Matthew Ellmore/Staff Writer
Netflix offers a wide array of content for its viewers to watch, and it can be daunting to skim through its large collection to try and find something that interests you. However, there are some documentaries, series, and movies that are available on Netflix and that stand out from the rest. Some of them may be well-known, others may not. Hopefully, you can find something that interests you.
Based on the novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan, “Mudbound” follows two WWII veterans, one white and one black, who return to their homes in rural Mississippi. As they begin to assimilate to civilian life, they each encounter issues of racism and PTSD in their own way. By focusing on two characters rather than one, “Mudbound” offers an immersive and realistic portrayal of racism during the Jim Crow era. The narration by different characters at different times, as well as the different perspectives of the storytellers, gives a full spectrum of emotion and experience. It shows what racial relations were like for both whites and blacks as well as veterans and civilians. “Mudbound” explores a topic that other films rarely ever do: the hypocritical treatment of African-American soldiers during WWII. The fact that America liberated parts of Europe in WWII but maintained its own personal prisons on African-Americans is a stark contrast from most movies about war and freedom. Rather than be treated as heroes, African-American veterans were treated as second-class citizens and found that their service was still not enough to become accepted. “Mudbound” is a heartbreaking reminder of American history, one where the color of your skin was more important than the quality of your character.
“The Get Down” (2016-2017)
“The Get Down” comes from director and writer Baz Luhrmann, whose work includes “The Great Gatsby” and “Romeo + Juliet.” Luhrmann has a knack for creating vivid and expansive settings, and “The Get Down” is no different. The film takes place in the Bronx during the 1970s and focuses on the birth of hip hop. It draws on many historic events and figures for its story, but its characters are completely unique and vibrant. They bounce off of one another perfectly and their acting almost jumps off of the screen as they traverse through the colorful and heartfelt backdrop of the Bronx. Many period dramas are accurate, but few period dramas are as animated. Artists of all types and race fill the show with a sense of love and passion that makes it feel authentic. While the main element that the show focuses on is music, the characters and their relationship with music are what really makes it jump out. Brimming with history, culture and music, “The Get Down” is an experience like no other.
In her documentary “13th,” Ava DuVernay traces the history of inequality in the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The film uses the Thirteenth Amendment, an amendment that abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except as a punishment of a crime, as a starting point. DuVernay manages to keep the film grounded through historical footage and talking-head interviews with subjects that range from scholars, politicians, social justice advocates, and former inmates. Statistics are often included onscreen to demonstrate increased prison populations and their relationship to race. The film also explores how private corporations profit from prison labor and how a bigger prison population benefits businesses that use prison labor for manufacturing goods. “13th” provides a large amount of facts and statistics, but it never feels like DuVernay is lecturing. The film acknowledges the complexities of the issue and emphasizes that real reform can’t possibly happen in one day. What DuVernay and “13th” stresses is that attention should be brought to the issue of wrongful incarceration based on race in order for anything to change.