So this month we went a little different direction than previous months. That is, we didn’t watch a documentary every week. Instead we went a different route (one that took significantly longer) by listening to a podcast instead. It was a little documentaryesque in that it presented facts about true events. That podcast was Serial. We did, however watch one documentary.
- Miss Representation- I didn’t like this movie at all. It went way over the top with “facts” and felt a lot like the food documentaries that I hate so much. It was trying to convert you to their way of thinking by any means necessary. 1/5
- Serial- This obviously took a very, very long time to organize and create and I have a ton of respect for that. The story was enthralling, and really sucked me in as soon as I heard the first few words. Listen to it, it’s very good! 4/5 SPOILERS: However, I didn’t really like the ending that much. I was disappointed that they 1) didn’t get him out of jail or 2) didn’t declare which side of the fence they were on: guilty or not guilty. Other than that, I would definitely recommend it.
- Miss Representation- This documentary had good intentions but overall I didn’t love it. It felt a little too preachy. It could have been a lot better with its story line but it was just tid bits of facts all strung together with no real solution to the problem. If you want to see a good girl empowering documentary watch Girl Rising. 2/5
- Serial- The story telling was great, and I love the narrators voice. Although halfway through the story I kind of wondered what the point was. A crime committed so many years ago is very likely to remain unsolved. But I was surprised how much new information they found, it’s compelling in the way that makes you want to listen to the next episode. I’ll leave it at that, as I think it’s good not to know too much before listening. 4/5
So far, so good. Halfway through the year!
- Kings of Pastry (imdb, wiki)
- Food, Inc (imdb, wiki)
- Drew: The Man Behind the Poster (imdb, wiki)
- Blackfish (imdb, wiki)
- Kings of Pastry-This was really fun and exciting to watch, it is similar to Somm. Although I think all of the people in this documentary are more humble and likable. You are really invested in the story and are totally rooting for them by the end. 4/5
- Food, Inc- I had to watch this for class, and we had already watched a while back. Really nothing new to report about it. It’s stuff we all subconsciously know- Big companies only care about money, eat right. 2/5
- Drew: The Man Behind the Poster- This documentary was so insightful! I didn’t realize how much of his work I had actually seen. Plus the art aspect of this documentary was fascinating as well, he makes all of his art by had not using a computer, super impressive. I also like that it was a documentary made while he was still alive it’s nice to hear stories from the actual source instead of a bunch of friends saying how nice someone was. 5/5
- Blackfish- Well I had been avoiding watching this because I knew it would make me never want to go to SeaWorld. And I was right. I know this is a one sided story BUT thing biggest testament to me is that a lot of the people speaking out against SeaWorld in this are old trainers and employees. 3/5
- Kings of Pastry- The trailer doesn’t do this movie justice at all. In fact, I think the trailer makes the movie look pretty cheesy, when in reality it was very well done. This reminded me a lot of Somm we watched a few months ago. A bunch of guys go to a “tournament” to see if they can get inducted into the cool kids club. This was tantalizing and heartbreaking at the same time. To anyone that eats food- I would recommend this. To those self-described as “foodies”, this is required reading. 5/5
- Food, Inc- I remember watching this several years ago and disliking it about the same amount. There are only so many
liespartial truths I can handle in one sitting. Why are documentaries about food always so terribly biased and rotten? 0/5
- Drew: The Man Behind the Poster- The thing that I liked most about this was that Drew is a real person! You can’t imagine one guy being behind so many obviously epic pieces of art. I had never really thought about movie posters being created by someone before watching this, to me they just existed. This goes completely against my preconceptions and showed me that not only were movie posters created by someone, but they can be grand pieces of art. My favorite part was when he said he had to paint The Thing poster, but didn’t know what the movie was about so he painted this. 5/5
- Blackfish- When this started I got really excited. It was telling a really cool story about some of the history of Orcas and the things that lead up to the first “event” by Tilikum. As soon as the plot took hold it got a lot less interesting to me. I knew it was an anti-Seaworld (or maybe anti-Orcas-in-captivity?) movie, but I wasn’t sure of the level it was going to. This biased movie was very sneaky in the way it presented its point. It wasn’t like Food, Inc where it was just in your face telling you how to live your in the very first sentence. Blackfish really tried to educate you about the beast before it told you an opinion. I question if some of the “facts” were “facts” or if they were actual facts. I’m not that involved in marine life, so I’m not going to hunt down every minor detail I had a question about. Additionally, I watched this movie with my B.S. shield fully engaged, so not much stuck. It was interesting to say the least. 2/5
- Jilleun- Drew
- Kelvin- Drew: The Man Behind the Poster
With May being filled with summer school for Jilleun and us being in Jamaica the first part of the month, we only got to three again :( I know, we’re failures.
