Instant Picks of the Week 12/1/17
Gone are the days of scrolling mindlessly through your queue! No longer will you have to sift through the vastness of what’s coming to the instant viewing wastelands this month! Whether you’re looking for a stellar film or an exciting new show to binge, Instant Picks of the Week brings you the hottest releases in film and television on instant viewing platforms that we know you’ll love, or at the very least not despise.
SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR (Hulu)
In 1994, Elizabeth Ramirez babysat her two nieces for a week with the help of her friends Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vazquez, and Cassandra Rivera; soon after, these four lesbian Latina women were hit with false allegations of sexual abuse and faced a horrifically unjust, prejudiced, and homophobic trial. After hearings filled with junk forensic science and hysteric paranoia about Satanic ritual abuse (yes, you read that right), these women were wrongfully charged with aggravated sexual assault and given sentences that robbed them of their lives. This heart-wrenching documentary delves into this severe miscarriage of justice as well as the happy, loving lives of these women before they were convicted. Nostalgic home videos and interviews with the four women and their family members make the pain of what they lost palpable and enraging. What’s inspirational is how these women have remained strong, positive, and hopeful in their long fight for freedom and innocence. A shocking look into one of the many shortcomings of the American criminal justice system, SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR is a harrowing and infuriating journey from conviction to exoneration. [Jordan Valdés]
WHO TOOK JOHNNY (Netflix)
His face was the first to appear on the infamous “MISSING” milk cartons. Over 30 years since his mysterious disappearance on his routine morning paper route, and Johnny Gosch is still considered a missing person. While it appears the seemingly hopeless search for Johnny ended years ago, his mother continues to search for answers to track down her forgotten son. WHO TOOK JOHNNY is the heart-wrenching story of Noreen Gosch, a mother forced to live every parent’s worst nightmare. Told through interviews, home videos, and found evidence, this gripping true-crime doc does its best to piece together a tragic event that puzzled the nation. With no clear crime scene or motive for the kidnapping of Johnny, the film draws audiences in with speculative claims and begs them to search along on this interactive hunt to the truth. Following random bursts of evidence or leads from anonymous tips, the film moves with a speed that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats. However, there is a point where we are forced to accept that this is not story with a happy ending—the reunion with her son that Noreen dreamed about for decades continues to avoid fruition. The duality of using testimonials from the past and present-day accounts from Noreen gives the doc a breath of life an urgency. The same way we see Noreen fight to find her son, so too are we as an audience unable to forget what we have seen and left with this same emptiness and longing to know WHO TOOK JOHNNY and where is he now, perhaps living among us in seclusion or in the next life, waiting for his mother to see him again. [Omar A. Cabezas]