Those who truly love movies and television enjoy not only watching it but talking about it for hours on end. Finding another cinephile with an equally deep and rich appreciation for the art of cinema can lead to the warmest of friendships, and it’s affirming to know that someone else shares a love for a particular auteur or influential classic that hasn’t been properly praised. The new Netflix series Voir is a dream for any fan of film and television, a celebration of the complexity and history of those mediums and an investigation of the subtle nuances that have come to define their most formative moments.
Broken up into six episodes all running under half an hour, Voir dives right into its content in each installment. Executive producer David Fincher is a filmmaker known for a thorough commitment to each and every aspect of his craft, and this documentary finds those with expertise in various fields. How that knowledge has been built by a lifelong relationship with the movies and with television is transmitted through captivating montages that showcase the impact of an early screening or of one haunting, unforgettable film that has come to define the way they think about the art form.
What Voir does phenomenally is to drill down into one scene or idea and pick it apart, tracking the motivations behind it and the impact it has had on subsequent projects. In one episode, “Film vs Television,” the gradually diminishing boundaries between the two formerly separate institutions is shown through two case studies involving the same filmmakers. First, Michael Mann’s 1989 TV movie L.A. Takedown and his 1995 feature film Heat are contrasted, and then, Peter Morgan’s 2006 film The Queen and his current Netflix series The Crown, to demonstrate the way in which film and television use their respective advantages to convey the same story and information, even when it’s the same person behind the camera on both.
There are popular films like Jaws and Goodfellas featured and dissected, both for the way in which they commanded audience attention when they were first released and in how they broke the mold for what had been the standard before them. The look at the latter, one of Martin Scorsese’s best films, is particularly engrossing since it breaks down the way in which a continuous shot does not allow the viewer any escape from the onscreen violence, compared also with the disturbing content of Park Chan-Wook’s Lady Vengeance, which leaves much of its horror to the imagination by cutting away from its most gruesome scenes.
This nonfiction series also makes time to focus on race in America by looking at Eddie Murphy’s role in 48 Hrs. and the way in which female characters have traditionally been animated. The drawback of this otherwise superb show is that six short episodes doesn’t feel nearly sufficient to document the many facets of film and television worthy of being investigated from its many years of existence. Described as a “collection of visual essays for the love of cinema,” Voir should be both satisfying and energizing for film fanatics and an effective entry point for those with a less comprehensive familiarity behind the way movies and TV are made.
The manner in which this series is structured and composed makes it easy to imagine that anyone watching might as well be telling their own story. Presenting footage from the perspective of an audience member sitting in a movie theater or a TV watcher planted at home on the couch surfing through channels makes it entirely accessible and inviting, an excellent opportunity to share in a love for something that academics have often accused of being a brain-rotting activity but clearly offers up much more depth and intellectual benefit.
Voir premieres exclusively on Netflix on Monday, December 6th.