Monday, January 16, 2017

Netflix Documentary Hits & Misses Vol. 23 (January 2017 Edition)

 New year means new crop of documentaries popping up on Netflix. [Tangent: Seriously, when I got back from my new years trip to the mountains, checking what was new on Netflix was priority one...OK... maybe priority 2, because my mother just got a squatty potty...so trying that out was priority uno! Turns out it throws off my balance. Dreams can be shattered, turns out.] Am I watching the OA? No. Am I watching a film about the masking community, even though I've already seen it before when it appeared on TLC? 100%.

So what does that say about me as a person? Wait, don't answer that.  OK, lets just dig in. Shall we? This month was an embarrassment of riches.

Pervert Park- A-
This movie about a trailer park in Florida designed for recovering sex offenders will be a hard watch. You've been warned, but even still- it's deeply engrossing.  One by one you meet the residents and hear their stories, many of whom are victims of sexual assault themselves. Their stories are heartbreaking and will probably make you cringe or cry. Instead of making these men (and women) out to be monsters, it treats them respectively and helps you see how and why they got to the point of doing such unspeakable crimes. The woman's story especially will make you cringe and maybe cry. After getting this recommendation from several people, I'm glad I took them up on it.

Men in Rubber Masks- A
So you know when you watch something and you immediately have to send out a group text to make sure what you experienced was not a mirage or a fever dream. That's how I feel about this 47 minute documentary that will make you wish it was doubly long. Once I queued this up, I realized that I had seen it before on TLC under a different name, but quickly fell into its powerful vinyl grasp once again. The movie is about the masking community, grown men who transform living dolls, complete with vacant unmoving faces and skin that feels like a balloon. It also profiled a family who made their living making these weird anatomically correct bodysuits. It's a quick watch and will definitely open your eyes to something new. I rank it with Animism and My Monkey Baby, as far as short movies about weird subcultures that you wished would be much much longer. It's something you can't unsee...so take that into consideration.

Miss Sharon Jones!- A+
In a life I try to lead without regrets,  I deeply regret never seeing Sharon Jones perform live. My boyfriend is a huge fan and had been trying to make that happen for years. As I'm told (and as this movie suggests), its a transformative experience. [Tangent: He saw this doc at Belcourt by himself and sobbed.] If you know nothing about this wild force of nature (aka Miss Sharon Jones), prepare to fall deeply in obsessive love with her. Sharon Jones was a badass singer who didn't become famous until her mid to late 40's and made the oft dated-sounding soul and Motown-tinged music sound currently hip and extremely relevant. That, in itself, would make for a fascinating enough documentary, but this film has the added layer of her releasing her most successful album while trying to kick the ass of a cancer diagnosis. The film will take your face from silly grin to openly weeping...and you will want to dance the whole while. I sincerely couldn't recommend this one any more. Prepare to become a fan. 

Best and Most Beautiful Things- B+
I was super excited to see this movie after reading the very brief synopsis on one of those "Movies coming to Netflix in January" posts, then I realized it had only 2 stars on streaming. I felt a little like the air had been let out of my tires, but have learned that sometimes my tastes differ from the masses. The premise [Tangent:...and hell, even the cover...] of a it intrigued me because it was about a 20-year-old girl (Michell) with Asperger's who is blind and her struggle to become an adult and find herself. [Tangent: In the first 5 minutes you see her watching Daria and singing Kacey Musgraves in the shower...so I knew I would like this girl!] The whole movie is pretty successful in showing her in this weird transition between being a child and an adult and her struggle to get be independent and successful, and one I could have related to when I was in my early 20s. As much as I love seeing a small story examined and a life profiled, it meandered at times and there were parts I wanted to explore more [TANGENT: There is a big ol' scandalous twist thrown in pretty near the end that I was surprised wasn't the premise the whole movie hinged on!], but overall I thought it was a beautifully done study on several years in this woman's life.

Aspergers Are Us- A+
As you may have guessed by the prior review, if there if there is a disability doc showing up in my feed, I'm GOING to watch it post haste...so when I hear the premise is about a group of young men with Aspergers who form a comedy troupe- I'm all in.  I had heard about this doc before and it is produced by the Duplas brothers which I found intriguing. [Tangent: I am a big fan of The League and have seen several of their other projects like the weirdo horror movie Creep, so I was intrigued to see how a documentary would be tackled.] 10 minutes in and Jamie and I had already picked out favorite our favorite comedians of the bunch. Having known aspies in my real life, [Tangent: I lived with a girl with Aspergers in college] I am always fascinated with this diagnosis. It was commendable that the film was such that they were treated respectfully and realistically and not condescended to. THIS IS HUGE! Highly recommend. 

13th- A
I feel like everyone I know who is interested in social justice has posted on social media or told me about this movie. I've even seen events popping up around town where there is a Q and A or panel following it, so I figured it is a crucial must watch. As you've probably noticed from these reviews, I often opt for the lighter docs, but truthfully- this is an important one even though it will make you feel awful. The concept is basically what it means to be black in America today and how they were often set up for failure by society (whether it be through laws, the media and just culture in general) following the emancipation of slaves and the 13th amendment (hence the title). I try to stay really informed with sociology and have studied race in the media, so I thought I knew it all. I DID NOT. This movie is incredibly well put together and if you think racism is over or that we are all treated equally- watch this movie.

See! So many good ones! What should I watch next month? I already am destined to watch Deprogrammed, because well...CULTS! What else should I add to the docket!

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