Looking for some hot dinner party topics? You’re gonna stir the pot with these truth-busting documentaries. We’ve got a good mix for you this month: some historical conflict, the secret history of sex dolls, a candid look at Maria Sharapova’s drug comeback and a new one from the director of The Exorcist (spoiler: it’s about exorcisms).
Get some learning up you, guys. These are the best documentaries to check out this month.
The Devil & Father Amorth
William Friedkin is the genius behind the 1973 cinema classic, The Exorcist. But not to put too fine a point on it: that movie wasn’t real. This time he’s back with a documentary look at real-life exorcisms. It’s Friedkin’s actual experience of an exorcism he witnessed back in 2016. Apparently it’s spooky as f*ck. “I had to consider whether or not I wanted to show this, but I ultimately felt that I had seen it and people should see it,” Friedkin says. The Devil & Father Amorth came out in the US last month—no word yet on when we’ll (legally) get it, but keep your eyes open (and your head spinning).
Take Your Pills
Adderall isn’t super common on this side of the Pacific, but it’s rife in the states, particularly in high-pressure universities where students use it to stay up late, cram for exams and basically become Amazing. Take Your Pills looks at the cost of Adderall on America’s youth, and the atmosphere of competitiveness that drives the campus black market. Take it with a grain of salt though—a few articles have come out saying the documentary puts too much blame on the meds and not enough on individual responsibility.
Twinsters was made back in 2015, but it’s recently been picked up by Netflix. It’s the story of Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier, identical twin sisters who were separated at birth, found each other online, then met up and searched for their birth mother. It’s got a DIY charm that’s missing from some of the bigger budget docos, and the story is pretty interesting. Makes us want to check our birth certificates more closely...
Sex Robots & Us
Sex Dolls may not be new, but sex doll brothels kind of are. This documentary takes a look at the booming sex doll industry, both male and female, and how it’s changing the nature of sexual relationships. The scary thing is how...real these things are becoming. Silicone surfacing gives the texture of real skin, the animatronics have come a long way from goofy 90s robots, and we all know how good chat bots are getting at mimicking convo these days. What does all this mean for sexual consent, human closeness and plastic futures? Find out.
The Civil War
Still one of our favourite historical docos of all time. If you haven’t heard of Ken Burns, he’s the guy that pioneered the documentary trope of taking still life photographs, then panning across them to give the appearance of movement (they call it the ‘Ken Burns Effect’). The Civil War is probably still his most famous documentary series—a colourful look at the civil conflict that rocked the States in the mid-nineteenth century. Just try not to fall in love with Civil War buff Shelby Foote. We dare ya.
Would you donate your severed head or DNA to scientists trying to crack the immortality conundrum? Some people are doing it. The Immortals takes you into the weird and wonderful world of immortal science—a growing industry, believe it or not. From frozen bodies under the deserts of Arizona to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs manipulating our genome, this is the pointy end of Futurama-esque scientific discovery. If you’re planning on hanging around for the next thousand years, you might want to give this a watch.
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On
You might have seen this one kicking around your Netflix feed. It’s an in-depth look at the porn industry, produced by actress extraordinaire Rashida Jones. ‘Tuned On’ is a six-part TV extension of the original Hot Girls Wanted documentary film. Unlike most porn docos though, this one takes a few innovative angles you might not expect: one episode might deal with a boutique porn production studio, the next with cam sites or dating apps or the racial issues inherent in the porn industry. Great intro too.
Horses: Patti Smith & Her Band
This one’s hot off the presses, and you may not be able to actually watch it this month. But we thought we’d give you a heads up anyway. Director Stephen Sebring has unveiled his second Patti Smith documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival, and by all accounts it’s bloody amazing. It’s the story of one of the final performances of Smith’s 40th anniversary concert tour. If you’re a Patti Smith fan (and let's face it, who isn't?) this one’s gonna be compulsory viewing. Fingers crossed we get it here soon.
Maria Sharapova | The Point
Love her or hate her, you can’t deny Maria Sharapova is very, very interesting. A convicted drug cheat who’s now worked her way back into professional competition. How exactly did that happen? This doco tries to find out. Directors Lisa Nax and Nancy Winters spent 15 months following the star around as she worked on her controversial comeback. Before you judge, give it a gander. The Point might just change your perspective on drug use in professional sports.
Want more? Here's all the TV you should be binge-watching this month.
Image credit: Netflix