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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The crossover between acting and singing is becoming more and more common these days. Whether it's Gwyneth Paltrow belting out country songs or Justin Timberlake trying your hand at acting, entertainers are always looking to expand their creative talents (whether we want them to or not). But one singer in particular crossed over into the acting community and it's none other than Shaffer Chimere Smith, Jr. But you probably know him better by his music industry alias: Ne-Yo. The R&B star is already a singer-songwriter, record producer, and dancer, but now he's looking to add "actor" to his growing list of titles and he's already appeared in last year's Battle: Los Angeles and now he's making it big with Red Tails. Given his rather impressive accomplishments, I'd say he has what it takes.
Ne-Yo was born on Oct. 18, 1979 in Camden, Arkansas, but spent most of his childhood being raised by his musician mother in Las Vegas. While growing up, he studied at the Las Vegas Academy and adopted the stage name "GoGo" after joining an R&B group called Envy. The group disbanded in 2000, but Ne-Yo continued to write songs for other artists before starting his solo career. From there, he penned material for Youngstown, while also contributing songs to the likes of Mary J. Blige, B2K, Musiq, and Faith Evans. But still, Ne-Yo yearned for some mainstream attention. His big break came in 2004 when he wrote "Let Me Love You" for an American singer called Mario. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and remained at the top for a solid nine-week stretch. Following the success of the song's release, Ne-Yo met with Jay-Z - the former CEO of Def Jam Records - and he was signed to the label. It's around that time that he developed his the Ne-Yo name. It was coined by a producer friend he used to work with named Big D Evans, who joked that Ne-Yo sees music like Neo sees the Matrix. It started off as just a joke between the two of them, but after a while the name stuck.
From there on out, success just seemed to follow him wherever he went. In 2006, Ne-Yo released his debut album In My Own Words through Def Jam, and - thanks in large part to it's popular single "So Sick" - the album debuted at number one on Billboard's 200 chart and sold over 300,000 copies in the first week. As of now, the album is a certified platinum, having sold over one million units - not too bad for his first solo shot. After that, Ne-Yo went on to release a second album, Because of You, and a third album,Year of the Gentlemen, was nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Album of the Year at the 2009 Grammys. Unsurprisingly, his fourth studio album, Libra Scale, became a huge success and debuted at number nine on the Billboard 200 chart. And let's not forget my all-time favorite song of his: the collaboration with Pitbull on his single "Give Me Everything," which peaked at number one on Billboard.
His fame only continues to grow, and with it, his career ambitions. While he's still in the process of working on his fifth album called Love and Passion, Ne-Yo has set his sights on the silver screen. Has he caught the acting bug? Will this be a recurring thing? It sure is starting to look that way and I can actually see him pulling it off. Let's just hope he doesn't end up putting his music career completely on the back burner like some people (I'm looking at you, JT). It'd be a shame for the music industry to lose such a prominent talent.