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 (Live 1988)
A fascinating documentary focusing on backstage realities of art and business during the British synthesizer band's 1988 American tour.
The World at War: The Making of the Series
The making of 'The World At War'. Each film in the 26 episode series had to be an essay on an aspect of the war, because the length and separate aspects of the war was far too much to cover in detail. Jeremy Isaacs talks about the production process and the aims of the project. The intention of the crew that were involved with the various skills in making 'The World at War' had no desire to use film from British, German, French, Polish, Russian, Japanese, or the Americans because of their specific means of showing the winning side of a specific action. Rather, an effort was made to interview people who were not part of the establishment, but rather the common people or assistants and secretaries of historical persons. Film was researched for those films from cameras where there was no special subject, but those that would allow the viewer to make their own decisions about what they had just seen and heard.
Dance of Darkness
The dark sensibilities and cultural resonances of Butoh, the radical Japanese dance movement, are explored in this multilayered work. Profoundly rooted in both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture, Butoh arose in a spirit of revolt in the early 1960s. Characterized by frank sexuality and bodily distortions, Butoh transforms traditional dance movements into new forms, stripping away the taboos of contemporary Japanese culture to reveal a secret world of darkness and irrationality.
Comic Book Confidential
In the 20th century, no artistic medium in North America with so much potential for creative expression has had a more turbulent history plagued with less respect than comic books. Through animated montages, readings and interviews, this film guides us through the history of the medium from the late 1930s and 1940s with the first explosion of popularity with the superheroes created by great talents like Jack Kirby and hitting its first artistic zenith with Will Eisner's "Spirit". It then shifts to the post war comics world with the rising popularity of crime and horror comics, especially those published by EC Comics under the editorshiop of William B. Gaines until it came crashing down the rise of censorship with the imposition of the Comics Code. In its wake of the devastation of the medium's creative freedom, we also explore EC's defiant survival with the creation of the singular "Mad Magazine" by Harvey Kurtzman.
The special is hosted by Tony Danza and Annie Potts celebrating 50 years of William Hanna and Joseph Barbera's partnership in animation. This is the first animated project to be broadcast in Dolby Surround sound system.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt
On the eve of 1987's Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, surviving families and friends of people who have died of AIDS prepare panels to be added to a large-scale memorial quilt project. Drawing from the sea of names memorialized, director Robert Epstein focuses on the lives of six people. Alongside the intimate profiles offered, through news footage and interviews, Epstein puts the AIDS crisis in the larger context of social and government response to the disease.
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.