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Documentary a Day Wrap Up

Documentary a Day Wrap Up

What a fun month!  We learned about history, food, the economy, sports, different cultures, and inspiring people.  The best part?  We did it together.  Each documentary, whether we loved it or hated it generated great conversation and time spent together on the couch. A perfect challenge for the cold days of January. We finished last night with an hour to spare.  Woo hoo 🙂  You can click here to browse through all the documentaries for the month.

Stacy’s Top 5

More than Honey.jpg  Champs Poster    13th (film).png  Amy (2015 film) poster.png

I would like to note that we watched four films about food and healthy eating and they have encouraged great change here and inspired next month’s challenge.  I learned something from each of them and they all encouraged the same thing – a plant based diet. (Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Food Inc., Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead)

Jason’s Top 5

Champs Poster    Amy (2015 film) poster.png     Forks Over Knives movie poster.png

While these were some of my favorites, I think the most important ones were the four food related ones.  They inspired me to improve my diet and I already feel better for it.

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

2016. Stacy & Jason 4/5

We saw the new version, which was updated for the Cavs win.  The first version was filmed before the Cavs victory and that would have been just outright depressing.  It was fun to relive the victory and all the celebrations – good times.  I thought the film went a little overboard on trying to make Cleveland look bad as it basically showed every negative event of the last 50 years.   Just think how torturing the Indians World Series loss would have been if the Cavs had not won.

2013. 1 hour 32 minutes.  Stacy & Jason 4/5

This was a fascinating look at JFK’s final day.  This is not a conspiracy movie, but it just lays out the timeline of events.  While I thought I knew the story fairly well, there were several details that I didn’t know.  1) JFK was in Dallas because he needed Texas in the next election and he took Jackie to help because he was not well liked there. 2) They originally arrest Oswald for shooting a police officer in a movie theater and it takes them a little while to realize he’s the suspected assassin. 3) Oswald was taken to the same hospital and pronounced dead by the same doctor as JFK. 4) Texas refuses to release the body at first because the investigation was not yet closed.

 

2015. 1 hour 46 minutes. Stacy 3/5, Jason 3.5/5

This chronicles four friends horseback journey from Mexico to Canada.  If that wasn’t hard enough on its own, they decide to make the trek with wild mustangs.  They purchase the wild horses from the Nevada park service and it takes a few months to train the mustangs.  I wasn’t aware that wild horses were actually a population problem for the park service. So to reduce the population many horses are rounded out and put into camps where they can be purchased.  For people that enjoy or are interested in horseback riding or big adventures, this film is for you.

 

57 minutes. Stacy 3.5/5

Running a marathon is hard, ridiculously hard.  But there are people that push themselves to even further extremes. Enter ultra marathons that can be 50 or 100 miles or more. This film is about one woman’s goal of running a famous U.S. nature trail, the Long Trail that’s 273 miles. This is a testament to human endurance and will power.

Vegucated (film).jpg2011. 1 hour 16 minutes. Stacy 4/5, Jason 3.5/5

Ever think about going vegan? Probably not, but if you’re interested this is a good crash course about the rational and the lifestyle.

2015. 1 hour 16 minutes. Stacy 3.5/5, Jason 3/5

While this film points out many of the problems our country faces such as income inequality, political campaign finance, and business running government it fails to offer many solutions.  I felt it also used numerous half truths that distorted history in my opinion. The topics are important and interesting but I thought it was a little extreme with conspiracy theories.

 

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

Documentary a Day – Six mini-reviews

Jason and I completed the challenge last night but before we write up our summary we need to get some documentary reviews out of the way.  I’m writing six and Jason will write six later.  I’m listing them in the order I liked them best.

