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Cult of Personality- The Source Family (2012)

13 Sep

SourceFamily_2000x2841_1shtWhat started as a lucrative, hip vegetarian restaurant in late-1960’s LA, led to a religious way of life for over one hundred followers in the 70’s. The Source Family documentary tells the tale of Ya Ho Wha, or Father Yod, and his transformation from a straight-laced and allegedly violent businessman to a polygamous cult leader. A unique perspective emerges as past followers are interviewed in present-day, with many seeing no harm in the crazy life they used to lead under this cult leader. What started out with seemingly reasonable life habits- healthy and organic eating, commitment to above all else do no harm, communal living and positive thinking- devolves into power-hunger, community backlash, withdrawal from society, and as Father Yod’s ex-wife, Robin, so aptly put it, “a dirty old man on a lust trip.”

And despite the obvious manipulation at play within the Source Family, it is incredible to see how former members still speak so highly of the cult and its missions- many retaining their cult-given names (Sunflower, Isis, Electricity, all with the last name Aquarian) even more than 40 years after the Family’s dissipation.

Oh the fashion!

Oh the fashion!

The incredibly raw, archival footage maintained by photographer, official Source Family member, and appointed documentarian, Isis Aquarian, gives a first-hand look into the ceremonies, rituals, daily life, and philosophies of this group. It is quite surprising that documentation was even allowed, considering how it doesn’t always cast the group or its leader in a positive light. There is also some unique insight into why exactly someone would fall for cult mentality, as well as the societal pushes and pulls in the climate of the 1960’s and 70’s family. Most notably, during a time in which fatherly love and warmth was not the customary order of the day (think Mad Men), followers with daddy issues flocked to Father Yod’s side for love and guidance.

Plus, they formed a pretty interesting psychedelic rock band, that for some reason was allowed to play California high schools during their heyday. Nowadays, their records are a coveted find for serious collectors.

Check out this far out trailer for the doc, man:

Wet Hot Double Feature- First Day of Camp and Hurricane of Fun (2015)

11 Aug

How excited were you when the makers of Wet Hot American Summer announced that they would be releasing a season-long prequel, adapted for television and available streaming in its entirety this summer? Were you this excited?

Image from consequenceofsound.net

Image from consequenceofsound.net

first-day-of-camp.0I was jumping for joy. When you have watched Wet Hot American Summer as many times as I have, after nearly fifteen years you really don’t expect a sequel on the horizon. And then it hits you, just like an ice cream headache in the middle of July. And yes, ice cream is quite delicious, but sadly, you can have too much of a good thing. So, my friends, if you have not yet watched the whole season as I have, I urge you to savor it. Savor it as you would a delicious sorbet. Because when it’s gone it’s gone, and this time I don’t think we can expect another installment fifteen years down the line.

I paradoxically feel proud and ashamed that I consumed the entire season of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp in one sitting on the Sunday after its release. Netflix has its evil way of sinking its claws right through you and into your lazy couch on your day off, taking the grunt work out of even pressing play for the next episode. I just let it play through, delighting in the familiar faces, fifteen years later, as they danced across the screen. I was ecstatic to see new, but similarly joy-producing cameos such as H Jon Benjamin, Jon Hamm, Jason Schwartzman, and Michaela Watkins as well. But now I just feel empty inside. I had too much of a good thing, and it just left me craving more.

282689-hurricane-of-fun-the-making-of-wet-hot-0-230-0-345-cropHow elated I was, then, this evening when we discovered Hurricane of Fun: The Making of Wet Hot (2015) on Netflix this evening! This casual, behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the original movie was almost as delightful as the four hours I dedicated to the series last week. While I wish I could say that the show came as close to the movie as I would have hoped, this candid documentary of the original movie hit the nostalgia spot a little bit better. Everyone looks so fresh and young and little, and their sense of humor that carries off screen is so warm and relatable.  What I wouldn’t give to have been able to join the cast at their own Camp Firewood retreat as they filmed the movie back in 2000. I nearly shed a tear when Amy Poehler dances around one of their camp cabins during filming, lip synching to Le Tigre’s Deceptacon. Why can’t we just be friends in real life already??