The streaming service on Netflix takes some lumps for its movie selection, but one area where it definitely isn’t lacking is documentaries. After you head out to Documentary Week at the Gateway Film Center, you can have your own film festival with these docs at home.
Filmmaker Kurt Kuenne set out to make a scrapbook of memories for his murdered friend’s infant son. The result is a gripping true-crime drama and one of the most emotionally devastating movies I’ve ever seen. Warning: There will be tears.
“I Think We're Alone Now”
This hour-long documentary about two obsessed Tiffany fans starts off as an oddity, but it evolves into a kinda heartbreaking look at the holes the pop star fills in their lives.
“I Like Killing Flies”
Another hour-long doc, filmmaker/artist Matt Mahurin documents Shopsin’s, a tiny Greenwich Village restaurant known for its massive menu and temperamental cook and owner, Kenny Shopsin. If you like food and/or colorful characters, check it out.
This trio of films by director Gary Hustwit presents an engrossing look at various aspects of design, from the world’s most ubiquitous font to urban planning. I recommend them all highly.
Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky would go on to later fame with HBO’s “Paradise Lost” series on the West Memphis Three murder trials, but this earlier film about a murder trial involving three elderly brothers in rural New York showed their uncanny knack for crime documentary.
One of my favorite docs of the past year is already on Netflix. It’s the story of a young Frenchmen who claimed to be a missing Texas teenager, and it contains twist upon twist. Way better than “Dateline NBC.”
“Exit Through the Gift Shop”
The buzzy documentary about street artist Banksy has blurred the lines of its reality, but it’s wildly entertaining and has a lot to say about the nature of art.
“Small Town Gay Bar”
You probably don’t think of the rural South and gay bars in the same sentence, but this endearing doc profiles what an important social hub they can be for those living in areas not known for progressive attitudes.
“The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia”
“Jackass” star Johnny Knoxville served as producer for this wild portrait of the infamous West Virginia mountain clan headed by Jesco White, “The Dancing Outlaw.”
The story of a man recovering from a savage beating who built an elaborate one-sixth scale city — and an even more elaborate storyline around it — is just entrancing.
** photo: thelist_netflix_exitthroughthegiftshop.jpg
Caption: “Exit Through the Gift Shop”