- Love Me- Very cool, eye-opening movie. Something I didn’t know anything about, other than it’s socially looked down on. After watching the lives of some of these guys, I genuinely felt bad for them and saw why they went to another country to find love. The strange, but completely expected, thing about this documentary was just how deceitful some of these foreign women were. They were practically ruining the lives of an untold number of men looking for real love, for what? Money. I wonder how many of them were already in relationships in their own countries, but were using these mail-order dating/marriage sites to get a little extra income. They never really talked about the economics of the sites that hook the males up with the females, other than the males pay the site for access to the list of women, and to send messages. Nothing about how or if the women were being compensated, but even if they weren’t, some of them were manipulating their way into money. Anyway, just blown away by this movie. It was very well made, and well presented. I didn’t really get the sense that they were anti mail-order or pro mail-order, it was just presenting the facts and showing the process that some guys went through to find love. There was one SUPER gross kissing scene at a wedding that will haunt me for years to come. Other than that, 4/5.
- Living on One Dollar- This follows the story of four young guys that wanted to see the world. To me, it was their little (two month) version of a mission. They got to go out in the world, experience hard work, find good friends, and try not to die. However, they went out completely clueless, I almost wonder if they didn’t prepare for it at all. They basically had no concept of poverty, and thought they could do it for two months. Yeah. Right. Cluelessness aside, this was a touching documentary that showed that there are good people everywhere. 4/5
- The House I Live In- This “documentary” was propaganda. 0/5
- Love Me- Wow this documentary was mind opening. I’ve heard of mail order brides but I hoped it was not real. This documentary isn’t mail order brides but it’s as close as you can get, I think. What’s bizarre to me is these men thinking “I can’t get a wife in the US so I’ll just go find one in another country and marry her, oh but she speaks very little English.” I think both sides of the party are at fault though, some of these families were so glad their daughter was getting married they supported her marrying someone she hardly knew and going to live in another country. Mostly the whole idea thing is pretty disgusting. 4/5
- Living on One Dollar- This documentary felt really intimate and drew you in immediately. I like the style of the way they filmed it and told their story. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. It makes me so grateful to live in America. I don’t want to give away too much, it pretty short so you should just watch it. 5/5
- The House I Live In- I had to watch this documentary for my ethics and values class, so I have a little different view about it than I normally would. We discussed this documentary in my class for two days, and my professor is writing his dissertation on the war on drugs so he didn’t exactly present this unbiased. With that, I still agree with a lot of what the documentary is trying to say but I also realized there are always two sides. It’s not a documentary, I wouldn’t recommend for entertainment but if you want understand more about the US and drugs then yes. I think the most surprising thing to me is the amount of people in prisons for non-violent drug crimes, because when we realize that 1) there are far worse crimes, like rape, that we don’t punish criminals justly for. 2) When studying this more I found that most people in poverty that are doing drugs are not doing them because they are addicted, it usually is steaming from reasons more like: stress of money, not having food, abuse, living conditions, etc. So overall there were flaws in the documentary but what’s happening in America should be more known to the citizens that live in it. 3.5/5
- Kelvin- Love Me
- Jilleun- Living on One Dollar
We’ve decided to add trailers (if available) so interested people can watch them if the names and/or our descriptions sound interesting. Because Jilleun’s parents came at the beginning of the month, and Jilleun had finals then we went to Jamaica at the end, we only got to three documentaries this time.
