What to watch on Netflix: Week of 2/24

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.

“High Flying Bird” (2019)

Steven Soderbergh managed to make a name for himself as a director with his blockbuster Ocean films. Recently, he’s altered his focus to a much smaller scale. In 2018, Soderbergh released Unsane, a film that was shot entirely on an iPhone 7. There was no grand list of cast members, no spectacular action scenes and few extras, but it still managed to be a captivating and emotional film. His latest film, “High Flying Bird,” is yet another example of the skills that Soderbergh possesses as a director even at a small scale. “High Flying Bird” follows sports agent Ray Burke as he attempts to pitch a rookie basketball client on a critical business opportunity during a lockout. Although the initial plot involves sports, the film strays away from conventional sports movies by focusing on the business and emotional side rather then the actual physical side of sports. There are very few scenes where basketball is actually being played. Instead of on-court action, the film is driven by the action that goes on behind the scenes like financial decisions, the distribution of wealth in sports and the moralities involved with deciding salaries for athletes. The movie also doesn’t shy away from the issue of race either, making strong arguments on how deeply engraved some racial biases are when it comes to sports. This film is all about social commentary instead of being a feel-good, underdog story about a sports player or team. “High Flying Bird” feels much more modern and real then other sports movies, and it’s a comforting sign of the gaining social and political awareness that films continue to present.

“The Umbrella Academy” (2019)

With the recent cancellations of most of its Marvel shows, Netflix may have found the future of its superhero world in their new television series, “The Umbrella Academy,” based on a series of graphic novels by the same name. In the late ‘80s, 43 women around the world give birth simultaneously, despite the fact that none of them had shown any previous signs of pregnancy. Seven of these children are adopted by billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves and turned into a superhero team through “The Umbrella Academy.” 17 years later, the estranged siblings learn that Reginald has died and gather for his funeral. As they attempt to rekindle their relationships between one another, they also uncover more details about their father’s death and their family history. What makes this such a different look at the superhero genre is that it’s not an origin story. The series picks up on what the heroes are up to after 17 years of being trained under their father’s eye. It offers a solemn look at how growing up with powers can affect the psyche and adulthood. Each of the children dull their pain in different ways, whether it be drugs, violence or even reinventing their whole personality. The show is stylish, quick and quirky with the way that it introduces characters and consequences, which may feel a bit overwhelming at times. Very rarely does the show ever slow down; it keeps a quick pace and expects it viewers to keep up. Another aspect that the show maintains is that not every episode involves the main characters using their powers. While their abilities are a main part of the show, it’s not the main point of focus. Rather, “The Umbrella Academy” spends time with its characters and gives its audience insight into how their upbringing and abilities have altered them as people, not as superheroes.

“Abducted in Plain Sight” (2017)

With her documentary “Abducted in Plain Sight,” Sky Borgman proves that sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. In her film, Borgman tells the story of the Broberg family: an Idaho family whose 12-year-old daughter was kidnapped by their next-door neighbor in the ‘70s. This may seem pretty cut and dry, but as the documentary progresses, the case becomes more and more muddled. Once the depth of the neighbor’s manipulation of the Brobergs becomes apparent, it starts to sound unbelievable. It ranges from seducing both parents to convincing them to let him sleep in their daughter’s bed. The film is pretty conventional in terms of structure; it’s primarily comprised of talking head interviews with members of the Broberg family as well as the FBI agent in charge of Jan’s case. There are also staged reenactments, newspaper headlines, phone calls and images included in the film to help the audience keep track of important dates and events. These headlines and images come in handy, especially when the twists and turns of the story feel too crazy to believe. Not only are the events hard to believe, but the fact that they’re told from the perspective of people who were actually involved make them even more astounding and frustrating. The ‘70s may feel like a long time ago, but the topic of sexual assault is more relevant than ever. More than just a crime story, “Abducted in Plain Sight” reminds viewers of how far we’ve come as a society in terms of recognizing sexual assault and what we’re doing to prevent it.

Photo by Charles on Unsplash.

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