Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Netflix (and Amazon) Documentary Hits and Misses Vol. 18 (May 2016)

Recently Netflix and Amazon added a crap ton of new docs and seriously it has been a spoils of riches. Instead of giving in and watching something that has been gathering dust bunnies in my queue, I have been voraciously hoarding new titles: Some great...some not. Plus, I'm in between binge series, so tell me what I need to watch next! [Tangent: I just finished Difficult People on Hulu last night, so will take suggestions on my next must-see.]

Miss Representation (Netflix)- B+/A-
This is a movie that I probably watched some version of in my media studies classes in college. It focuses a lot on how skewed portrayals of women are in TV Music and Movies and how that can skew our perceptions and carry them into our own lives. It also shows how underrepresented women truly are. I know that sounds generic, and not maybe "new info", but I consider myself pretty educated on these matters and was still taken aback by a lot of the statistics. The whole doc is well-constructed and compelling for men and women. [Tangent: I really can't stand when things hide under the guise of feminism and are just anti-men propaganda, but this film states that we are all somewhat to blame for stereotyping.]

Nintendo Quest (Amazon Prime Streaming)- A
Okay. This movie is definitely not for everyone. However, I have a superhuman sense of nostalgia and I enjoy any doc based on a challenge [Tangent: Some of my favorites are My Date with Drew and Craigslist Joe.], so a movie about some nerdy  Canadians trying to compile all 676 original Nintendo games in 30 days with no Internet help is a perfect fit.  I watched it with my collector and completist boyfriend and enjoyed it. Maybe it's because I could see Jamie doing something life this. Sure, my family only had maybe 4 NES games in the late 80's, but I still loved seeing all the titles and learning about them. I truly started to root for this guy and get mad at the adversaries he met along the way!
I am Road Comic (Netflix)- C+
My problem with this one is the same issue I have with a lot of docs featuring comics, they just aren't as funny as you hope.  [Tangent: I know that's not completely fair to hold them to a different standard than you would the Lisa Lings and Morgan Spurlocks of the world..but it happens!] If they have a lot of heart or are informative or compelling, you trade that element for the belly laughs [Tangent: You see that in amazing nonfiction like Tig or Sleepwalk with Me.] The concept was a good one: follow the everyday life of a touring comedian, but unfortunately it has been done...and done better. I would recommend you watch The Comedians of Comedy or SuperHigh Me instead and get that feel in a more entertaining package. I will give it kudos though for getting some funny insights from Nikki Glaser, TJ Miller, Pete Holmes, Judah Friedlander and Doug Benson...but it needed more focus.

Addicted to Sexting (Netflix)- D-
This one was the worst. I thought it would go one of two routes: funny and light or like a 20/20 expose. Either of these options I am 100% down for.  It was neither. It was like they assembled this mishmash of sexting pundints and talking heads, and they were all awful- from the "comedians" to the porns. [Tangent: There was an older woman in a floppy hat that I can only assume wandered in off the street because she was offered free coffee and donuts in exchange for her commentary about nudie text messages.]  It was somewhere between a Cinemax after 11 PM series and something they would show in a health class. Like trying really hard to be informative, sexy and funny and succeeding in none of these arenas. I couldn't even finish it.

A Ballerina Tale (Netflix)- A

My only complaint with this documentary is that I wish I went into it knowing nothing about Misty Copeland, but I have seen her profiled and interviewed on several programs; so it was less new info and more just broadening the scope. Even if you are not hugely interested in ballet [Tangent: I mean...I have seen Center Stage 42x, but that hardly makes me an expert.], I think it's fascinating. Misty is the first black ballet principle dancer for a major company (not only in the US...but anywhere in the world). It seems baffling that so many niche past times take so long to be fully inclusive. It's a very easy watch and Misty is so damned likeable that you will be overjoyed that she is broadening the white WASP-y world of ballet. 

That Gal Who Was in that Thing (Netflix)- C

 After I just discussed a great woman-centric doc in Miss Representation, I am gonna make a controversial statement- this documentary was not as good as the male equivalent That Guy Who Was in that Thing. [Tangent: That's not sexism...those are the facts.] I'm not sure if it's because I saw the other first (and the idea was novel) or because half of the women featured in this movie about character actors have played a TV role (on a popular show) for over 5 years. Paget Brewster was a lead character on Criminal Minds for years and the mom from 7th Heaven was one of the other women profiled. In the original doc, it focused more, or at least it seemed, on actors who played bit roles in movie and TV and had for years, to the point where they looked familiar, yet hard to place.

So what next? 

I love the messages I get at all hours with your thoughts and recommendations! 

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