Your Netflix Instant Weekend: MICHAEL (2011), THE PRUITT-IGOE MYTH, and more
While pickings have been slim lately, there are several interesting things to check out over the long Memorial Day weekend.
How about a dark comedy about a pedophile and his kidnapped sex slave and a documentary about a legendary housing project?
A middle-aged man in a spotless home makes dinner, meticulously sets the table, eats, cleans up, closes the steel shutters and then goes down to the basement. That's where he has sex with the 10-year-old boy he keeps imprisoned in his home. This is the story of Michael - an obsessive compulsive pedophile - and his relationship with Wolfgang, the boy in his basement. The film is shot matter-of-factly with no judgement being passed on the people or actions presented on screen. While no specific mention is made regarding how long Wolfgang has been held captive, the pair obviously have a relationship built over time. Dodging the display of the most insidious details, the film allows some of the natural humor of life to shine through, making this the darkest of dark comedies. If you can stomach the subject matter, you'll find a delightfully repulsive character study waiting to challenge your sensibilities.
The legendary St. Louis housing project is highlighted in this new documentary which aims to dispel some of the rumors and myths generated by the famous images of its destruction as seen above. Opening in 1954, the project was meant to provide new lives for those stuck in the slums and for a while it did just that. However, headlines about Pruitt-Igoe changed over time to stories about its deterioration and eventually its televised demolition in 1972. Using incredible amounts of stock footage and interviews with former tenants, THE PRUITT-IGOE MYTH paints a much more nuanced picture than the television images of the '70s and it's one of hope, struggle, and, sometimes, happy memories.
The Wildcard - JACK'S BACK (1988)
James Spader plays a modern day serial killer who is recreating Jack the Ripper's crimes as a celebration of his 100th birthday or anniversary or whatever. This sounds nutso and right up my alley.
If you're looking for more...
DRIVE, the Nicolas Winding Refn neo-noir with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan is available for your viewing pleasure. Get on it immediately! The riveting and stirring documentary FAMBUL TOK focuses on healing deep scars left by years of civil war in Sierra Leone. MAN ON A MISSION is another documentary, this one about Richard Garriott's quest to go to space. Speaking of space, 2010 is the surprisingly good follow up to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The micro-budget indie AGAINST THE WALL (also known as QUALITY OF LIFE) has been incredible divisive but remains an emotionally charged, well-made drama. EXPOSURE (aka A GRAND ARTE) is a wicked little thriller from Walter Salles. Speaking of thrillers, check out COMPLICITY. Finally, the political drama LOST IN SIBERIA is a harrowing tale of life in Stalin's prison camps.
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