Dry doc’d

If I sit with you for any amount of time these days, we’ll soon determine whether you’re a documentary person or not. I certainly hold no great prejudice if you prefer to spend your time indulging in other guilty pleasures. As a recovering Angry Birds addict (and, man, was that a tough monkey to shake), I cast no stones. Waste your life as you see fit, because I certainly do.

For me, if I have time to kill, my two greatest guiltless pleasures are long form magazine pieces and documentaries. The subject doesn’t matter as long as the work is done well. I have two people I count on for recommendations (I won’t out them here, because the line at their doors would be too long and they are busy men) and they have kept me well-supplied.

If you’re a frequent reader here, you might have recognizes an uncharacteristic lack of movement around the pages of Rapid Eye Reality. This is due to a lot of things that may or may not be explained some day, but also in part to the fact that I’ve been working to put a lot more in my head than I let out. Fast moving streams carry too many stones, and I’ve been feeling a little less than stoney recently.

As it happens, my wife is a sucker for a good doc, too. Since Netflix streaming found its way into our home, our evenings are more often than not spent watching some documentary or other. Last year, I watched more than 40 docs during my off hours (you can find the list in this post. In January, despite having traveled for a couple of weeks, I managed to sneak in nine documentaries. Here they are in the order I watched them.

  • Blood into Wine (Leader singer of Tool opens his own winery. Grade: C+)
  • I Am Still Here (Self-indulgent Joaquin Phoenix homage to Andy Kaufman that never mentions Andy Kaufman. Grade: B-)
  • Restrepo (NatGeo crew embedded with Afghanistan soliders. Grade: A)
  • Casino Jack and the United States of Money (Two-hour indictment of Washington lobbyists and Congress vis a vis Jack Abramoff. Grade: B+)
  • The Parking Lot Movie (The philosophy of misanthropy and the human condition through the eyes of parking lot attendants. Grade: A-)
  • A Man Named Pearl (Black man moves into white SC neighborhood to fears he won’t take care of his yard, learns topiary and becomes a town’s savior. Grade B+)
  • Spirit of the Marathon (Training for the Chicago marathon through the eyes of several different runners. Grade B+)
  • The Art of the Steal (How the Philadelphia establishment “stole” billions of dollars in modern art. Grade: B+)
  • The Wild and Wonderful Whites (Unflinching, occasionally hilarious, mostly uncomfortable look inside a famously drug-addled West Virginia family: Grade A-)
  • I would gladly spend the 15-18 hours I spent watching those again rather than be forced to sit through “The Town” for two hours.

    So, while I’m not writing as much here as I normally do, I’m not dead (yet). If you need me, look for the warm, red glow of the Netflix home screen. I’ll be somewhere nearby.