It took me over four months to finally watch Emma Cooper‘s The The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes (Netflix). It’s basically a montage of digitally enhanced (and quite beautified) clips of Monroe’s life and times along with an assembly of corresponding audio excerpts from 29 interviews conducted by British author Anthony Summers. And what the doc conveys feels entirely frank and honest and sobering.

Now 79, Summers actually conducted 650 Monroe-related interviews, and they consumed about three years of his life. The ultimate result was Sumnmers’ “Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe” (’85).

I wanted to absorb Cooper’s excellent doc, which conveys a sense of documented, matter-of-fact, take-it-or-leave-it truth, before seeing Andrew Dominik‘s Blonde (Netflix, 9.23), which is allegedly quite the stacked deck with one odious predator after another. The Summers doc, on the other hand, tells us repeatedly that Monroe had a fair number of friends and allies and considerate acquaintances in her life…people who cared for her or at least tried to care for her, and that her existence wasn’t entirely about being victimized.

I suspect that Blonde will be less balanced and ultimately less forthcoming because of the Joyce Carol Oates narrative, which is that despite having became a flush and famous movie star, poor, brutalized Marilyn never caught an emotional break, and was rarely blessed in the way of good fortune or serendipity or the simple luck of the draw, and that her last two or three years on the planet were especially arduous.