A few months ago I posted a list of the 25 films that I thought best represented America. Someone then suggested that I make a list of the documentaries that I thought best represented America, which I thought was a great idea. So after much consideration (because there are a lot of great documentaries about American culture), this is the list I came up with: the 10 documentaries that best capture the intricacies and complexities of American culture. If an alien came to America and needed a DVD primer on what we’re all about, these would be the documentaries I would suggest. (In chronological order…)
Salesman (1969): This Maysles Brothers
film about door-to-door Bible salesman is the quintessential portrait
of middle class American capitalism in all of its comedy, tragedy, and
ambition. It’s like Death of a Salesman except real. See also: Grey Gardens (1975).