Best Documentary Movies of 1988
The Thin Blue Line
Errol Morris's unique documentary dramatically re-enacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer's murder in Dallas.
An exploration of technologically developing nations and the effect the transition to Western-style modernization has had on them.
Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night
Recorded live at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, Roy is joined by an eclectic ensemble of rock and roll superstars including Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, T-Bone Burnett, J.D. Souther, Jennifer Warnes, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits.
George Carlin: What Am I Doing in New Jersey?
George Carlin changes his act by bringing politics into the act, but also talks about the People he can do without, Keeping People Alert, and Cars and Driving part 2.
Chet Baker: Let's Get Lost
Documentary about jazz great Chet Baker that intercuts footage from the 1950s, when he was part of West Coast Cool, and from his last years. We see the young Baker, he of the beautiful face, in California and in Italy, where he appeared in at least one movie and at least one jail cell (for drug possession). And, we see the aged Baker, detached, indifferent, his face a ruin. Includes interviews with his children and ex-wife, women companions, and musicians.
Imagine: John Lennon
The biography of former Beatle, John Lennon—narrated by Lennon himself—with extensive material from Yoko Ono's personal collection, previously unseen footage from Lennon's private archives, and interviews with David Bowie, his first wife Cynthia, second wife Yoko Ono and sons Julian and Sean.
U2: Rattle and Hum
A concert movie on an unprecedented scale, Rattle And Hum captures U2 - on and off the stage - during their triumphant Joshua Tree tour. From the giant technicolour stadium celebrations to the black-and-white intensity of the indoor shows, this is U2 at their best. Follow the group across America, exploring new influences, playing with the legendary B.B. King from Dublin to Graceland.
Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie
Winner of a Best Documentary Academy Award, Marcel Ophuls' riveting film details the heinous legacy of the Gestapo head dubbed "The Butcher of Lyon." Responsible for over 4,000 deaths in occupied France during World War II, Barbie would escape--with U.S. help--to South America in 1951, where he lived until a global manhunt led to his 1983 arrest and subsequent trial.
Cane Toads: An Unnatural History
A documentary detailing the spread of Hawaiian sugar-cane toads through Australia in a botched effort to introduce them as counter pests.
Guns N' Roses: Live at the Ritz
MTV was there, and this was huge, but eventually the MTV guys were like, “We gotta go, we gotta get this going, guys.”Axl’s like, “Fuck it. I’m not going on unless I have my bandanna!” Apparently, he couldn’t find it after tearing apart the little hovel they gave us backstage. Of course the rest of the band was avoiding any eye contact with Axl, preferring to wander off, out of earshot, to do their grumbling.Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. “What’s wrong with you, Axl?” He shrugged me off and continued with his insane tirade. He had all of our roadies looking around for people who had scarves or bandannas. I said, “C’mon, Axl, let’s just go on.”He blurted out, “Fuck that. Fuck you. I need a bandanna or a scarf or I’m not doing this.” Axl finally found a fucking scarf, some powder-blue, girly-looking thing, and the show began.-Steven Adler in his autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction"
Return of the Swift Fox
A documentary about returning the swift fox, the smallest of Canada's native foxes, into its original habitat.
The Blizzard of AAHHH's
Greg Stump's rockumentary-style ski film inspired a whole new generation of skiers when it was first released in 1988. Taking a look at the heroes of the ski world -- both known and unknown -- Blizzard of Ahhhs features some of the best ski action ever filmed.
The True Story of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels
A one-hour documentary on the making of Frank Zappa's bizarre 1971 comic musical. Vintage private footage from Frank's personal archives plus behind-the-scenes of the actual shooting and recording. With Ringo Starr, Theodore Bikel, Keith Moon and such songs as "Sleeping in a Jar," and "Strictly Genteel." The inside history of the first feature-length film to be shot on video in 6 days.
Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth
The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind
This documentary revisits the making of Gone with the Wind via archival footage, screen tests, insightful interviews and rare film footage.
