Posts from the “Netflix” Category


Posted on May 5, 2015

Pump, a documentary about America’s dependency on oil, is hella good. Crank up Netflix and delve into a documentary instead of zombies, wedding dresses or whatever else normally tickles your fancy.

Ah, America! We love hot dogs, cold beer, patriotism and … oil? America’s love affair with oil and fossil fuels goes back to John D. Rockefeller and his dogged determination to make oil and essential part of day to day life. Spoiler alert: it worked. Oil is in everything. The cup you’re drinking out of. The fleece sweater that keeps you warm. It fueled your car today and lubricated all the machinery inside.

So, it’s in everything and there isn’t an infinite amount. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, no? We’re growing increasingly panicked over the amount of oil available. Instead of turning to alternatives, and there are plenty of them, we’re turning to destructive methods like fracking.

You can run cars on CO2 and oxygen. You can make methanol out of virtually ANYTHING and run a car on that. Turn prickly pear cactus into ethanol and create a cleaner, cheaper and virtually infinite source of fuel. The options are there – why aren’t they being used?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what Pump talks about. Alternative fuels, sustainability for America, the insane smog in California. I especially liked the part where they showed a Chinese family bidding for a license plate, willing to pay $13,500 just for a license plate! The oil love affair is everywhere and we are responsible for finding a solution.


Posted on March 6, 2015

Netflix is absolutely killing it with options lately. This roundup includes one of my favorite documentaries on Netflix yet, Closure. If you’re new to Netflix’s wealth of documentaries, I’ve talked about a bunch of great ones here.


Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (NR, 2013)


This is so terribly sad. Especially because I watched this documentary with a Styrofoam cup of coffee and a plastic (al biet reusable!) water bottle in hand. Plastic is polluting our oceans on so many levels – more than the average person realizes. We’ve seen photos of animals wrapped in plastic line and soda can rings around the heads of turtles. But it’s the plastic from the 60s and 70s that is breaking down in the ocean that is absorbing residual toxins like DDT, a lethal incesticide outlawed in the US. The “garbage island” is floating in the Pacific, littered with decades of plastic on it’s shorelines. The most interesting part? Taking a receipt on thermal paper is putting large amounts BPA into your body, the same chemical everyone is “avoiding” through new plastic formulas for water bottles.

Exit Through the Gift Shop (R, 2010)

Didn’t name this post “best netflix documentaries” because of this one. I… I don’t even know how to explain this documentary. For starters, the description is misleading – I was expecting a documentary about the street artist Banksy. The film is more centered around Terry, an eccentric, French entrepreneur who’s life is commented on by Banksy. Terry sells vintage clothes and graduates to being a (fake) filmmaker and ends up selling insane amounts of manufactured art that makes him mass amounts of money. I watched the whole bizarre thing out of odd interest, but you might wanna SKIP THIS ONE.

Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro (NR, 2013)

A gay couple has two twin boys via a surrogate, who is still involved in the boy’s lives. Partially told by adults, partially told by the young boys – this is a really sweet one that dissolve the myths of families raised by gay couples. Oh, and Jon Bon Jovi is their godfather.

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (NR, 2010)

It starts with a man juicing veggies in the trunk of his car. Six weeks before, he was 300+ lbs and very, very sick. was “nearly dead” living a life of covering his sickness with various medicines. 60 days of fasting on green juice and traveling around the country talking to Americans who eat trash – the perfect premise for a documentary, right?

He sits in a cafe with a group of men, one who has had heart surgery. The father of 6 says that he is here for “a few good years” and he wants to “eat what he wants” – if he lives to 55, great. 65? That’s great, too. The consensus amongst many people he talks to – they know they will die early from eating terribly. The right now is more important than the long term.

If you’re a fan of ‘Fat, Sick &  Nearly Dead’, catch the sequel ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2’ – also on Netflix!

Closure (NR, 2013)

One of my favorites to date! Closure follows Angela Tucker, a black girl who was adopted into a white family with one biological child and multiple adopted children. Now a college graduate and married to a filmmaker, Angela is ready to find her biological parents. After some intense internet sleuthing, she finds a lead and her family picks up and travels across the country with her. The journey to finding her biological family isn’t without disappointment, but is a really beautiful story about family.



