Surfing the Video Vanguard

936full-searching-for-sugar-man-posterFrankly – I blame Michael Moore.

Since the turn of the century, documentaries have become big business at the box office. When Fahrenheit 9/11 exploded onto screens across the country in 2004 and raked in upwards of $100 million in ticket sales, Hollywood took sharp notice.

Unfortunately (or not, depending on your view), this set something of a template for future documentaries to come. More often than not, watching a documentary is akin to attending a lecture. If made well, a documentary can be a powerful medium to call attention to savage injustices, political corruption, sex scandals, environmental concerns, bad business practices, historical accounts and revelations, etc. This is all well, good, and necessary.

In 2008, a documentary called Man on Wire, about the man who walked on a high wire between the Twin Towers in New York, helped change things a little. Framed as a heist film, the…

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