Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Documentaries Worth Watching – 6/25/2013

Do you love documentaries? Adam, Will, and Norm discuss their favorites on this week’s show. Share your favorite documentaries in the comments!

Comments (57)

57 thoughts on “Documentaries Worth Watching – 6/25/2013

  1. Off the top of my head, Senna is by far the best I’ve seen. I wish it was like 30 minutes longer though. There’s a lot that can be told about him.

  2. Standing in the Shadows of Motown is amazing. Wish you guys had talked about some music. Don’t think it has really come up on this series.

  3. Adam’s got a terminator arm/endoskeleton?

    Exit through the gift shop: About Banksy and it’s a little bit odd maybe a mockumentary.

    All The President’s Men Revisited.

  4. Everything that the Maysles brothers have worked on has been pretty phenomenal.

    Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One is also a really interesting and strange documentary.

  5. Fast Cheap & Out of Control by Errol Morris

    Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames

    Exit Through The Gift Shop by Banksy

  6. Burden of Dreams by Les Blank (hell, ANYTHING by Les Blank)

    The Paradise Lost trilogy is heartbreaking, as is Brother’s Keeper by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

    When the Levees Broke by Spike Lee

    Gates of Heaven by Errol Morris

    and one making the rounds now: Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay by Molly Berstein & Alan Edelstein

    And another current one: Sign Painters by Faythe Levine & Sam Macon

  7. I definitely feel like I don’t watch enough documentaries. However, at the same time, I don’t keep track of the documentaries I watch/watched which is definitely a shame.

    On a side note, I LOVE THESE PODCASTS. I learn so much from them and the chemistry between everyone is so good.

  8. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is an amazing documentary, and your right Will, you will have to eat sushi afterward.

  9. Oh, I totally forgot about Rush’s Beyond the Lighted Stage! Absolutely fantastic from top to bottom.

  10. Graphic sexual horror is an interesting look at an extreme BDSM website and how it works. Mind though it’s pretty graphic but the story behind the owner of the website and the girls displayed and what moves them is simply fascinating especially if you know nothing about the BDSM scene. I think I went trough the complete spectrum of emotions.

  11. My favourite doku: “Unter Kontrolle” = “under control” = year 2011 german doku about the nuclear industry by Volker Sattel.

    Everyone can watch it because no one speaks there. It is all about the easthetics of the nuclear power plant and that stuff. Just the sound is absolutely amazing.

  12. The Great Happiness Space – Documentary about the men who work in Japanese clubs geared towards women. On Netflix.

  13. Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From The Life of Robert S. McNamara is one of my favorites. Which is odd for me, considering that I have little patience or interest in the political machinations involved with a country’s armed forces. McNamara’s side of the story is fascinating.

  14. Alright, just finished Man on Wire. Very interesting and entertaining. I don’t even think I knew this happened.

  15. Between the Folds, it examines the development of origami as a modern art form over the last ~70 years, I watched it on a whim a year ago and now my shelves are covered in complex paper sculptures I was inspired to make.

  16. “Helvetica” Directed by Gary Hustwit available on DVD or streaming through NetFlix


    Edit: Shoulda waited to finish the podcast before I posted…..

    I also enjoyed “The Pluto Files:Nova” (also available on NetFlix) just so I can argue with people who blame NDT for Pluto’s demotion.

  17. As a sports fan, I’ve really enjoyed the 30 for 30 series by ESPN. HBO also has the 24/7 television show that lead up to big boxing matches and the NHL winter classic.

    And anything by Louis Theroux – especially his time spent interviewing the Westboro Baptist Church

  18. Memorable ones In no particular order,
    Wild and Wonderful Whites.
    King of kong
    Exit through the gift shop ( does this count?)
    When we were kings

  19. This is great. There are times when I feel like all I’ve done is watch documentaries. Here’s a couple off the top of my head that I’d recommend. There are a couple that will be in this list that may be a little hard to swallow by todays standards (Ascent of Man/Cosmos) mostly due to their techniques feeling dated but the information they give is still fascinating to this day. Also quite a few of the suggestions I’ll list are proper series (upwards of 6 episodes) so taking them on might be good for a weekend.