Written by Stacy

More than Honey.jpg2012, 1 hour 35 minutes  Stacy 5/5 & Jason 3.5/5

Why are the world’s bees dying?  A 3rd generation German-Swiss beekeeper wonders why his purebred black bees are dying while John Miller in the California has some idea of why his bees are dying in the world’s largest almond groves.  By traveling around the world we can begin to get a clearer picture of how modern global living is stressing the bees beyond what they can handle.  I loved learning about the way the hives are being manipulated and the perserverance of the killer bees.  This is a much watch for everyone.

Amy (2015 film) poster.png2015, 2 hour 8 minutes. Stacy 4/5 & Jason 4/5

I was a late convert to Amy Winehouse but fell in love with her voice after her premature death.  You can feel every emotion in her songs.  This films uses only clips to show her life and how falling in love with the wrong guy, drugs, and her ascent to stardom started her on a downward spiral from which she would not recover.  The world lost an amazing talent.  It’s a heartbreaking story and a must see for fans.

Last-train-home-lixin-fan.jpg2009, 1 hour 25 minutes. Stacy 4/5 & Jason 3.5/5

Migrant workers in China’s big cities go home only once a year, if they’re lucky, and only at great expense and hardship. This family of five, the grandmother and two grandchildren at a very remote farm, and the two parents in the city sewing to earn money, struggle to stay connected year after year.  The parents stress education to their children so that the will not end up in a dead end job like their parents, but it’s hard to parent from so far away.  It was an eye opener for sure.  Well worth the subtitles.

2014. Stacy 4/5 & Jason 4.5/5

Told with first hand accounts of survivors and home and military video this is a harrowing look into the Vietnam War. One of the last infantry companies to be drafted, trained and sent to the war zone together this was a personal look at the daily lives of these soldiers.  It was powerful, showing the solidarity of these men even after all these years.

2014. 1 hour 34 minutes. Jason and Stacy 4/5

Eugene Cernan became the 11th and last (so far) man to walk on the moon in 1972.  He tells the story of his invitation to become and astronaut and what life was like training with his friends for multiple trips to space.  He was driven, ambitious, and able to excuse himself of his shortcomings as a father and husband.  It was a  fascinating look at the space program in its heyday.  He died this month at the age of 82.

2016. 48 minutes. Stacy 1.5/5 & Jason 2.5/5

A small tribe in the Amazon along the Brazil border makes its first contact with civilized society.  Parts of it felt so fake, maybe because it felt like so much of the story was missing.

 

 

 

Documentary a Day – One in a Billion

Documentary a Day – One in a Billion

One in a Billion Poster2016. 1 hour 9 minutes.  Jason & Stacy 3/5

Escaping poverty is incredibly difficult no matter where you’re born.  In most countries, your best chance to improve your station is to study relentlessly and get into a quality university.  It’s no different in India.  What is different, however, is that most parents discourage many other activities in favor of focusing entirely on school.  Sports are generally considered a waste of time.  Maybe they’re  right and we devote way too much time and energy to sports.

This film follows one kid’s journey from rural India to the NBA draft as he becomes the first India born player to be drafted.  Despite being 7 foot 2, it’s still a long and challenging road for Satnum Singh.  He’s discovered by an NBA sponsored scout that goes to India in hopes of expanding the league into India just like they did with Yao Ming in China.  The scout finds Satnum, who is already 6 foot 6 at 13 years old and who has a dad that is over seven feet tall.  Next Satnum is offered a scholarship to IMG Academy in Florida, which is one of the top prep schools in the U.S.  So at 13, Satnum leaves his family and friends and moves to a new country where he doesn’t even speak the language.  While the movie does drag on at times, one thing I loved was Satnum’s determination.  He works hard, really hard and never complains.  His hard work pays off when Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks selects him in the draft and he becomes a hero in his country.       

