198 Movies Like The Dark Knight (2008) (Page 13)

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This documentary is about a unique program in Chicago called CeaseFire whose sole aim is to stop violent deaths in poor urban areas. CeaseFire is staffed by ex-gang members and ex-convicts who try to intervene in conflicts in their community, particularly those that may escalate into extreme violence or death. In these neighborhoods though, violent conflict can result from something as minor as someone making a funky comment about someone else’s shoes. This makes total success for a project like CeaseFire nearly impossible. It is not a totally depressing film though as the program and its practitioners are all pretty amazing, and director Steve James (who made Hoop Dreams) has unparalleled access to these struggling communities.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Amanda Palmer, Ameena Matthews, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, Steve James

Director: Steve James

Rating: Unrated

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The House I Live In is a truly exceptional documentary, directed and narrated by Eugene Jarecki, focused on America’s long-standing “War on Drugs”. Jarecki travels America to interview various individuals and families on both sides of the law, examining many personal experiences related to drug offenses, unjust legal policies and excessive incarceration. He further provides a fascinating historical account of the political and socioeconomic developments that brought about the formation of many depressed communities overrun by drug trade, as well as the interrelated political, legal and private-interest infrastructures that continue to both depend upon and profit from drug-related sentencing. An utterly stunning film that every American should see to truly understand all of the elements at play in the ongoing prohibition against drugs in America.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Barack Obama, Betty Chism, Bill Clinton, David Simon, Dennis Whidbee, Eugene Jarecki, George H. W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John McCain, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mark W. Bennett, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King Jr., Michelle Alexander, Nancy Davis Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Nannie Jeter, Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Rudolph Giuliani

Director: Eugene Jarecki

Rating: Not Rated

A very cool documentary about old ladies living in a forbidden zone near Chernobyl. They just came back to their homes in the "stalker zone" few years after the accident and kept living their lives care-free for a staggering 30 years. All of them seem healthy and they love telling jokes. It's a completely different view on this zone and you just find yourself full of admiration for these old ladies for their will and humorous way of living despite the circumstances. Home is home after all.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Anne Bogart, Holly Morris

Rating: Not Rated

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Ever since the premier at the Toronto Film festival critics and viewers have been raving about this low-budget gem. A lot of people go as far as calling it a life-changing film, and rightfully so.  It tells the story of three people from different parts of the world who face new ethical problems caused by a change in their body: a blind photographer who finally gains sight; an animal rights activist whose newly diagnosed liver condition requires treatment that involves animal testing; and a man who, after having a kidney transplant, learns about the black market for organ trade. The title refers to the paradox that asks if all parts of a ship are replaced, does it stay the same ship? A beautiful intellectual exercise.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aida El-Kashef, Aida Elkashef, Aishwarya, Aishwarya Bhaskar, Aydah El-Kashef, Faraz Khan, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Vinay Shukla, Yogesh Shah

Director: Anand Gandhi

Rating: Not Rated

On par with the best documentaries of the 21st Century thus far, “Requiem for the American Dream” is an essential viewing for the discerning viewer in search of a more complete understanding of how American society has evolved to such a dramatic point of polarization, and how both politics and big business have played a role in this process. In his introductory remarks to the film, celebrated intellectual and linguistics professor Noam Chomsky expounds: “Inequality has highly negative consequences on society as a whole, because the very fact of inequality has a corrosive, harmful effect on democracy.” Chomsky spells out his perspective regarding the modern political machine and the downfall of democracy, with a keen eye to the historical decisions and influences that have sabotaged the “common good” and shaped America’s current political, financial and social landscape.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Noam Chomsky

Director: Jared P. Scott, Kelly Nyks, Peter D. Hutchison

Rating: Not Rated

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A beautiful and subtle masterpiece exploring the life of Alike, a teen in Brooklyn navigating her identity as a gay black girl. Caught between the traditional world of her family and the butch and sexual world of her friend who has already come out, director Dee Rees allows the audience to see the trials and tribulations of Alike's attempts to be comfortable and sure of herself.  It's a moving and raw coming-of-age story with many characters in the film being quite lovable and relatable making it easy for the viewer to become attached.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aasha Davis, Adepero Oduye, Afton Williamson, Charles Parnell, Jeremie Harris, Joey Auzenne, Kim Sykes, Kim Wayans, Ozzie Stewart, Pernell Walker, Raymond Anthony Thomas, Rob Morgan, Sahra Mellesse, Samuel Encarnacion, Shamika Cotton, Stephanie Andujar, Zabryna Guevara

