Sunday, May 10, 2020
Recently On...Netflix

Recently On...Netflix

More than ever we're watching shows and movies online, being stuck at home day in, day out - like Groundhog Day. Here are some interesting documentaries, films and tv shows I've watched on Netflix lately. Maybe you'll find something you like too.

All The Bright Places

This romantic teen-drama is based on the bestselling novel of the same name - about Violet and Theodore, who meet a bit how Rose and Jack meet in Titanic - Violet, potentially about to jump from a bridge, following the grief and loss of her sister, but saved by Theodore before it's too late. Both are struggling with deep emotional scars of their past, but find a sense of healing as they both fall in love with one another. It's an intense story to watch but beautifully done, giving a fresh, true-to-life perspective on the experience of mental illness, grief, and how this impacts relationships. For fans of The Fault In Our Stars or To All The Boys I Loved Before - you may enjoy this!

Miss Americana

I always love getting a behind-the-scenes experience into the life of an artist or a prolific celebrity. I'm not a massive Swift fan but I actually enjoyed this. The documentary delves into the many facets of Taylor Swift's career - from the big decisions and board meetings with her managers and publicists to her more vulnerable side and struggle with her body image. We see the ups and downs of her career in the late 2010s from that Kanye scandal to her dazzling tour costumes and her early rise to stardom as a determined and eager-to-please teenager. I found it to be a very honest look into one of the biggest female pop stars of today and the kind of challenges she faces on a day-to-day basis. If you enjoyed 5 Foot 2 about Lady Gaga, then you may like this too.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold

I stumbled across this and the name Joan Didion rung a bell, but I didn't know exactly much about her. This documentary was a revelation to me and exposed me to this hugely talented woman. Throughout, we delve into an archive of her essays, novels, and screenplays - where Didion provides us with observations on her personal experiences and state of mind. Directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne, The Center Will Not Hold explores a treasure trove of footage and spends time talking with Joan about her eventful life - from writing for Vogue to her life in California, the writing of her books and marriage to the writer, John Gregory Dunne. If you want to be inspired, this documentary does a great job of honoring Didion's impactful career in the world of literature and culture.

Living With Yourself

Paul Rudd plays Miles, fed up with his life, and on the brink of burn-out in work and his love life. Miles heads to a 'spa' where he is promised a new, improved version of himself. The procedure doesn't quite go to plan, and Miles ends up having to live with his clone whilst trying to maintain normality at work with his colleagues and at home with his wife. There are only about 8 episodes at about 30 minutes max so this is what you would call a 'binge' worthy series if you're that way inclined. I really enjoyed this series and found it both funny and entertaining. It was an interesting look at how we view the self, and the desire for self-improvement - a dark, satirical but weird and bizarre comedy - if you like Black Mirror, this will be right up your street.

Camino A Roma

Whilst on lockdown, I've been trying to learn as much about filmmaking as I can. If you've seen Roma by Alfonso Cuaron, then you may just be interested to see what goes into the production of the movie in this insightful documentary. I genuinely sometimes find behind-the-scenes features more interesting than the films themselves - I just love seeing the cameras, the actors, and production design, and everything that goes into making a film. We get to see how the director works on set, and lots of little details you wouldn't know from just watching the film. For example, a lot of the cast aren't experienced actors, the story is about Cuaron's childhood growing up and a lot of it is pure memory and not a lot of research. Fascinating and insightful, a must-watch for film buffs!

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator

What stings the most about this documentary is the ending, where viewers are told that Bikram, the man, and focus of this whole documentary, is still teaching students today. Bikram rose to fame in the '70s for his 26-pose hot yoga classes and teacher training, which catapulted him to dizzying heights of success, wealth, and power. Not the first to do so, Bikram uses his status and abuses it, and throughout the documentary, former students reveal they were sexually abused by him. I found it both fascinating and scary how people, ie. the students, were so swept up by it all that his behavior was ignored, even tolerated. A man who lives in contradiction, promoting a peaceful and healthy lifestyle through yoga but his actions don't reflect those values.

Feminists: What Were They Thinking?

This documentary was really moving and emotional for me. Directed by Johanna Demetrakas, she revisits photos from a 1977 book capturing women shedding cultural restrictions. We meet the women from the book over 40 years later, such as Jane Fonda and Michelle Phillips (The Mamas & The Papas) who talk about what it was like growing up a feminist and their careers in the arts, music, acting, comedy, literature and more. Though the documentary is made over 40 years since the photographs were taken and assembled for the book, what I found so emotional is that women are still fighting the same fight today. Initially, I found it a little despairing but also motivating and inspiring to continue pushing for change and gender equality.