 

Documentary a Day – Marwencol

Documentary a Day – Marwencol

MARWENCOL poster 72dpi.jpg2010. 1 hour 23 minutes.  Stacy 3.5/5 & Jason

Written by Stacy

What an odd documentary.  We had no idea what this was about but checked it out of the library on the Facebook recommendation by a friend.  Mark was attacked by five men in 2000 and spent nine days in a coma and over a month in the hospital. He had suffered so much brain damage that he had to learn everything over again, including eating. walking and writing.  When his free therapy ran out he turned to creating a miniature town in his backyard.  He was an artist before the beating but he was no longer able to draw so he turned to creating a WWII town with dolls and telling their stories through pictures.

The pictures and Mark’s story were interesting and at times disturbing.  This one definitely takes you to a place you’ve never been before!

Documentary a Day – CT Fletcher

Documentary a Day – CT Fletcher

CT Fletcher: My Magnificent Obsession Poster2015, 1 hour 41 minutes.  Jason 4/5, Stacy 3.5/5

Written by Jason

Are you feeling bad for spending too much time on the couch?  Not working out as much as you want? Then this documentary might be just what you need.   But be forewarned, CT really enjoys cursing.  CT became famous on YouTube.  I think his intensity, honesty, and personality really come together in a way that’s kind of infectious.  At first you’ll think he’s ridiculous and then he will start to grow on you and by the end you’re ready to head for the gym or tackle whatever challenge you’ve been putting off in your life. 

CT had a difficult childhood growing up in Watts California when the riots were taking place.  To escape the mayhem of Watts, his family decided to move to a better neighborhood, Compton.  And if things weren’t bad enough on the streets of Compton, CT’s father was also physically abusive.  CT goes on the beat the odds and works for the postal service for many years and on the side he devotes himself to weight lifting.  He then goes on to become the strongest man in the world and he’s sets several world records for the bench press and curling.  Then while he’s still in top form he suffers a heart attack and doctors tell him he should never lift weights again.  His journey back to health takes many years and it also costs him his job and his house.  The postal service fires him after his disability time is exhausted.  CT hits rock bottom and then rebounds.  CT’s goal in the movie is to open his own gym and some of the story revolves around that.  However, CT’s story is much more than weight lifting, it’s about surviving adversity and reaching your goals no matter how improbable they may seem.  He has a hard work and no excuses philosophy that will make you think you can do anything.  Here is one of his clips.

Documentary a Day – Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Documentary a Day – Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (film).jpg2010, 1 hour 37 minutes, Jason 4/5 , Stacy 4.5/5

Written by Stacy

Aussie Joe was over 300 pounds and on many medications for a number of disorders.  He was fat, sick, and nearly dead.  He decides to take control of his life so he comes to the United States, his second home, to juice his way across America.  Convinced of the healing powers of a plant based diet and wanting a body reset he uses his commitment touch others.  This was no small commitment either.  He spends 60 days on a juice diet with great success.

At this point it was informational, interesting, and completely in line with all of the other food documentaries we’ve watched this month, but it wasn’t until we meet Phil that it became inspirational.  Phil is depressed and reaches out to Joe after he gets back to Australia.  The two had met at a truck stop when Joe had been filming his juicing journey and had given Phil his number in case he decided to do something about his health (they shared an autoimmune disease).  Joe came back to the US to get Phil on the road to health.  It was uplifting and encouraging.  So encouraging that I will be adding a juicing piece to my next thirty day challenge.

There is a Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 that I’m sure we will watch.  It might not happen this month since I think we have watched four or five healthy food documentaries this month and at this point we only want to eat salads. Okay, okay, only Jason is eating salads I’m storing up fat and sugar for next month when I follow Joe’s advice and juice for a week.  Just ordered my juicer!

 

 

 

Documentary a Day – Inequality for All

Documentary a Day – Inequality for All

Inequality for All Poster2013, 1 hour 29 minutes. Jason and Stacy both give it 4/5.

