After being very disappointed in the first three episodes of Netflix’s “Away,” I decided to give it one more shot — but it didn’t change my mind, so I’m done with that. We also tried to watch the new Netflix series, “Ratched,” but gave it up after one episode. Too much style, not enough substance.
But we did find documentaries about two fascinating show business figures whose work we’ve long admired…
Dabney Coleman had a hell of a run of successful movies in the early 1980s, appearing over four years in “9 to 5,” “On Golden Pond,” “Tootsie,” and “War Games.” In 2017, when he was 85, Coleman sat for a series of interviews with writer/director Bryan Beasley for “Not Such A Bad Guy,” a documentary about his career. He told stories about appearing opposite Steve McQueen in one scene of “The Towering Inferno,” making the much-acclaimed but low-rated NBC series “Buffalo Bill,” and his recurring role on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” The most impressive thing about Coleman was that, whenever he was on screen, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. Considering the highly-talented people he co-starred with, that’s saying something. The documentary, now streaming on Prime Video, runs a little less than an hour.
“By Sidney Lumet” is another documentary about someone with a long career full of great titles. Beginning with “12 Angry Men” in 1957, Lumet made 44 movies in 50 years, but never won an Academy Award for Best Director (although he did get an honorary Oscar in 2005). The list includes some of the finest films ever shot: “Fail Safe” in the 1960s; “Serpico,” “Dog Day Afternoon,” and “Network” in the 1970s; “Deathtrap” and “The Verdict” in the 1980s; and many more up to his final project in 2007, “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.” In this 2015 retrospective by Nancy Buirski, Lumet talks about his most famous movies and some that he was proud of despite their box office failures (e.g. “The Wiz,” “Daniel,” “Running On Empty”), as well as his childhood in the Yiddish Theater, living through the Depression, surviving the blacklist in the 1950s, and his on-set relationships with an incredible slate of actors. “By Sidney Lumet” is now streaming on Netflix.