There are a few good documentaries, and a lot of not-so-good documentaries. Even documentaries which detail topics I think are important usually fall prey to sensationalism (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, I'm looking at you.) But some documentaries are just so crazy that you can't help take notice. So I'm looking for a list of those.
Hopefully we can ignore high-class, low-brow things like Faces of Death and any number of Mondo films, which are designed to be less than reliable.
I just got done watching Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist. Bob Flanagan, was a man who suffered from cystic fibrosis. At some point in his early life he became a full-fledged masochist. It was a sexual thing, but then again he spent his entire life in pain. The first hour of the film is spent exploring his exploration of masochism, and it is some awful, excruciating footage. I do not recommend anybody watch this footage. It is graphic, unpleasant, and probably a little bit damaging. (If you are a Nine Inch Nails fan, he is the man who appeared in the infamous "Happiness in Slavery" video.) I do not agree with the many things Mr. Flanagan does to his body, especially the more sensitive bits. You would have to be inhuman to not cringe at the things that happen in this film.
However, there is a point in this film where it moves beyond the degradation of the human body and starts to explore the very nature of death itself. You watch a film follow a sick man right up to and beyond his moment of death. In fact, we see everything but the very moment itself. It is absolutely ghoulish, but that is how this man spent his life. Like I said, I can not recommend this film, but if you do watch it there is no way you can not be affected by it in someway or another.
That's a bit sensational, but I want to talk about another documentary I watched a while back, The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On.
The film follows a fellow who served in the Japanese army during WWII in New Guinea. He is absolutely insane. Our first glimpse of this man is seeing him drive around some town in a car festooned with billboards and a loudspeaker as he proclaims accusations against the government. At this point he has already been jailed for treason and trying to kill the Japanese Prime Minister.
The majority of the film follows him tracking down people who served in that theater and trying to get them to admit to accusations of cannibalism. I was unaware of that bit of unpleasantness, but apparently it has been documented. At any rate, in the course of his "investigations" he shows up at the houses of many of the people involved and shouts at them. At one point he actually attacks one of them (both men are well into their fifties or sixties) and beats him. Eventually the police show up. I'm pretty sure that the people filming this failed a moral barometer saving throw. It's one of the craziest things I've ever seen in a purported documentary.
So, what do you say? Any documentaries you've seen lately that aren't quite all there?