I went into Wildcat expecting a very straightforward documentary about wild cats but instead it ended up being something quite fascinating. The documentary follows Harry a young British veteran who got back from Afghanistan who is struggling with PTSD he meets Samantha an American scientist where they both foster baby Ocelots. The first bit of the documentary is about an Ocelot named Khan who sadly suffers from a tragic fate which completely destroys Harry emotionally, then the rest of the documentary follows another Ocelot named Keanu. The way Harry’s PTSD is connected to his love for these animals is truly gut wrenching at times, there’s moments where he completely breaks down and describes what he saw in Afghanistan that completely destroyed him. He also deals with self-harm saying he wants to be happy and that Samantha (the founder of the non-profit organization that helps these animals) plus Keanu makes him happy. It’s truly heartbreaking seeing Harry in pain, luckily he really helps Keanu get released back into the wild. Wildcat is a such a beautiful documentary that’s also really heartbreaking as well, Harry really pours his heart into Keanu even when he’s at his lowest point mentally, being alone in the jungle for a long period of time could most definitely affect someone’s mental health especially given Harry’s PTSD and suicidal thoughts. As far as filmmaking goes the documentary is beautiful, the jungle is truly wonderful to look at, the many close up shots are personal and add so much power to the documentary. Despite some of the heavy topics discussed in the documentary, it leaves as a very hopeful one, the documentary leaves the viewer with this inspiring and pretty satisfying energy that really matches the film. At it’s core the documentary is very heartwarming, it gave both Harry and Keanu a second chance to adapt and come out on top.
It’s honestly such a shame Love Lizzo had incredibly poor advertising (you would think a documentary about one of the biggest stars right now would have so much better advertising) but with that aside this documentary is truly an honest one. The documentary serves as almost a personal diary for Lizzo to tell the viewer everything, from body positivity to self-love and much more, there’s some really strong discussions here that are absolutely worth listening to. Lizzo talks about her early life, her dad’s death and so much more. But perhaps what makes Love Lizzo standout as a documentary is how authentic it really is, there’s tons of personal moments where it feels like you are sitting in the room with Lizzo having a discussion. There isn’t a whole lot more to say here, if you are a fan of Lizzo you will most definitely love this one.
When you go into a documentary about Louis Armstrong one of the founding fathers of Jazz you exactly know what you are going to get and that definitely applies here, the documentary tells the story of Armstrong and his impact on many people and some of deep insight into him as a person. The diary entries which are narrated end up being some of the most powerful parts of the documentary, such as him using his influence and support for the civil rights movement, sharing political views he didn’t share to the public and about his music. There’s a deep discussion about race and how Armstrong’s career was a huge achievement in several different ways, such as being the first black musician to write an autobiography. The documentary itself might not be anything mind blowing filmmaking wise but it really doesn’t have to be, it’s laying out the facts about Louis Armstrong and how influential he was, this is the perfect documentary to start with if you really want to get a start with knowing about Armstrong’s career.
Louie Armstrong’s Black & Blues is available on Apple TV+
At the beginning of 2022 (January 6th to be exact) Sidney Poitier a huge star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, the first black man to win an academy award and major activist for representation for black people in film sadly passed away. For the most part Sidney does a fantastic job of telling the legacy of Sidney Poitier and his impact on the film industry, there’s tons of insightful interviews, really strong narration from Sidney Poitier himself and his thoughts of his career, his life and his actions during his career. It’s such a beautifully put together tribute to a iconic actor that really left an inspirational mark on the industry and audiences, the main criticism mostly stems from being a bit too generic at times, there’s some interviews that aren’t as good as others. Having that said it’s very easy to look past when you have such a nicely done tribute. Sidney is a very strong way to start if you want to get a nice introduction to Sidney Poitier!
Mickey: A Story Of a Mouse for the most part is a lot of common knowledge, of course it goes through how the mouse came to be, what Walt Disney himself was thinking while creating Mickey, what his goals were with Disney as an animation studio and we even get the story of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and the whole battle over the character. Something that did surprise me is the documentary goes over Mickey Mouse doing blackface in the old cartoons and other issues as well, it’s a bit surprising due to Disney having the tendency to avoid talking about their past that even some fans of the cartoons want to address. There’s a very strong approach towards the topic that the documentary takes here especially with the interviewers, while the interviewers are fans of Disney they are very open to talking about the very rough history of the cartoons. Plus the documentary really hammers it in that the past should be open for discussion as well as being addressed, a lot of other Disney documentaries tend to avoid the topic of blackface being used in some of the old cartoons so I give credit where credit is due. There’s genuine heart out into the documentary and doesn’t feel manufactured which is again refreshing, there’s charming interviews and some engaging bits that have heart in them. Mickey: A Story Of a Mouse isn’t anything groundbreaking but it is refreshing when it comes to Disney documentaries.
Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is available on Disney+
There really isn’t a whole lot to say about Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, it goes over pretty much a lot of common knowledge about Leonard Cohen and one of the most beautiful songs ever written Hallelujah. Plus the song’s impact on the music and parts of the film industry as well, there’s some interviews that are truly touching as well as footage of Cohen commenting on parts of his career and when he made his resurgence. The documentary really makes it known just how influential Hallelujah became from being covered by so many artists, to being sung by several people on American Idol, X-Factor ect as well as being used in a lot of films most notably Shrek. It’s a song that’s been celebrated and will continue to be celebrated, the documentary has so much heart and soul put into it mainly from the footage of Cohen himself. It’s honestly a inspirational documentary that really goes deep into Cohen’s career, definitely check this out if you are a fan or if you are interested as this is quite a good introduction to Leonard Cohen.
