In the space of 19 weeks between 2018 and 2019, two brand new Boeing 737 Max airplanes crashed, killing all 346 passengers and crew on board.
Indonesian carrier Lion Air’s Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea after taking off from Jakarta airport in October 2018. Six months later, in March, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 headed to Kenya crashed in a field near Addis Abba Bole Airport.
There were no survivors – only a trail of human tragedy and a renewed spotlight on corporate greed.
The Boeing 737 Max was grounded worldwide.
In ground-breaking Netflix documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing, director Rory Kennedy says she made the film – complete with first-hand testimonies of family members and aviation experts – in a bid to build “a case against Boeing” and show how and why confidence in the airline industry was shattered.
After the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 25, Kennedy told Variety she made the film because “we all fly, right?”
“When we book our plane tickets, when we walk down the tarmac to get on the plane and when we are on that plane, we are trusting that these corporations, airlines, manufacturers, Congress and the regulatory agencies are looking out for us,” Ms Kennedy said.
“This film really shows us that that doesn’t always happen and that we have to make those demands.
“It was important to tell the story through the perspective of the people who were really on the front lines.
“Having those first-hand accounts and using the first-hand source documents to tell the story, without a narrator, was the way that I felt the audience could best access it and be pulled into it.
“For me this film is about corporate malfeasance. It’s about focusing on finances over public safety.
“Frankly, it’s not just about Boeing. I think there needs to be an appropriate balance between corporate and financial interest and the public interest.
“We have lost that balance in many instances, and I think it’s imperative that we regain that.”
Variety says the documentary has been “written with compassion and technical clarity … and doesn’t shy away from images of debris fields”.
“Yet, it never exploits grief or terror even as it shows animated simulations of the flights’ final minutes.”
Downfall streams exclusively on Netflix on February 18. But it’s only one of a handful of big hits streaming this month.
Steelers promises an uplifting story about teamwork and friendship. Photo: Paramount+
Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby League Team – Paramount+ (February 1)
Paramount+ says you don’t have to be a rugby union fan to watch this documentary. “In 1995, in a pub in King’s Cross, a group of friends discussed the idea of a gay rugby club. From that casual conversation, the first gay rugby team was born.”
Now, 25 years later, there are 60 clubs worldwide and once every two years they get together for the world tournament of gay rugby – The Bingham Cup.
Steelers helps us get to know players like Drew, an inside-centre by day, a drag queen by night, and head coach Nic, who sheds a few proud tears when talking about her boys.
Pam & Tommy: Disney+ (February 2)
Set in the Wild West early days of the Internet, Pam & Tommy is based on the incredible true story of the sex tape with Pamela Anderson (Lily James, Yesterday) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan, The Falcon & the Winter Soldier).
It’s an eight-part original series, and a love story that explores the origins of the reality television era.
Netflix says the documentary is jaw-dropping. Photo: Netflix
The Tinder Swindler: Netflix (February 2)
Revenge is sweet. This explosive documentary tells the story of conman Shimon Hayut who posed as a wealthy, jet-setting diamond mogul. He wooed women online and then conned them out of millions of dollars. He claimed he was the son of billionaire Russian-Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev. He wasn’t. Three women feature in the documentary – and we see how they bring him down.
Torn: Disney+ (February 4)
In 1999, climber Alex Lowe was lost in a deadly avalanche on the Tibetan mountain of Shishapangma. Surviving the avalanche was Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, Conrad Anker, who went on to marry Alex’s widow and help raise his sons, including filmmaker and National Geographic explorer Max Lowe, who directs this documentary on his father’s death.
As Nat Geo puts it: “The film will follow Max in his quest to understand his iconic late father as he explores his family’s complex relationships in the wake of his father’s death.”
Reacher: Amazon Prime (February 4)
If you’re obsessed with author Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, this Amazon original series brings to life his first novel Killing Floor. The eight-episode first series follows Jack Reacher, a veteran military police investigator who has just recently entered civilian life. He’s a drifter, carrying no phone and the barest of essentials as he travels the country. Lots of action. Easy on the eye.
The Girl Before: Binge (February 10)
The Girl Before is a limited-series thriller about Jane (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an architect (David Oyelowo). The only problem is, the girl before her has gone missing. Is she hiding in a panic room?
Inventing Anna: Netflix (February 11)
Based on a true story, this limited series follows a journalist as she investigates how Anna Delvey convinced New York’s elite she was a German heiress.
The Fear Index: Stan (February 11)
It’s another new series and as a special treat you get all episodes landing on the same day so you don’t have to set your viewing calendar. This show tells the story of Dr Alex Hoffman (Josh Hartnett), a computer scientist and genius, and his hedge fund business partner and best friend, Hugo. The pair want to make millions by launching an AI-driven algorithm called the Fear Index that exploits fear in financial markets. But Hoffman has a target on his back.
Bel-Air: Stan (February 14)
Set in modern-day America, Bel-Air reimagines the beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air through a dramatic lens that takes in Will Smith’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air.
Severance: AppleTV+ (February 18)
Produced by Ben Stiller, Severance is a dark spin on how, exactly, we achieve the perfect work/life balance. It’s a thriller, set in a massive, almost empty office building and stars Adam Scott, who agrees to undergo a kind of dystopian surgical procedure. I think you just have to watch it.
Lincoln’s Dilemma: Apple TV (February 18)
For the history buffs among us, this four-part documentary series is a fresh 21st-century exploration of President Lincoln and the complex journey to end slavery.
Counterpart: Stan (February 21)
The science fiction genre delivers a parallel-world storyline set inside the bureaucratic machinery of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency.
Stan says the show “explores themes of identity, fate and lost love, posing the eternal question, ‘what if our lives could have been different?’”
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