The most stimulating films I’ve watched this summer have been documentaries (not necessarily new, but new to me). Here are the top three in order of overall impact (And, yes, I did like Exit Through the Gift Shop, but it inevitably missed the gut check for me):
1. Marwencol. Changed the way I think about art in ways that continue to surprise me. The basic premise, without giving away too much: Mark “Hogancamp,” brain-injured as the result of a severe beating outside a bar, begins to create a miniature town with its own evolving and elaborate plot as a way of addressing the complexities of his old and new realities.
2. Waste Land. Art as communal change; art as revelation about the moral ambiguities of hope. Premise: Renowned contemporary artist Vik Muniz returns to his native Brazil, where he hazards an artistic vision to invigorate the world of the catadores–trash pickers who subsist on what, within the world’s largest landfill, may still be used. The art of the recycled?
3. Scott Walker: 30 Century Man. A biopic both for those uninitiated into the world of this enigmatic musician/songwriter, as well as for Walker enthusiasts (Kijak is the first director to actually get any kind of real access to Walker’s process). You’ll never be able to hear David Bowie, Last of the Shadow Puppets, Richard Hawley, Radiohead, Tindersticks, or Nick Cave, for instance, with the same ears again.