As you all know, I love to watch TV. Some may think I’m lazy, but I hustle pretty hard the rest of the day, so when it comes to watching TV, it’s usually part of my “unwinding” process. That doesn’t mean I watch TV all evening or even all weekend. But I definitely love finding a series or a movie that I can really lose myself in. Which is what it’s all about for me – the ability to be somewhere else for an hour or two. When I was younger, I would submerge myself into books, and now it’s other forms of entertainment. All of that said, I’d like to introduce you to some really great documentaries on Netflix right now.
There are a lot of documentaries out there about cults, but Holy Hell goes deep in order to tackle this particular subject. The film is from Will Allen, who documents his own personal experience as a member of the Buddhafield cult for 22 years. What makes this particular documentary so fascinating is the fact that Allen served as the group’s official videographer, so there’s a bounty of footage from inside the cult that is contextualized with present-day interviews from former members. Holy Hell does a great job of exploring why people get entranced by cult leaders, and how their own personal experiences make them more vulnerable and likely to stick it out.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
During the making of the 1999 film Man on the Moon, actor Jim Carrey made the decision to go full-method into the character of Andy Kaufman. In fact, he asked a few of Kaufman’s real-life friends to help document the experience – filming Carrey both on and off set during the difficult shoot. But Universal Pictures actually prevented the footage from ever getting released, for fear that people would think that Carrey was acting like a jerk. That said, Jim & Andy unearths this footage for the very first time. The film is an introspective look at Carrey’s life and career and what makes him tick. It’s clear that the Man on the Moon experience had a profound effect on Carrey’s life, and forever changed how he saw things.
Ava DuVernay follows up her acclaimed film Selma with a documentary that looks at the mass incarceration of minorities following the passage of the 13th amendment. As the documentary points out, it’s not just ingrained cultural racism that results in the widespread incarceration of African-Americans and other minorities. There’s a financial incentive as well, and it’s good business to lock people up. 13th systematically goes through the decades following the passage of the 13th amendment to show how black people were targeted by the media, by the government, and by businesses to create a new form of slavery. It is a movie that will infuriate you, depress you, and hopefully spur you to action against a system that has done egregious harm to our fellow citizens.
The documentary Newtown is not an easy film to watch – nor should it be. But it is essential that you do watch it. The film is tactful, powerful and takes a look at how the community of Newtown, Connecticut came together in the aftermath of the largest mass shooting of school children, in American history. Not only that but its a deeply personal film that focuses on the parents, brothers, and sisters who were affected by the mass shooting. The film forces the viewer to confront the consequences of gun violence in an unflinching, almost overwhelmingly emotional manner.