Best Documentary Movies of 1987
Metallica: Cliff 'Em All
Originally released as "The $19.98 Home Vid: Cliff 'Em All," Metallica's first video is a tribute to late original bassist Cliff Burton. James Hetfield describes it as "a compilation of bootleg footage shot by sneaky Metallifux, stuff shot for TV that was never used, but we've held onto, home footage, personal fotos and us drunk. But most important, it's really a look back at the 3-1/2 years that Cliff was with us and includes his best bass solos and the home footage and pix that we feel best capture his unique personality and style." 1987.
Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll
St. Louis, 1986. For Chuck Berry's 60th, Keith Richards assembles a pickup band of Robert Cray, Joey Spampinato, Eric Clapton, himself, and long-time Berry pianist Johnnie Johnson. Joined on stage by Etta James, Linda Ronstadt, and Julian Lennon, Berry performs his classic rock songs. His abilities as a composer, lyricist, singer, musician, and entertainer are on display and, in behind-the-scenes interviews, are discussed by Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bruce Springstein, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, and others. There's even a rarity for Berry, a rehearsal. Archival footage from the early 1950s and a duet with John Lennon round out this portrait of a master.
Sign 'o' The Times
In 1987, to capitalize on his growing success in Europe, Prince toured extensively to promote the album of the same name and sales increased accordingly. However, the United States remained resistant to his latest album, and sales began to drop; it was at this point that Prince decided to film a live concert promoting the new material, for eventual distribution to theaters in America. Featuring the band that accompanied Prince on his 1987 Sign o' the Times Tour, including dancer Cat Glover, keyboardist Boni Boyer, bassist Levi Seacer, Jr., guitarist Miko Weaver, drummer Sheila E. and former member of The Revolution keyboardist Dr. Fink, the film sees the group perform live on stage (although "U Got the Look" is represented by its promotional music video).
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam
Feature-length documentary film featuring real-life letters written by American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines during the Vietnam War to their families and friends back home. Archive footage of the war and news coverage thereof augment the first-person "narrative" by men and women who were in the war, some of whom did not survive it. Written by Jim Beaver
The Other Israel
Compiled after 15 months filming and editing, this fast-moving, professional video documentary will give you a unique education on the inner teachings of Judaism and the Talmud. Through the television camera "The Other Israel" takes you where few Christian scholars have gone before.
Swimming to Cambodia
Spalding Gray sits behind a desk throughout the entire film and recounts his exploits and chance encounters while playing a minor role in the film 'The Killing Fields'. At the same time, he gives a background to the events occurring in Cambodia at the time the film was set.
The Charles Bukowski Tapes
The Charles Bukowski Tapes are an altogether more than four hours long collection of 52 short-interviews with the American cult author Charles Bukowski, sorted by topic and each between one and ten minutes long. Director Barbet Schroeder (Barfly) interviews Bukowski about such themes as alcohol, violence, and women, and Bukowski answers willingly, losing himself in sometimes minute-long monologues. Amongst other things, Bukowski leads the small camera team through his parents’ house and his former neighbourhood, but the largest part of the interviews takes place in Bukowski’s flat or backyard. The documentary includes a scene in which Bukowski reacts violently toward his wife Linda Lee.
Athens, Ga. - Inside/Out
Led by the success of the B-52's and R.E.M., Athens, Georgia was the most happening music scene in the country by the mid 80's. Following several different bands from different genres, this film paints Athens as a magical artistic environment where bands are not in competition, but co-exist in harmony and share the ideals of the land. Live performances of R.E.M.'s "Swan Swan H" and "Dream (All I Have To Do)" at the Lucy Cobb Institute chapel are included. Also featured are performances and interviews frm the B-52's, Pylon, B-B-Que Killers, Time Toy, Jim Herbert, Flat Duo Jets, Love Tractor, Kilkenny Cats, Squalls and more
The Hero's Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell
One of the greatest storytellers of our time, and arguably the greatest mythologist, Joseph Campbell spent most of his long, rich career explaining how ancient myths like the Hero’s Journey are relevant to modern life. In understanding the importance of myth as a vital, vibrant source of "mankind’s one great story," Campbell inspired others to embark on a quest for the meaning of myth in their own lives. This biographical portrait, filmed shortly before his death in 1987, follows Campbell’s personal quest—a pathless journey of questioning, discovery, and ultimately of delight and joy in a life to which he said, "Yes."
Ah, the '80s! A time of hair bands and their ludicrous MTV videos filled with spandex-clad band members and skimpily clad bimbos. Kiss: Exposed returns us to that forgettable era, as Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons show how to desperately try to remain cock rock's elder statesmen. This 1987 compilation serves up several now-hilarious video clips from Kiss's '80s "unmasked" period, including "Tears Are Falling," "Heaven's on Fire," "Lick It Up," and "I Love It Loud." (Count the fires burning in these classic video relics of days gone by!) Also on hand are Stanley and Simmons themselves, looking properly embarrassed as they act out rock's biggest fantasy: lounging by the pool with a bevy of (mostly) bare beauties. The saving grace is the generous selection of vintage live performances: hearing the band do "Strutter," "Detroit Rock City," "Ladies Room," and "Deuce" in its late-'70s prime is worth wading through the outdated '80s-style power pop... if you're a real Kiss fan, of course.