If you’re looking for something to watch, here are three documentaries I’ve enjoyed recently and added to my Movies You Might Not Know list.
“The Last Blockbuster” is about the sole remaining Blockbuster video rental store, located in Bend, Oregon. It recaps the history of how Blockbuster, which at one time had hundreds of franchises, revolutionized the home entertainment business. Of course, all that success dissolved with the birth of streaming services like Netflix (which Blockbuster stupidly opted not to buy). Celebrities like Kevin Smith, Ione Skye, Brian Posehn, and Doug Benson appear in the movie to discuss their memories as Blockbuster customers, and some of them even made the trek to Oregon to visit the last store standing. But the star of “The Last Blockbuster” is Sandi Harding, the woman who’s managed that store for years — and whose entire family has worked there at some point. Not only has she kept it alive, but she’s also handled the onslaught of media requests that continue to come in from reporters who want to share the store’s unique story. I give “The Last Blockbuster” an 8.5 out of 10. Now streaming on Netflix and also via video on demand.
“The Last Cruise” details the sad story of the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that departed Yokohama, Japan, on January 20, 2020 — the same day the World Health Organization revealed the first cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Unfortunately, the virus was on board and, over the course of the next 40 days, spread to more than 700 people on the ship. Passengers were quarantined in their rooms, but staff members had to continue doing their jobs while also sharing close quarters in their bunks. In that, we see not only the fear and apprehension, but also the class distinctions between the passengers and the crew, particularly those who work in the kitchen, preparing meals to be delivered to the more than 2,000 guests while earning a pittance and being offered little protection from a deadly pandemic. What makes “The Last Cruise” fascinating is that it’s told entirely from the perspective of the people stuck on that floating petri dish who recorded the goings-on with their cell phones. Director Hannah Olson did a remarkable job of culling all that video and editing it into a compelling story of a nightmare at sea — which she tells in a mere 40 minutes. I give “The Last Cruise” a 9 out of 10. Now streaming on HBO Max.