Hulu is the only service showing love to indie filmmakers this month. These are great films to boot. Andy Irons: Kissed by God scored a 10 out of 10. Three others posted nines and were festival films. Ironically, the only film with any major star power got a 7 rating. Pretty average. So, now you have something to do this weekend.
True to its subject, Andy Irons: Kissed by God ebbs and flows with the emotional swells. Surfers know the name Andy Irons the same way they know the spot Pipeline. But they–and you– probably don’t know about the man under the sunny smile, bronze tan and gold trophies. Directors Steve and Todd Jones remind us that even idols are human. Held down by bipolar disorder and drug addiction, Irons was an Iron man with a beating heart. A beating heart that, due to a drug overdose, stopped beating in 2010. Still, his legacy lives on. Through intimate interviews and explosive archival footage (did you see that barrel!), the directors have fastened a “documentary that could change someone’s life” says Chris Salce. He’s not lying. 10/10
A dog grooming parlor sits in a quaint seaside village in Italy in Dogman. Sound cute? Don’t expect anthropomorphized canines to say things like “I just love treats and my amazing owner” as they give us puppy eyes. Don’t expect a lot of dialogue at all. This pet shop is run by Marcello (the great Marcello Fante). A drug dealer with an addiction for violence, he’s a loving man in a loveless world. It’s a world of corruption, greying skies (the cinematography is killer) and an aging Italian political system. What’s more, it’s a David and Goliath parable: A man up against his towering friend and countries tyranny. Cooked up by Italian maestro Matteo Garrone, it’s also a revenge tale with bark and bites. With documentarian-like camerawork that sucks you in, and a “heavy and whimsical” script takes you out of yourself, this is as unforgiving as the world we live in. 9/10
The Amazing Jonathan Documentary is the most uncomfortable doc since Grey Gardens. That one was panned for being too personal–can you really film two clinically unstable ladies for entertainment? I don’t see why not. Just as I don’t see why you can’t have a clash between filmmaker and subject, as well as between filmmaker and the subject’s other secret camera crew. Yes, magician Jonathan Szeles hired another crew just to mess with Ben Berman. The result, as Anthony Ray Bench puts it, is “a lot of fun.” It’s also awkward enough to make Michael Scott seem normal and poignant enough to make Berman the greatest magician in the room. Szeles may be trolling. Yet this remarkable documentary flips the script and dives into Szeles f****d up psychology. 9/10
This biopic is as stiff as a pair of skinny jeans. That doesn’t mean that the famed photographer–the actor playing the famed photographer–isn’t given moments to breathe. Matt Smith revels in Mapplethorpe’s eroticism. His surreal, hypnotic qualities. The movie follows suit. As in your face like any of the brash black and white photographs (those naked people who look like wallflowers at an Andy Warhol party), director Ondi Timoner spends most of his time trying to shock his audience. Look here! A picture of a dildo going into a man’s butt. Look here! Mapplethorpe’s gay affairs. It’s a shtick that wears thin. The by-the-numbers aspects don’t help either. How can a movie about an artist who did things we have never seen before be filled with things you have seen a zillion times? Lorry Kikta points out that there’s a treasure trove of his photos to be discovered. Is that enough, though? 7/10
Body at Brighton Rock has a 64 percent critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 17 percent audience rating. So which is it? This is the one film I haven’t seen on this list of films coming to streaming platforms this September, so I can’t make a fair judgment. It’s about a girl who wanders off at a State Park and gets lost. Terror ensues. It’s a premise Bobby Lepire calls a “bloody good time.” Whether this riff on 127 Hours is -tremendously taut or just feels like 127 hours is for you to decide. 9/10