Written by Jason

I’ll start by saying that this was actually a very entertaining and often funny film, which I would have thought was highly unlikely given its content.  The main character is former Secretary of Labor and current Professor at the University of California, Robert Reich.  Mr. Reich reminds me a little of John Stewart and that’s what makes this movie interesting.   As the title suggests, this film examines the income equality in the U.S., which today has matched its previous peak reached in the early 1930’s.  According to the film, the top 1% account for 23% of total income in the U.S.  Income inequality has been cyclical  throughout the history of our country.  If history repeats, the top 1% share of total income should begin to decline going forward.

How did we get to this extreme?  The major forces increasing this disparity over the past 40 years are globalization and technology.  Beginning in the 1970s, firms starting moving U.S. manufacturing overseas to take advantage of lower labor costs.  That trend has continued uninterrupted ever since.  Advances in technology, particularly in factory automation, have also resulted in fewer middle class jobs.  And when there is excess labor, wages don’t normally rise very quickly or at all.  A few years ago I visited the largest steel factory in Cleveland.  They told me that in 1975 the factory employed 20,000 people but today they have only 1,000 and the factory makes three times as much steel.  Walking through the enormous plant we almost never ran into employees except in the control rooms.  On the other side, top executive pay has continued to rise.  In many professions today, being near the top results in enormous income – think corporate CEOs, professional athletes, or entrepreneurs.

How do we fix this problem as a society?  This is a challenging issue because many of the proposed solutions could have negative consequences.  The simplest solution would be to tax higher earnings at ever increasing rates and that’s what we did last time.  In 1945, the marginal  tax rate on income over $200,000 (the equivalent of $2,400,000 today) was 94%.  That’s almost unbelievable, but that actually happened.  It’s easy to say tax the rich more, but the problem is that assumes the government will use that money for more productive uses.   Should we tax the rich and redistribute the proceeds to the poor?  Would that make our country stronger?  These are difficult questions and this film will certainly  help you think about these topics in different ways.  This is a major issue for our country and I would encourage you to watch this movie and consider this issue in greater detail.  

Documentary a Day – David Blaine: What is Magic?

Documentary a Day – David Blaine: What is Magic?

David Blaine: What Is Magic? Poster2012, 45 minutes. Stacy 3/5 & Jason 3.5/5

Written by Stacy

Jason was going to write this one but he’s sick and we’re getting behind in the reviews.  I hesitate to call this a documentary because it is only 45 minutes and really didn’t offer much insight to the premise of the title.  Indeed, we found it under the documentaries on Netflix so this shorty counts!

Blaine goes around to different areas of the country with all sorts of people showing of his mad magician skills.  It was probably the locales and people he chose that made this film work since it added so much diversity and entertainment.  He did a trick with money, some with cards and, for some unknown and seemingly unrelated to the rest since there was no real audience for it, he took a bullet to the mouth.

It was fun but the tricks did get repetitive, even at 45 minutes, and it was the colorful people that kept it fun.

Documentary a Day – Food Inc

Documentary a Day – Food Inc

Food inc.jpgFood, Inc. 2008. Jason and Stacy both rate it a 4/5

Written by Stacy

This movie is old by documentary standards.  It shows the industrial production of meat side by side with the more humane organic way (yep, making a judgement here).  It also goes into industrial farming versus those farmers trying to do it the organic way (made more and more difficult each passing year that Monsanto and the like throw their considerable money and influence around).  It did go into the big money influence in Washington DC and the food labeling laws that 90% of Americans want but lobbyists kill with money.  I am not a newbie to the truth found  in the documentary, but I did learn a few things.

The movie is daunting.  When you begin to realize what’s in your food, even seemingly safe things like tomatoes, you get mad and want to do something.  Then you look into it and realize the enormity of the fight.  Big business has taken over our food supply.  I don’t think that anyone is surprised that killing animals for food is not the easiest thing to watch, but it may make you consider organic.  I knew there was a reason to buy grass fed beef and this movie clarified that and many other things that I’ve known so long I may have forgotten why.

If you eat food you should watch this.