Updated: May 20
Make some popcorn.
I've become very familiar with my couch over the last few weeks.
Although I'd like to believe I could spend 80% of my quarantine time catching up on the tens of books I own, but still haven't read.. I know I won't. So, in an effort to spent my screen time wisely (rather than re-watching Game Of Thrones and inevitably spiraling into a pit of disappointment and regret), I've "challenged" myself to watch a bunch of new things on Netflix, and I'll post about my favourite four every two weeks. My fifth choices will be what I consider classic MUST-watches.
Reach out if you enjoy anything on my list, I could use the human connection.
~ Week 2 ~
#1- "Circus of Books"
(Documentary, Biography, Queer.)
Director: Rachel Mason
"Circus of Books" is just about everything I was hoping for.
In 1976, Karen and Barry Mason were looking for a way to support their young family in Los Angeles. Circus of Books began as a side project to sell Hustler magazines, but a decade later, became America's #1 distributor of gay porn.
Filmed by the couple's daughter, Rachel Mason explores her parents' double-life as both a traditional Jewish suburban family, and the gay erotic bookstore owners.
I promise, you'll leave "Circus of Books" wishing Karen and Barry were your parents too.
#2- "Bojack Horseman"
(Cartoon, Dark Comedy, Hollywood.)
Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
I've never had much interest in adult cartoons. Besides The Simpsons, my general impression of them was that they were childish and probably unfunny- but, I loved "Bojack Horseman".
Light-hearted and silly, but also dark and upsetting, "Bojack Horseman" is an anti-hero story about a half-man, half-horse (it makes sense in the universe, I swear) who's a washed-up 90s sitcom actor living in his Hollywood bachelor pad.
A cynic and an alcoholic, Bojack is a deeply troubled, self-destructive.. well, asshole. He's surrounded by friends that support and care for him, and he routinely disappoints, betrays, and abuses their kindness- but he believes he's a good person deep-down, and that's what should matter.. right?
A take on the vain, money-hungry, and substance-abusing culture that is Hollywood, "Bojack Horseman" was surprisingly profound, and is one of the only shows I can think of that depicts mental illness in such a grounded, honest way.
#3- "Marriage Story"
(Fiction, Emotional, Drama.)
Director: Noah Baumbach
This star-studded indie darling is incredibly real. "Marriage Story" follows Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole Barber (Scarlett Johansson) as they work through an emotional divorce while trying to keep their family together. (Get out your tissues.)
A marriage set up to fail, Charlie and Nicole are a director/actress duo at a New York theatre company. Their mutual respect for one another, and love for their son, leads them to attempt their divorce through counselling- but when Nicole lawyers up, their original plan to keep the process peaceful turns into a bitter, hostile battle hijacked by their lawyers.
Compassionate and witty, "Marriage Story" is an honest portrayal of what millions of couples face every year across the world.
#4- "explained- from VOX"
(Docuseries, Social & Cultural, Science & Nature.)
Creator: Ezra Klein, Joe Posner
Does anyone else regularly fall into a hole of Vox videos on Facebook? No? Just me? (I don't know why I find VOX videos exclusively on Facebook.)
Well, if you do, you'll love "explained". Topics ranging from Cryptocurrency, to Aliens, to K-Pop, and Weed- "explained" is a docuseries where every episode covers a different topic, and it has something for everybody. Some of my favourite episodes were "Tattoo", "The Racial Wealth Gap", "Diamonds", "Cults", "The World's Water Crisis", "Music", and "The Female Orgasm".
VOX has multiple "explained" docuseries on Netflix right now, including one on Coronavirus. New episodes are rolling out as we learn more about the state of the pandemic, check it out to stay informed.
~ Classic Pick ~
#5- "Surviving R. Kelly"
(Docuseries, True Crime, Celebrity.)
Director: Nigel Bellis, Astral Finnie
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, R&B star R. Kelly's predatory record was blown wide open. Honestly, when I first heard the accusations that R. Kelly was running a sex cult, I had to google who he was. I was pretty sure he made a couple big 2000s hits, but besides that, I was never his target demographic. I had never heard of incidents like his marriage to the underage Aaliyah, his leaked sex tape involving a minor, and his child pornography charges.
Being so unaware of R. Kelly's influence and history as I was, I didn't understand the impact of his abuse until this documentary. "Surviving R. Kelly" is the story of dozens of underage girls being lured into Kelly's trap with promises of fame and musical stardom, only to be met with sexual assault, physical abuse, and enslavement. Kelly currently awaits trail in Chicago.