Browsed by
Month: January 2017

Documentary a Day- 13th

Documentary a Day- 13th

13th (film).png2016, 1 hour 40 minutes. Jason 4/5, Stacy 4.5/5

Written by Stacy

The 13th Amendment outlaws slavery but it does have a loophole, it doesn’t apply if you are in prison.  This film documents the last 150 years of race in America using real footage and segments by both conservative and liberal speakers.  The prison system has put an unfair burden on the black community, a burden that perpetuates itself again and again as black men are taken from their families and locked up, leaving communities of broken homes behind.  Politicians, especially since Nixon, are scrutinized and judged harshly.

I have been a critic of the prison system for years, especially because of voter disenfranchisement, leading to millions and millions of people being denied the right to vote even after they’ve left prison having paid their debt to society.  This movie puts into context how the prison system has allowed citizen rights to be abused while the politicians and shadow groups make laws to keep our prisons full.

I think this is a must see for everyone.

 

 

Documentary a Day – Pumping Iron

Documentary a Day – Pumping Iron

Pumping Iron movie poster.jpg1977, 1 hour 25 minutes.  Jason and Stacy 3.5/5

Written by Jason

This is one of the most well known documentaries in history and it propelled Arnold Schwarzenegger to super stardom.   As the title hints, it’s about body building.  The story centers on Arnold’s attempt to repeat as Mr. Olympia (the best body builder in the world) for the sixth consecutive year.   When the film takes place, Arnold is 28 years old and his personality really bursts through the screen.  While Arnold jokes around constantly, its abundantly clear how competitive, driven, and focused he is.  Winning is everything and little else seems to matter.  During his run as Mr. Olympia, Arnold’s father passes away two months before the event and he doesn’t even consider going to the funeral.  Maybe that kind of commitment is what it takes to be the absolute best at something, but some things are more important winning.

Arnold’s primary competition for Mr. Olympia is Lou Ferrigno, otherwise known as the Hulk.  Lou finished 2nd the prior year and is training harder than ever to try and knock off the champ.  The personalities of Arnold and Lou are almost polar opposites.  Arnold is such an extravert and Lou hardly says a word.  In one scene, Arnold’s training partners are telling him that Lou is training harder because he’s hungrier and that Arnold is getting complacent.  Arnold’s response, and you have to think of it in Arnold’s accent, “when the top dog wants to eat, he eats all the food”  That line reminded me of some of Arnold’s classic lines like “hasta a vista, baby” from Terminator or “I let him go” from Commando.

The other amazing thing I was thinking about was that this guy is going to be the governor of California.  If he was born in the U.S., he might have even become President.   If you were watching this in 1977, you never would have thought that would be possible.  I guess it proves that with focus and hard word anything is possible.  This is an entertaining film and definitely worth seeing.           

Documentary a Day – Minimalism

Documentary a Day – Minimalism

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things Poster2016, 1 hour 19 minutes. Jason 2.5/5, Stacy 2/5

Written by Stacy

We both chose this one, one of the three we had in common from our two lists, and we were both disappointed.  We live in a consumer driven country and it’s no surprise that the accumulation of stuff doesn’t lead to a more fulfilled life. I feel like I’ve read a lot in the past few years about de-cluttering or living with less and the tiny house shows on HGTV make me think that people are already familiar with the concept of living more simply. To us, this didn’t really add much to the conversation.  It could have been more interesting if they had focused a bit more on people living the lifestyle, but it was more of a beginners overview without much sustenance.

It did lead to a discussion on whether minimalism is connected to living within your means and whether we thought we wasted money on anything.  Jason thinks eating out but I disagreed.  I don’t think we eat out enough 🙂

 

Documentary a Day – Sky Ladder

Documentary a Day – Sky Ladder

Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang Poster2016, 1 hour 16 minutes. Jason & Stacy both give it 3.5/5 stars.

