A friend of mine tipped me off about filmmaker Errol Morris back in school, and I really loved The Thin Blue Line, his documentary exploring the (wrongful as it turns out) conviction of a man for killing a Texas police officer. I was curious about what other movies he has made, and thus I came across his amazing first movie Gates of Heaven. It investigates the phenomenon of pet cemeteries in California in the late 1970's.
On the surface it can be entertaining to see how obsessed these people are with their pets, one of those damn-those-people-are-strange documentaries, yet this movie is much more than that. It shows how and why pets create meaning in people's lives, and also how the process of production, business management, and consumerism coincides with that creation of meaning.
There's a cool Werner Herzog connection to the movie. He was an acquaintance of Errol Morris, and made a bet that he would cook and eat his shoe if Morris actually completed Gates of Heaven. When he finished it, he followed through on his obligation and ate his shoe.
Check out the movie, it's a great one. Here's a video of some clips from the movie, and a clip from a documentary about Herzog eating his shoe.