The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years
An exploration of the heavy metal scene in Los Angeles, with particular emphasis on glam metal. It features concert footage and interviews of legendary heavy metal and hard rock bands and artists such as Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Megadeth, Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and W.A.S.P..
Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe
A short documentary in which directors Werner Herzog and Errol Morris make a bet which results in Herzog being forced to eat his own shoe.
No Frank in Lumberton
A very surreal video shot behind the scenes during the production of Blue Velvet in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1985 by Peter Braatz.
Cycling the Frame
This is a short film (30min), part documentary part art-film, about the Berlin Wall back in 1988 when West Berlin was still an isolated fiefdom of the capitalist west, located 125 miles behind the Iron Curtain in communist eastern Europe. The film follows a young girl (Tilda Swinton of Narnia fame) and her thoughts as she circumnavigates West Berlin alongside the 96 mile long, iconic, symbol of the cold war. The film blends visual and audio art into a montage of simple scenes depicting the wall, its watch towers and life along the border strip just as it was a year before the wall fell and the cold war ended.
The year Elvis Presley went from rising star to pop culture sensation is chronicled through rare footage, interviews and that pelvis-gyrating music.
Surviving Edged Weapons
In an intense action-filled 85 minutes, you will learn to defend yourself against the mounting threat of “knife culture” offenders.
Living with AIDS
The compelling story of Todd Coleman, a 22-year-old gay man with AIDS, and those who cared for him during the last weeks of his life. Todd, his lover, doctor, nurse, social worker and two volunteers reveal the human realities and the importance of practical support, friendship and unconditional love.
World Safari III
Travel through the west coast of Africa up the skeleton coast on two magnificent & mystic trails. Ride a hot air balloon and explore the magestic wild life of the Zulu land. Visit the mysterious bushmen of the Kalahari and go in search of Wetamura. Finally, travel through New Zealand and join Alby as he repairs an old 337 push-pull twin engine plane, which he flies back to his Australian homeland. Alby then discovers many unusual and exciting places in the great outback.
Tex Avery: King of Cartoons
A documentary about the life and career of legendary cartoon director Fred "Tex" Avery.
Leon Golub's massive canvasses depict scenes most of us would prefer not to see - mercenary killings, torture, and death squads. Golub offers not simply a profile of a painter with a political conscience, but an investigation into the power of the artist to reflect our times and to change the way we think about our world.
Joe Leahy's Neighbors
Joe Leahy and his complicated relationship with the Guniga people in the Papua New Guinea highlands.
A Day on the Grand Canal with the Emperor of China or: Surface Is Illusion But So Is Depth
Director Philip Haas and artist David Hockney invite you to join them on a magical journey through China via a marvelous 72-foot long 17th-century Chinese scroll entitled The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour (1691-1698), scroll seven . As Hockney unrolls the beautiful and minutely detailed work of art, he traces the Emperor Kangxi’s second tour of his southern empire in 1689.
Stage By Stage: Les Misérables
An interview with the production team behind the hit Broadway musical as they discuss the conception and development of Les Miserables as a pop-culture phenomenon.
Gregory Peck: His Own Man
Talented and enduring Academy Award-winning star, Gregory Peck, tells how it was when studios ruled and a shy boy from a broken family could rise to become a famous leading man. Unfashionably modest, Peck describes his fascinating journey from early theater roles, through his first films, to Hollywood’s elder statesman.
Impressionistic East German documentary filmed mainly in the Georgian countryside in 1986-1987. The director, a painter, wanted to see if similar scenes to those found in the work of Georgian painter Niko Pirosmanishvili still existed there.
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser
A documentary film about the life of pianist and jazz great Thelonious Monk. Features live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius.
A story about several beaver families in their wild surroundings. The interesting process of building a dam can be watched as well as the dangers arising from hungry bears and other influences on the new-built home.