Posted on January 12, 2015

Oh, Netflix! My tried and true friend who is always there for me. Never complains, only occasionally asks me if I’m still watching. I am – more documentaries of course. A few more for your viewing pleasure:

The Dark Matter of Love (NR, 2012)

This crazy adventurous family decides to add to their family of 3 – with three Russian orphans. The documentary shows the adoption in Russia, showing what orphanage conditions are like and their effects on children. Mostly, it follows the acclimation of the adopted kids into the new family and is analyzed by two adoption counselors. It’s a really heartwarming watch on an unusual topic.
1 hour 32 minutes | Netflix rating: 4.1 stars

Playground (NR, 2009)

Playground first started with investigation of child sex trafficking in southeast Asia. It was through this that the filmmaker realized it’s also a thriving trade in the United States. Without employing cheap shock-value ploys, it’s a well-rounded look at child prostitution and remedies to the problem. While it’s not for those who can’t sit through Dateline, it’s an important message of the dangers that lurk in virtually every neighborhood in America.
1 hour 19 minutes | Netflix rating: 3.4 stars.


Breastmilk (NR, 2014)

Don’t bother if you don’t wanna see nipples. Now that that is out of the way – breastfeeding is a topic of contention amongst the public lately. Breastfeed in public! Don’t you dare feed you baby in public! Shame the mother who doesn’t or can’t breastfeed! You’re doing your kid a grave injustice! ANYWAYS. This one is good for background watching, it shows different mothers who have success, trouble and opt-out of breastfeeding. Informative but probably won’t keep your eyes glued to the set.
1 hour 31 minutes | Netflix rating: 3.2 stars.


Magic Camp (NR, 2012)

This documentary goes inside the most prestigious magic camp in the world and follows the kids who attend. Plot twist: there are plenty of endearingly dorky pre-pubescent boys. I really enjoyed this one, but had a few problems with it. There’s a seriously disappointing instance of misogyny against one of the few girls at the camp. I think the film focuses too much on a successful magician at camp who has chosen to drop out of high school “because it’s cool.”  Otherwise, the camp portrays a magical, Hogwarts-like camp that gave me new interest and support for magicians and illusionists.
1 hour 25 minutes | Netflix rating: 3.2 stars.




Posted on December 5, 2014

At this point, everyone in my life teases me about the copious amount of documentaries I watch. My parents. My boyfriend. My boss. My coworkers! I have people text me when they watch one, because they know I’ll appreciate it. Netflix is an incredible deal for $8 a month with series like Breaking Bad, Parenthood, and The Killing at your fingertips. The unknown gems of Netflix are the documentaries – really! Some of my favorites lately:


How to Die in Oregon (NR, 2011)
This one isn’t for everybody. Oregon adopted the “death with dishonor” law in 1994, allowing for physician-assisted suicide. The documentary opens with a man, Roger, ending his live by drinking a prescription drink. It follows Cody, a mother with two grown children and a husband, who is diagnosed with liver cancer. There’s side stories about couples, the elderly, and public policy. Regardless of your views – it’s a beautiful documentary with incredible stories.
(Tears alert – I cried/sobbed the entire time.)
107 minutes | Netflix rating: 4.2 stars


Burt’s Buzz (NR, 2013)
A great background-noise documentary, Burt’s Buzz talks about Burt Shavitz… the man on the Burt’s Bees logo. The billion dollar brand and Burt couldn’t be more different. Burt lives a reclusive life in upstate Maine with his dog, Pasha. A combination of a hitchhiker and a brash career change created the beeswax balm many of us use. An interesting story, but not a gripping one.
88 minutes | Netflix rating: 3.8 stars

41fcwyn8x7LKiller at Large: Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat (NR, 2009)
Spoiler alert: America is FAT. This documentary follows the lack of public policy surrounding a growing problem that kills 110,000 Americans every year. From an individual, political, scientific and cultural point of view, you hear from Bill Clinton, a former Surgeon General and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Added bonus: watch parents picket schools for removing candy from their kid’s schools. You go, America.
102 minutes | Netflix rating: 3.8 stars

Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory (NR, 2014)Alive-Inside-Film-Poster-2014
I don’t wanna get too excited here – BUT THIS IS ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITES. This documentary follows Dan Cohen, middle aged social worker, and his journey in bringing Alzheimer patients alive. Using their favorite music, you watch lost and confused patients come to life. There’s one point when a man hears one of his old songs and is so overcome with emotion, saying, “I’m crying…. I’m crying and I don’t know why!” OH MY HEART. It’s just incredible and leaves you feeling so good when it’s over.
(Tears alert – I cried/sobbed through this one, too.)
78 minutes | Netflix rating: 4.5 stars

