Best Documentary Movies of 1990
Collection of documentary shorts by various acclaimed directors
The Trials of Life
Each of the twelve 50-minute episodes features a different aspect of the journey through life, from birth to adulthood and continuation of the species through reproduction.
Roger Waters: The Wall - Live in Berlin
A global television broadcast of the event in which former Pink Floyd leader singer and composer Roger Waters led an all-star cast in a mammoth benefit performance of his acclaimed concept album, The Wall. Set in Berlin, Germany less than a year after the destruction of the hated Berlin Wall, Waters was accompanied by disparate talents such as Cyndi Lauper, James Galway, Joni Mitchell and Albert Finney in the classic dark musical tale of a rock star's descent into madness and back.
George Carlin: Doin' it Again
George Carlin brings his comedy back to New Jersey and this time talks about Offensive Language, Euphemisms, They're Only Words, Dogs, Things you never hear, see or wanna hear, Some people are stupid, Cancer, Feminists, Good Ideas, Rape, Life's moments, and organ donors.
The Godfather Family: A Look Inside
A documentary on the making of the three Godfather films, with interviews and recollections from the film makers and cast. This feature also includes the original screen tests of some of the actors for "The Godfather" film, and some candid moments on the set of "The Godfather: Part III."
The Australian Ballet: Coppélia
This delightful ballet tells the story of Dr Coppelius, an eccentric toymaker, who attempts to bring life to his beautiful doll Coppélia. He is foiled by the mischevious Swanilda, who masquerades as Coppélia and saves her love, Franz, from the Doctor's magic. Recorded live at the Sydney Opera House, this acclaimed production by Dame Peggy van Praagh, the founding Artistic Director of the Australian Ballet, is a triumph.
Amazon: Land of the Flooded Forest
Explore an extraordinary region where water and land life intermingle six months out of the year.
Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration
Celebrating Sammy Davis Jr 's 60th anniversary in show business, including musical,comic and dancing performers.
Aerosmith: MTV Unplugged
MTV viewers get the rare opportunity to see legendary hard rockers Aerosmith perform acoustically on this special edition of "MTV Unplugged." Taped live at the historic Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York City in High Definition TV, band members Steven Tyler (vocals), Joe Perry (guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass), Joey Kramer (drums) and Brad Whitford (guitar) perform a rousing 30 minute acoustic medley of their hit songs past and present. Song selections include "Toys In The Attic," "Hang Man Jury," "Big 10 Inch," "Dream On," "Walkin' The Dog," and "Train Kept A Rollin'." "MTV Unplugged" with Aerosmith, with high definition imaging by Captain of America, marks the first airing of a high definition program on the network. Recorded 11 August 1990 at The Ed Sullivan Theater - NYC. Original Premiere Date: 20 September 1990.
Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill reciting his poetry, Riggs telling the story of his growing up, scenes of men in social intercourse and dance, and various comic riffs, including a visit to the "Institute of Snap!thology," where men take lessons in how to snap their fingers: the sling snap, the point snap, the diva snap.
Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond
The life and career of two-time Oscar winner Vivien Leigh, who battled tuberculosis and manic-depression but always remained a star.
Madonna: Blond Ambition World Tour Live
Blond Ambition World Tour Live contains the final tour date recorded in Nice, France. The release had previously been shown and produced by American network HBO as a television special. In 1992, the LaserDisc release won the Best Music Video-Long Form category at the 34th Grammy Awards. The tour reached North America, Europe and Asia. It was a highly controversial tour, mainly for its juxtaposition of Catholic iconography and sexuality. Rolling Stone called it an "elaborately choreographed, sexually provocative extravaganza" and proclaimed it "the best tour of 1990."
Martin Scorsese Directs
Providing behind the scenes footage of the director on set with clips from his own films, Martin Scorsese Directs depicts to riveting effect the way Scorsese brings the written story to life on the big screen. Additional interviews with the likes of Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Thelma Schoonmaker, the director’s own parents, and others build a perception of Scorsese that not everybody knows.
Myrna Loy: So Nice to Come Home To
This tribute to Myrna Loy is organized chronologically with a few photographs, many film clips, a handful of personal appearances, and a detailed commentary delivered on camera by Kathleen Turner. Turner walks us through Loy's career as a dancer and an actress miscast as an exotic. She comes into her own as a grown-up women: shrewd, funny, decorous, and sexy - in "Manhattan Melodrama" and "The Thin Man." Her volunteer work during World War II, later stage work, and progressive politics come in for admiration as well. It's her style - seen best in her roles as a wife of charm and independence - that's captured and celebrated here.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 50 Years of Magic
Documentary about the making of the 1939 MGM classic film The Wizard of Oz. Includes interviews of cast and crew members, their families and fans of the film.
