4

Staff & contributors

Prophet’s Prey is a documentary on the sect known as Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints and its leader, Warren Jeffs. Claiming to have inherited a direct connection to God, Jeffs has used this pretext to control a closed society of thousands of individuals on a shockingly personal level, as well as marry dozens of underage girls and harvest the community’s financial resources on behalf of “the church.”

The subject is deftly handled by filmmaker Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil). Here she presents most of the story via interviews with the people whose tenacity was instrumental in exposing  Jeffs. Woven throughout the film, too, is the haunting, disembodied voice of Jeffs himself, in recorded words to his followers, along with film footage of present-day FLDS communities. What emerges is the picture of a terrifying madman who still wields a disturbing amount of power over thousands of active congregants. Absolutely riveting.

Genre: Crime, Documentary, History

Actor: Nick Cave

Director: Amy J. Berg

Rating: TV-14

Amy Berg’s documentary offers an insightful account of one of the most revered and iconic rock and roll singers of all-time, from her musical rise in the 1960s to her battle with alcohol and heroin addiction. Janis Joplin’s independent spirit and sense of not fitting in are meticulously presented in the film through archival footage, rare personal letters, and interviews with her school friends, family members, and fellow musicians. Powerfully narrated by musician Cat Power, Janis: Little Girl Blue presents a profoundly nuanced and very personal portrait of Janis Joplin, in a well-curated homage to an artist who changed music forever.

Genre: Documentary, Drama, Music

Actor: Cat Power, D. A. Pennebaker, Dick Cavett, Janis Joplin, Karleen Bennett, Laura Joplin, Peter Albin

Director: Amy J. Berg

As the title suggests, My Mind & Me is a documentary that reckons with the mental state of a pop star who shot to fame at an early age and who, now in her 30s, continues to deal with the destabilizing pressures of celebrity. This is Selena Gomez in her most open state, frankly sharing her experiences with bipolar disorder and self-harm, as well as self-love and acceptance. 

Stylistically, this isn't something you haven't seen before, and it's as straightforward as documentaries can get. But it is endearing in its commitment to staying personal and raw, and this alone makes it a worthwhile and ultimately illuminating watch.

Genre: Documentary, Drama, Music

Actor: Raquelle Stevens, Selena Gomez

Director: Alek Keshishian

Rating: R

There's no doubt that this documentary on Jolly Joseph ought to be more interesting to those who are closer to the actual events of the case; it definitely has enough mystery and intrigue to be a good story. But the way it's been presented here is just too tedious for its own good, sticking to the same-old true crime devices and eventually devolving into discussion that sounds more like gossip. It's understandable that the primary suspect isn't in this film to be able to provide some sort of counter perspective, but the interviewees who do get to say their piece don't add particularly memorable insight into the circumstances surrounding these details, which can just be read up online.

Genre: Crime, Documentary

Actor: Jolly Joseph, M. S. Mathew, Remo Roy, Renji Wilson, Rojo Thomas

Director: Christo Tomy