Reviews: 'The Social Dilemma' and 5 other documentaries you should watch on streaming
There is lots of buzz surrounding the new Netflix documentary, "The Social Dilemma," but there are actually several additional documentaries - four in particular - worth seeking out on streaming...all of which are currently available or will be available in the coming week.
Here's our reviews of all of them, and when/where you can locate them:
"The Social Dilemma"
There might be no other documentary this year that - pardon the pun - "connects" with the audience in such a profound way. This Netflix documentary includes interviews with many of the top, former executives at the major social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., as they pull back the curtain on how social media works - and its intended, ultimate purpose - and the results are shocking and terrifying.
The film uses dramatization in part, and at first it's a bit jarring and corny but ends up serving a purpose...it shows in no uncertain terms just how radical fringe groups on the right and left can fester and grow, and the disastrous affects social media AI (Artificial-Intelligence) is perpetuating the problem. Like many of the greatest inventions and innovations throughout history that have propelled mankind forward, there is almost always an ugly underbelly when the technology isn't used for the intended purpose, or it's somehow manipulated for personal gain or power.
But what's going on now is different than anything else that has ever occurred, and "The Social Dilemma" does a tremendous job of furthering our understanding of how this new world works...if you are not buying a product, you are the product.
"The Social Dilemma" is now available on Netflix.
There is a little-talked about battle going on in our country dealing with public lands (think national parks, waters, etc), the conservation of which has been a part of the fabric of American life. But more than just that, the intrusion on public lands for purposes of corporate wealth is threatening several communities, some who live off of and have relied on these lands for generations.
The film narrows in on a few specific situations, and it really connects on a personal level, despite the topic feeling somewhat dry to those who live on the coasts who may not see this problem as an immediate issue.
"Public Trust" is calling for advocacy instead of just "interest" in preserving these lands, and makes the case for why we all should be invested in saving them. It's a beautiful documentary, and an important one.
"Public Trust" will premiere on YouTube on September 25th, 2020.
"Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story"
The entire "stunt" wing of Hollywood has long been over-looked (how is there not a stunt-work Oscar category???), let alone a sub-set within this wing. In "Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story," the brave women who have put themselves in harm's way since the Golden Age of Hollywood are celebrated.
Instead of getting a definitive history of women's role in the field of stunt work, this film features a few of the best that are still living, as they regale stories from their earlier days to some of the young women currently at the forefront of the industry. For example, the film makes mention of a few of the early (silent film) stunt actresses, but we don't get a linear explanation of the occupation from its origins up until today. But what this doc leaves out as far as history, it makes up with several very entertaining behind-the-scenes stories from some of our favorite movies and TV shows of the last half-century.
Michelle Rodriguez - no stranger to stunts with her role in the "Fast & Furious" franchise - co-produced this film and appears in several of the scenes discussing stunts. It's great that these women are finally being heralded, and I think most casual movie-goers will enjoy this documentary, even if won't necessarily change your life.
Available on AppleTV, Amazon, Vudu, GooglePlay, Hoopla, Fandango Now, Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum, Cox and Charter.
"All In: The Fight for Democracy"
File "All In: The Fight for Democracy" in the category of film that every single American should see. It centers on the most important topic of our time, voter suppression, told with the story of Stacey Abrams as its backdrop. Abrams was narrowly defeated in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race by Republican Brian Kemp, who just so happened to also be the politician in control of voting in Georgia.
History repeats itself, and real change has only occurred after times of real struggle...this hot-button doc makes a strong case that the time is NOW for ALL Americans to stand up and be heard...this isn't just an urgent matter but a vital one for the preservation of our democracy.
"All In: The Fight for Democracy" is available on Amazon Prime Video on September 18th, 2020.
"The Way I See It"
If a picture is worth a thousand words, than White House Staff Photographer Pete Souza is the world's most prolific author. This mesmerizing documentary chronicles Pete's time as the man responsible for chronicling history through his camera lens, during his time in the job under Ronald Reagan and then Barack Obama.
Photojournalism is often overlooked, and this film is a great reminder of how important and impactful the still image can be. Also in the case of Souza's work, how it humanizes the Presidents he covered, and how he captured candid, personal moments with unrestricted access to the most powerful person in the world.
The movie is at its best when it focuses on Souza, his family and his approach to the job. It strays a bit towards the end as it shows Souza's transformation into the political arena as one of the biggest and most effective trolls of the Trump Presidency. Souza's Instagram account led to a book, in which he would match current moments in Trump's Presidency with jarring photos from the Obama administration, highlighting the stark contrasts in political approaches and styles between the two men.
Best of all though, "The Way I See It" has a call-to-action of its own: For the need of real human empathy to return to not only the political landscape, but to our country. Through photography, Souza was able to contextualize the weight of the oval office, giving each of us a choice as to which America we would like to see through our own lenses.
"The Way I See It" will have a limited release in portions of the country on September 18th, 2020, and will air on MSNBC on October 9th, 2020.
"You Cannot Kill David Arquette"
If you missed this documentary last month, or would rather escape from the slew of political documentaries on this list, "You Cannot Kill David Arquette" is a great diversion, and it's definitely worth the watch.
Click here for my full review.
"You Cannot Kill David Arquette" is available to rent or purchase on Amazon, iTunes, FandangoNOW, Google Play, Vudu, and more. You can rent the film on Vudu for $3.99 (SD) or on Amazon/FandangoNOW for $5.99 (HD). If you want to purchase the documentary, it’s available for $12.99 (SD) on FandangoNOW and Vudu and $14.99 (HD) on all of the aforementioned streaming platforms.
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