Documentaries can be more than just a dusty World War II lesson our parents love to watch in their spare time. MADS offers some streaming movies and documentaries that entertain and educate.
‘The Last Dance’ shows Michael Jordan up close
Many consider Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player of all time. It doesn’t matter if you’re a basketball fan or not, everyone knows his name and Air Jordan line of shoes. The ten-part documentary The Last Dance (Netflix) follows his final NBA season as he tries to win three consecutive league titles with the Chicago Bulls for the second time. It’s not just about Jordan’s sporting successes, but also his life outside of sports.
Flashbacks chronicle his beginnings, his journey from college to the NBA, and his first seasons in the league as he transformed the Chicago Bulls from one of their worst teams to the best. But it is also about personal matters such as the tragic death of his father. The documentary also features other Bulls characters, such as the polarizing Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. So say sports journalists as well as celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Barack Obama.
‘Last Chance U’: Football as a way out
The documentary “Last Chance U” (Netflix) shows that sports have a different status in the United States than in Germany. Meanwhile, for five seasons, the series has been accompanied by various American football college teams, most of which are made up of students with personal and academic problems. So they were expelled from other colleges and now they are taking the opportunity in the new universities to control their problems through football.
The documentary is as exciting as it is tragic and gives powerful impressions of the daily lives of talented young people who experience the adverse circumstances in their lives.
‘Before the Flood’: What we still have to learn
Academy Award-winning Leonardo DiCaprio co-directed the 2016 documentary Before the Flood (Disney+) with director Fisher Stevens. In order to show the consequences of climate change, they travel to regions that have been severely affected by the changes. The documentary criticizes disinformation campaigns, ignorance and the consequences of human actions regarding global warming. Although the documentation does not show any new findings, it does provide material for thought. DiCaprio talks to many climate experts And the leaders who remain at the forefront of fighting the crisis.
Before the Flood shows climate change as a global problem in which every country and every citizen must participate in order to slow the inevitable. It is exciting and at the same time shows approaches and possibilities for addressing climate change.
Hunting for Endangered Species: “Sea of Shadows”
Illegal Trade and Endangered Species: The “Sea of Shadows” (Disney+) documentary focuses on California’s Totoaba fish and porpoise, which were nearly extinct at the hands of Mexican gangs and the Chinese mafia. Undercover detectives and environmental activists want to protect helpless sea creatures from extinction while putting an end to the illegal trade.
In Chinese culture, the totoaba fish’s swimming bladder is considered a delicacy and is said to rejuvenate the skin, although there is no scientific evidence for this. The California Harbor porpoise (Vaquita) is a by-catch for illegal poaching, but its habitat is rapidly being destroyed. This documentary was produced by Leonardo DiCaprio among others.
Delightful Documentary: Shawn Mendes “In Wonder”
With “In Wonder,” Netflix presents a documentary about star Shawn Mendes. It’s about his 2019 world tour and the subsequent recording of his recently released studio album “Wonder”. In just under an hour and a half, the intoxicating party scenes alternate with quieter production moments and, above all, somewhat private visions. Not only does Mendes take the cameras to his apartment, shower, and his closest family, but he also appears to be crying and sick.
Admittedly, it’s light entertainment. No slams of fate, no nasty surprises, no other drama, but a documentary like this doesn’t need that at all. In Wonder provides an insight into the daily life of the 24-year-old, showing his demeanor, undeniable talent, and turbulent life. The documentary manages to show the world through Shawn Mendes eyes for a moment.
Loud, honest, and realistic: “Look Mom I Can Fly” by Travis Scott
Look Mom I Can Fly (Netflix) follows American rapper Travis Scott during the production and release of his third album, Astroworld. It’s about more than just releasing a simple album. The film follows the escalation of concerts, arrests, the construction of the Astroworld Festival, studio productions, Grammy nominations, fatherhood, and more from Scott’s life. The most successful year to date has been discussed for the rapper. The documents can be described in one word: exciting.
Overlays from the artist’s childhood days repeatedly show Scott’s origins and career. These recordings have always connected with the person he is today. Because the documentary shows that he is more than just an artist with shiny teeth.
Tech documentary reveals Boeing accidents
In 2019, two Boeing 737 Max planes crashed within a few months, killing 346 people. Unusual: The two planes were new. An investigation into these accidents has revealed one of the biggest scandals in the aviation industry, which the documentary Crash: The Case Against Boeing (Netflix) is now highlighting. Because behind the crash was a design error by the manufacturer Boeing. Andy Buzzstore serves as the most important interview partner. The former journalist dealt extensively with the topic and reported it in the “Wall Street Journal”, which is why he can also impart complex technical knowledge in a way that ordinary people can understand.
Director Rory Kennedy also attempts to answer the question of how one of the oldest and most respected aircraft manufacturers could ignore such safety issues. In conversations with former Boeing employees, she revealed serious deficiencies in quality management and work culture. Relatives of the crash victims, members of the investigative committee and other pilots backed their word in this documentary, and it’s not for people who are afraid of flying.
Social Media Documentary: The Bitter Reality Begins
Filter bubbles, fake news, and addiction: Social media is no longer seen as positive as it was in the early days. The documentary The Social Media Dilemma (Netflix) examines the negative effects of Facebook, Instagram and Co. on our society and mental health. Director Jeff Orlovsky has interviewed former employees of Google, Facebook and Twitter who later criticize their work. The curated scenes of a fictional family are a common thread that illustrates the impact of social media on everyday life.
The film also touches on the technological fundamentals and explains, for example, how the algorithm behind social media works and generates income. In any case, the bleak mood of the documentary encourages you to question your social media consumption.
‘Ordinary Men’ about mass shootings
Manfred Oldenberg’s ZDF documentary impressively deals with a central aspect of National Socialism that many don’t know: a third of the Jewish victims – two million people – were killed not in the extermination camps but in mass shootings. These crimes were carried out in police battalions by “ordinary men” with middle jobs. The documentary looks at Hamburg Police Battalion 101 as an example and introduces some of the perpetrators. These can be divided into three groups: some who refused, others who liked to kill, and a third group who surrendered and carried out the task assigned to them.
The documentary asserts that men do not fear for their lives if they refuse to kill people. However, most of them participated. The oppressive message: You don’t need people convinced to carry out mass murder. The documentary alternates between original recordings and feature film scenes, and original photos and documents are shown. Experts like historians and social psychologists have their say. 102-year-old Benjamin Fenech also plays a major role in the documentary. The US attorney was the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Task Force Trial in 1947/48.
By Tim Klein, Kara Krith, Jules Trudell, Jeffrey J-Ping Lee and Sonya Schiller