Tiger King 2 (Netflix, 2021)
Who thought a show about big cat owners would end up going viral? Released last year, Tiger King captivated millions of viewers around the world who were stuck at home during global lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously somewhat obscure, big cat owners were covered like local celebrities and the one thing we learned about all of them was that they’re all kind of crazy. And they all hate each other.
The show’s central character, a flamboyant, gay cowboy, Joe Exotic, who records everything — everything — in his life, has released his own music, acts out on his YouTube channel and does the craziest stunts with the lions and tigers in his care, ended up going to jail for trying to kill another big cat owner, Carole Baskin, of Big Cat Rescue.
Joe also claims, and has repeatedly claimed through his videos over the years, that Carole killed her first husband, millionaire Don Lewis, and got rid of his body by feeding it to their tigers.
Fans of the show passionately displayed their feelings about the characters online, and turned some into national heroes (Exotic) and others into public enemies (Baskin). At the time the documentary series came out, Joe Exotic was incarcerated for allegedly hiring hitmen to kill Baskin.
Two documentary series and a feature film all revolve around murders, unsolved and planned. Here’s what to look out for on the streaming services…
Tiger King 2 is focused on finding out who framed Joe Exotic. We meet all of the characters trying to live their lives after the release of Tiger King and see how they’re capitalising on their new-found fame.
Tiger King 2 also features an angry Exotic from prison as he rants and raves about those that turned on him, and how he’ll do anything to get out. In Tiger King 2 we also try to find out about the one question Joe’s been asking in his videos: where is Don Lewis and did Carole Baskin really kill her husband?
Watch only if you have seen Tiger King (2020).
The Motive (Netflix, 2021)
This is an absolutely heart-breaking, fascinating, four-part true-crime, documentary series that examines the murders of four family members by a 13-year-old boy in Jerusalem. The series heavily uses actors to reconstruct events as well as previously unseen footage filmed around that time. It also uses interviews from investigators, police, lawyers and journalists who were first on the scene.
It was a crime that had gripped Israel. In 1986, a 13-year-old boy took his father’s M-16 (his father was in the Israeli Defence Forces) and brutally murdered both of his sisters and his parents. He didn’t seem to have a clear motive and, on the face of it, the family seemed picture-perfect.
Those involved in the investigation and who met the boy — who is chillingly calm and composed throughout — have been asking themselves this question for over three and a half decades: why?
In The Motive, directors Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudri try to find out.
Sardar Udham (Amazon Prime, 2021)
If there is one film you must watch, it is Sardar Udham. Vicky Kaushal plays the titular character of a man who is traumatised and transformed by the harrowing tragedy of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He was supposed to attend the rally at the Bagh but shrugged it off and ended up losing close friends and family that did attend it.
In the film, we first meet him many years after the incident — trudging across frozen Siberia or making naans for minimum wage in London — filled with a vengeful fire. Someone has to pay. While it was Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer who opened fire on the innocents, the film pointedly holds Michael O’Dwyer, then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab, more responsible. Eager to quell rising agitations across the country, it was O’Dwyer who encouraged the General to ‘make an example’ of the peaceful protestors in the Jallianwala Bagh.
“You lamb, we lamb,” Udham haltingly but unhesitatingly tells a member of the Irish Republican Army, “butcher same.”
Shoojit Sircar’s film eviscerates the British for their inhuman crimes, providing a refreshing, much-needed ‘brown’ perspective, while its hero patiently and single-mindedly focusses on only one mission: killing the monster behind the nightmare.
Sardar Udham is filmed beautifully and with such incredible detail it’s at times overwhelming, but in a good way. While Vicky Kaushal has displayed some masterful acting, the true credit for this underrated epic film goes to director Sircar.
Originally published in Dawn, ICON, December 5th, 2021