What to watch on Netflix: Week of 3/3

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.

“The Edge of Seventeen” (2016)

Many movies in Netflix’s library deal with the topic of growing up and the proverbial “coming of age” story. “The Edge of Seventeen” has these elements, but manages to tell a story that’s both authentic to the high school experience while staying relevant to adults. “The Edge of Seventeen” follows Nadine, a high school student whose father recently passed away. Although Nadine is already having a hard time adjusting, her life becomes even more difficult when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her brother. The most enticing aspect of the film is not only the way that it portrays its main character, but the way that it portrays those around her as well. Each character is fully developed and fleshed out, making it easier for  the audience to understand the film from multiple perspectives. Nadine’s life does involve the typical elements of a teen movie: a difficult mother who doesn’t understand her, a good-looking older brother who overshadows her and a crush that’s way out of her league. But what makes these clichés feel so real is that they’re all given depth and stay dynamic throughout the film. They’re not used to just fill the movie; each cliché plays a different role in the way that Nadine navigates her life. The use of multiple perspectives plays a big part in the message of “The Edge of Seventeen,” the idea that everyone struggles in their own unique ways and that, oftentimes, the only one who can save you is you, but it doesn’t hurt to have some friends to help you on your way.

“American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” (2018)

After a successful first season covering “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” Ryan Murphy and the creators of “American Crime Story” turn to Gianni Versace for their second season. The nine episode series tells the story of Andrew Cunanan, the man who would end up murdering Gianni Versace and four other people. This alone is a large departure from the first season of the show, changing it’s focus from an infamous figure like O.J. Simpson to a man whose desire for fame would eventually drive him to murder. Episodes alternate between what happened leading up to the murders as well as the aftermath, but they’re done in reverse chronology. The show begins with Versace’s murder and goes backwards from there to show the type of environment that Cunanan grew up in and how that affected his life. Besides insight into Cunanan, the show offers small glimpses into the world of Versace and his fashion empire. Although their lives were polar opposites, both men held the same anxieties over their sexuality. This attention to the way that sexuality was seen in the late ‘90s is not only important to understanding the characters themselves but plays a part in how the murder itself was handled. Homophobia would be a key factor in how Cunanan’s murders were perceived and why he was able to elude authorities for over a month. While a large part of the show is speculation on the parts of the show’s creators, the parts that are true are still shocking and powerful.

“Period. End of Sentence” (2018)

Last Sunday, “Period. End of Sentence” won the Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject). Directed by Rayka Zehtabchi, a 25-year-old Iranian-American director, the film focuses on the stigma surrounding menstruation in rural India. The documentary follows a group of women who begin to use a machine to create low-cost sanitary pads to improve feminine hygiene in their village. While the documentary only has a 23-minute run time, the story that it tells is extremely powerful. The stigma that surrounds these young women has prevented them from accessing basic sanitary products, worshipping in temples and even staying in school. The documentary states that 23 percent of girls drop out of school when they hit puberty due to their periods. Not only does this stigma affect the general education that the young women receives, but it results in them receiving almost no education on menstruation itself. Although not as extreme, this stigma is present in many places all around the world. In fact, an unnamed male member of the Academy admitted that he and his fellow male associated thought that the film was well done but found it’s subject matter  “icky.” At a time when most documentaries revolve around some sort of variation of a true crime story, it’s refreshing to see a different kind of film with an issue that can be applied on such a global front. The story of this stigma and its effect on an Indian village is not a positive one, but the action that the filmmakers take and the way that they handle it is filled with hope and life.

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash.

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