Netflix is the bomb, isn't it? Sometimes you're scrolling through their New Releases and you're all like, 'Man they have everything!' But then other times ... not so much. Enter Amazon Instant Video. Although you pay to rent the movies individually rather than paying a monthly fee like on Netflix, it's still totally worth it. They offer a bunch of documentaries that cannot be found on other streaming services, for about $2.99 a pop. Three bucks to get my life changed via a Ken Burns documentary? Yes, please. Here are just a few films -- some old, some new -- that are currently streaming for cheap on Amazon.
The Central Park Five
Oscar-nominee Ken Burns has been changing the world for a long time, and he did not disappoint with his latest feature documentary. Along with daughter Sarah Burns and long-time collaborator David McMahon, the celebrated director brings us the unforgettable story of the Central Park jogger -- but focused entirely on the young Latino and African-American boys and men who were wrongly convicted of her rape. A powerful, often devastating look at classism, racism, and political corruption in New York during the late '80s and early '90s, The Central Park Five is a must-see film for all.
The Good Son: The Life of Ray Boom Boom Mancini
There's really nothing like a good boxing movie and The Good Son delivers. Folks who do not know the compelling story of Ray Mancini will be blown away by his story. The son of another Youngstown, Ohio boxing great (Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini) the documentary focuses on the boxer's unique upbringing and his fateful, tragic match with South Korean boxer Deuk-Koo Kim, which forever changed the face of boxing. With commentary from actors and Mancini fans like Ed O'Neill and Mickey Rourke, this is another must-see film on Amazon.
Brooklyn Girls Fight Club
This movie brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Fighting for survival.' Set in Brownsville, Brooklyn and filmed in 2007, directors Curvel Baptiste and Courtney Carreras invite viewers into the underground world of the Brooklyn Girls Fight Club. Residents from the surrounding housing projects gather around a fighting ring and place bets on two women who fight bare-knuckled, with little other protection for the grand prize of $1,000. A story of violence, poverty, survival, and triumph (for some, not necessarily for all), Amazon is one of the few places you can catch this unforgettable story.
Bowling For Columbine
An oldie but still a goodie, it's unfortunate that Michael Moore's 2002 documentary is still very much relevant today. His exploration into American gun culture and violence -- a direct reaction to the Columbine school shooting -- made for a powerful narrative and earned it the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare
You know that sneaking suspicion you have that your doctor's office is really a business being controlled by a greater corporate structure, rather than a healthcare facility? Yeah, it's real. Escape Fire is, without a doubt, one of the most frightening true stories out there as it takes an honest, no holds barred look at the American healthcare system as it truly exists.
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It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.