deep love and knowledge for surfing is definitely funnelled into this documentary, with insight into the lifestyle, culture, its icons and eventual exploitation onto the masses. The will to catch the greatest wave puts these surfers in the face of death, and is something that I don't think anyone will understand as to just what they risk all for the satisfaction of fulfilling their adrenaline hunger. The ultimate life of freedom, living on the beach in your car in Hawaii with your friends, having The Pacific at your doorstep and having no worries about jobs or bills is something we can only fantasise about, whereas through multi-generational interviews you understand that this was and still is very real. Riding Giants is a mesmerising documentary, a visual master-class of some of the worlds greatest waves being ridden by men and women hooked on one of the greatest adrenaline rushes a human can experience. Peralta manages to tell the story at a spiritual level, through including some ancient Hawaiian tales and religion, alongside some incredible music relating to each time period. This truly is an overlooked documentary and as a lover of documentaries this is the greatest one I have seen to date. This deserves every piece of praise it gets.


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