Written by Stacy

Jason chose this biographical documentary about Cai Guo-Qiang, renowned Chinese artist.  I have no idea why because we aren’t exactly contemporary art aficionados and he claims that he doesn’t remember choosing it at all.   I’m only telling you this because neither of us had an overwhelming desire to see this, but we did enjoy it, so this movie is for everyone.

There were two things that I really liked about this one.  The first is his tool of choice, gunpowder.  I had no idea that fireworks could be an art form, but this documentary made me a believer.  Watch the clip and see a little bit of what I’m talking about

It was visually stunning. Jason and I watched half of it together and let Gage watch the second half at dinner, thinking he would love the fireworks, if not the subtitles, and he did love it BUT during one of Cai’s larger shows there was a naked couple making love, oops.  It was a fast shot sandwiched between fireworks and Gage didn’t mention it.  Don’t know if you’d be so lucky with your kid.

The second thing that really struck me was how driven he was to complete Sky Ladder.  He had failed many times, at much expense and yet he kept trying, kept moving toward his goal regardless of the setbacks.  I didn’t get that particular obsession, but don’t we all have big things we want to do and get waylaid by the roadblocks?  It was inspiring to see him succeed at a lifelong dream (yes, I am spoiling the ending here).

Considering how short a documentary this was we learned quite a bit about Chinese history.  His childhood brought him to tears, but he had a very close relationship with his 100 year old grandmother who was in the film.  It was art,  history and the life of a visionary.

 

 

Documentary a Day – Love Between the Covers

Documentary a Day – Love Between the Covers

Love Between the Covers Poster2015, 1 hour 35 minutes. Jason and Stacy both rated 2/5 stars

Written by Stacy

I grew up reading teen romances, Harlequin romances, historical romances…These days I like great romances.  Judith McNaught is my all-time fave and although she’s still around she hasn’t published in years 🙁  Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susanna Kearsley, Kristan Higgins, Brenda Joyce are current favorites.  I even wrote a romance for NaNoWriMo for Pete’s sake!  So, this should have been right up my alley.

The documentary shows a little bit about lots of things.  The history of ‘well-respected’ love stories that always seemed to end in tragedy. The importance of Jane Austen to romance.  The sheer number of romance readers in America and how they are among the most loyal readers anywhere.  How historically overlooked groups have found their voice today.  There are snippets of conversation with romance giants like Nora Roberts, Eloisa James, Beverly Jenkins, Jennifer Crusie, Jill Shalvis, and Robyn Carr.  We follow the lives of a few of these authors over a period of time (the movie didn’t say but the description says 3 years).  We meet bloggers, readers and promoters.  All of these things are good and interesting to a romance reader.

For both of us, it lacked focus.  Jason felt they just kept saying the same things over and over while I felt it needed an outline because it seemed to just be meandering all over the place.  A romance lover will surely want to see it, but not sure that it will appeal to anyone else.

Documentary a Day – Vaxxed

Documentary a Day – Vaxxed

Vaxxed poster.jpg2016, 1 hour 31 minutes. Jason & Stacy 4/5

Written by Stacy

I know that whatever I write about this movie it will make some people mad, some will think I’m an idiot, and others will nod their heads in sad agreement.  The issue of vaccines is ridiculously polarizing.  The hit job on this movie is completely unfounded.  The complaints that I’ve taken the time to read this morning have so little bearing on the movie that I can’t help but wonder if some of the people even watched it.

There is a CDC whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson.  He is willing to testify before Congress, but has not been called to do so even though he claims to have paperwork proving a CDC coverup.  He contacted Brian Hooker and Hooker recorded the conversations (without Thompson’s knowledge).  Hooker was able to access studies by the recommendation of Thompson.  The study Thompson was a co-author on had omitted data that showed a connection between African American boys getting the MMR at a young age (under 3) and autism.

There are first hand accounts of some parents and their vaccine injured children.  There are also some brave lawmakers who are willing to take on the issue.

