My Favorite Criterion Documentaries

by Brian Blueskye

Created 10/15/12

Edit List
  • Even if you don't like basketball, you'll love 'Hoop Dreams' for the story. 2 young men from Chicago's Cabrini-Green projects with dreams of making it into the NBA during the early 1990s. It's heartbreaking at times to watch as the inner-city life takes a toll on them. I love this documentary based on the fact it goes through the entire time they are in high school.

  • I found this one to be entertaining for the era that it came from. You wouldn't think it would be interesting to watch, but this one can definitely be appreciated.

  • R. Crumb is such a strange and unique individual, and this documentary also includes the perils of his immediate family. The journey of the artist and the history of the artwork are explained in detail by friends, colleagues, and business associates, along with his strange obsessions for muscular women and his hatred of rock & roll music. The documentary also was filmed during the period when Crumb was preparing to leave America for France.

  • I remember when I watched this and felt like it was a political version of "This Is Spinal Tap." The guy definitely had delusions of grandeur and thought highly of himself. The most amusing scene in this documentary is when he points out the crocodiles and says that he communicates with them.

  • The one thing I love about this documentary is how Harvey Milk is remembered as more than the first openly gay elected official.

  • Barbara Kopple goes back before Michael Moore, and her documentaries fascinate me with how she generally doesn't narrate and will let the camera tell the story. We're still having the debate over coal and whether or not the coal companies are evil, but this tells the story of people who depended on big coal to survive and how little they were paid.

  • Any music lover will appreciate this. You also can't deny that Louie Bluie was quite a character. "Banjo Ikey" Robinson is in this documentary and does a beautiful performance of 'My Four Reasons' with Louie.

  • A look into Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. George Stephanopoulos and James Carville are followed through most of the documentary. Kind of dry in places, but this is what made George Stephanopoulos and James Carville who they are today.

  • I have to list this whole series, but the documentary that I love out of this bunch is "God's Country." It's about a small Minnesota farming town that was filmed in 1979 and then 1985. The transition when it comes to the economy, the employment situation, and the changes in the lives of those that they filmed in before and after is truly interesting. The filming in 1985 was right after the farming industry collapsed in America, and that's obviously what makes this documentary interesting to me. There's a farmer that they show in 1979 who is very optimistic about the future of his farm and then blaming the Jewish people for the collapse of farming in America. There's also a family that they show struggling to make it in 1985 due to the downturn and discussing how farming wasn't a way of life anymore if you wanted to survive in the times.

  • I have a love/hate relationship with this one. It has great concert footage (The Stones, B.B. King, and Ike & Tina) to where it would make a great Stones concert film, but it also goes into the story of the Altamont Free Festival and how it came to be, and then footage of the festival itself. There's a great performance of the Flying Burrito Brothers doing 'Six Days on the Road' but no footage, just audio. And of course it has the footage of the Hell's Angels trying to keep the crowd in line. One of my favorite parts is when Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir land in their helicopter, someone tells them that the Hell's Angels are there and they beat up the guitarist for Jefferson Airplane, Jerry Garcia says "bummer," and they get back in the helicopter and take off.


  • By Daniel-S
    November 06, 2012
    02:50 PM

    Hoop Dreams remains one of the most overrated films I have seen.
    • By Brian Blueskye
      February 15, 2013
      12:47 PM

      It's one of the best documentaries ever made. I know people who don't even follow basketball or know anything about the sport who enjoyed it. I understand if it's not your cup of tea, there are some other documentaries I feel the same way about as you do about "Hoop Dreams." "Hearts & Minds" is one I can say that about.
  • By Joseph Burris
    November 07, 2012
    08:59 PM

    I completely agree with your commentary on "Harvey Milk"