Director: Dee Rees

Rating: R

Last Days in Vietnam is a documentary that recounts the final weeks of the conflict in 1975, as North Vietnamese forces surged toward Saigon and U.S personnel anxiously awaited word of an evacuation plan. At the time, U.S. Ambassador Graham Martin was reluctant to accept defeat, and delayed a U.S. withdrawal in his (rapidly diminishing) hopes that a solution could be reached. Once the fall of Saigon became imminent, U.S. diplomatic, military and intelligence personnel were left piecing together a bare bones plan to escape via military helicopter support. The moral dilemma they soon faced was the harsh reality of leaving behind so many South Vietnamese citizens who had supported the American effort—many of whom faced likely imprisonment and/or death. Featuring remarkable footage and first-hand accounts from many involved, the film recounts those final days of chaos and confusion in stunningly dramatic fashion. Director Rory Kennedy has put together a gripping and emotionally compelling film that balances broad historical exposition with concise detail related to the evacuation complexities—all of it punctuated by remarkable examples of bravery and heroism.

Genre: Documentary, War

Actor: Henry Kissinger, Juan Valdez, Richard Nixon, Stuart Herrington

Director: Rory Kennedy

Rating: Not Rated

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Hotel Salvation is a touching movie about a father asking his son for a last wish : let him die in the Holy city of Varanasi. This Indian drama will let you discover a modern Hindu philosophy, the power of the scenic Varanasi and the bonds of family. It faces the question of death in the light, gentle and humorous way that perfectly illustrates the contradiction in question: celebrating life while surrounded by death.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Adil Hussain, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Lalit Behl, Navnindra Behl, Palomi Ghosh

Director: Shubhashish Bhutiani

Rating: Not Rated

Producer/Director Beth Kargman has put together a wonderful documentary that follows six young ballet dancers to the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the most important of all ballet competitions worldwide. The prizes at the competition include awards of recognition, scholarships, and work with major dance companies. The dancers are in several age ranges and ethnicities. Michaela and her sister were adopted from Sierra Leone, where there was nothing but death and poverty waiting for them. Michaela has been told that blacks make unsuitable ballet dancers -- bad feet, too muscular, wrong build, etc. Zamora lives in New York, far away from his family, but his father tells him there is nothing for him in Colombia and he has to go after his dream. Rebecca is a cheerleader and a 'normal' kid whose passion is dance, and Aaron doesn't tell other kids he's a dancer. All of them have great talents, obvious from their dance routines at the Grand Prix. First Position is a very inspiring documentary about youngsters from different backgrounds and social status with the dream of dancing professionally, and the sacrifices they have made to achieve their goal. The dancing is heavenly; I only wish there had been more of it.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary, Drama

Actor: Aran Bell, Gaya Bommer Yemini, Joan Sebastian Zamora, Jules Jarvis Fogarty, Michaela Deprince, Miko Fogarty, Rebecca Houseknecht

Director: Bess Kargman

Rating: Not Rated

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A documentary that reveals just how insane the men that compete in the MotoGP are. It follows Valentino Rossi, one of the best riders of all-time if not the best, in a very pivotal season for him, 2010-2011. An in depth look into his competitiveness but also his passion for the sport and for the machines in it, it's the kind of portrait that will make you feel you know the subject in person. And when it's not focused on Rossi, it becomes a a real-life thrill fest of bike-mounted cameras of riders going at it at 200+mph.  A must-watch for gear-heads and uninitiated fans alike that plays with the idea that "if you want to win it all...you have to risk it all".

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies, Casey Stoner, Colin Edwards, Dani Pedrosa, Ewan McGregor, Jorge Lorenzo, Nicky Hayden, Valentino Rossi

Director: Mark Neale

Rating: Not Rated, PG-13

This documentary about the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church explores key questions around faith, justice, and forgiveness. It situates the massacre – which left nine African American churchgoers dead – within a bigger picture, with Emanuel being the first-ever freestanding black church in Charleston, a city in South Carolina with a highly charged racial history.