It also explained how vaccines are tested (not like any other drug) and how injuries from vaccines are paid for (by everyone who gets a vaccine BUT NOT THE VACCINE MAKER).  I honestly think that if people understood the way the vaccine court was set up they might start to look into the link between the government, pharmaceutical companies and the CDC a bit more. To date, the vaccine court/taxpayers have paid out $3 billion in vaccine damages.  The pharmaceutical companies making the vaccines have paid 0.

This is worth watching.

A few notes for those that think the science is settled.  I don’t think that vaccines caused my son’s autism but I know that they contributed to it.  Most kids on the spectrum have bad guts (there are so many studies backing this up).  What goes into their systems does not get detoxed like a child with a normal stomach.  So ANYTHING that goes in will stick around doing damage when it shouldn’t.

I know two doctor moms who have kids on the spectrum.  The first one I talked to about vaccines thought I was crazy.  We didn’t see each other for 6 months.  When I saw her again the first thing she did was walk up to me and give me a hug and thank me for telling her about vaccines.  She had spent the months I hadn’t seen her doing her own research and talking to researchers who told her that ‘among them they know vaccines can cause autism’.  I’m not here to say if that’s true, just sharing the story.

The second mom, a family doctor in her own country, asks me all kinds of diet questions and I spend a lot of time sharing information.  One week while we were waiting for our kids to finish a play date she told me that the more she learns the more she is convinced there is a connection between autism and vaccines.  She told me not realizing she was preaching to the choir.

I tell you this not to change your mind but to open it to the possibility that not everyone who is skeptical of the safety of vaccines is uneducated or grasping at straws.  This movie may not change your mind, but it is worth watching.

Documentary a Day – Valley Uprising

Documentary a Day – Valley Uprising

Valley Uprising Poster2014, 1 hour 26 minutes. Jason and Stacy both rated it 4/5 stars.

Written by Jason

Do you know that mountain climbing and rock climbing are completely different?   I guess I never put much thought into it, and maybe I’m in the minority here, but climbing to the top of some big piece of earth seems similar.  Turns out they are different and rock climbing never really existed as a sport/hobby until around the 1960-1970s.  This film examines the birth and evolution of rock climbing where it was born in Yosemite National Park in California.   Unlike mountain climbing that can at times resemble a long uphill hike, rock climbing entails going straight vertically up the rock.

Like many human endeavors, it’s interesting to see how a sport develops over time driven by competition and ego.   Rock climbing in Yosemite really got going in the 1970s when a small group of misfits got hooked on the adrenaline rush it provided.   This eccentric group lived in the park and they formed a tight knit community.   Since money was tight because no one had jobs, they would find creative ways to survive like eating damaged pet food or going into restaurants and devouring free butter and crackers.   The biggest rock in Yosemite, El Capitan, is a 3,000 wall of intimidation.  When someone finally decides to attempt it, the climb takes 2 years to complete because they run ropes up the entire face.  By the end of the movie, people are climbing it in less than 2.5 hours with no ropes.  The drive to be the best pushes people beyond what seems possible.

Another fascinating part of the film is the escalating tension with the park rangers as Yosemite becomes more and more commercialized and the homeless people living by the rocks are no longer tolerated.   Base jumping also started here since it was a great way to get down after climbing all day.  Today it’s illegal to use a parachute in Yosemite, so if you do, be ready to run when you land because the rangers will be in pursuit.  Some people that climb without ropes use a backpack parachute.  They use it to save their life but then end up in jail.  Overall, this was a fun movie and is worth seeing.  Maybe the next time I go to the gym I’ll finally attempt to climb the wall.

 

Documentary a Day – Forks Over Knives

Documentary a Day – Forks Over Knives

Forks Over Knives movie poster.png2011. 1 hour 30 minutes. Stacy 4/5 stars, Jason 4.5/5

Written by Stacy

When considering documentaries for the month I chose three that had to do with food.  This one had been recommended to us from a couple that said it had changed their lives and now that we’ve seen it I can see why.  I am and always have been a fast food junkie.  This didn’t seem to matter in college when I weighed 100 pounds, but heading into perimenopause it certainly matters now.  Weight is one issue of a terrible diet, but health and longevity are even more important.  With Gage I have done everything diet wise. He is dairy and gluten free as well as mostly soy and corn free, so I know how to cook. This movie helped spark a turning point for Jason and I both.  After the movie Jason promptly poured what milk we had down the drain (he didn’t throw away the cheese. baby steps).

