Tag Archives: Social & Cultural Documentaries

Craigslist Joe

craigslist joe
Setting out to explore whether America still has a sense of community where people help each other through hard times, 29-year-old Joseph Garner spends a month depending on the goodness of Craigslist posters for his survival.

Rating: 6 out of 10

It’s a great concept for a documentary. But with any documentary that focuses on the filmmaker pulling a stunt — like the infamous “Supersize Me” — it seems to take away from authenticity of the film.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining and “Craigslist Joe” certainly is. It’s not going to blow the doors off your house, but it will keep you thoroughly entertained for for an hour and a half.

It’s definitely interesting to see some of the positions he’s in, the types of people he meets and the places he stumbles to. He’s very much going with the flow. He sleeps whereever he can find a place, gets a meal whenever he can, and a ride to wherever someone is willing to take him. But he also makes some real connections with people who help him along the way, and it’s the glue that holds this film together. It is a stunt, just like the guy who ate nothing but disgusting McDonald’s for a month. He could stop whenever he wants, but that just doesn’t make for good TV. I did walk away, though, satisfied. It was a fun road trip to watch unfold, and there were some heartfelt moments where people genuinely helped out a person who is — kind of — in need.


KumaréFilmmaker Vikram Gandhi puts an unexpected twist on this sobering documentary about spirituality and the power of suggestion when he poses as a prophet named Kumaré and develops a sizable following in the American Southwest.

Rating: 7 out of 10

On the surface, it seems like Vikram Gandhi is just duping some hapless people when he poses as a guru from India and persuades them to follow him.

But what Gandhi did was teach them about “illusions” of spiritual leaders, and that they don’t need them and that all strength comes from within. He manages to get a group of 15 faithful followers — a medical student and death row defense attorney among them — who are firm believers in the teachings of Kumaré, Gandhi’s guru alter-ego.

I just love how Gandhi challenges the audience, making us uncomfortable as he teaches a lot of made up nonsense, talking in a fake accent (he’s from New Jersey), as he dons authentic garb of India with a grown-out beard and long hair. He gets people to do some pretty silly things and open up to him with deep, personal problems. If you have faith, it challenges your ideals. If you have none (like the filmmaker), then it reaffirms your belief. And Gandhi did his homework — interviewing other so-called gurus and guides. At the end, there is a reveal, and while I won’t give anything away, it’s a very satisfying closure. This film is available on Netflix streaming, and it’s definitely worth a watch. Such a great concept for a film.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Filmmaker Thierry Guetta had been casually documenting the underground world of street art for years, but when he encounters Banksy, an elusive British stencil artist, his project takes a fascinating twist. Unimpressed with Guetta’s footage, Banksy takes over filmmaking duties and Guetta reinvents himself as a street artist named Mr. Brainwash — and, much to Banksy’s surprise, immediately becomes a darling of the Los Angeles art scene.

Rating: 9 out of 10

After waiting for “Exit Through the Gift Shop” to finally get to Las Vegas and about five failed attempts to see it with some friends, I snuck off on Saturday afternoon and caught the film in a small, crowded theater.

When reading the description of the movie, which started out as a “filmmaker’s” attempt to get the famous and elusive street artist Banksy on film but ended up with Banksy turning the camera on the “filmmaker,” I was confused. But, it doesn’t matter what the description is or why the movie was made. It is amazing from beginning to end. Even if I didn’t completely know what was happening until close to the end. I loved the art and laughed the entire time.

I can’t explain what happens without giving away the humor and twist of the story. All I can say is I loved it and can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t. If you love art, if you think art can be joke, if you think street art is beautiful or if you think it was cool but now it’s not because everyone says it is, if you don’t even care about art, I still can’t imagine you wouldn’t be interested in this movie.


Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman document the strange series of events that unfolds when a gifted 8-year-old artist named Abby contacts Nev, a 24-year-old photographer (and Schulman’s brother), through Facebook. After Abby sends Nev a remarkable painting based on one of his photos, Nev begins corresponding with her family — including her seductive 19-year-old sister. Realizing that something’s not quite right, Nev sets out to uncover the truth.

Rating: 5 out of 10

If Catfish is real, it’s a 7. If it’s not, it’s a 3. So, I’m basically giving it a 5 because I’m not sure. Either way, it’s a well told documentary/mocumentary that had me very interested in its outcome. The lead up was boring as shit. Guy starts getting paintings that are supposedly from a young girl named Abby. He then starts corresponding with several members of her family and develops an online romance with one of them. It keeps escalating and escalating until the guy starts to notice things don’t add up and starts to investigate while his brother documents the whole thing. As in other reviews, I will not tell you what happened except to say that the ending is done in a satisfying way. There are no weird killings or bullshit like that. It’s just a story about how people communicate and hook up in the digital age and how things are not always what they seem.

By the way, I looked into this film to see if it’s real and the two brothers that made it swear up and down that it is. I have no evidence to state otherwise but I have my suspicions that it isn’t.

The Aristocrats

More than 100 funny people (including big stars and lesser-known talents) tell the same raunchy vaudeville joke — with about 100 different results — in director-comedian Paul Provenza’s outrageously potty-mouthed documentary. Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the unabashedly uncensored film catches a wide swath of comedians, writers and intellectuals at their casually comic best.

Rating: 9 out of 10

I rarely laugh this hard at anything, but I couldn’t help myself with “The Aristocrats.”

It’s a simple joke: A guy goes into a talent agency and says, “Have I got an act for you!” Fill in the rest with anything disgusting and crass, then end with the agent saying, “That’s horrible! What do you call it?” To which the guy says, “The Aristocrats.”

This is an inside baseball kind of documentary that gives us a glimpse into a joke told by generations of comedians who have tried to one-up each other by improvising some of the most disgusting jokes you’ve ever heard. This is not a documentary for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely brillitant in its simplicity. It’s got some great moments from some of comedy’s best, such as Robin Williams, Lewis Black, Sarah Silverman and the late and amazing George Carlin. This is a flick for people who like stand-up comedy and don’t mind filthy humor. Perhaps the filthiest you’ll ever hear.