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song is available on all VOD platforms.
Selena Gomez is someone I’ve always been a fan of, whether that be due to her overall personality or her determination to talk about mental health and keep the conversation going, plus her role in Wizards Of Waverley Place is a favorite of mine growing up. In this documentary Selena Gomez talks about her struggles with fame, her physical and mental health when being diagnosed with lupus and bipolar disorder. The major thing that brings this documentary together is honesty of it all, there isn’t anything that feels manufactured for a quick buck like some other celebrity documentaries tend to have. The documentary is Selena Gomez and the people who know her telling you about Selena’s mental health, which in a lot of ways could be relatable to some people. The film does that by having up close and personal shot of Selena Gomez as she talks to the camera like she’s inviting you to a conversation, it’s some pretty clever camera movements that really make it go the long way. I definitely think one of the major highlights of the film heck Selena herself says it’s a highlight of her life is the Kenya Trip. Not only does Selena Gomez share her experiences with Kenyan women but they themselves share their experiences with Selena, it’s a really touching and quite inspiring moment of seeing two perspectives both of which are very compelling in their own ways. The documentary really does a fantastic job with the topic of mental health it’s done very respectfully which isn’t a surprise since Selena regularly uses her platform when talking about mental health, as I said before the film is honest and focuses on having a conversation which it accomplishes quite well! This is something I truly recommend checking out!
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is available on Apple TV+
Moonage Daydream is yet another beautiful documentary that’s entirely made up of archival footage, this year has already had a decent amount of those including The Princess (Princess Diana documentary), Fire Of Love and Riotsville USA. The documentary shows a lot of concerts from David Bowie as well as some very interesting interviews that the film goes over in great detail, the editing combined with the film’s style is truly fantastic. It completely matches David Bowie’s style and what made him so recognizable what’s even better is despite simply showing archival footage the documentary still has a large goal, which is to give compelling insight in Bowie’s career what he thought of certain times of his career, and his path as an artist. David Bowie was a major influence to several people and film is very aware of that, Bowie share’s his experiences through his career as well as his goals. The music is fantastic as always reminding us of Bowie’s talent which really dives head first into entertaining the viewer, Brett Morgan does a fantastic job creating a journal like film for David Bowie. It’s one of those documentaries where it’s a lot more personal, like David Bowie’s narration at times feels like he’s having a direct conversation with you. It’s truly a beautiful showcase of never before seen footage combined with excellent visuals both of which blend so well together to create a stunning portrait.
I know very little about the VR Chat program itself, I know that it exists and has a decent amount of people within the community but that’s really it. However We Met in Virtual Reality really teaches you quite a lot about the community itself, it’s actually surprising how much this documentary covers, the footage is entirely the VR program which is pretty impressive and has it’s own charm to it. Jenny who is one of the people interviewed in the documentary teaches ASL to a class full of students some of which are deaf and others who simply want to learn it. You have someone named DustBunny who teaches belly dancing as well, the film also follows the relationships of DustBunny and Toaster and ItsYourBoi and DragonHeart. The documentary was done during the COVID-19 pandemic so with a lot of bad in the world during the time it’s a very beautiful thing to see community where they can express who they are, interact with friends and even find love. And by watching the documentary start to completely understand how and why the VR Chat helped certain people in the community during the pandemic. There’s a lot of heart out into this documentary and really shows how a community bonds incredibly well through very tough times! Finally there’s a few genuinely touching scenes that are absolutely beautiful here make sure to go watch this one.
We Met In Virtual Reality is available on HBO Max!
It honestly pains me to give the rating I’m going to give Halftime, I’ve always been a fan of Jennifer Lopez even if a lot of her performances are misses. Her music has always been enjoyable and lately her performances (Hustlers and Marry Me) have been quite great. I will say that a lot of articles are flat out lying about what this documentary is about, it’s not some “Jennifer Lopez attacks Shakira because of the Halftime show” situation that articles would have you believe. In fact Lopez herself does not blame Shakira at all, most of the documentary is about the NFL and the 92nd Academy Awards aka the Oscars. Anyone who remembers the huge discourse about The Oscars that year would tell you how badly the Oscars dropped the ball with some of the nominations, so many people got snubbed for ridiculous reasons Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) and Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) being the main two. It was nice that Jennifer Lopez told how she felt about the situation and the message of wanting to be taken seriously as an artist only for people to flat out laugh at you definitely sticks with you plus can feel quite relatable. The main problem is this documentary is it feels like it’s trying to say something much more before ending abruptly, it also doesn’t help that it doesn’t fully connect the viewer to Jennifer Lopez. Some of the last few celebrity documentaries such as the Billie Eilish one and The Blackpink one were successful because they connected the viewer with Billie or Blackpink, it felt like we got to know them more as people and saw their day to day life. You don’t get that same freedom in Halftime, it feels much more closer which is unfortunate. The only people who are going to instantly connect are fans of Jennifer Lopez, which is fine but it’s such a shame to try and included a bigger audience. Overall Halftime isn’t a bad documentary and as I said before it’s nice Jennifer Lopez told her story and how she felt. It’s just a documentary that needed a lot more power to it and deserved a lot better.