    Either way, hope you guys find something you like from this list. I’ll add more when I’ve got more time to list them.

    • Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens
    • Ascent of Man
    • Cosmos
    • Don’t Look Back
    • Fry’s Planet Word
    • Genius of Britain
    • How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth
    • How to Grow a Planet
    • Jiro Dreams of Sushi
    • King of Kong
    • Man on Wire
    • Manufactured Landscapes
    • Metallica: Some Kind of Monster
    • Microcosmos
    • One Day in September
    • Origin of Us
    • Planet Earth
    • Searching for Sugar Man
    • Senna
    • Six Days to Air
    • Triumph of the Will
    • Up Series (7 Up, 14 Up, 21Up, etc)
    • When We Were Kings
    • Wonders of Life
    • Wonders of the Solar System
    • Wonders of the Universe
  20. There are many. Excellent crime documentaries; Brother’s Keeper is one, The Thin Blue Line is too (that one actually got someone off of death row), The Smartest Guys In the Room is a riveting account of the Enron debacle (a preview of the wall street culture that led to the recent recession). Also, Deep Water is a very interesting documentary about the first solo sail around the world. On the lighter side, Popatopolis is a funny doc about a director trying to make a movie in 3 days, and Off The Charts: the song poem story is great doc about people who write lyrics and pay to have them recorded.

  21. American Movie. It’s a documentary about an ultra-low budget filmmaker working on a project. You’d swear it’s a Spinal Tap-style mockumentary, but it’s absolutely real. It’s transcendent, and the DVD has the actual movie the guy made as an extra feature.

  22. Also, “Ears open, eyeballs click”, “Offerings to the god of speed”, and “In the shadow of the blade”.

  23. A documentary I think you guys would love is Marwencol. It’s about a guy who, after waking from a coma following an attack at a pub, loses his memory and begins living his life through a WWII town he has built in his garden populated by dolls representing his friends, family and more from his present and past. He then begins documenting the drama of the town via photography.

  24. Please vote for me, is pretty good. The premise is to allow third graders in china to exercise democratic elections. How do the candidates handle getting votes, and all the other things regular elections entail.

    wiki & trailer

  25. +1 for Senna. Amazing documentary, and amazing they were able to put all of it together with archival footage.

    Many good ones have already been mentioned, but have not seen Wasteland mentioned yet. Talk about a world you didn’t know existed, it’s about people in Brazil who’s job it is to pick through trash at the landfill. It’s an extremely uplifting film that makes you love the human spirit.

  26. Senna is my favorite documentary that I have seen of late..

    Restrepo was a really good documentary about one small segment of the war in Afghanistan…

  27. Of course, a large portion of Attenborough’s work, but one I highly recommend from the late 90’s is The Cruise. You can watch it online for free if you’re interested. Here’s a small clip, that admittedly may seem a little earnest, but just give it a shot.

  28. Restrepo is fantastic. People should see it simply because of how immediately relevant it is. The wars in the Middle East are so abstracted, and Restrepo does such a great job of showing how conditions really are for the average soldier in Afghanistan.

  29. Norm’s need for order amuses me in every podcast. As someone who suffers from an extreme need for closure, I feel you man.

  30. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox is a fascinating look at the family and company behind everyone’s favorite hippie soap.

  31. While it’s not a feature documentary (I believe it was a VH1 documentary), The Drug Years was a seminal documentary to me as a young person and now as a student of social science and contemporary history. It examines the thick history of drug use, culture, and other social phenomena intertwined with America’s production and consumption of drugs starting about the end of WWII through the 1990s. If you like what you see, the same production team did the same time period but instead focusing on sex and the sexual revolution.

