Docs good for what ails me these days

Maybe it's because Schwarzenegger or Stallone movies have lost their luster but I'm not so quick to brush off a documentary now.

As a teenager and young adult, I didn’t really care for documentaries. I craved that popcorn blockbuster movie that Hollywood always seems to be churning out.

Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s the realization that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly Stallone are crappy actors, but I’ve pulled the proverbial 180.

Not that I don’t like blockbuster movies still – as I recently saw and enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and loved it – it’s just that I’m more willing to watch a doc.

Sports channel ESPN has a fantastic documentary series (30 for 30) covering all manner of interesting topics from drug lord Pablo Escobar, slain Columbian player Andres Escobar and the growth and fall of soccer in Columbia and its relation to the drug trade, and the sports gambler Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

The Traveling World Community Festival was this weekend at Grand Forks Secondary School and again there were some good documentaries, although the documentary I saw, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, didn’t tickle my fancy as much as others I have seen in the past (page 8).

There have been others, including one of my all-time festival favourites, Soundtrack for a Revolution, documenting the American civil rights movement and the music and songs associated with it.

Unlike a Stallone or Arnold flick, documentaries don’t follow a formula (except for ones by Michael Moore).

They can be minutes or hours long and the subject matter varies.

Whether it’s civil rights or the documenting of Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians in their numerous efforts, the documentary really isn’t a mindless escape from reality but rather a slice of reality, food for thought.

As the No Boundaries Film Club said in its article about the festival last week, “Documentary films are meant to educate, inspire action … ”

While I might still enjoy the tale of a metal cyborg coming back in time to either thwart or aid an anti-technology resistance movement or the story of an old Italian boxer trying to give it another go, I also enjoy films that aren’t blockbuster material.

The amount of hair on my head is certainly decreasing with age but as I get older, it’s allowing me to be more open-minded as well.

– Karl Yu is editor of the Grand Forks Gazette