Sometimes, truth is more entertaining than fiction. If you’re browsing for new films to watch on Netflix this month, check out these four documentaries.
“Austin to Boston”
After finishing up at South By Southwest 2012, four artists — Ben Howard, The Staves, Bear’s Den and Nathaniel Rateliff — decided to go on tour the old-fashioned way. The group piled into five old Volks vans and travelled from Austin to Boston, playing small venues along the way. Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons spearheaded the tour and co-produced the documentary, which Gill Landry of Old Crow Medicine Show narrates. The documentary premiered on Netflix on June 12 and includes clips from the shows that took place in quaint rooms, barns and rooftops across the country. It also delves into the personal lives of the artists, including an emotional scene with Rateliff returning to his childhood home. The 3,000-mile long road trip brought with it hardships, including tight living spaces and several car breakdowns, as well as beautiful live music from the bands on and off stage.
“James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge”
Filmmaker James Cameron explored the ocean when creating movies such as “Titanic” and “The Abyss,” but, in 2012, he took his fascination with great depths to a new level. Cameron piloted a submarine nearly seven miles deep to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, breaking the record for the deepest distance traveled. The documentary follows the trials Cameron and his team faced when creating the submarine they call “Deepsea Challenger.” The vehicle must withstand the immense pressure apparent in the depths of the ocean and be able to travel back up to the surface after reaching the bottom. Everyone, including Cameron, who has a wife and five kids, is aware that the expedition could be fatal. But, with a teary-eyed goodbye to his wife and crew, he enters the tiny control center of the sub and plummets down stormy seas. Both informative and riveting, the documentary includes clear scenes from the ocean floor, giving insight into an alien world right here on Earth.
“Backstreet Boys: Show’em What You’re Made Of”
Released this year, the documentary explores the current lives of the Backstreet Boys’ five members. Years after the peak of their fame in the early 2000s, the group must come to terms with the question: What do you do when you’re a full-grown man in a boy band? The film begins at a home in London, where the five agreed to meet up to work on their 20th anniversary album, In A World Like This, away from their homes and families. They hike, play soccer and make music together, while also reflecting on their individual and group history. Throughout the documentary, the group travels to each of the group member’s hometowns to visit old schools, churches and influences. They also visit the mansion of Lou Perlman, who brought the group together and later created NSYNC. The mansion has been stripped by the IRS because Perlman is in jail and had to pay back the individuals he scammed. Both emotional and nostalgic, the film incorporates scenes of members reflecting on rough upbringings along with high points from their careers.
With over 93 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, “Room 237” is a conspiracy theory documentary gone right. The film revolves around Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, “The Shining” based on the novel by Stephen King. Divided into nine segments, “Room 237” delineates different theories about themes present throughout the film. One theorist argues that “The Shining” is about Native American genocide. Another suggests the goal of the film was to publicize the Apollo 11 moon landing. As the various theorists explain their insights, footage from “The Shining” and other Kubrick films appear on screen. The documentary does not attempt to promote the claims made throughout but instead demonstrates the power of movies to inspire people to think and analyze. One reporter from Time said: “Maybe they’re all right. Or wrong. It can’t be settled. What matters is that people are still crazy about the beauty of a beautiful movie about going crazy.”