This documentary starts with the two pioneers of a plant based diet (they avoid the word vegan).  Dr. Campbell, a biochemist, and Dr. Esselstyn, physician, both started at different places but ended with the same conclusion.  Eating a plant-based diet will save your life, even reversing disease in some people.  The movie included the studies they used and controlled themselves show evidence of how a meat heavy Western diet leads to more disease.  They followed three people, two were already on many medications, as they ate the plant based diet for a period of 2-3 months.  At the end of the time they compared blood work and health numbers and everything had improved.  Medications were stopped and diseases were controlled.  Dr. Esselstyn also showed his study group of heart patients with grim prognoses who followed the diet and were thriving 20 years later.  Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis were just a few of the conditions that can benefit from this diet.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  – Hippocrates

It could have been a little better put together but the research and  the doctor’s journeys were enough to get you to change your thinking.  I’m looking forward to using the website for some advice and recipes, Forks Over Knives.

Documentary a Day – Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

Documentary a Day – Happy People: A Year in the Taiga

Happy People A Year in the Taiga poster.jpg2010. 1 hour 30 minutes.  Russian subtitles.  Jason rated it 2/5, Stacy 2.5/5

Written by Stacy

I think the first thing that needs to be said is that this movie is NOT about happy people and that misleading title influenced the way both of us felt about the movie.  I knew it was about a village in Siberia and I assumed it would be about what these people knew about living a happy life, but instead we spent a year with the trappers of the village learning what they did to survive.  Now, come WWIII, alien invasion or zombie apocalypse these are the people I want by my side, for sure.  They do everything the way it’s been done for centuries.  We watched men make their own huts, skis, canoes, traps…they could pretty much do anything.  Did they know any more about being happy than the rest of us?  Well, if they did I didn’t learn what it was.  The producer did give a voiceover about them being happy because they were truly free up there in Siberia and maybe that’s true, but I wouldn’t put  any money on it.

I thought the movie was beautifully done.  The artistry of the shots was as gorgeous as anything I’ve seen.  I loved the main older man they followed (Nikolay maybe?) through the four seasons.  Siberia looks a lot like you think it might.  Summer lasts two months. Two months.  You tell me how happy you’d be with only two months of summer a year.  Anyway, I did enjoy the movie by about halfway through when I gave up on the happy expectation and just enjoyed it for what it was.  A beautiful film about cut off Siberian villagers who thrive in a difficult part of the world.  I learned a lot and fell in love with the dogs.

Documentary A Day – Autism in Love

Documentary A Day – Autism in Love

Autism in Love Poster2015, 1 hour 16 minutes. Jason 3/5 stars, Stacy 3.5/5 stars

Written by Stacy

This movie follows four adults on the autism spectrum as they search for or deal with romantic relationships.  Each of the four is at a different place on the spectrum, but the movie found that even those most affected were able to find love and even marry.  It was sometimes hard to watch, Lenny broke my heart, but also so heartwarming.  Lenny, a young adult, is struggling not just with girls but with life as a whole, so his story brought into focus what we all need to do to help those on the spectrum embrace who they are.  Stephen story also brought tears but gave hope too, that love and acceptance can be found.  Lindsey and Dave brought the movie the happy ending that we were rooting for and needed.

Jason and I had lots of sweet smiles for each other during the movie and are glad we watched it, but it was also hard.  It’s a scary thing looking into the future like that.  We’re both so glad that we saw it and it did lead to some good discussion after which is what we were hoping this month of documentaries would bring.  Take a look at the trailer.  We watched it on Netflix.