The Pointless, Worthless List for 01.12.11

Top 5 Documentaries of 2010*

Yael Hersonski gives a thorough examination of an unfinished propaganda film produced by the Nazis about the Warsaw Ghetto. The filmmaker separates truth from lies with help from a journal from an official who lived there at the time, an old interview with one of the cameramen, and comments from survivors of the ghetto as they watch the film. Brutal and enlightening.

Never a fan of this comedienne, I did come away from this film with a great appreciation of Rivers’ work ethic. Most people with her accomplishments and at her age would wrap it up and retire but Joan has bills to pay and a lifestyle to maintain so she’ll do any dirty job out there, including “Celebrity Apprentice.” She’s pretty forthcoming and it’s an interesting tale.

Filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington spent a year with a U.S. platoon working in one of the deadliest valleys in Afghanistan. All the boredom, horror and chaos, confusion and camaraderie of war  plays out. This is as close to being in a war zone as I’d care to come.

Pat Tillman was a famous football star, or so I’m told. He left the NFL to join the military and wound up killed by friendly fire. The military and the administration tried to turn his death into a propaganda tool but his family would have nothing of it and spent a long time trying to get at the truth. A very thorough, compelling and frustrating documentary by Amir Bar-Lev. Every time I try to forget how evil the old regime was something like this turns up to remind me.

Did you know public education in the United States absolutely sucks? My sympathies to all my friends and family out there working in it. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim does a nice job throwing out statistics and evidence supporting his case. I’m not sure I agree with all his conclusions — I doubt that teachers’ unions and tenure are the root of all evil — but it’s a good conversation starter. There’s no denying the tragedy played out by the children and parents in the spotlight as they struggle to get into better schools. A lottery is no way to run an education system.

*Yes, they were also the only documentaries I saw last year. But they were all good so they all deserve a spot.


2 responses to “The Pointless, Worthless List for 01.12.11

  1. Laura Leigh Rampey

    Speaking of propoganda pieces, “Waiting for Superman” falls in that category. If you saw this and swallowed its arguments, you need to read Diane Ravitch’s piece “The Myth of Charter Schools,” and perhaps the book she has written on the subject as well.

  2. Watch it. You’ll get censored for the Tillman comment.

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