Bowling for Columbine: Michael Moore’s breakthrough documentary turns 20

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Bowling for Columbine (DocPlay)

Nobody does it like Michael Moore.

The Oscar-winning director was banned from American cinemas for this excoriating look at American gun culture. Released in 2002 and the first documentary to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Moore changed the genre – American documentary filmmaking became bolder, more self-effacing than ever after its debut.

Moore’s humor predated the wry meta-commentary genre of Sacha Baron Cohen and Nathan Fielder; but Moore does not operate here under any pretext. More so than his later documentaries, Sicko and Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore understands that there are no simple answers. But, by addressing the simple issues first and meeting the ordinary Americans, the gray commanders who sell the bullets used in the mass shootings, Moore recognizes how steeped the country has become in gun culture.

The question posed by the film is whether the United States will ever be able to pull through. –Jonny Mahon-Heap

Bowling For Columbine is now available to stream on DocPlay.

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Broadway Idiot is now available to stream on DocPlay.

The Broadway Idiot (DocPlay)

When Broadway director Michael Mayer wanted to bring Green Day’s 2004 album American Idiot to Broadway, it seemed like an odd concept, even though the band approved of the idea.

This 2013 documentary is a fascinating look at both the concept album that helped shape a disillusioned post-9/11 generation and the work that went into giving the record a Broadway take.

Interviews with the band and Mayer are intertwined with behind-the-scenes footage, which documents the journey to bring the musical to life, as Mayer and the cast give their own spin on the songs and stories behind them.

“I was like, what the hell are you doing here?” Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong says he got involved and eventually starred in the production, which lasted over a year in 2010.

The answer, it seems, was to bring two unlikely worlds together: musicals and punk rock. It gives the inspiring impression that the two have worked very well together. – Amberleigh Jack


Jackie is now available to stream on TVNZ+.

Jackie (TVNZ+)

This film sees Natalie Portman deliver a stunning performance as Jaqueline Kenendy Onassis, following the assassination of her husband John F Kennedy. Although this is a biopic about one of the world’s most famous first ladies, Jackie does a phenomenal job of providing a window into one woman’s grief as she comes to terms with the loss from her husband.

Director Pablo Larraín (who also made the Princess Diana Spencer biopic last year) isn’t shy about portraying the brutal gravity of JFK’s death and Jackie’s breakdown – the scene in which she returns in the White House after the assassination is particularly moving.

Despite the incredibly unique circumstances of JFK’s death and his wife’s recovery, Jackie does well in a simple exploration of grief and how life goes on when a loved one dies. – Lyric Waiwiri-Smith


The Afterparty is now streaming on Apple TV+.

The Afterparty (Apple TV+)

This comedic murder mystery, told in eight episodes, kicks off with the body of pop star and actor Xavier (Dave Franko) found on the rocks beneath his mansion. It happened at a 15-year-old high school reunion after a party, and his former classmates spend the rest of the series recounting their memory of the night to detectives.

If you started watching without knowing the format, there are moments of slight confusion, albeit in a very entertaining way. Each episode takes on a different genre, from romantic comedy to action, and a surprisingly entertaining musical courtesy of Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation, House of Cards), whose character Yasper narrates his night through a handful of musical bangers. very entertaining – appropriate, given the character’s dreams of rock stardom.

While a bit slow to get caught up in, The Afterparty quickly becomes an easily unmanageable series from creators Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street), which is full of recognizable faces from comedies past.

About Time is now available to stream on Prime Video.

About Time (Prime Video)

This British romantic comedy is a lively and refreshing take on a genre that many may believe is well and truly overdone by now.

Domhnall Gleeson plays geeky but lovable Tim, who discovers he’s inherited the gift of time travel from his father (Bill Nighy). While the possibilities may seem endless, Tim uses this ability for one purpose: to find a girlfriend. When he meets American ex-pat Mary (Rachel McAdams), Tim travels back and forth in time trying to create a perfect future with Mary.

Throughout the ups and downs of this story, About Time is a wholesome comfort watch with charming British accents that can also bring you to tears at the thought of life’s beauty and transience. – Lyric Waiwiri-Smith

Edward Snowden’s documentary Citizenfour is now available to stream on DocPlay.

Citizenfour (DocPlay)

I saw this documentary for the first time in a full house – little was known at the time.

Edward Snowden was still incognito in Russia, the Guardian’s front page was a cover maul, and the US government threatened extradition on the daily. The 200 or so of us watched this slice-of-life image unfold, with the gasps and shivers that might normally accompany a Bond film.

It’s best to know as little as possible before entering. In this way, the untold events that unfold will forever reframe your perspective on large-scale government surveillance, even as the film helps you realize that it’s already too late. –Jonny Mahon-Heap

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