Documentaries give us a chance to look at the world through someone else’s eyes. A window into another world, a chance to walk in another person’s shoes, a fly on the wall or a perspective on a critical issue… they’re designed to inform, entertain and compel audiences to think differently or in some cases take action. Here are three inspired documentaries coming to Showmax.
THE SPARKS BROTHERS
How can one rock band be successful, underrated, hugely influential, and criminally overlooked all at the same time? With commentary from celebrity fans like Flea, Beck, Jason Schwartzman, Neil Gaiman, and more, The Sparks Brothers takes audiences on a musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with brothers and bandmates Ron and Russell Mael, celebrating the inspiring legacy of Sparks: your favourite band’s favourite band.
The debut documentary from cult director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead), The Sparks Brothers earned the Maels The Unforgettables award at the 2022 Cinema Eye Honours Awards, and was nominated for four 2021 Critics Choice Documentary Awards: Most Compelling Living Subject, Best Music Documentary, Best First Documentary and Best Director. It also featured prominently at Rotten Tomatoes’ Golden Tomatoes Awards, where it was named the fifth best-reviewed documentary, the seventh best limited-release movie, and the 21st best-reviewed movie overall of 2021, with a 98% critics rating.
As the Rotten Tomatoes’ critics consensus puts it, “Their albums may be cult favourites, but this Edgar Wright-directed documentary offers an introduction to Sparks that has something for everyone.”
Distilled from over 300 interviews conducted by the late British documentary filmmaker Luke Holland, Final Account is an urgent portrait of the last living generation of everyday people to participate in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. In never-seen-before interviews, men and women, ranging from former SS members to civilians, reckon – in very different ways – with their memories, perceptions and personal appraisals of their own roles in one of the greatest human crimes in history.
The documentary was nominated for two 2021 Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, including Best Historical or Biographical Documentary, and has a 93% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Guardian calls Final Account, “A simple, unadorned study of everyday evil, …the past speaking to the present.” The Times gave it a 4/5-star review, calling it, “Timely and ominous.” Rolling Stone says it’s “a reminder that we’re on the verge of seeing history repeat itself.” And Slant Magazine praises it as a “reminder of how everyday people can become complicit in incomprehensible evil.”
I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK
Based on the work of late American true crime author Michelle McNamara, the HBO documentary series I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is both a gripping examination of the crimes of the Golden State Killer who terrorized California in the 1970s and 1980s, and the moving story of one woman’s relentless pursuit of justice for his victims.
Helmed by two-time Oscar nominee Liz Garbus (The Fourth Estate, The Farm: Angola, USA, The Handmaid’s Tale), the series won two Cinema Eye Honors Awards in 2021 and holds a 96% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus calls it, “a heavy, but important tapestry of trauma, obsession, and survival.”
The series is executive produced by – and features – actor Patton Oswalt, McNamara’s husband, who, along with her researcher Paul Haynes, and journalist and true crime writer Billy Jensen, completed her book – I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – and went on to witness its impact.