MV5BMTQ1MTI5NTYxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzI2NzkxMDE@._V1_SX214_AL_GMO OMG (NR, 2013)
Spend a little time with me and I’ll tell you my feelings about genetically modified objects (GMOs). They’re… strong. This documentary is made by a father, Jeffrey Seifert, who goes on a journey to find out what GMOs are for his children’s safety    . He searches for answers about the risks of eating genetically modified foods and the interesting public policy behind them.
90 minutes | Netflix rating: 4 stars


Posted on July 29, 2014

Netflix needs a new slogan, something like “Netflix: it’s more than Orange is the New Black” or “Netflix: Semi-Educational Binging.” There’s some good stuff on Netflix that doesn’t involve lesbians in orange jumpsuits! Not that I’m bashing OITNB.. y’all know I ripped through both seasons in two weeks.

But.. Documentaries! I think they get a bad reputation from the stale 1980s nature documentaries we were forced to watch in school. Or God forbid the birth video the Health teacher played to promote abstinence.

tiny house

Tiny: A Story About Living Small (NR, 2013)

This one makes mobile homes look roomy. I watched it knowing I was moving into a studio apartment with my boyfriend and it blew my mind! A couple with zero construction experience builds a house that’s 130 square feet. There are closets bigger than that. All joke aside, it made me think twice about my material possessions and the true meaning of home. There are communities popping up all over the country, specifically for these tiny houses. In the documentary, there’s a family who lives in a tiny house and seems happier than a lot of people I know. Definitely an interesting watch.
Netflix rating: 3.8 stars

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.06.19 AM

Crime After Crime (2011, NR)

Jesus take the wheel, there were SO many tears during this one. In a nutshell: California has recent case law that allows cases with domestic abuse to be re-examined. Debbie went to jail for life in 1983 for being associated with the murder of her abuser. Then, abuse wasn’t allowed to be presented as a mitigating factor. An orthodox jew, long distance runner and a private investigator team up for a pro-bono journey to get her out of jail. The unusual team is inspiring and casts light on the sometimes corrupt world of justice.
Netflix rating: 4.1 stars


Invisible War (2012, NR)

Watched this one shortly after Crime After Crime and I cried like a baby in this one, too. Rape in the military is an epidemic, affecting women and men in every branch of service at all levels of authority. My heart broke listening to women my age tell their horror stories. I’m talking broken jaws, dislocated hips, shaming, and rape… which is many times looked over by those in authority. The documentary is from 2012, long before the 2014 uproar about the VA. Not surprisingly, the injustice these women receive from the VA and the government is plain as day.  If you watch one documentary this summer: watch this.
Netflix rating: 4.1 stars


Undercover Boss (2010-2012, TV-PG)

Undercover boss is my guilty pleasure. I watched an episode or two after watching The Following, I needed a happy pick-me-up after watching some seriously depraved stuff. Now I’m sucked in and I could watch this show allllll darn day, though I usually steer away from the food-based episodes. I don’t find them terribly interesting.

Some highlights?
Worst Employee: Jacqueline @ Retro Fitness, Season 4: Episode 14
Worst Employer: Jimbo @ Hooters, Season 1: Episode 2
Surprisingly Endearing: Tilted Kilt, Season 4: Episode 2
Sweetest CEO: Kevin Sheehan @ Norwegian Cruise Lines, Season 2: Episode 12
Sweetest Employee: Johnny @ Orkin, Season 4: Episode 15
Weirdest Industry: Synagro, Season 2: Episode 19

Netflix rating: 3.7 stars

Want more Netflix? Here’s 8 Netflix Documentaries You’re Missing Out On.


Posted on January 11, 2014

If you have a Netflix subscription and you aren’t dipping into the Documentary tab – you, my friend, are missing out.

It started about a month ago with Blackfish, I watched it and then watched it again the next day with Kent. From there, I’ve watched close to two dozen other documentaries, ranging from things like gangs in Chicago to the benefits of natural birth. I feel as though it’s my civil duty to give you a run down of the best ones I’ve found – and inconspicuously push you to watch some of them. ;) I’ve picked out the some that cover a range of different topics, you’re bound to find something that fits your fancy.

