Better Than Fiction: 5 Fantastic Documentaries 英会話・英語 アミック

2018/10/05

My favorite film genre is probably the documentary. In particular, I like ones that introduce me to some sort of underground world or subculture I didn’t previously know about, or those that take some everyday thing I’ve never really thought about and explain its history.

I don’t watch them as often as I’d like, but here are some of the most memorable docs I’ve watched over the past few years:

A Map For Saturday (2007)

There was a time in my life when I was obsessed with the idea of quitting my job and going backpacking around the world by myself. Around that time, I watched A Map For A Saturday, an indie documentary that prepared me for the realities of long-term travel: the ups and downs of making new friends then having to say goodbye, the lack of a real sense of ‘home’, and the difficulties in navigating a place where you don’t speak the language. Having now done this type of trip, I appreciate the film even more as it paints an incredibly accurate picture of the backpacker lifestyle (and is a great way to relive it when it you can’t get back out on the road). 

Icarus (2017)

I love documentaries that seem to start down one road then take a completely unexpected turn down another. In Icarus, filmmaker Bryan Fogel enlists the help of Russian doctor Grigory Rodchenkov to try and win a challenging amateur cycling race by using undetectable performance-enhancing drugs. Shortly after, Rodchenkov reveals he was the mastermind of a state-sponsored doping program that allowed dirty Russian athletes to go undetected at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. From there, the film shifts from sports doc to geopolitical thriller as Rodchenkov spills the details of the scandal while trying to avoid being ‘silenced’ by the Russian government.

I Know That Voice (2012)

It’s basically 90 minutes of voice actors doing their characters’ voices on camera. For that reason alone, it’s awesome. 

The Barkley Marathons: The Trail That Eats Its Young (2014)

There’s nothing like watching a movie about insanely fit people while you sit on your couch eating snacks. The Barkley Marathon is an invitation-only ultramarathon that consists of five 20-miles laps through the hilly and wooded Tennessee countryside, all in less than 60 hours. The race’s charm comes through its quirks: the race’s entry fee is $1.60, a personal essay, and a license plate from the runner’s home; the waypoints hidden along the course are old paperback books the competitors must tear the assigned page out of; and the run is initiated by race founder Gary Cantrell lighting a cigarette. The race is so difficult that in its 32-year history, only 18 runners have finished in time. 

The Search for General Tso (2014)

In America, there’s probably not a town of decent size without at least one Chinese restaurant. The reason why I had never really thought about, but after watching this film I learned the interesting history of how Chinese food (well, the Americanized version) spread throughout America, the history of the fortune cookie, and why you’ll never find General Tso’s chicken served anywhere in China. 

 

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