I had a lot of downtime the past week and much of the time was spent catching up on my Netflix documentary backlog. As a genre, I’d have to say that documentaries are my favorite movies. Must see docs are far and few between, and their consumption in movie theaters are next to none, thus, I now rely on home delivery to see most. I watched quite a few the past week and wanted to share a few Rapid Reviews so anybody with a doc bug like me can pick and choose and see something they’ll want to watch. All are available on Netflix.
Murder in the Park
A documentary about an accused wrongly imprisoned and the right person then being put in jail with the help of college student journalists at the behest of their professor. Well, maybe, maybe not, then again, maybe or maybe not. Murder in the Park does a fantastic job of bringing together claims, facts, claims, and those that tackle them and brings forth validity of the claims. It’s one of the better crime docs I’ve seen in a while. I don’t want to go into specifics as to not spoil anything. I highly recommend it.
Every city has a legend of a serial child abductor and killer. Few of them have any basis for truth. In Cropsey, the urban legend isn’t just based on tales handed down from generation to generation. Cropsey is real. What part is reality and what part is myth? Cropsey is a decent doc. It could have been better because it sometimes has a hard time figuring out what type of doc does it want to be? A little more focus could make it better, but I’m not disappointed that I watched it. I recommend it.
The Barkley Marathons
Why? I’m not sure why The Barkley Marathons exist. The guy who created them doesn’t look like a marathon runner. He looks like a hillbilly hippie who gets enjoyment out of punishing people who participate in his 100 mile race/hike. The doc is interesting. I immediately wanted to know why people would participate. This history of the event is covered well. The drive behind those competing is covered well. I’m still left with “why,” which is ok. I don’t have to have a clear understanding as to “why.” Seeing the people who, at least, completed the “fun run” gives me enough to know that I wouldn’t want to participate. My legs wouldn’t like me very much. I recommend it.
This doc is something that hits home with me. I was an athlete growing up. My parents always wanted me to play sports, but I was never pushed. I was left to choose my own direction. In Trophy Kids, that’s not how it is. Well, not really. The parents are overbearing, selfish, irrational, and bordering on evil for some. There are four sets of kids and parents. When Trophy Kids was finished, I disliked all but one of the overbearing parents. You get aggravated watching it and emotions are something a movie is supposed to elicit. You’re supposed to feel emotions, good and bad, and Trophy Kids does this amazingly. Hearing the narrator, I knew he sounded familiar. The director is Chris Bell who made Bigger Stronger Faster, which is one of the best docs ever made. I highly recommend it.
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine
We know a lot about Steve Jobs. There isn’t much we don’t know. Alex Gibney, who made one of my most favorite docs, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, helms the best put together history of Jobs to date. He covers all aspects of Jobs’ life and doesn’t hold back from the asshole part of him… which is a big part. You’re left admiring, and hating, Jobs. You have respect fro his drive, vision, and how he wanted to change the world, but then you’re left hating him for some of those very same reasons you respect him because of the ways he went about trying to achieve them. Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, inspires you and gives you a blueprint of how not to be in life at the same time. I highly recommend it.
I don’t know what the Higgs Boson is. I’ve read about it many times and I still can’t grasp what it is. The large Hadron Collider was designed to see if it actually exists and what it’s characteristics are. Unfortunately, Particle Fever doesn’t answer that question for me. The doc has a very hard time figuring out what the doc is about. Is it about the people? Is it about the search? Is it about the LHC? To its hinderance, Particle Fever tries to be about them all and never really gives the viewer a complete insight into any of those. I wanted to know more than what the doc presented. There really wasn’t enough of the “Fever” in the title for my liking. I don’t recommend it.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Werner Herzog is hit or miss in documentaries. He’s actually a better dramatic director. Cave of Forgotten dreams is about a long lost, and meticulously preserved cave, by nature, that has wall paintings that are tens of thousands of years old. While the cave is interesting to see, not much is drawn beyond that. There’s some hypothesis’s about the meanings, but not much beyond that. The big draw for Cave of Forgotten Dreams was its 3D when it was released in theaters, but I didn’t get a chance to see it. It’s considered one of the best, if not the best, 3D movie ever shot. Seeing it on Netflix you lose one of it’s biggest draws. After watching it, I think that it was it’s only draw. I don’t recommend it unless you get it in 3D.
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
Al Gore made the internet, right? No, he didn’t. Lo and Behold does a good job with the history of the internet as well as where we are headed. The commentary by the interviewees gives some great insight into where the internet is headed. The doc does deviate sometimes where it shouldn’t, such as AI, and Mars, and hurts the momentum of the doc a tiny bit, but it doesn’t ruin it. Lo and Behold is informative, and, as someone who’s on the internet all-day every-day, I enjoyed it. I recommend it.
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists
We’ve all heard of Anonymous, the “hacking” group. We Are Legion is a telling of the history of the “organization” and its members. The doc does a great job of telling the history, both positive and negative, and presents it in a linear way and is easy to follow. There were parts of Anonymous that I wasn’t aware of, such as their importance in the Egyptian uprising. They were surprisingly important. I had a good understanding about the group before the doc. After We Are Legion, I’m with more information and better insight into Anonymous. You’re left with an understanding of the member makeup in the organization. They’re all different. Some are cool. Some are tools. The one thing I’m left questioning is, is/was Anonymous good for society, or were/are they bad? Are they both? I highly recommend it.