By Genevieve Kelly, Film writer & Barefoot Cinema marketing and partnerships manager
Blood-pumping and brain-tickling, these gripping Netflix docos cover some ground. From fast cars to crafty corruption, strap yourself in for a dose of reality. These docos will have you binging the night away, so we've matched each series to a delicious Matso’s cocktail, to keep you comfortable throughout!
Formula 1: Drive to Survive
Seeing that Formula 1: Drive to Survive was helmed by the same producers as the incredible doco Senna (a must-see account of the life and death of Brazilian Formula 1 racing car driver Ayrton Senna) was enough to make me do a double-take on a series that I would otherwise easily scroll past. I am not your traditional F1 fan by a long stretch, but there is something about the way these guys combine the adrenaline of this elite sport with the depth of the (mostly) men involved that makes for brilliant story-telling. For F1 fans, this will be a welcome consolation prize, given Covid-19 abruptly cut the 2020 tour short before the end of its opening Melbourne leg.
There are two seasons of Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix, each one exploring the F1 2018 and 2019 F1 tours respectively. As we criss-cross the globe to various major race days, the focus shifts from personal accounts of superstars like Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Riccardo, Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen to interviews with Team Principals Cyril Abiteboul (Renault), Guenther Steiner (Haas), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Toto Wolff (Mercedes) and Mattia Binotto (Ferrari). Although the final two refused to participate in the first season, they have plenty of airtime in the second. The result is a revealing examination of the inner workings of the top personalities and their accompanying teams, scandals and rivalries.
What really drives the series forward (pun intended) is the intense footage from within the cars and on the race track. This intimate recording thrusts the viewer directly into the driver’s seat, whilst the audio of their race conversations allow you into their head as the race plays out before you. You can physically feel the intensity and pressure to the point your body leans with each turn.
The combo of excitement, intelligence and emotion packed into tight 30-minute episodes keeps your eyes glued to the screen, helped along by the glamourous locations, impeccable fashion and very good looks of the boys club that is the racing elite. A welcome sight when the walls are the only other thing I currently have to look at every day.
Watch is with... Matso's Mango Dabra. A cocktail that matches the magic you'll witness on the racetrack!
There’s a LOT of cunningly concealed corruption in the world that the lay person is not exposed to, let alone able to understand. Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney is here to help remedy some of that by delivering this series of compelling true stories that expose the complicated dirty dealings of big-time corporates in a way that we can actually understand. Gibney has an extensive and celebrated documentary-making CV, much of which specialises in revealing the dark underside of people and institutions, with notable works like Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room (2005), Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012), We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (2013), Water and Power: A California Heist (2017), and Citizen K (2019). Safe to say, this guy is hungry to educate us into becoming cynical human beings, as if we weren’t there already.
Each episode of Dirty Money shines a spotlight on a different corporation, what they’ve done to make their billions (or trillions), and how they’ve gotten away with it. From a drug and pharmaceutical company that profits off dying patients and a multi-million dollar maple syrup heist, to a toxic plastics plant in Texas and a big bank inextricably tied to the Mexican drug cartels, it’s all enough to make your blood boil. And it will. Prepare to be entertained and outraged at once, and also feel a little helpless. Along the way you’ll inadvertently find yourself well-versed in business terminology, corporate transactions, securities fraud and creative accounting. I can’t say I’ll be short-selling shares anytime soon, but it was damn fascinating to meet those that do.
Watch it with... Matso's Dirty Mojito. It seems only fitting to get down and dirty – just don’t stoop to the level of these guys.
Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer
A series you can bowl over in one sitting – and no doubt you will – is Don’t F**k with Cats; three episodes based on an unlikely scenario that unfolds starting off with what seems like just another internet prank. The true story then develops into a jaw-dropping revelation of an elaborate crime that a group of amateur online sleuths anticipated well before it took place. Facebook groups often take on a life of their own, but you’d have to wonder if your own would go to such lengths when faced with this kind of mystery.
When some gruesome videos involving small kittens are loaded onto the internet, a Facebook group of animal-lovers forms to try and identify the person responsible and bring them to account. Their investigative techniques are second to none, and if nothing else, will make you think you’ve just stepped into an episode of CSI: IT. Over a period of years, they realise that their efforts have led them to a case far more sinister and extensive than they ever could have anticipated.
Told from the perspective of the two Facebook group leaders who took charge of this “investigation”, the viewer is led through their process without missing a beat. The devil is definitely in the detail here, and these guys are entertaining story-tellers who clearly revel in the fact that they have a chance to illuminate their meticulous efforts. The refreshing thing is that they not only draw you into their accounts, but also question if their actions were possible catalysts for the events that unfolded. There is no straight answer, but you’ll likely still be thinking about it for some time after.
Watch it with... Matso's Hot Toddy. You'll need a warm drink for this cold, cold story!