Taking a break from seeing the news by going on a documentary binge is like flying to Miami to obtain away from the sun. Two of these movies depressed the hell out of me. Among them left me sad, upset and inspired. All of them deserve your time.
Casting JonBenet This Netflix original has to do with a group of stars auditioning for a movie based on the unsolved murder of JonBenét Ramsey. The movie does not exist, naturally, and the result is a heavy-meta, hall-of-mirrors approach to one of the world’s most regrettable media circuses. One on hand, the actors’ multi-filtered accounts of accounts of accounts befit a case that has actually been chewed up by incompetence and speculation for 20 years. When they inevitably share their own brushes with abuse and death, the filmmakers’ point is clear: The only truth in the JonBenét legend depends on whatever it kicks up within us.
However this motion picture develops an echo chamber that’s dismaying and suspect. Actors wax about why they’re right for this or that function, pre-teen starlets attempt to eat cookies while getting painted up and sprayed down, and somewhere off in the near-distance, the band uses.
Danger If details is useless in the Ramsey case, it’s the only thing of value for Julian Assange. In Risk, shot from 2010 to the present by Laura Poitras, the Academy Award-winning documentarian behind Citizenfour, Assange stockpiles it like water during the armageddon– pushing a smartphone and digital recorder to the same ear, meeting with an attorney while crouching in the bushes (and still looking over this shoulder), snapping photos through the curtains of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has actually been trapped given that 2012. The film begins as a profile of a worthy, semi-chic whistleblower. (Woman Gaga pays him a check out.) But things get muddy when he sizes up a series of sexual-assault allegations as a “feminist” conspiracy. They get worse when James Comey recommends the Russians utilized WikiLeaks to influence in 2015’s election.
Assange comes off as unlikable throughout, however is he a misogynist hypocrite who colluded with the Russians, or a problematic man of concept? Threat cannot respond to these question, as its story’s still being informed. Besides, you’re too preoccupied with scarier ideas, like how services are typically worse than the issue, and why individuals owned by exceptional values typically trigger the worst damage.
I Am Not Your Negro Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this essay on race in America is based upon notes for James Baldwin’s Remember This Home, an unfinished book about the assassinations of Medgar Evars, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.– all good friends of Baldwin. Perhaps it’s since the last civil liberties drama I watched was the rather gussied-up Hidden Figures, but this early-’60s video footage of excellent ol’ young boys waving Confederate flags and spitting on black high-school trainees feels more disgusting than ever.
Unlike the tales of Julian and JonBenét, Negro is an incentive, not a deterrent. Baldwin– his presence unflinching, his voice in total command– understands he is not the issue. “I am not a ni ** er, I am a guy,” he states in a TV interview. “But if you think I am a ni ** er, that suggests you need it, and you’ve got to learn: Why?” The future of this country will forever hold on that question.