Blackfish (2013, PG-13)

The story of Tilikum, the whale who killed trainer Dawn Brancheau at Seaworld in February 2010. The same whale has two documented attacks and one undetermined incident – all of which lead to the death of a trainer. The hour and a half documentary goes back to the beginning, unearthing the treatment of the killer whales, the practices of Seaworld, and gives you a new look at animals in captivity. Forewarning: there are parts where you watch trainers being held at the bottom of tanks, bleeding from wounds, and other “cover your eyes” kind of scenarios.
Netflix Rating: 4.4 Stars

The Business of Being Born (2008, NR)
Maybe not the first thing you’d click on in your Netflix feed, but it is worth every second. The documentary covers the health benefits of a natural birth, the dangers of medicines given in the hospital during labor, and the history of midwifery.

By the time it ended, I felt like an invincible, bad ass, empowered woman. It encourages education, presenting facts like a 4% caesarian rate in the 1970s to almost 80% in some parts of the United States. Makes you think – what’s really going on here? Regardless of whether you have kids already, don’t want them at all, or you’re too young to even think about babies – you have to watch this.
Netflix Rating: 3.8 Stars

The Interrupters (2012, R)

This is a great guy-friendly one. It covers the gang riden streets of Chicago, and a group of former gang members who have bonded together to create an anti-violence group, CeaseFire. It follows three of these violence interrupters in their touching and at times life threatening journey to break up gang violence. It moves you to re-evaluate your prejudices and views of the people around you, it can be easy to forget that everyone has their own struggles. The Interrupters will make you smile, make you laugh, cringe, and restore your faith in humanity.
Netflix Rating: 3.8 Stars


Farmageddon (2011, NR)
A documentary on milk and farms? Hold back your initial bias y’all, because this one is fascinating. Similar to Food Inc. and Fresh, Farmageddon takes the question of “why is healthy and organic food so expensive?” and throws you into the struggle of being a local farmer. The government’s heavy regulatory systems that are made for large corporations nearly drown the local farms our communities depend on. As Americans, we deserve to know the truth behind the milk we buy at the store and the health benefits of what the government doesn’t want us to have.
Netflix Rating: 4.1 Stars (the second highest rated Netflix documentary :)!)

The Whale (2011, G)
Maybe you saw Blackfish, and maybe it left you feeling kind of bad at the end of it. Enter: The Whale. The story of Luna, a two year old Orca who gets separated from his family. The orphaned whale makes the best of his situation and adopts a village in British Colombia. Prepare to have your heart swell and explode over this cute whale who plays with sticks and likes to be pet by children. When the government catches wind of humans interacting with a killer whale, all hell breaks loose and the story of Luna and what will happen to him, unfolds.
Netflix Rating: 4.4 Stars (& the highest rated documentary on Netflix!)

The Forest for the Trees (2006, NR)
For the environmental activist inside you: The Forest for the Trees is the postmortem anthem for activist Judi Bari. The modern day story follows young activists and elderly civil rights lawyers as they fight for the liberation of Judi’s name. Judi was a vibrant activist for Earth First! and was highly revered by the loggers she fought against for her kind nature and honest fights. In 1990, Judi’s car was bombed at a rally and within hours was named a terrorist by the FBI. Twelve years later, the documentary filmer follows her father into court as he defends Judi and her innocence, long after she is gone. Maybe you don’t consider yourself a crunchy, granola type of person and environmental documentaries aren’t’ for you, but I’ll bet you $10 that you’re wrong ;)
Netflix Rating: 3.5 Stars

Cruise Ship Disaster: Inside the Concordia (2012, TV-PG)
A modern day cruise ship sinking? Just off the coast, not even a mile from shore? The story of the Concordia is told by survivors of this wreck off the coast of Isola de Giglio, Italy. One terrible night, thirty dead passengers and two still missing, the quick 42 minute documentary sends chills up your spine. Not recommended for those boarding a ship in the next year – or two.
Netflix Rating: 3.7 Stars

The Imposter (2012, R)
Not going to lie – this documentary is creepy as shit. I’m talking, the credits roll and you’re still trying to grasp how something like this could have happened. Nutshell version of this horrifying story: a twenty-something mentally ill man from Spain impersonates a missing person sixteen year old from America.

Fast forward to some hair dye, identical tattoos, and accusations of the military kidnapping and raping him – he is living with the family of the missing boy – pretending to be him. Hanging out with his friends and going to high school. Just thinking about a total stranger impersonating someone and living with their family is making my skin crawl right now. It leaves you unsettled, wonder how can a family not know their own son? Can a lethal mixture of grief and lead you to believe that a total stranger is your son?
Netflix Rating: 3.6 Stars

What are your favorite Netflix documentaries?