The Family Album
THE FAMILY ALBUM is a one-hour experimental documentary film utilizing a vast collection of rare 16mm home movies from the 1920s through the 1950s. These home movies are exciting authentic documents of American folk history and culture, taken from the personal vantage point of the amateur photographic eye. Subjects span the entire spectrum of the traditional home movie idiom, including mixed racial, ethnic, economic and geographic sources. Structured from birth to death, THE FAMILY ALBUM is a collage film that weaves its elements into a composite lifetime, passing through the celebrations and struggles from childhood to adulthood, from innocence to experience. It is a universal yet intimate portrait of the American family, not scripted, not rehearsed, not immune to the conflicts and contradictions underlying family life and its rituals.
Lightning Over Braddock: A Rustbowl Fantasy
Tony Buba, a film maker from Braddock, Pennsylvania, tells the story of his hometown's decline (along with the rest of the steel mill towns along the Monongahela River) while he dreams of making higher budget films. The picture documents, in a lighthearted way, the community anxiety and activism that accompanied the failure of the steel industry around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
MISSILE follows the 4315th Training Squadron of the Strategic Air Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where Air Force officers are trained to man the Launch Control Centers for the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Sequences include discussion of the moral and military issues of nuclear war; the arming, targeting and launching of the missile; codes; communications; protection against terrorist attack; emergency procedures; staff meetings and tutorial sessions.
Measures of Distance
In this video, the artist tries to overcome the effects of distance, and reflects on geography represented in exile due to war, and on the psychological distance represented in each oneâ€™s approach to her womanhood. The video beautifully weaves personal images and audio recordings of a very intimate nature, binding the personal with the political. Reading aloud from letters sent by her mother in Beirut, Hatoum creates a visual montage reflecting her feelings of separation and isolation from her Palestinian family. The personal and political are inextricably bound in a narrative that explores personal and family identity against a backdrop of traumatic social rupture, exile and displacement.
Documentary — featuring both interviews and live footage — about underground rock music in Russia, during the last years of the Perestroika.
James Stewart: A Wonderful Life
Documentary about James Stewart's long career as an actor and positive personal life.
Michael Jackson: The Legend Continues
Music documentary directed by Patrick T. Kelly.
God, the Universe and Everything Else
In a studio setting, Stephen Hawking, Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan (who joins them via satellite) discuss the Big Bang theory, God, our existence as well as the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
Promises to Keep
Promises to Keep follows agitator Snyder and the Community for Creative Non-Violence by showing film-fragments, news-bulletin images from records, and newspaper headlines about the fight to force the government to live up to their promise to provide the homeless of Washington D.C. with proper shelter.
Forever James Dean
The life and times of one of Hollywood's brightest stars.
The Secret Identity of Jack the Ripper
A panel of experts examines the five main suspects in the Jack the Ripper murders and determines which of them is the most likely to have committed the crimes.
Coffee Coloured Children
Coffee-Colored Children is an autobiographical portrayal of Ngozi's, and her brother's, sad welcome to the world where the color of your skin dictates the amount of respect & love you receive.
The film follows a number of European and American ecotourists as they travel from village to village throughout the Sepik River area in Papua New Guinea, driving hard bargains for local handcrafted items, paying to view formerly sacred ceremonies and taking photographs of every aspect of "primitive" life. With some prodding, the tourists unwittingly reveal an unattractive and pervasive ethnocentrism to O'Rourke's cameras. The tourists thus become somewhat dehumanized by the camera, even as the tourists themselves are busy exoticizing even the most mundane aspects of Sepik River life.
Break of Dawn
The true story of the first Spanish-language radio announcer and political activist, Pedro J Gonzalez
Roger Rabbit and the Secrets of Toon Town
A behind-the-scenes documentary hosted by Joanna Cassidy on the making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Good Taste Made Bad Taste
A very informative documentary on the making of Peter Jackson's gore classic Bad Taste. Highlights include behind-the-scenes footage, detailed explanations of the special effects, an interview with Peter's mom and dad, and interviews with the cast and crew.
Bacall on Bogart
Lauren Bacall tells the story of her late husband Humphrey Bogart, presenting clips from his movies and interview clips with his peers.
A selection of seemingly unconnected scenes featuring Nick Cave, Blixa Bargeld, Nina Hagen and Lene Lovich. Losely based on Voltaire's satire "Candide".