The Best of the Martial Arts Films
The most explosive barehanded combat sequences ever filmed. An electrifying video of martial arts mastery and mayhem. This program takes a behind-the-scenes look at the weapons, the mystical eastern philosophy, and the incredible skills that have made martial arts films one of the most popular genres in the world today.
Step Across the Border
An avant-garde documentary film on English guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith.
When workers at the Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minnesota are asked to take a substantial pay cut in a highly profitable year, the local labor union decides to go on strike and fight for a wage they believe is fair. But as the work stoppage drags on and the strikers face losing everything, friends become enemies, families are divided and the very future of this typical mid American town is threatened.
From Moscow to Pietushki
A look at Benedict Yerofeyev, the elusive author of the Russian underground classic From Moscow to Pietushki, who has existed on the fringes of Soviet society for most of his life.
The Earth Day Special
The Earth Day Special is a television special revolving around Earth Day that aired on ABC on April 22, 1990. Sponsored by Time Warner, the two hour special featured an all-star cast addressing concerns about global warming, deforestation, and other environmental ills.
Aerosmith - The Making of Pump
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Pump, the album that carried Boston band Aerosmith into the nineties. While this video doesn't include album versions of any of the songs from Pump (Columbia did not have control of the rights), it does include extensive footage of the band members perfecting their craft in the studios, as well as interviews with all those involved.
Things That Aren't There Anymore
Remember when Forbes Field was the world’s greatest ballpark? When the Dips roller coaster at West View Park came out to Route 19? When everyone went to the Allegheny County Fair? When streetcars ran all over town? They’re all parts of this warm and winsome program about Pittsburgh’s past, this heartfelt tribute to great and old places where people used to go to have fun.
The KGB, the Computer and Me
In 1986, astronomer turned computer scientist Clifford Stoll had just started working on a computer system at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory when he noticed a 75-cent discrepancy between the charges printed by two accounting programs responsible for charging people for machine use. Intrigued, he deduced that the system was being hacked, and he determined to find the culprit. This is the re-enactment of how he tracked down KGB cracker Markus Hess through the Ethernet to Hannover, Germany.
The Horror Hall of Fame
The Horror Hall of Fame was an annual Oscars-style award show hosted by Robert Englund which honored the best horror films, television series, actors, producers and special-effects designers.
The Burning Times
A 1990 Canadian documentary, presenting a feminist revisionist account of the Early Modern European witchcraft trials. It features interviews with feminist and Neopagan notables, such as Starhawk, Margot Adler, and Matthew Fox. The Burning Times is the second film in the National Film Board of Canada's Women and Spirituality series, following Goddess Remembered.
Life of Python
This BBC documentary tells the history of the Python group, allowing a few glimpses at the works of its predecessors (At Last the 1948 Show, Do Not Adjust Your Sets etc.) and various interviews with the group's members and other associated artists.
Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol
Documentary portrait of Andy Warhol.
The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
While the Muppets prepare a tribute to the late Jim Henson, they learn about the life and career of the renowned puppeteer/film maker.
This made-for-TV documentary introduces the layperson to concepts and technologies that were emerging in computer interface design in the late 1980s and early 1990s: hypertext, multimedia, virtual assistants, interactive video, 3D animation, and virtual reality.
Songs for Drella
Songs for Drella is a concept album by Lou Reed and John Cale, both formerly of The Velvet Underground, and is dedicated to the memory of Andy Warhol, their mentor, who had died unexpectedly in 1987. Drella was a nickname for Warhol coined by Warhol Superstar Ondine, a contraction of Dracula and Cinderella, used by Warhol's crowd. The song cycle focuses on Warhol's interpersonal relations and experiences, with songs falling roughly into three categories: Warhol's first-person perspective (which makes up the vast majority of the album), third-person narratives chronicling events and affairs, and first-person commentaries on Warhol by Reed and Cale themselves. The songs on the album are, to some extent, in chronological order.
Child of Rage: A Story of Abuse
Beth Thomas is a six year old girl suffering from reactive attachment disorder as a result of being sexually abused as a child. This documentary consists of interviews with Beth, followed by her treatment and partial recovery at a special center for kids.
The Scorsese Machine
Amazing documentary shows rarely seen side of a master director. 1990 was a very good year for Martin Scorsese. After making a diverse group of films in the 80s, he reunited with Robert DeNiro for "Goodfellas" and later that year shot a segment for "New York Stories", an anthology film of three shorts by Scorsese, Woody Allen, and Francis Ford Coppola. During the editing, the French documentary series "Cinéma, de notre temps" filmed a documentary on the director, and it's a fascinating glimpse into his life, personality, and working habits as he edits his short with long-time collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker.
