American Factory, a new Netflix Original documentary, follows a group of workers after a General Motors plant closes in Dayton, Ohio and a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in its place. As the 2,000 American workers transition to the new company, clashes happen between the two cultures, especially once the workers try to start a union.
Although the film is not the most fastpaced story, it does a compelling job of diving into issues around culture and the changing American workforce. Because it takes place in Dayton, another town in which many people prospered because of a GM plant, the story is also pertinent to a Fort Wayne audience. The approach to the subject matter is sensitive to the issues the factory workers face, including culture shock for both American and Chinese employees, while avoiding stereotyping and drawing any conclusions for the audience.
American Factory was directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. It runs 1 hour 55 minutes.
Also recently released on Netflix is season two of their crime drama, Mindhunter, which follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and psychologist Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), as they found the Behavioral Science Unit, pioneering the field of criminal profiling. The show is based loosely on the book by real-life FBI agent John Douglas and is a good watch for fans of shows such as Criminal Minds. The second season sees a cameo from Charles Manson and follows the FBI’s investigation into the Atlanta Child Murders (aka the Atlanta Monster). Meanwhile, Agent Tench and his wife, Nancy (Stacey Roca), deal with a shocking turn in the life of their adopted son, Brian (Zachary Scott Ross).
Mindhunter draws from fascinating source material and features strong performances from its leading cast, still, it manages to really drag in some episodes, in part due to an overly subdued script and in part due to its drab art direction. It aims for neo-noir but often lacks any heat. That said, I really enjoyed the plot around Tench’s son this season. The way the family drama unfolds is suspenseful and connects interestingly to the overarching plot about how serial killers think. If you are interested in criminal psychology, Mindhunter is not to be missed, but for other audiences, it might be too slow to be worth the time investment.
Mindhunter was created by Joe Penhall. Season 2 runs for nine episodes. It is rated TV-MA because it is about serial killers, who are often perverts.
One recent Saturday night, my mother, husband, and I sat down to watch a DVD (The Intruder- two thumbs way down) and realized that Mom no longer owned a DVD player. We desperately tried to find something streaming that none of us had seen and we all could agree on. We settled on The Competition, a romcom cut from the cloth of The Truth About Cats and Dogs and The Ugly Truth. Even under such circumstances, I cannot fully recommend this movie.
In The Competition, Lauren (Thora Birch) has a successful blog and a promising million-dollar book deal based on her mathematic formula that she calls The PIG Theory. Essentially, her theory suggests that everyone cheats given the opportunity, so she ends her relationships after six months. Her sister, Gena (Claire Coffee), rightly thinks that Lauren is deranged, so she promises Calvin Chesney (Chris Klein) partnership at her law firm if he woos her sister and convinces her that the PIG Theory is narrowminded. In order to disprove her theory, Laura and Calvin start a competition to see if his friends will cheat. If they do, she wins and they will date for six months before breaking up. If they don’t, she will take down her blog.
As you may have noticed by now, the plot to this movie is convoluted, even for a romantic comedy. The actors also give wooden performances of a poorly written script. The Competition does not even cross into so-bad-it’s-good territory. It is just a clunker.
The Competition was written by Kelsey Tucker and directed by Harvey Lowry.