What to watch on Netflix: Week of 4/7

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.

“All About Nina” (2018)

“All About Nina” follows stand-up comedian Nina Geld, a troubled but talented performer, as she tries to find success on the comedy scene. After moving to Los Angeles, she meets Rafe, a recent divorcee, and confronts her fears of intimacy and failure. Besides a compelling romance story, the film depicts the world of comedy and the people who inhabit it in a realistic way. Nina’s personality is fleshed out and perfectly aligns with her style of comedy. The two aren’t treated as two separate elements; they’re one and the same. One of the most important ways that “All About Nina” maintains a sense of realism is by focusing on a side of comedy few films hit upon: what the comedic lifestyle is like for women. As Nina attempts to mold her awkward and morose humor into a successful comedy act, she’s also constantly reminded of the problems that female comics face in the male-dominated industry. Male comics and fans hound Nina with empty compliments or hollow gestures of kindness and fail to see her as more than just an object. Despite this, Nina manages to maintain an attitude of a self-confident and liberated woman in the face of criticism and sexism. It’s uncomfortable to watch at times, especially when you think of how many women this has likely happened to.

“Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” (2018 – )

Hasan Minhaj is a comedian, writer, and actor who is most known as a senior correspondent on “The Daily Show.” His solo show, “Patriot Act,” follows the same format as “The Daily Show” by reviewing news and social issues, but Minhaj covers stories with more depth and attention. Rather than just criticize and joke around, Minhaj goes to great lengths to discuss topics in a refreshing, logical and open manner, attempting to present all sides of an issue. Instead of jumping from topic to topic as most news shows do, Minhaj decides to focus on one topic per episode. While this may seem like a minor thing to do, it’s one that makes the show feel stronger and more captivating. Minhaj starts episodes with a broad topic, like affirmative action or immigration, and slowly delves deeper and deeper into the issue as the episode progresses. He also goes much further than just sitting behind a desk telling joke after joke. Minhaj stands in front of a large screen that he uses to play videos or display graphics and statistics, making his show feel more like a TEDTalk then a talk show. Again, this may seem like a small change, but it really sets his show apart from the rest. This is not a comedian who sits behind a desk, relaying stories and commenting on them. It’s a human being, someone like you and me, who’s commenting on the things that he feels need attention or criticism.

“The Seven Five” (2014)

“The Seven Five” is a documentary about corruption in a Brooklyn police precinct during the 1980s. The film focuses on Officer Mike Dowd and other members of the precinct as they recall their actions of corruption, criminal conduct and other behavior that led them to jail. One of the biggest draws of “The Seven Five” is the way it portrays the officers and their actions: with brutal honesty and vivid realness. Dowd and his associates give straightforward answers to questions asked of them, rarely ever shying away from or avoiding answers. They smugly describe the lengths they went to for money and their own personal careers. They stole money from drug dealers, accepted bribes and even established their own criminal enterprise within the New York Police Department. Mixed into the interviews is archival footage of news broadcasts, court footage and crime scene pictures that show the audience the pandemonium that was occurring in New York during the ‘80s. As Dowd and his companions brag and attempt to rationalize their behavior, the viewer can’t help but wonder how these men were allowed to be in such positions. All ideas of justice, protection and morality are thrown out of the window, and all that’s left is greed. Very little remorse is ever shown by any of the officers and, when there are attempts, they feel flat. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the consequences these had to face, especially when compared with the bravado that each officer shows while describing their crimes. While these men didn’t get away with their crimes, it’s frightening to think of all the people who have gotten away with it. The general perception of the police is that they’re meant to keep people safe and stop crime, not add to it. Besides the anger that comes when hearing Dowd and others ramble on, “The Seven Five” creates a sense of unease towards right and wrong. It’s a sobering and topical reminder of how greed and corruption can occur in any position, even ones of authority.

Featured image by Gabriella Pinos.

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