What to Watch: Weird/Interesting Documentaries
May 6, 2020
As audiovisual professionals, our team not only creates videos, but we love to watch them, too. At a time when we all are seeking content to consume, each of the GK Team is offering our top streaming picks.
Our Chief Editor and jack-of-all-trades, Nick, is always hunting down unusual or inspiring stories, and these are some of his favorite finds.
Here are Nick’s top must-watch documentaries:
Resurrect the Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles
I first heard about this mystery on a message board called, “Blow My Mind with Wikipedia” back in the mid-2000s. My mind was blown and thankfully the stunning documentary, Resurrect the Dead, gives some resolution.
If you’ve never heard of The Toynbee Tiles, don’t google it and just click the above link.
The force behind the movie is artist, musician, writer and Harrisburg, PA born Justin Duerr, directed by Jon Foy.
Free to watch on YouTube.
Stanley Kubrick’s films are mesmerizing, but nothing seems to take people down the rabbit-hole like The Shining.
Room 237 explores some fan theories of what The Shining is actually about. Honestly, most of the theories don’t hold much water, but I don’t think that is the point. Why do people see so much more than the actual narrative?
Room 237 inspires me to watch The Shining differently every time I see it. Sometimes as a ghost story, sometimes as a man simply going crazy, sometimes as evidence of the United States faking the moon landing.
Well, maybe not the last one, but some people do. Directed by Rodney Ascher.
Stream on Amazon Prime.
Spellbound is one of the first movies I saw at the Midtown Cinema in Harrisburg, around 2002.
The film follows eight competitors in the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Director Jeffrey Blitz did an excellent job finding kids from all walks of life. It’s really an amazing American story about opportunity, and one of my favorite movies period.
Stream on Amazon Prime.
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession
Z Channel was one of the first pay cable TV stations in the United States, programmed by a mad genius named Jerry Harvey.
Instead of showing the latest box office hits like its competitors HBO or Showtime, Z Channel showed passionate and personal movies, many of which were forgotten.
What I think the documentary does best, just like its subject matter, is expose the viewer to titles that you most likely would never see. Netflix was renting DVDs by mail when I came across Z Channel, and I was able to rent the movies Jerry Harvey was programming, trying to experience Z Channel in the 21st century.
Not Currently streaming; buy a DVD copy on eBay.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston
The late-great musician and artist Daniel Johnston recorded much of his daily life through home movies and audiotapes. These recordings and a mix of vintage performances and interviews are what director Jeff Feuerzeig use to create a unique documentary that I probably watch once a year.
Daniel Johnston’s voice isn’t for everyone, but as you listen through his lo-fi recordings, you start to see the genius that inspired so many. Must-see film for any fan of documentaries.
Watch on YouTube, Google Play and Vudu.