- Please Subscribe- I think I’d say most documentaries are interesting but if it is well made, it usually is more captivating! Although I don’t watch YouTube and didn’t know who any of these people were, it was still really interesting. Although I personally think the way a lot of them live is kind of lonely, it’s kind of awesome what the Internet can do to bring people together. 4/5
- Hotline- I was a little afraid to watch this one because it could be so emotional and sad. But it was really great! I think they covered a lot of things I wondered about with hotlines. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the documentary (i.e. sex hotlines) but it was still a good broad spectrum of information. 5/5
- Showrunners- The thing that is cool about documentaries is for that hour to two hours you get to take a deep look into something that you might have never even thought about before. I had always wondered what it meant on shows when it said Created By ____, what that was really saying. Because let’s be honest it takes a ton a people to make a TV show work. I would recommend this to anyone who has loved a TV show, it was cool to see how things work. It was a really entertaining documentary with good reason, right? 5/5
- Please Subscribe- YouTube. Making a living off YouTube. This might be a bit cliche to say, but 10 years ago there is just no way this would be possible. Can you imagine? Working for yourself. Making videos about how to do makeup. Living comfortably! Some people, you can tell, make way more than others, I couldn’t tell you exactly why some people gain popularity while others don’t. I guess that’s just how the world works. Personally, I’d never heard of any of these YouTubers, but apparently they are famous enough to get millions of subscribers to watch their videos and hang on their every antic. From a completely outsiders perspective (I will watch YouTube if I’m looking for something specific or am linked something, but I don’t go trolling around YouTube to just kill time) I completely loved this documentary. I sat there, watching it, most of the time with my mouth hanging open. I just can’t believe the kinds of videos the people they interview made, and they make money! Pretty rad. Man I love the Internet. 5/5
- Hotline- I didn’t know this or think about this going into it, but it was actually a little bit depressing. Can’t have all fun and games every documentary, ya know! There were several different kinds of hotlines this documentary featured. Honestly, I didn’t even know they had homework hotlines! I don’t know if I would have called them when I was in school, but it’s really neat they are even available. It was touching at times, it was really funny at times, overall it was a good one. Highly interesting look at a subject you don’t think about that often. 4/5
- Showrunners- Okay, I thought this was incredible. I’m not one of those people that memorizes IMDB, and I’d say my interest level in all things TV is maybe a 5/10 but this was one of the most edutaining documentaries we’ve watched to date. If you didn’t watch the trailer, go do that now. If you watch TV it will make you at least partially interested in spending time to watch the whole thing. I didn’t realize what a showrunner was and the kind of work it was, but man it looks sweet. They get the chance to run this business, that is a TV show, and tell the story they want to tell, in the way they want to tell it. I thoroughly loved it. 5/5
- Jilleun- Hotline
- Kelvin- Showrunners
We almost didn’t watch every Wednesday, March was a busy month.
- It’s a Girl (imdb, wiki)
- 30 for 30: Broke (imdb, wiki)
- My Kid Could Paint That (imdb, wiki)
- Burt’s Buzz (imdb)
- It’s a Girl- What a heartbreaking movie. This is the story of countries and cultures that don’t appreciate or don’t want girls for children, so they euthanize them shortly after their born or somehow terminate the pregnancy. The worst part was to see how complacent some of the women were that killed their newborns simply because they wanted a male baby. They dove in to the details about why parents did not want female children, focusing specifically on China and India. I enjoyed it, ’twas just really hard to watch. 3/5
- 30 for 30: Broke- 30 for 30 is a documentary series produced by ESPN that focuses on sports history. Broke was about the widespread practice of famous athletes to declare bankruptcy or otherwise have nothing to their name despite years of extreme monetary fortune. They interviewed a number of athletes from various professions, none of which I recognized but that might just be because I don’t follow sports. Interviews with the former athletes went into details about what caused them to get into their financial crisis, most of which was perfectly understandable. At the beginning I felt really bad for some of them, but as time went on I realized that most of the issues were self-inflicted due to lack of understanding basic principles of personal finance and wanting to show off to their friends and family just how much they made. Overall it was a very interesting insight into a portion of sports that doesn’t get the spotlight very often. 4/5
- My Kid Could Paint That- I loved the beginning of this movie! It calls out the abstract artists like the crooks they are! Why is this worth millions of dollars? My kid could paint that.. However, as the story progressed it moved into a controversy about whether or not this one particular child actually painted the art the parents claimed she did. I don’t know if I have an opinion of what is actually the truth, but I do feel the documentarists did a good job of trying to portray the family in a fair light. 3/5
- Burt’s Buzz- I don’t recall ever using any Burt’s Bees products, so I have no particular attachment to the company. However! Burt seems like an awesome old dude. I can’t imagine my life without technology like he lives, but that seems like a great way to retire. He lives his life out on his farm with his bees on a bunch of property. He isn’t concerned with the rat race that’s going on in the world, which makes his life very peaceful. He does, however, have some kind of contractual obligation to Burt’s Bees still, so he travels all over the world to promote the products. It doesn’t appear that he enjoys that part of his life (who would?) but otherwise his life seems pretty chill. Even though he said and does some crazy old man things, I legitimately think he’s awesome. 5/5
- It’s a Girl- I’ve know that this type of thinking exists, but seeing people openly admitting to the camera that they have committed crimes, is so difficult to watch. The three worse words in some countries and parts of the world is, it’s a girl, how completely heartbreaking. It makes me so grateful to live in the US, and know I have value for being me instead of my gender. Sad, but educational. 4/5
- 30 for 30: Broke- This entire documentary I found myself going back and forth in thinking these guys are idiots to totally having sympathy for them. The line in the documentary that really stuck out to me was basically, the people that are becoming professional athletes are coming from some of the poorest parts in the US. And they are being thrown into a different world in terms of everything but especially money. So how do people expect these 18-year-old kids to act with a check that has six figures on it, when he never thought he’d make that in a lifetime. 3/5
- My Kid Could Paint That- So interesting! We actually watched a trailer for this before we watched the whole thing and the trailer made it seem so controversial. This documentary was also interesting in the way that the guy making it, becomes part of the story. I like that I’m not entirely convinced one way or another if she really made the art or if it was the Dad. I like that I have the option of forming my own opinion on it in the end. 4/5
- Burt’s Buzz- Ha just remembering this documentary makes me laugh. Burt seems like a really interesting guy. I thought this was a really well done documentary in story and quality. 5/5
- Kelvin- Burt’s Buzz
- Jilleun-My Kid Could Paint That
We’re at it again! This month we watched four documentaries, again.