The film’s strengths lie in the stories of those who lost loved ones in the massacre, and the miraculous forgiveness some of the survivors offered the 21-year-old white supremacist responsible for the attack. Above all, it is a story about the power of faith.

Genre: Crime, Documentary, Drama

Actor: Dylann Storm Roof

Director: Brian Ivie

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Electrick Children is the debut film for director Rebecca Thomas and one of the most unique and visually stunning films I’ve seen in a while. This gem is about a teenager born and raised in a religious community who believes she has been impregnated with the son of God from a cassette tape she listened to. She decides to run away to neighboring Las Vegas in search of the real father, “the man who sings on the cassette tape.” Heavy stuff, man. Electrick Children is one of those films you see once and it stays with you. It deals with teenagers so delicately and accurately, depicting the butterflies, the excitement, the romance, the heartbreak, the trials and tribulations of this age and beyond. Its cinematography is hypnotizing and its soundtrack is divine (listen to Top of the Hill by Conduits on repeat and it’ll start to have an impact on your life.) Its plot is completely fresh and is able to grab and keep your attention from the first second until the very end. Watching this film made me want to go back in time and fall in love all over again. It made me feel lusty and gave me butterflies and made my heart flutter unlike any other film I’ve seen. You can’t pass this one up.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Bill Sage, Billy Zane, Cassidy Gard, Cynthia Watros, John Patrick Amedori, Julia Garner, Liam Aiken, Rachel Pirard, Rory Culkin

Director: Rebecca Thomas

Rating: R

Notorious comic artist Robert (R.) Crumb is definitely the most well-adjusted member of his immediate family. Fairly early in this documentary we are introduced to his two sibling brothers (mom is briefly viewed as well) and it becomes apparent that his childhood was less than rosy. Crumb and his brothers drew mind-blowing comics as an escape from their chaotic childhood, but it was only R. who would turn his talents into a means of permanent escape, while his oldest brother remains at home with his mom and never leaves the house, and his youngest brother is holed up in a seedy residence hotel and spends his days sitting on a bed of nails (I kid you not.) Whether or not you’re a fan of Crumb’s work, this is an amazing documentary about an eccentric individual and the world of underground comics.

Genre: Comedy, Documentary

Actor: Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb, Robert Crumb, Robert Hughes

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Rating: R

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City Island is a lighthearted comedy/drama about the Rizzo family, residents of the titular fishing community in The Bronx, New York. Andy Garcia plays the patriarch of the family who works as a corrections officer, and who decides one day to bring home a young ex-con named Tony under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Tony soon becomes entwined in the dysfunctional household as he develops varying relationships with each family member, even as each of them lives their own secret life apart from the rest. This secrecy drives much of the plot, as their personal mysteries play out in an unexpected and often amusing ways. It’s a lively slice-of-life full of boisterous characters, comedic misunderstandings and ultimately a warm embrace of family unity.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Alan Arkin, Andy Garcia, Bettina Bresnan, Carrie Baker Reynolds, Curtiss Cook, Dominik Garcia, Dominik Garcia-Lorido, Emily Mortimer, Ezra Miller, Hope Glendon-Ross, Jee Young Han, Julianna Margulies, Louis Mustillo, Louise Stratten, Lynn Collins, Marshall Efron, Matthew Arkin, Paul Diomede, Paul Romero, Rick Aiello, Sharon Angela, Steven Strait, Vernon Campbell

Director: Raymond De Felitta

Rating: PG-13

Incredible footage combined with a great soundtrack will keep you frozen in your seat until global warming melts you off (so to speak). Chasing Ice is about a National Geographic photographer who tries to capture a complete overview of what climate change is doing to our planet. Consequently this movie took years to make and countless technical issues had to be dealt with in order to record the time-lapse videos. The result is mesmerizing, and captures something that has never been caught on camera before. This movie is evidence of what our planet is going through that everyone can relate to. Be prepared to be charmed and saddened at the same time.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Dennis Dimick, James Balog, Jeff Orlowski, Kitty Boone, Louie Psihoyos, Svavar Jónatansson, Sylvia Earle

Director: Jeff Orlowski

Rating: PG-13

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