Sunday, January 11, 2009

Reel DVDs

She walked by me as I peeled potatoes in the kitchen in front of the TV and said, "I don't know how you watch those films."

Later the cook walked by the college student in the lazy-boy recliner and said, "You are watching that? Again."

The savvy college student with excellent grades and a strong resume loves Reality TV. Looking back to the year 2000, the student's parents may be to blame. Survivor was the show of the hour, and it was a perfect show for a family of mixed ages and genders to watch together. COPS, Survivor, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Real World, Amazing Race were the pioneers. Now, Reality TV seems like the majority of programming. (anecdotal -- for facts access the library's database General One File)

So, the savvy college student likes to watch real things, happening to real people. What's so terrible? So does the cook peeling potatoes. It's just that the cook calls them documentaries.

What a plain word compared to "Reality TV". The description that really draws people in is the "300's". As in the Dewey Decimal system classification of the social sciences. In reality, though, you can find some interesting and entertaining viewing in the library's nonficton dvds section. The 300's are just the beginning.

The Beales of Grey Gardens. The Beales were reclusive cousins of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The film goes into the home of mother and daughter socialites who strayed from high society's norm. In the dvd, their true personalities are captured complete with song, quirky dress and revelations about men and neighbors in affluent East Hampton, NY. This documentary was actually filmed in 1975 and released on DVD a few years ago after the story gained a resurgence due to a Broadway production and a Hollywood rendition.

The Cats of Mirikitani. This is a heartwarming and thoughtful film. The filmmaker walks by homeless eighty-year Jimmy Mirikitani in lower Manhattan day after day admiring his art. She takes an interest in him and and builds a friendship as he tells her his story of surviving the US WWII internment camps and Hiroshima. He's a hearty, proud, talented man who's wisdom is captured as he recounts his experiences. The story is told soon after 9/11 and Jimmy's point of view is moving.

Pure delight is It's Happiness: A Polka Documentary. A peak into the lives of people who love to dance the polka, go to polka festivals and play the concertina. The film highlights Jimmy Sturr, the Elvis of polka music, embracing his fans. Watch these folks, and smile AND dance as they express their admiration and concern about this pastime's future.

Discover this section of DVDs. The social sciences category covers a wide range of topics often by very creative artists and film companies.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for blogging about the nonfiction DVD collection. They're the hidden gems of your films. I always beelined straight for the feature films until I "accidentally" browsed the wrong row. Now I can't stop watching them.

Cheryl said...

The Beales of Grey Gardens is a great choice! And what about Wordplay, about the New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz? I'm not a fan of crossword puzzles, but was riveted by this movie.

Jeanne said...

May I suggest The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters? This documentary is sure to please anyone who grew up playing video games in the arcade. It's a lot of fun!

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