  32. One of my recent favorites was “Armadillo”, a 2010 doc on Danish troops deployment in Afghanistan. It has a good look into the life of nation building, without the censorship that US military documentaries have. Caught it on Netflix. On the topic of watching a documentary about a little known subject, try “Vertical Frontier” it chronicles the climbing history of Yosemite National Park. Covering everything from tech to culture and interviewing many historic climbers. Finally the shots of the “Sea of Granite” and the general enormity of climbing a couple thousand feet wall is captured well. Also Brokaw narrates to boot, no idea where you could find it, got my copy from a friend. Cheers

  33. James Cameron’s Ghosts of the Abyss – features stunning dive footage of the Titanic, and contrasts it against a modern tragedy that we all can relate too… One of the few documentaries I saw that really effected me on a emotional – as well as an educational – level…

  34. Really ANYTHING by David Attenborough, the BBC’s Natural History Unit, or the BBC in general for that matter. Off the top of my head, here are a few good documentaries that I’d enjoyed from them:

    • Planet Earth
    • Life on Earth
    • Natural World
    • Human Planet
    • Lost Land of the Jaguar
    • Lost Land of the Volcano
    • Can Eating Insects Save the World?
    • Who Were the Greeks?

    Also, would like to know whether any of the guys were keen on Nature documentaries? Considering they didn’t seem to have touched on them.

  35. A documentary I’ve enjoyed is The Mona Lisa Curse. It’s about how the celebrity of art and artists has impacted art. Before watching this i didn’t really no anything about the art world so like will said it really was a look into a new world for me.

  36. 45 Adam mentioned the Maisel brothers, then asked if you have seen Pimp… I was wondering about the docu.

    On a further note, with all of the films that you mentioned during the podcast, it would be nice to have a text list so that we are able to look them all up and watch them.


  37. Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope is such a good documentary. Even though i attend Comic-Con every year (as well as w00tstock), i still thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot recommend it enough.

  38. Quite a few years old now, but ‘The End of Suburbia’ is pretty fascinating about our reliance on petrochemicals and the hard realities about alternative fuel replacements.


    Sobering, but well worthwhile tracking down a copy.

    The Power of Nightmares, and the century of self by Adam Curtis for the BBC are both pretty interesting as well. The first deals with the rise of Islamic militants as well as the Neoconservatives post WW2, and the second deals with the rise on consumerism from the 1920s. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with everything that is said in either, but they’re still fascinating to watch.



  39. A few I’d recommend are TT:3D about the motorbike racing on the Isle of Mann….mental stuff. On a different tack there’s ‘Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father’ and ‘My Flesh and Blood’, both of which are fairly emotional to watch….

  40. Will and Norm, love you guys but please don’t talk about foreign country politics if you do not know anything about them. What happened in Egypt was not a military coup. Calling it that is extremely offensive and belittling of this revolution.

  41. Have to go with “the battle of the x-planes.” shows the initial competition between Boeing and Lockheed Martin for the contract for the JSF (now the F-35 Lightning II) and boy has that program gotten out of control. Not the fault of the engineers though. You really get to see how a design team works on cutting edge engineering.

  42. One I enjoyed was the smartest guy in the room : the Enron story. It was nicely presented and I feel it was a fascinating story

  43. Great podcast. Grateful that I discovered TESTED a few weeks back.

    You’ve got to add the visually stunning “Baraka” to the list too!

    That footage of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park inspired me to discover the natural beauties of the 4 corner states national parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce, Mesa Verde etc)

  44. a good one for you guys to watch would be Murderball – it’s about wheelchair rugby players from the U.S. and their getting ready for the Paralympics in the early 2000s. I’ve never cried during a documentary before or since I saw that movie, and it will surely teach anyone how to focus and push for your goals.

    Last but not least, you guys should watch the documentary Indie Game – it follows a few of the latest independent video games and their developers, following them through some of the highs and lows of getting their games out to the world. Specifically, the games Super Meat Boy, Fez and Braid are the major focus and show how some people struggle to have what they consider to be their art seen by the public.

  45. A little late for a post…

    But my favorite documentary of all time is An Empire of Dreams. Excellent documentary for Star Wars fans and anyone interested in stories. I’ve watched it countless times and it never gets old for me.

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