My wife and I are going to be sans children next week, and we aim to go to the movies. We’re definitely going to see Tree of Life, which has finally come to Nashville. But we’re thinking about going to the movies more than once. What are your recommendations? I want to hear about what movies you’ve enjoyed lately and why. Besides those movies that are currently in cinemas, we’re also accepting recommendations for movies that are on Netflix Watch Instantly.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the movie theater, so my recommendations are going to have to be all Netflix selections. The selection on Watch Instantly is hit-and-miss, except for documentaries, which are surprisingly comprehensive. Two of my favorite documentaries are Vernon, Florida and The King of Kong.

Vernon, Florida is a very slow-paced documentary about a very slow-paced town full of some of the most eccentric people ever captured on film. I take that back; for the most part, they’re not flamboyantly eccentric–just an exaggeration of the eccentricity you’re liable to encounter in any Southern small town. There’s the obsessive turkey hunter, the worm farmer, the preacher who devotes more time than you would think possible to the word “therefore.”

The filmmaker Errol Morris originally went to Vernon, Florida to tell a different story. Vernon was the world capital for accidental dismemberment. The locals used to take out accidental dismemberment insurance policies on themselves. Then, lo and behold, an astonishing percentage of them got accidentally dismembered–hands got stuck in farm machinery, people accidentally shot their own feet off. When the filmmakers showed up in Vernon with their cameras to talk to these people, they were not well received. But they noticed a lot of other interesting people in town, and they became the basis of the documentary. The movie actually makes no mention of either amputation or insurance policies.

The King of Kong is about a guy named Steve Wiebe who decides to be the world champion of the Donkey Kong arcade game. It is much more fascinating than it sounds; it has one of the greatest villains you’ll ever see in a documentary. I heartily commend this movie to you. [I just saw that it’s no longer on Watch Instantly. That’s too bad. This is a very fun movie.]

How about you? What are you watching these days?