Put these fabulous documentaries on your “Must See” list now:


1. FED UP (2014) If you weren’t fed up already, you WILL be after you see FED UP which documents the obesity epidemic and how the food industry has conspired to keep us fat and unhappy, as our children become the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents!  According to FED UP, sugar is the devil and all processed foods are loaded with it. The documentary which began as report  by TV journalist Katie Couric became this unnerving expose narrated by Couric and directed by filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig. Together they very carefully and lucidly trace the insidious links between the food industry, the government, and profit driven marketers and how they have co-opted the health, fitness, and beauty craze to sell more and more product, products designed to addict us to sugar. See FED UP– THEN have lunch.


2.  20 FEET FROM STARDOM (2013)–This revealing, heartbreaking documentary charts the careers, hopes, dreams, disappointments of the back-up singers who literally stand inches away from center stage-the voices behind Sting, Springsteen, Jagger– who bring heart, soul, urban grit, heavenly harmonies, and emotional resonance to the best bands in the business. But we barely know who they are– until now. As Sting ruefully notes “it’s not a level playing field… it’s not about talent; it’s about luck, circumstance, destiny.” We meet these singers, find out what happened to them, hear them– solo–and it will stun you.



3.  THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012) This film will leave you weeping and screaming for justice as it documents the shameful secret of rape in the military, and a system rigged to let off the perpetrators while further victimizing the women who dare to speak up. The movie is built on heart wrenching first person testimonies of survivors, as well as journalists, advocates, active duty and retired generals, and members of the military justice system itself. The film goes way beyond well-known scandals like the Navy’s 1991 Tailhook, to uncover a pervasive culture of sexual harassment and assault in every branch of the armed services. THE INVISIBLE WAR is a brave testament that does what good documentaries do best: make the “invisible” –visible.


4.  TIM’S VERMEER (2013) Leave it to a pair of magicians to take the magic out of a great work of art, then raise even deeper questions than they answer. TIM’S VERMEER floored me. It really messed with my head.  Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) is known for his extraordinary sense of composition, pristine technique, and the light his canvases seem to radiate. Penn and Teller– that debunking duo of magicians– have turned our attention to a man as curious and obsessed as they are: a very wealthy, brilliant and extraordinarily gifted inventor and self-described “computer graphics guy ”named Tim Jenison who set out uncover the techniques Vermeer used—and then to RECREATE one of his masterpieces. I mean actually paint one!?! Understand, Jenison is not a painter. In fact, he has had no formal training in any of the disciplines required, any single one of which requires extraordinary motor skills, patience, focus, ARTISTRY, and scientific precision. Be patient: the result is staggering.



5. LIFE ITSELF (2014) The best movie I saw all summer was LIFE ITSELF, a documentary about one of the most formidable and famous movie critics in history—one with whom I had the pleasure of working–winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and conqueror of cancer: Roger Ebert. The disease killed him, but Roger won. LIFE ITSELF is heartbreaking and bold, really funny and relentlessly compelling. Filmmaker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) used Roger’s own 2011 memoir as a guide.  At the beginning of his memoir, Roger wrote, “I was born inside the movie of my life…it continues to entertain me.” By the end, he joyfully shared that death was just a part of life, and that he “was so glad he didn’t just keel over and miss it!” Don’t you miss it either.




6. I’LL BE ME (2014) It’s set to open this October and I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s getting tremendous buzz. I’LL BE ME goes on the road with the Rhinestone Cowboy himself—Glen Campbell—with one hitch: at 75, he’s battling Alzheimer’s but the country music superstar decided to do one last tour and the results from what I can tell are pretty staggering. The trailer had me in tears watching tender moments behind the scenes with his wife, while out front audiences including Paul McCartney cheer him on. We hear from a host of superstars including Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and there’s a raft of vintage film clips, highlights from his farewell tour, and all of it propelled by the man’s indomitable spirit and his kickass sense of humor. I can’t wait to see it!


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