Michael Jordan's Playground
This made-for-video production mixes highlights of Michael Jordan from the '80s with a fantasy storyline of a high school teen named Walt, who has been cut from his basketball team. Doubting his abilities, Walt gets some lessons from Michael Jordan himself, on the magical Playground known as Michael Jordan's Playground.
Home for Christmas
Dolly Parton returns home to Sevierville and to Dollywood where she joins her family and friends to share songs and memories of the holidays in this 1990 TV special to accompany her Christmas CD Home for the Holidays.
Rita Hayworth: Dancing Into the Dream
Expose on the exploitation of workers in the Florida sugar cane industry.
Tourfilm (1990) is a documentary-style concert film by American rock band R.E.M. The film chronicles the band's 1989 Green tour of North America. Produced by frontman Michael Stipe and director Jim McKay, the black-and-white film features aspects of avant-garde and experimental filmmaking, including handheld camera shots and stock footage.
The Road to God Knows Where
Documentary of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' 1989 tour of America.
Creative Process: Norman McLaren
Norman McLaren was a cinematic genius who made films without cameras, and music without instruments. He produced sixty films in a stunning range of styles and techniques, collecting over 200 international awards, and world recognition. In Creative Process, director Donald McWilliams demystifies the process of artistic creation. Drawing on McLaren's private film vaults, a gold mine of experimental footage and uncompleted films, McWilliams explores McLaren's methods, including his celebrated "pixillation" technique, and his daring forays into animated surrealism.
Yum, Yum, Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking of Louisiana
Les Blank marries his passion for spicy, down home food and his love for Cajuns and Creoles in this mouth-watering, exploration of the cooking, and other enthusiasms, of French-speaking Louisiana. Features tangy music, and food by Marc Savoy, Paul Prudhomme, and other greats.
Christo in Paris
Documentary about conceptual artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude's attempt to "wrap" the Pont-Neuf in Paris.
From the unique vantage point of 200 miles above Earth's surface, we see how natural forces - volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes - affect our world, and how a powerful new force - humankind - has begun to alter the face of the planet. From Amazon rain forests to Serengeti grasslands, Blue Planet inspires a new appreciation of life on Earth, our only home.
Lifestyles of the Ramones
Documentary on the Ramones, including archival footage, interviews and music videos, this was first released on VHS in 1990 and later re-released on DVD as part of the WEIRD TALES OF THE RAMONES box set in 2005, with expanded content. HEY, HO, LET'S GO!
The story of a black lesbian's relationship with a white, upper middle class high school girl.
IN 1988, rising star Kenneth Branagh tackled the role of Shakespeare’s prince of Denmark for the first time in his professional career under the guidance of celebrated actor Derek Jacobi. Narrated by Patrick Stewart, this hour-long film documents how Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi, two intelligent and passionate men, found new depths in Shakespeare’s classic drama, Hamlet. Filmmakers Mark Olshaker and Larry Klein follow the company through four weeks of rehearsals, from the first read-throughs to opening night.
Jan Švankmajer: The Animator of Prague
This half-hour BBC documentary offers a revealing look at Svankmajer at work on "Death of Stalinism in Bohemia," and uses excerpts from his earlier films to trace the development of his unique sensibility.
Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter's Journey
Documentary is about the life and work of American screenwriter Waldo Salt who won two Academy Awards and was put on the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s. The story is told through interviews with collaborators and friends such as Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jon Voight, John Schlesinger and with clips from Salt's films, chiefly Midnight Cowboy.
Sink or Swim
Through a series of twenty six short stories, a girl describes the childhood events that shaped her ideas about fatherhood, family relations, work and play. As the stories unfold, a dual portrait emerges: that of a father who cared more for his career than for his family, and of a daughter who was deeply affected by his behavior. Working in counterpoint to the forceful text are sensual black and white images that depict both the extraordinary and ordinary events of daily life. Together, they create a formally complex and emotionally intense film.
Anthony Quinn: An Original
Born in Mexico, Anthony Quinn became the family's main provider when his father died in an accident. Thus began the story of a man who had a thousand jobs before acting in a Cecil B. DeMille film…
Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol: Friendships & Intersections
This intimate portrait of Andy Warhol pulls together a unique library of material shot by New York film legend Jonas Mekas. Spanning from 1963 to 1990, the film features a cast of counterculture icons including Allen Ginsberg, George Maciunas, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono, as well as John and Caroline Kennedy, and Lee Radziwill (Jackie Kennedy Onassis's sister and Warhol muse)—to whom Mekas dedicates the film. The film features footage from the Velvet Underground's first public performance. A portrait of the remarkable life of arguable the twentieth century's most famous artist and leading iconographer.