Masters and Johnson through a Howard Johnson? The title “Voyeur” in this unnerving Netflix documentary is Gerald Foos, a former motel owner who spied on guests through vents and fancied himself some kind of sexual anthropologist.

And he’s not alone.

Gay Talese, famous New Yorker scribe, thinks so to and wants to bring the story out from behind the shadows, and past the ice machine and flashing sign.

Foos and the literally flamboyantly Gay form an unlikely twosome of tit-for-tat enabling. This will have the viewer question to what depths one should go for a story, and to what extent they’re complicit in watching this squalor as they wag an accusing finger.

The first third of Voyeur is a kind of “so what”? you’d ask yourself after a night of slumming through a Dateline NBC episode. It’s actually a tough slog with deviant Foos matter-of-factly detailing how he violated the privacy of hundreds of his guests through recollections from yellowing notes he’d taken during his nightly habitual viewing. Lucky for him, the statute of limitations has run out. And for that reason alone, Foos isn’t behind bars and in administrative segregation, and fearing for a shank that would surely forthcoming.

Nope. Foos is free, and largely depicted as a publicity hound and self-justifying egomaniac, which he clearly is.

The next bit of Voyeur is where things get more unsettling. And more compelling: Foos’ relationship with and dedication to his wife, is actually surprisingly touching…

But it turns out Foos isn’t entirely a reliable narrator either (though the key, sordid details are largely right) and as a consequence, the notoriously reliable Talese’s journalism starts to get picked apart by fact-checkers and competing media outlets, even to the point where he refuses to do publicity for the nonfiction work on which all of this is based.

There’s storytelling, and then there’s becoming part of the story. Hunter S Thompson had the good sense to remove himself from hanging with the Hells Angels (of course they had to beat the holy tar out of him for that teachable moment) while Talese seems clearly and unnecessarily friendly with this icky duo. After all, Foos bears the hallmarks associated with the sociopath that he clearly is: lack of remorse and shame, unreliability, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, and pathological egocentricity to name but a few.

What kind of person would want to spend time than absolutely necessary with such a person? And what kind of person would want the details of his motel exploits brought to life? Watch Voyeur and have these questions answered, plus many many more.

***1/2 (out of 5)

Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown

JB and his poppa.

That’s MISTER James Brown to you, and he called everyone “Mr.” too. While technically growing up James, he was always called “Jimmy” and to a young Brown, “Mr.” connoted respect — both given and received. As a kid who grew up a call-girl wrangler and shoeshine boy in terrible circumstances in the Deep South, he almost miraculously morphed into THE greatest entertainer of the 20th century (forget Sinatra, Elvis, and yes, Michael Jackson). Much RESPECT indeed.

Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown is a a look at that journey, a peek into the life of a demanding, tyrannical (and at times lonely) genius who fined his bandmates for wardrobe slip-ups and missed notes, and even got into armed confrontations with them!

Drummer Melvin Parker (brother of sax legend Maceo) tells of a backstage altercation where JB had planned to pop Maceo in the mouth so he couldn’t blow his horn, so a packin’ Melvin intervened. It’s terrific pistols at dawn stuff, but really, that’s just one fascinating kernel in a documentary that puts Brown’s music into the context of the tumultuous Civil Rights movement and the assassination of James Meredith and Dr. Martin Luther King. Or, as it’s said in the doc: “Brown’s whole sound is an assertion of black beauty and black pride.”

There’s some great music nerd stuff, as trombonist Fred Wesley recalls how he was a less-than-enthusiastic funk music fan, but appreciated how James Brown was doing something different, so he decided to join the band when the offer was extended. Mick Jagger talks about 1964’s seminal concert film, The T.A.M.I. Show, and how he stole a bunch of Brown’s moves (Maybe Adam Levine would’ve written about JB if his name were an extra syllable). Questlove, the effortlessly cool drummer from The Roots, breaks down “grace notes” and how a tambourine is used in church and how JB’s two drummers created the nasty funk sound.

But what’s so great about Brown is…that he made poet Ezra Pound’s famous modernist injunction, come true: ‘Make It New!

That’s what Brown was all about.

Cold Sweat, is arguably the first funk track, throwing everything on “the one.” Brown basically created a sound that has its reverberations to this day in hip hop. Most people are lucky enough to create one style of music, let alone lay the foundations for another. LEGEND.

***1/2 (out of 5)