I’ve decided to do monthly wrap-ups of the new-to-me TV/films I’ve watched over a month. I recently got Netflix so the amount of stuff I’m properly watching, rather than just having Law & Order on in the background, has risen exponentially, especially as I’ve been too tired to read in the evenings much this month. So, in the order I watched them:
13th (2016) documentary, Netflix
Holy shit this is amazing. Not only is it an incredibly important film about mass incarceration in the US, and its roots in slavery, but it’s incredibly well put together. It’s tightly edited, interesting, informative, and has some really affecting sections, particularly the scenes with Trump speaking at one of his campaign rallies over old footage of black people people pushed and beaten on the street, and the montage of black men killed by police filmed on mobile phones. Ava DuVernay is a genius. This is the best thing I watched this month and I urge to seek it out.
Valley Uprising (2014) documentary, Netflix
This is a documentary about the history of climbing in Yosemite. I used to climb a lot when I was younger, but nowhere near the level of these guys. I loved watching Alex Honnold, who free solos (climbing alone without a rope) at unbelievable heights in a way that looks soothingly effortless, and incredibly tense when you remember just how high he is. It was an enjoyable easy watch – not great but enjoyable enough.
Audre & Daisy (2016) documentary, Netflix
Focusing on two teenage girls who were raped while passed out drunk at parties, this documentary looks at the aftermath of online bullying, disbelief by the police and the community, and mental health. Though the stories and their wider implications are important, and need to be talked about more, I don’t think this was a great film. Some of the editing was a bit clunky, and it just didn’t go into the kind of depth or push the police interviewees as much as I wanted. Probably a doc to watch if you’re not already quite familiar with the subject.
Orange is the New Black (seasons 1-4) series, Netflix
I’m very late to this party but I binge-watched all of this and really enjoyed it. Obviously Piper’s story is the least interesting, but I like that the writers seem to mostly use her as a way into the prison and as a connecting thread, and tell other people’s stories, with increasing focus on other people.
Hidden Figures (2017) film, cinema
This was brilliant. As well as highlighting the often forgotten contribution of these black women to the space program, it’s just a really enjoyable film with a great soundtrack. I know they’ve messed with the timelines and used some broad brush strokes in adapting the book, but it’s great and I can see why it’s the highest grossing of all the best picture oscar nominees. I really want to read the book now to get the fuller, more nuanced picture.
Dear White People (2014) film, Netflix
I kept hearing a lot about this film due to the series coming out soon, and all the white people freaking out about it. I though it was great – it’s funny in a smart way and, as well as racism, is about finding your identity and others’ perceptions of that identity. I’m looking forward to the series.
Under The Shadow (2016) film, Netflix
This is a really smart Iranian horror movie. You could watch it as a fairly straightforward paranormal horror, but, set in 1980s Tehran, it’s also about the trauma and intense anxiety of living through a war. The boundaries between the real and the supernatural are seamless enough in the beginning that I didn’t think there would be any real ‘spirit’ elements at all. I was quite tired when I watched it so I saw it with English dubbing rather than subtitles, which I don’t recommend. The voiceover actress wasn’t great so some of the emotion was lost. Definitely watch it, but watch it with the original voices and subtitles.
3% (2016) series, Netflix
This is a Brazilian dystopian YA series which was enjoyable enough but I wanted it to say something more/wider. It clearly has a fairly low budget but does a lot with what it has, probably because it’s directed by César Charlone. I will check out season two if/when it’s released, and is another one to watch with subtitles rather than dubbing.