Best Documentary Movies of 1989
Roger & Me
A documentary about the closure of General Motors' plant at Flint, Michigan, which resulted in the loss of 30,000 jobs. Details the attempts of filmmaker Michael Moore to get an interview with GM CEO Roger Smith.
For All Mankind
A testament to NASA's Apollo program of the 1960s and '70s. Composed of actual NASA footage of the missions and astronaut interviews, the documentary offers the viewpoint of the individuals who braved the remarkable journey to the moon and back.
Depeche Mode: 101
A fascinating documentary focusing on backstage realities of art and business during the British synthesizer band's 1988 American tour.
Thomas Hart Benton
Thomas Hart Benton's paintings were energetic and uncompromising. Today his works are in museums, but Benton hung them in saloons for ordinary people to appreciate.
Bugs and Daffy: The Wartime Cartoons
Leonard Maltin introduces us to and takes us back to a theatre showing Wartime cartoon shorts and explains how Bugs and Daffy and the gang, through a collection/sampling of 11 cartoon shorts which served the war effort.
The Heat Is On: The Making of Miss Saigon
A behind-the-scenes look at the putting on of the successful West End stage musical, including footage of the cast rehearsing and the triumphant first night.
CENTRAL PARK is a film about the famous New York City landmark and the variety of ways in which people make use of it: running, boating, walking, skating, music, theatre, sports, picnics, parades and concerts. The film also illustrates the complex problems the New York City Parks Department deals with in order to maintain and preserve the park and keep it open and accessible to the public.
I Went To The Dance
The definitive film on the history of the toe-tapping, foot-stomping music of French Southwest Louisiana. Includes many Cajun and Zydeco greats, featuring Michael Doucet and Beausoleil, Clifton Chenier, Marc and Ann Savoy, D.L. Menard, and many others.
NEAR DEATH is a film about the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital. The film is concerned with how people face death. More specifically the film presents the complex interrelationships among patients, families, doctors, nurses, hospital staff and religious advisors as they confront the personal, ethical, medical, psychological, religious and legal issues involved in making decisions about whether or not to give life-sustaining treatment to dying patients.
Water and Power
Pat O'Neill, one of the most interesting filmmakers in America today, offers a dazzling reflection on the conflict between nature and man in Los Angeles, or the desertification of the city's surroundings due to its enormous water consumption. More interestingly, it is also a film in the age-old tradition of city symphonies: a film about LA's foundation myths and the dreams it embodies, about its history and (grim) future, its topography and ethnography. O'Neill uses footage from several classic films to recreate the several layers of meaning emanating from the city, juxtaposing images and fantasies and hardly ever allowing one picture to go untouched. George Lockwood's swarming soundtrack is likewise composed of conflicting languages, an elaborate work of plunderphonics in which snippets of sound stolen from movies collide with electronic soundscapes, contemporary chamber music, improv, and what not.