What Documentary Has Changed Your Mind?

While I was away honeymooning last week, my latest Doc Talk column posted over at Movies.com. The topic/question: What documentary has changed your mind. I focus on “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” which opens this Wednesday, while also hearing from guests like filmmaker Robert Greene and Pajiba’s Dustin Rowles. Also included are recommendations of new releases “Buck,” “Page One: Inside the New York Times,” “Jig,” “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop,” “Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders” and (sight unseen) “General Orders No. 9.” Here’s a snippet of the column:

Call me the worst kind of skeptic, but I’m not one for being convinced by anything, let alone documentaries. They may tell or show me something I didn’t already know, whether it’s the daily routines of Eskimos or bible salesmen or theories about global warming. And sometimes I’ll believe what I’ve heard or seen to be true, while other times I’ll watch something as out there as Loose Change or Collapse and think, “hmm, maybe…”

I enjoy documentaries for the stories and characters and occasionally the unknown worlds it introduces me to. But while these elements and their whole can often affect me emotionally, intellectually and spiritually, it’s not too often I walk away from a documentary thinking differently about an issue than when I started the film.

Read more: Doc Talk: What Documentary Has Changed Your Mind? | Movie News | Movies.com

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Now on Video: “The End of Poverty?”

My full response to Philippe Diaz’s “The End of Poverty?” can be found in a Doc Talk column on economy-related films from last summer. With the Martin Sheen-narrated doc being released to Blu-ray today (I apparently missed its DVD/VOD drop last month), here’s an excerpt from that post:

Five hundred years seems a lot of time to reverse, but the film is produced in part by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, which advocates economic justice and promotes the social reform ideas of 19th century thinker Henry George, and therefore there is some of that non-profit hopefulness driving the narrative. The solutions aren’t offered, though, until very close to the end of the documentary, and then they are pretty simplistic and unlikely. I feel like if you showed The End of Poverty? to the suffering peoples of the world, they might just prefer to start a violent uprising. I mean, how else are we to convince the rich and powerful after all these years that what they’re doing and how they’ve been living is unfair? They’d no sooner simply go see a Michael Moore film.

Click on the link above to read the rest. Watch the film in full (with ads) on YouTube after the jump.

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Where are the True Summer Doc-Busters?

I have a new documentary column at Movies.com. For now it’s a bi-weekly feature and it’s called Doc Talk, so look for it again in early June. This first installment tackles the term and the concept of the “doc-buster,” which Morgan Spurlock coined for his new doc “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” I also will be leaving room at the end of each column for new docs I recommend. Here’s an excerpt from “Doc Talk: Where are the True Summer Doc-Busters?”:

How anyone would think a documentary would make a lot of money is beyond me, and I love the darn things. A Justin Bieber concert film, okay, that should be called a doc-buster. Disneynature’s latest Earth Day feature, titled “Al Gore Presents: Global Warming is Making These Cute Baby Animals Sad.” Oh yeah. Doc-buster. A Michael Moore film featuring penguins getting launched into the air inside a portable toilet, in 3D? Maybe that’s a doc-buster. But you really just never know with docs what will be a phenomenal hit and what will fall by the wayside.