5 Movies Like The House by the Cemetery (1981) On Hulu

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Focusing squarely on two families and a select few health workers, The First Wave gets intimate access to the fears and anxieties of individuals trying to contend with the effects of the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in New York. That these characters also tend to belong to already vulnerable sectors in the United States isn't a superfluous detail—as director Matthew Heineman illustrates (without the use of detached talking heads interviews) how proper responses to a global pandemic like this one are still hampered by capitalist interests, and racist and xenophobic institutions built into American society. All of these obstacles make every setback and every moment of progress in these characters' lives feel absolutely crucial, making for an emotionally overwhelming experience.

Genre: Documentary, History

Actor: Al Sharpton, Andrew Cuomo

Director: Matthew Heineman

Partially based on the 860-page memoir, "A White House Diary", and on the actual audio recordings Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson made during her time as first lady, The Lady Bird Diaries is an intimate reworking of a past we still know very little about. Told from the vantage point of First Lady Johnson candidly and in detail, the audio track shapes the whole film. All the archival footage is nicely complemented by hand-drawn animations to fit the missing images, but all the visuals are always in service of the narration. In this way, the documentary becomes a piece of history and an archive in itself, its illustrative functions – a crucial storytelling tool for posteriority.

Genre: Documentary

Director: Dawn Porter

American cyclist Greg LeMond, who in 1986 won the Tour de France has been a legend in the sports world, but filmmaker Alex Holmes presents him to the wider audience with a brand-new inspirational documentary. The Last Rider is everything this kind of film can be—its hook is courage and hard work that pays off, its mode of storytelling is personal, intimate interviews, and its framework is a "modern hero" kind of narrative. By stringing together conversations with LeMond himself, his friends, family, and colleagues, Holmes tells a chronologically-sound, emotional version of a landmark career. For many, the 1986 or 1989 win wouldn't mean much (unless you're a sports fan or French), but the educational bits of The Last Rider make for good trivia material. If you need a courage boost, here's the story of a professional cyclist, injuries, perseverance, and fame, to cheer you up.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Cyrille Guimard, Greg LeMond, Kathy LeMond, Pedro Delgado, Perico Delgado

Director: Alex Holmes

Rating: PG-13

What Black Ice lacks in comprehensive research about the structures that maintain institutionalized racism inside major hockey leagues, it partly makes up for with one painful testimonial after another. This is a documentary that aims for the personal and the emotional over the intellectual—still an effective strategy as the film makes its point through repetition, to show just how commonplace racism is within hockey culture. And though it begins to feel somewhat plain in its execution (and without as much momentum leading into its concluding statements), Black Ice makes for a fiery, impassioned wake-up call especially to Canada's own seemingly "progressive" racial politics.

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Jashvina Shah, P.K. Subban, Sarah Nurse, Willie O'Ree

Director: Hubert Davis

Based on the novel by Women Talking author Miriam Toews, this adaptation of All My Puny Sorrows holds clear reverence for its source material but falls short of making a case for its existence as a film. Toews's prose—significant parts of which writer/director Michael McGowan has kept intact in the dialogue—may be appropriate for a book that allows full internal access to its narrator, but on film her words come across as overly articulate and artificial, even if they speak beautiful, harsh truths about grief. And without a defined visual identity or proper flow of ideas to back up its admittedly complex characters (played with authentic tenderness and force by Alison Pill, Sarah Gadon, and Mare Winningham), the film ends up stuck in its own darkness, unable to give a proper form to all its thoughts.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Alison Pill, Aly Mawji, Amybeth McNulty, Boyd Banks, Donal Logue, Elizabeth Saunders, Mare Winningham, Marin Almasi, Martin Roach, Michael Musi, Mimi Kuzyk, Morgan Bedard, Racine Bebamikawe, Sarah Gadon

Director: Michael McGowan

Rating: R