When’s the last time you sat around for 10 hours watching phone call transcripts and courtroom video? Unless you had CourtTV during the O.J. Simpson trial, never is probably the answer. Well, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer might just change all that. The streaming TV service’s first foray into true crime film is engrossing and infuriating, in spite of runtime that’s more about binge watching than storytelling.
Let’s get this out of the way first. I didn’t hate Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I loved certain moments. Disliked some others. And checked-out once or twice from utter disinterest. As far as big franchise resurrections go, J.J. Abrams’s return to that galaxy far, far away is about average. It checks all the nostalgia boxes, revisiting memorable lines and referencing classic moments. It moves at hyperspeed, sometimes to the point of illogic, as Abrams movies are wont to do. And most of the new central characters are more interesting than the old ones. I guess “not bad” is as far as I’m willing to go here. Star Wars: The Force Awakens… it’s not bad.
Even by today’s big, dumb summer movie standards, Jurassic World is probably one of the stupidest movies you’ll ever see. The third sequel to Steven Spielberg’s dino spectacular is so braindead that I’d call it an exercise in blockbuster self-parody if I thought for one moment the movie was self-aware enough to go there. It’s not. Jurassic World is just dumb.
Hot Girls Wanted is about as solid a documentary on the “amateur” porn industry and sex work as we could possibly expect. But I can’t really blame the filmmakers, even though I should. That statement says more about our culture and its relationship with sex and sex work than it does about the documentary, produced by Rashida Jones of Parks & Rec and distributed by Netflix. I could hate Hot Girls Wanted, but I don’t. I could be offended by it, but I’m not. Why? Because this was an opportunity that was so easy to miss that it’s hard to hold it against one single, softball movie.
Many moviegoers, not everyone, bemoan the onslaught of franchise films, universe entries, remakes and sequels that are announced every week (day?). It’s true, the idea of an original movie in Hollywood is a rarity. Even when something original does hit, it’s not likely to create the quasi-original imitators that were once the staple of formula film success. It’s the era of the Hollywood franchise and we’re just watching it.