As we’re on the edge of June, it’s time to accept there will not be a traditional summer movie season, no matter how much Christopher Nolan wants us to be at the movies in for “Tenet.”
What there will be is a summer of very heavy documentaries about some of pop culture’s biggest monsters. Some of these I’ve seen, others are yet to be released. If you’re morbidly curious to peek into these cesspools of humans, here’s what to check out.
”Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” (TV-MA) — A tribute to the young victims of the billionaire creep, this four-part Netflix docuseries talks with them about their disturbing experiences with Epstein and how he came to power and manipulated the media.
Told in the style of the Michael Jackson docuseries “Leaving Neverland,” with lots of crane shots of nature, stock photos and some footage, it’s a harrowing experience that’s often exhausting. After awhile, you get numb to all of the close-ups of Epstein headshots, but never to the stories the women are telling. It’s far from perfect, but worth it to go beyond all of the Epstein memes. (Now streaming on Netflix)
”30 For 30: Lance” (TV-MA) — The opening of this two-part, four-hour ESPN documentary follows Lance Armstrong’s rise from an athletic star/total brat to icon/cheater. A source at the beginning warns the director that they would be manipulated into making the movie as career rehabilitation for Armstrong. But I wouldn’t go that far.
In talking with Armstrong in multiple instances, as well as many of the bikers who he betrayed, it portrays him in a fairly negative light, as an egomaniac with an unflinching drive to win. We also see the cracks in the competitive bicycling scene and how doping went far beyond Armstrong, it’s just the other athletes didn’t rise to Armstrong’s level. It’s an interesting peek into Armstrong’s life and complicated, angering way of thinking. Compared to the wildly popular ESPN series, “The Last Dance” with Michael Jordan, this thankfully feels less like it has its subject’s fingerprints on it to make him look good. It’s worth the time investment. (Streaming on ESPN and ESPN+)
”On The Record” (TV-MA) — While I wasn’t able to check this out, I’m deeply interested in this Oprah-produced documentary about how Russell Simmons, one of the biggest hip-hop moguls in the history of the genre, allegedly sexually abused women and remained in a position of power. Save for “Surviving R. Kelly” and “Leaving Neverland,” the music industry’s history of abuse is far less documented than, say, film or television. (Now streaming on HBO Max)
”Athlete A” (TV-MA) — Streaming on June 24 on Netflix, this will follow the reporters of The Indianapolis Star as they uncover the abuses of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar with interviews of the people he abused and how he got away with it for years. It’s rare to get the story from the side of the journalists, which makes it even more interesting (Streaming on Netflix).