Less But Better: Netflix Documentaries.

I have been trying to watch better television. Less crap and more interesting and engaging stuff. When I’ve got some mindless or repetitive work to do I like to watch TV. It is too easy to slip down the teen mom/E! news/Kardashian rabbit hole and it doesn’t do me any good. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch plenty of rubbish and if I’ve got half an hour to chill out I often do so with an episode of Friends or New Girl…but if I’m going to commit a couple of hours of time to watching something on the box then I’m trying to make better choices. Don’t mind me, just trying to be an adult over here. 

Rich and I watched this a couple of months ago. Full disclosure: I did not pick this one and wasn’t overly eager to watch it. BUT it was really good. Really fascinating and so educational. Obviously all documentaries have an agenda and this one is definitely against the US war on drugs but after watching how treating drug use as a criminal offence (as opposed to an illness of sociological problem) destroys lives it is easy to see why. This film was fascinating, engaging and thought provoking. We talked about it for ages afterward. I would give it 9/10. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 94%.

My choice this time. My brother and boyfriend were less than overjoyed to be subjected to this film last month…but they both enjoyed it! The Queen of Versailles is the story of a billionaire couple who set out to build the biggest private home in the United States inspired by the actual Versailles. This film definitely appeals to one’s voyeuristic side and some scenes are jaw dropping. As the recession hits and everything turns sour it’s hard not to feel sorry for the moguls. Above all else this film is a fascinating look at human interactions and relationships and how influential money can be. I would give it a 8/10. Rotten Tomatoes also gave it 94%.

I expected First Position to be visually stunning. It has so many awards and I have read so many glowing reviews and recommendations. What I did not expect was for it to be so emotionally charged. My sister watched parts from behind her cushion, not able for the intensity on screen. The young ballet dancers that this film follows are power houses of commitment, work ethic and dedication. Their stories are beautiful, funny, sad and deeply fascinating. It has everything a documentary should and I remained transfixed for the entire running time. Watch it, it’s worth the hype. I give this film 10/10. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 93%. 

I watched After Tiller alone one evening after a long day of interning on a project with a loosely similar topic. I couldn’t understand why I had elected to press play on this particular film but thought it must have been one of those life imitating art moments. I fully expected to hate it and turn it off before finishing but it did what a good documentary is meant to do and opened my eyes to ideas, experiences and stories different to my own. It can be so easy to judge, to see certain things in black and white and to have completely mis-guided opinions about certain people. After Tiller is challenging (and I would not have considered myself conservative before!) and arresting. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I’m really not sure that’s the right word to use. I give this film 8/10. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 94%.

Have you watched any good documentaries lately? I enjoyed writing this post…I think I might make it a regular thing. I also love that my Netflix recommendations are full of documentaries now, there’s so many out there that I haven’t heard of yet.