The 8 best documentaries on Netflix that aren’t about true crime
Netflix has carved out a place for itself as a home for true-crime documentaries. It’s far from the only thing the streaming platform is known for, but it’s undoubtedly true that some of their most popular content has involved crimes, including long-form documentaries like make a murderer and tiger king.
It’s important to point out, though, that the streaming service offers so much more than just crime documentaries, and many of these documentaries are just as worthy of your time, maybe even more so. For anyone who feels like there’s too much death and crime in their documentary diet, plenty of pallet cleaners can be found on Netflix that focus on topics other than breaking the law.
fleeing has a brilliant and original premise for a documentary, starting with the making of an independent film made in Singapore by Sandy Tan in 1992. However, Tan’s mentor disappeared with the footage before the film could ever be finished… but mysteriously reappeared some 20 years later. So Scammers – also directed by Tan – evolves into a film about trying to find his mentor and find out why he did what he did.
It’s a consistently entertaining and surprising film that delves into cinema, the fragility of art, creative passion, regret and nostalgia. It seems to be buried under all the other Netflix content, so it’s a hidden gem that is one of the best and most interesting documentaries on the platform.
“Dick Johnson is Dead” (2020)
dick johnson is dead is about death, of course, but thankfully not about murder or violent deaths, unlike many crime documentaries. In it, the director Kristen Johnson pays tribute to his 86-year-old father, Dick Johnsoncovering his life and celebrating it while he is still alive.
Kirsten Johnson fears that her father’s death is imminent, which makes the documentary overall bittersweet, especially when she details how her mother died of Alzheimer’s disease. But the subject of death is approached in an honest and even humorous way, which helps the film enjoy life as much as it deals with the inevitability of death.
“The Social Dilemma” (2020)
The social dilemma is an interesting and important film in many ways. It sheds light on some of the darker sides of social media in terms of how it can psychologically harm its users, strongly influence young people for better or worse, or socially isolate people who use social media apps. issue instead of bringing people together.
While some people were already aware of some of these issues before 2020, there would definitely be viewers who would watch this and find out something they didn’t know before. The message is good and it is essential to make known the disadvantages of extremely popular social media sites. Aspects of the presentation are unfortunately a little tacky, and the documentary is far from subtle in places. Still, if an obvious approach is the best way to get your message across to as many people as possible, that’s probably for the best.
‘Django & Django: Sergio Corbucci Unchained’ (2021)
This one’s a must-have for movie buffs or spaghetti western fans, as it’s basically 77 minutes of director/cinephile Quentin Tarantino praise Sergio Corbucci, who was one of the most famous Italian directors to tackle the Western genre. Makes sense, because Corbucci directed the original Djangowhich proved to be hugely influential for Tarantino, among other films he made.
Django & Django: Sergio Corbucci unleashed is remarkably simple and could admittedly be a small niche. But Tarantino’s passion and the variety of excerpts from Corbucci’s films that are shown are worth seeing, as he certainly directed some of the craziest and most memorable westerns of all time.
“Miles Davis: Birth of Cool” (2019)
The life and music of Miles Davis justice is servednot Mile Davis: Birth of Cool, which is a much better than average musical documentary. It covers the turbulent and unpredictable life of the iconic jazz musician and details what made his brand of jazz special.
It doesn’t hide the darker sides of Miles Davis’ life, and in doing so, avoids feeling too sanitized. It feels more direct and honest than most music documentaries and found more than enough interviewees and Davis-related topics to explore to fill a nearly two-hour runtime without ever becoming boring or repetitive.
“The Last Blockbuster” (2020)
The latest blockbuster is quite an ironic film to watch on a streaming service. Blockbusters and other video/DVD rental stores were effectively overtaken by streaming sites a few years ago. As the title suggests, this particular documentary sheds light on the last remaining Blockbuster, located in Oregon, while providing a history of the rental franchise itself, which once operated thousands of individual stores.
It’s a relatively light affair, and decidedly nostalgic. Still, it’s a fun watch for any streaming service users who still remember what it was like to go to a store and rent a physical copy of a movie, instead of just clicking an icon on a screen and watch something right away.
‘Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese’ (2019)
One of Martin Scorseselesser known movies Rolling Thunder Review: A Bob Dylan Story, is far more unusual than your run-of-the-mill musical documentary. Some parts feel like a mockumentary, some unfold like a concert film, and some are much harder to decipher. If he was aiming to do Bob Dylan seem even more mysterious and elusive, it worked.
Scorsese has always been a talented documentary maker in addition to being a great filmmaker, so fans of his work will likely find things to appreciate about him. Rolling Thunder Review. Likewise, die-hard Dylan fans will surely enjoy much of what he offers, but it can be a tough watch for others at times.
“They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” (2018)
Netflix was partly responsible for finally bringing Jthe other side of the wind live. It was a film that famed Orson Welles worked on throughout the 1970s but never finished. Decades after his death, it was made and released in 2018, alongside They’ll love me when I’m dead, which is a documentary about the film’s turbulent history and its eventual completion.
It’s a great companion to the often confusing film it’s about. The story of how The other side of the wind eventually became just as interesting – maybe even more so – than the movie itself. For anyone who is a fan of Orson Welles, or simply interested in film history, They’ll love me when I’m dead makes it a must-have documentary.
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