Best Documentary of 2016


We will run quickly through numbers 16 to 12, before slowly relaxing and taking some time with the others…

16. The Lovers and the Despot

15. Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art

14. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week

13. Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village

12. Kate Plays Christine

11. Where to Invade Next – You have to feel a little sorry for Michael Moore. He was the first person I heard say that Trump would win, giving the reason as the rust belt states. He called it right! This was his tale of what’s wrong in America right now!

From our Review – ““Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” were both hard hitting documentaries exposing the duplicitousness of certain American policies. In this documentary he is trying to educate his fellow Americans that certain other countries do things differently and better. Of course many countries, apart from USA, could benefit. Because he uses humour, it does not diminish the seriousness of the various messages he is hoping his viewers will take to their hearts. Perhaps his happiest moment in this gentle documentary was discovering an alphabet which had only 25 letters in it. When he enquired as to the missing letter his delight was dignified when the answer given was “W”.  It is a delicious moment.”

10. Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World

Werner Herzog is one of the best documentary film makers around and when he picks a topic, he comes at it from all angles. This is another great insight into the world of computers and the internet, seeing the impact it has had on our lives since its creation.

9. Mom & Me – From the makers of His and Hers, Ken Wardrop returns with the story of a mother’s love!

From our review – “None of the mothers or sons are exemplary, each has faults which are not difficult to discern but it is the patent humanity on display which is so captivating. Each mother and each son is an individual whose various characteristics are for the most part commonplace. It makes for a documentary into which every man is easily drawn as each has a mother. It would be interesting to know how mothers of sons react to the documentary and also women who have not had a son.  Wardrop in this well-executed documentary has made universal the complex bond that exists at the heart of the relationship between a mother and a son, some achievement in itself.

It is not often that a film seems to be a little short in duration. Maybe leaving the cinema wanting to see more is another compliment to be paid to Wardrop. It is a documentary to be seen.”


8. Weiner – The film that sets out to prove you can’t be a successful politician and send photos of your junk to random strangers! Who knew? I still think Trump would have won it regardless.

“This is a fascinating look at the inner machinations of the political machine and the arrogance of some of those involved in it. It is also a cautionary tale about how a moment of madness can have a long reaching devastating ripple effect on a life. It’s impossible to feel sorry for Weiner but you will feel for his wife and those around him and will definitely have food for thought after watching this.”


7. Uncle Howard – A story of a man who knew the Beat Poets in New York in the 80s.

From our review – “Aaron was old enough to know his uncle a little bit- there is a glimpse, and it is a fleeting glimpse, of him in a crowd scene in the only feature film which Howard made “Bloodhounds of Broadway”. He loved him initially as a nephew does for an inspirational uncle. His pride and his admiration for Howard, as he makes discovery after discovery, grows in the documentary as a result of carrying out a great deal of hard and time consuming research in order to make this documentary is apparent. It is a labour of love. Aaron has brought back to the limelight a man of distinction.”


6. Mattress Men – It’s the tale we all wanted, the true story of Mattress Mick. Kinda.

From our review – “This marketing story contains an underlying story about Paul Kelly who finds himself trying to scrape by whatever means are available to earn a living as he worked on the videos. The financial pressures on him are horrible as they are too on his wife as he tries to keep his family together. The destructive power of debt is corroding his life. He is surrounded by people who are not much different. People are just clinging on. Debt is and has been a part of Dublin life for a very long time. It did not just arrive with the recession. It may be a part of all societies, in particular post-colonial societies, but this fun and mostly enjoyable documentary (perhaps a little too long) shows how crippling debt is. Its prevalence and acceptance is underlined in Mattress Mick’s shop in Pearse Street where there is a sign in large block capitals “Credit Available”. So the problem is not going away any time soon. It is never advertised as “debt” always “credit”. It “takes the waiting out of wanting” as one credit card slogan from the seventies claimed.

For all the madcap story line, this is a serious look at the difficulties caused to one decent Dub by the contracting of debt.  There is loads to smile about in this quirky movie but the underlying facts are worth pondering also.”


5. De Palma

This is a film called De Palma, which is about Brian De Palma, starring Brian De Palma and directed by… Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow? Basically Brian De Palma talking about his own work over the last forty or so years. The films that were made, the films that were almost made but didn’t happen for whatever reason. The budgets, the battles and much more besides. You need to be a fan of his work, but considering he made Scarface, The Untouchables, Carrie…if you’re a fan of film, you’re a fan of De Palma.

4. Tickled – Such a wonderful premise, that Competitive Endurance Tickling could ever be a sport. The story just gets weirder from there!

From our Review – “Over and above any individual actions, Tickled eventually becomes a story of how the haves misuse the have-nots, and how money can insulate the fortunate from the consequences of their exploitation of the economically marginalised. That’s probably not what anybody wants to confront when they click onto a funny video – or line up for an offbeat documentary – but it’s a truth that bears repeating. Tickled’s success, then, is indivisible from its deflation. It trades in novelty – but it’s telling the oldest story of all.”

3. Hitchcock/Truffaut – Movie makers talking about movie makers. I guess this is one for fans of film, with two of the greats discussed along with their work. A strong emphasis on Hitchcock and how his genius was realised.

From our Review – “However it is not only Francois Truffaut who could see the enormity of Hitchcock’s achievements. Jones has excerpts from contemporary interviews with Scorsese, Schrader and Bogdanovich and younger masters David Fincher, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson and James Gray. Each emphasises a different aspect of Hitchcock’s skill and genius. Jones concentrates on Hitchcock’s attention to detail in all aspects of the complexity of making a film. His complete command of it all. These successors to Hitchcock talk about him as a film maker who inspired them. Jones has throughout this documentary as the central core the ability of Hitchcock to make a great movie. It is a movie which extols the pursuit of excellence; it is a movie which proclaims the work of a great artist. It is a movie which is a further tribute to the achievement of Alfred Hitchcock.”


2. Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words – With an amazing collection of footage from home movies and other sources.

“Bergman was a woman of great beauty, sophisticated but yet flawed. Bjorkman has melded from the public and private archives a script that gives the viewer some insight into the complexities of her life. Over thirty years after her death, Bjorkman has created a gracious cinematic tribute to her.”

1.Life, Animated – A young man who fails to connect with the world other than true movies! This sounds like a lot of my friends to be honest.

From our review – “The journey keeps returning to modern day where Owen is a 23-year-old, equally nervous and excited about entering into an independent life in an assisted living centre. The boy who was once Peter Pan is growing up.

It’s an emotionally affecting film, without being mawkish, because it wears its heart on its sleeve and doesn’t gloss over the realities of autism and dependency. Life isn’t easy for Owen or his family but by the end of the film, you realise that the dreams and hopes for him were never crushed – they just had to change to new ones.”



Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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