- Somm (imdb)
- TINY: A Story About Living Small (imdb)
- Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (wiki, imdb)
- Manufactured Landscapes (wiki, imdb)
- Somm- I thought this documentary was equal parts interesting/ridiculous. I had no idea such an intense world about wine even existed. It was weird to watch the process of these guys learning and retaining all this information, all the while I was judging them for choosing to just spend their life drinking wine. It was also somewhat unrelatable for us since we aren’t wine drinkers. Overall I feel like I now know a little more about the subject and it was a pretty entertaining documentary. 4/5
- Tiny- I have to say I totally understand the appeal of this minimalist lifestyle; But I also love having my space. One major difference I saw with all of the people interviewed was they were all very active outdoors. So the outdoors was basically another living space for them, which is slightly crazy if you live in a place with extreme weather changes. I also wish the documentary showed more tiny houses and how the houses functioned. 3/5
- Bronies- This was so so bizarre. I was watching this documentary and yet not really believing what I was seeing. The only thing I can somewhat put together is, most of the boys/guys that were into My Little Pony, were looking for friendship and acceptance which they found in this community. Although towards the end I finally realized what was so odd, they loved the show for the same reason people seek out organized religion. It wasn’t mentioned in the documentary if any of these people were religious or not but I would be really interested in seeing the statistics. I was hoping by the end I would understand, but I still don’t. 2/5
- Manufactured Landscapes- So I thought this documentary was lame. I think it’s because this documentary was based from a photographer’s work that already existed, it was made more like a slide show of photos with one third of a story mixed in. I’m not sure what was they were trying to accomplished, I wouldn’t recommend it. 1/5
We, by accident, watched some super strange documentaries this month.
- Somm- The journey that follows a few guys as they try to pass the master Sommelier test. I wondered what they did for jobs the entire time? They spent hours a day looking at flash cards, smelling wine, tasting wine, reading books about wine, all so they could take this test. I have completely different passions, but really? Could there be that much to know about wine? Seems pretty boring to me. It did surprise me that they could smell, swirl, quickly taste a little bit of wine and they could tell you a ton about it, including where the grapes were grown down to smaller-than-county precision. I wonder if anyone can do that with Diet Coke? 3/5 stars
- Tiny- Just thinking about living in an ultra small house like this makes me anxious and claustrophobic. I don’t know why someone would willingly live in one of these things! It was interesting, but not mind-changing, to hear some of the reasons why people decided to build/buy a tiny house: to spend more time with their loved ones, to reduce their impact on the earth, to trim down the amount of ‘stuff’ they have. The list went on and on. To me, the reason why we have nice and big houses is to appreciate the things the modern world has given us #firstworldproblems. However, hats off to the people that 1) can actually build something, ’cause that ain’t a thing I can do 2) are able to live in such a small place, especially with one or more other humans. It isn’t the life for me. 3.5/5 stars
- Bronies- Summed up in two words: So. Bizarre. I was basically enthralled the entire time, because it’s so far outside my view of life that I was just soaking it all in. There was a lot of talk about the good values that My Little Pony (MLP) teaches, I’m not criticizing that at all. The values that it is purported to teach are honesty, kindness, laughter, generosity, loyalty and… magic. When they were going over these “Elements of Harmony” the first thing I thought of is Boy Scouts. These Elements sound a lot like what they teach you in the Boy Scout Law, which is “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” This, to me, means these (seemingly mostly male) kids could be getting these same values from Boy Scouts, instead of a little girls show. Either way, it was interesting but still: So. Bizarre. 3/5 stars
- Manufactured Landscapes- I’ve watched many-a-documentary in my day and this is by far the worst one I’ve watched. It didn’t even have a point! It was basically showing landscapes and factories in China set to extremely ominous music. There was nearly zero dialog, which made it even more boring. The one thing I got out of it? China is screwed up in more ways than one. 1/5 stars
- Jilleun- Somm
- Kelvin- I guess, TINY. This month was hard, there wasn’t one that I thought was really excellent.
