Top Ten Must-See

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Top Ten  Documentaries

Must-See Movies—For What You Need to Know


Mind Over Money

Documentary Nova 2010 NR 52 minutes.   Discover the science behind making financial decisions with this thought-provoking Nova episode, which examines the reasons economists did not anticipate the 2008 economic meltdown and why individuals frequently manage their money so irrationally. Through a combination of expert interviews and real-life experiments, this program offers useful findings that reveal how the human mind typically processes economic activities.

Secret History of the Credit Card

Documentary Frontline 2004.   The average American family today carries eight credit cards. Credit card debt and personal bankruptcies are now at an all time high. With no legal limit on the amount of interest or fees that can be charged, credit cards have become the most profitable sector of the American banking industry: more than $30 billion in profits last year alone. Frontline and The New York Times examine how the credit card industry became so pervasive, so lucrative, and so politically powerful.

Maxed Out

Documentary 2006 NR 87 minutes.  With sobering facts, this thought-provoking documentary unveils the consequences of Americans’ collective addiction to plastic debt — including its contribution to the vanishing of a once-robust middle class. Investigating personal debt, the U.S. government’s out-of-control national debt and those who prey on the poor, this film explores the staggering financial burden people live with every day, which has driven some to extreme action.

The Last of His Tribe

Docudrama 1992 PG-13 91 minutes.  Decades after his entire tribe was slaughtered, the sole survivor of the attack, Ishi, (Graham Greene) comes out of hiding having lived for years in isolation. Anthropologist Alfred Kroeber (Jon Voight) learns of Ishi’s story and makes it his subject of study. Impressed with the man’s courage and eager to learn the tribe’s history, Kroeber takes Ishi in and devotes his research to finding out the truth. I came across this gem looking for movies on Native Americans. I am not ashamed to admit that I had no idea who Ishi was. Not only did this movie enlighten me to this interesting historical fact, it was well acted and very well directed. Graham Greene, who I am convinced can play any Native American on the planet, is heartbreakingly splendid in his role as Ishi. This story spans the four years these men spent together and manages to touch on the important points. The story of The Last of His Tribe docudrama is also told in the documentary Ishi, The Last Yahi.

Reel Injun

Documentary 2009 NR 85 minutes.  This engrossing documentary reveals the film industry’s effect on the experiences of North American native people in the United States and Canada, who’ve been depicted in movies in a variety of ways — many of them wildly inaccurate.

Dances with Wolves

Drama 1990 PG-13 236 minutes.  Wounded Civil War soldier John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) tries to commit suicide — and becomes a hero instead. As a reward, he’s assigned to his dream post, a remote junction on the Western frontier, and soon makes unlikely friends with the local Sioux tribe. This special edition of Costner’s Oscar-winning directorial debut features an extended cut of the film, an audio commentary from Costner, a behind-the-scenes featurette and more.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Docudrama 2007NR132 minutes.  A dark chapter of U.S. history comes to light in this epic saga of the U.S. government’s deliberate extermination of the American Indians. Beginning after the Sioux victory at Little Big Horn, the film traces the stories of three men: a Sioux doctor (Adam Beach), a lobbying senator (Aidan Quinn) and the Lakota hero Sitting Bull (August Schellenberg).  (Earned an Emmy Award for Best Made-for-Television Movie)

How the West Was Lost

Documentary 1993 three-volume set.  This compelling documentary explains how the American West was irretrievably lost to the indigenous people of North America. Witness the tragic plight of the Navajo, Nez Perce, Apache, Cheyenne, and Lakota tribes through their eyes and their words. Poignant recollections from Indian descendants, astonishing video, rare historical documents, and archival photographs are included in this.

Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music

Documentary 1970 R 224 minutes.  The director’s cut of Michael Wadleigh’s Oscar-winning documentary restores footage snipped from the original 1970 release. With the help of a young editor named Martin Scorsese, Wadleigh not only chronicles Woodstock’s memorable music and legendary artists, he also captures the festival’s dauntless free spirit. The presentation features live performances from, among others, Jimi Hendrix; the Who; Janis Joplin; and Crosby, Stills and Nash.

The Miracle Worker

Docudrama 1962 NR 106 minutes.  A bout with scarlet fever has rendered Helen Keller (Patty Duke) blind, deaf and mute. When her parents can no longer cope with the feral girl’s tantrums, they call in inexperienced but innovative teacher Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft). Though Helen perceives sign language as a finger game, Annie’s unflagging tutelage ultimately awakens in her charge the concept of words. Bancroft (Best Actress) and Duke (Supporting Actress) won Oscars for their work.

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Must-See Movies—For What You Need to Know