One of my favorite features of the dearly departed Whole Earth was Kevin Kelly's documentary reviews, something I'm glad he's continued on his cool tools site. By only looking at "True Films" (i.e., documentaries and the like) he continues the bias of the old WE against art as a form of truth (for example, City of God, Amores Perros or Time of the Wolf are each "true" tellings of worthwhile stories), but also manages to skate over the big patches of thin ice covering our widely varying aesthetic passions. He just looks at documentary film, picks out the best and ignores the rest -- and KK's never steered me wrong on a documentary yet.
Design is hip these days. Long before it was hip, Charles and Ray Eames pioneered the design approach to life. Nowhere is their legacy so well represented as in this single-volume exhibit covering every project in their life's work. The Eameses were probably the tech-friendliest designers ever, without ever being hi-tech. They certainly were the first on the frontiers of exhibit, museum, and informational film design. They designed types of things that had never been designed before. This book, together with the multi-volume DVD of their brilliant short films, makes it clear that the Eames pursued their passions first. As design goes commercial in a big way, theirs is a mighty inspiring stance. This is the most comprehensive and graphic record of not only their work (3,500 images) but perhaps of any designer's work. I use this book to expand my notions of what can be designed. -- KK
The Work of the Office of Charles and Ray Eames
John Neuhart, Marilyn Neuhart, and Ray Eames
The Films of Charles and Ray Eames -- From Amazon, $22 each:
Vol. 1 "Powers of Ten" and "901: After 45 Years of Working." 21 minutes
Vol. 2 "Toccata for Toy Trains," "House: After Five Years of Living," "Lucia Chase Vignette," "Kaleidoscope Jazz Choir," "The Black Ships: and "Atlas." 62 minutes
Vol. 3 "The World of Franklin and Jefferson," "The Franklin and Jefferson Proposal Film" and "The Opening of an Exhibition."
Vol. 4 "Design Q&A," " IBM Mathematics Peep Shows," "SX-70," "Copernicus," "Fiberglass Chairs" and "Goods." 59 minutes
Vol. 5 "Tops," "IBM at the Fair," "A Computer Glossary," "Eames Lounge Chair," "The Expanding Airport," "Kepler's Laws," "Bread," "Polyorchis Halpus" and "Tops."
We however, love thin ice. So tell us, what are your favorite "True Films," non-fictional or otherwise?
Rivers and Tides - a documentary on the work of environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy who has an installation on the roof of NYC's Metropolitan Museum until the end of October 2004.
A Tale of the Wind by Joris Ivens - the last film of the historic documentarian, a personal journey in search of a vision of the wind. Deeply affecting.
King and Country by Joseph Losey - a fiction film starring Tom Courteney as a young soldier in the trenches of WWI who one day just walks away from the war and Dirk Bogarde as the officer who has to defend him before a court martial. It made me feel my own mortality.
The entire 5 disc Films of Charles and Ray Eames is available from NetFlix which is where I watched it. Out of the entire set Powers of Ten was probably my favorite, I had wanted to find something like that for some time. The IBM Mathematics Peep shows were great and most of the 5th disc was good. Some of it dragged, some quite a bit, and there is a lot of repeated material across the set in the introductions. All the same a good view.
I watched Weather Underground recently from the local video store and found it quite informing. I didn't realize the Weathermen made quite such a run. I found myself agreeing with many if not all of their ideals all the while understanding the pure futility of their actions.
From Kevin Kelly's list, Dogtown and Z-Boys was really good and I would add Step into Liquid as being more than worthy of inclusion. This incredible son of the Endless Summer surfer movie is, indeed, awesome.
Microcosmos has long been a favorite and brings to mind Winged Migration which was excellent in its own right.
I'm sure there are a few more but's 0521 here and I'm going to sleep. :)
The Corporation (recently released, by Joel Bakan et al). Flaws and a few suggested remedies for the modern corporation.
Canada: A People's History (country-specific, but I'd love to see such thoughtful histories for other countries as well).
Blue Planet: Seas of Life (BBC documentary on the oceans).
And of course Cosmos by Carl Sagan, still an amazing science documentary after so many years.
As I recall, there are two versions of "Powers of Ten." One was done by Charles and Ray Eames and another, updated version narrated by Philip Morrison produced after their deaths.