Some of you might remember March Documentary Madness of 2013. That was a lot of fun, but it was very time consuming. We love Documentaries and we still had a few on our list that we never got around to watching in 2013. We’ve decided to, instead, watch a Documentary every Wednesday in 2015. Chances are that we won’t get EVERY Wednesday, but we’ll at least try! This month we watched 4 Documentaries.
- After Porn Ends
- Waste Land
- Dear Zachary (Director also directed Validation on YouTube)
- Louder Than a Bomb
- After Porn Ends- This one was at the end of our to-watch list when we finished out the month in 2013, and we never got around to watching it. First of all, even with the subject matter, this was a bit more graphic than I expected it to be. However, it seemed to me that they portrayed the graphic parts as educational information and not as entertainment so it didn’t bother me that much. It was the story of 10-15 ex porn stars and what they were doing with their lives. Some were working in the industry still in other capacities, and some completely shuttered it. It was really surprising to hear the stories of a few of the actors that seemed to have fallen into porn somewhat by accident, and then just stayed in it. Overall it wasn’t the best documentary I’ve ever seen, there wasn’t a ton of content but there was a bunch of filler, if that’s what you’re into.. 2/5 stars
- Waste Land- Having never bothered to watch a trailer, I was very against this one from the beginning. The cover was ugly, the description said that they were going to be talking about trash the entire time. Yawn and gross. However! Like all good documentaries, it was surprisingly excellent. This is the story of an artist that goes to a Brazilian landfill where people pick out things to recycle (called catadores) and hires those people to help him make art. The results are gross and breathtaking, and through the 100 minutes you develop a bond with the subjects of the movie, the catadores. You feel for their plight and cheer when they have little (and big) victories. I didn’t know this going in, but this is one of the only films to receive 100% on rotten tomatoes in 2010. 5/5 stars
- Dear Zachary- Wow. Talk about making a grown man cry. Without going into too much detail, this is the story of a murdered doctor’s newborn son and the custody battle the grandparents had with the mother. Only reason it gets a lower than 5 star is because it took a bit longer to get to the point than I thought was necessary. Otherwise, fantastic, tear-jerking, heart-wrenching, lovable movie. 4.5/5 stars
- Louder Than a Bomb- Man. I really hate documentaries before I watch them. This is yet another movie that I thought looked boring as watching paint dry. It, however, was a much different story. Similar to Pressure Cooker, this is the story of High School kids in (sometimes) poorer neighborhoods in Chicago that go to an annual Poetry Slam. Wait, did you say poetry? YEAH I DID AND IT WAS AWESOME. Some of these kids were so talented it blew me away. Writing poetry is hard enough, performing is hard enough, I can’t believe these kids get together and write things so meaningful, then decide they want to share them with the world. What was I doing in High School? Not something this cool. 5/5 stars
This is was one of our new year resolutions, and I love it already! Now I actually look forward to Wednesdays. I’d rather have an in-person discussion than write about my opinion, but this is a blog so…
- After Porn Ends- This documentary could have been really interesting instead it almost felt like one last chance to be in the lime light for these “actors”. I wish it would have gone more in depth about the psycology of what porn is and can do (both to those participating and those viewing it). It was interesting to hear the actors opinion on themselves and their lives. There was really one one woman that came out semi-normal and successful with a job, and family. 1/5 stars
- Waste Land- I put this in our queue when we were doing our March madness so I didn’t remember what it was about it. Vik Muniz (the one making the documentary) is one of the most well known Brazilian artists and I really like his ideas and what he stood for. He said several times throughout the documentary that this was his chance to give to Brazil, and I don’t feel like many artists would do that. 4/5
- Dear Zachary- It’s a very emotionally draining documentary. I didn’t really like the style of how it was made, and there was quite a bit of cussing. It’s completely infuriating to see the system of government fail so I feel like this story needs to be told. 3/5
- Louder Than a Bomb- I agree with Kelvin, I didn’t really think it was going to be awesome but it was! It’s just amazing to see the struggles these kids go through daily. Yet they thrive, and their writing really is impressive. 5/5
- Kelvin- Waste Land
- Jilleun- Louder Than a Bomb