1. Captured (2008)
Clayton Patterson moved to New York City in 1979. He then spent the next few decades obsessively documenting nearly everything in the Lower East Side, where he functioned simultaneously as a local, a pioneer in citizen video-journalism, and a pretty notable underground artist. Captured tells the story of Clayton Patterson and his partner Elsa Rensaa, but it mostly tells the story of the Lower East Side that was — from the one-of-a-kind art and music scene, to the rampant and highly dangerous drug culture, to its penchant for complete and total lawlessness.
The film concludes with the area’s eventual gentrification, which has only increased rapidly since the movie’s 2008 release. As of this April, Clayton Patterson left the the Lower East Side after 35 years of calling the neighborhood his home. He’s been quoted as saying “The energy is gone. My community is gone. I’m getting out. But the sad fact is: I didn’t really leave the Lower East Side. It left me.”
2. From One Second To The Next (2013)
This documentary made a lot of waves last year — Werner Herzog’s From One Second To The Next is undoubtedly the most harrowing look at the dangers of texting and driving to date. While its certainly very tempting to tell your friend that “you’ll be there in 5” when you’re running a little late, I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t already seen this to watch this documentary. Texting and driving is undoubtedly one of the dumbest and useless ways to completely ruin peoples lives.
3. The House I Live In (2012)
This 2012 documentary systematically breaks down the complete and utter failure of America’s War On Drugs. It’s worth sticking around till the end, when a particular scholar’s theory really ties the movie together — likening the war on drugs to a systematic elimination of the bottom portion of our society.
The claims in this are bold, but the documentary is incredibly well executed, meticulously crafted and researched, and is overall just one of those things that’ll make you think for days.
4. Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)
One of the most notable documentaries in recent memory. When crafting these sorts of lists, you gotta include one that everyone knows about — you need a big hit to legitimize the lesser known entities. It’s like a famous comedian with a promising opener. You also can’t make an internet documentary list consisting solely of things like Blackfish and Jiro Dreams of Sushi, as this is a bit too #basic.
Anyway, if you haven’t yet consumed the story of Bansky and Mr. Brainwash, it’s something that is great to bring up in social conversations, whilst saying things like “art is bullshit, but that’s really what makes great art.” I found Exit Through The Gift Shop to be unexpectedly funny, with Bansky himself delivering the sort of wisecracks that cut as deep as they are hilarious.
5. The Parking Lot Movie (2010)
The Parking Lot Movie takes a look at the lives of attendants working in a Charlottesville, Virginia parking lot. As absurd as it is compelling, this one made me think a lot about the working world which we have socially constructed; how “successful” people may not always be the nicest of people, and that our society sometimes reinforces and encourages qualities, that, if you take a step back, might merit a second look.