Posts from the “Netflix” Category

Netflix Documentary Round-Up | Part 8

Posted on August 28, 2015

Tallahassee graced us with an unseasonably cool week – I drove to work with windows down at 69 degrees. Something about the promise of Fall gets me in cozy-mode. I skipped the gym last night to quilt and watch Netflix, which brings me to yet another list of documentaries on Netflix.

Hot Coffee
2011 | 88m

Quick & Dirty: Ever heard of Stella Liebeck? What about the court case where a woman was awarded over $2 million dollars because she spilled a cup of McDonald’s hot coffee on her lap? The imfamous “hot coffee case” changed the way Americans look at the civil courts and paved way for tort reform. Hot Coffee is the story of what truly happened to Ms. Liebeck and examines corporate greed.

Still not sold?: First things first, look at what 190 degree coffee did to Stella Liebeck’s body. Be forewarned, it’s graphic: click here. Long story short, the courts found McDonald’s was responsible because they instruct their franchisees to keep coffee at 180-190 degrees, a temperature that causes 1st degree burns after a few seconds of contact. Before the Liebecks pursued McDonald’s in open court, there had been 700+ other burn cases that McDonald’s had settled out of court. They had an opportunity to change their policies and chose not to.

Here comes the corporate greed. It starts with tort – a wrongful act that leads to a civil legal liability. Your doctor messes up in surgery and sterilizes you. During delivery, a mistake deprives your baby of oxygen and leads to permanent brain damage. This is the kind of case, like the hot coffee case, that is handled in the civil courts. In the 1990s, “tort reform” became a big topic of debate. Tort reform aimed to limit the amount of money you could sue a company for. Instead of getting $6.5 million from the doctor who permanently disabled your child, you can only get $250,000.

Hot Coffee looks at it all: tort reform, mandatory arbitration, judicial campaigns, buying supreme court judges and the Hot Coffee case. WATCH THIS!

2013 | PG-13 | 1h 33m

Quick & Dirty: Cause and effect is something we learn in elementary school, but Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner take it to a different level. Based on their book, Freakonomics examines the casual relationships and data in some unlikely topics. Will your child’s name impact their success in life? Is there cheating in sumo wrestling? What really caused the crime wave of the 80s to fall in the 90s?

Turns out, polio and ice cream aren’t related. But if you look at the incentives and data, you can find patterns of cheating teachers and athletes. This one is a quick watch for a weeknight-in and sheds light on some really interesting topics.

True Cost
2015 | PG-13 | 1h 23m

Quick & Dirty: True Cost is focused on the fast fashion industry. In the past, stores rolled our four lines a year. In today’s staples: Forever21, Zara and H&M, you can find different styles on the rack each week. In fact, the fashion industry puts out 52 “micro season” each year. To keep up, the average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing every year.

Still not sold?: This industry, known as fast fashion, is fueled by sweatshops. Unbearable conditions and $10 a month are common. Chemicals are common in clothing, affecting those who put the clothes together and those who wear them. Purses, belts and shoes have been found to have heavy metal levels over the legal limit. Lead, formaldehyde, flame-retardants and other toxic carcinogens are present.

Quick documentary that is eye-opening about conditions for workers and the campaigns that consumers fall for. Being a conscious consumer isn’t difficult when you know what to avoid and are willing to pay for a shirt that’ll last more than two washes. 


Posted on August 19, 2015

Netflix is killin’ the documentary game lately. A few recently loved documentaries that are streaming on Netflix in 3..2..1..

The Human Experiment

If You Love: Knowing what you put in your body.
2013. NR. 1 hr 32 min.

The Human Experiment talks about the pressing need to switch to safer chemicals in our homes, i.e. laundry detergent, antibacterial agents, safe plastic food containers.

The market has demanded water bottles without BPA, but the hormone-mimicking chemical is in lots of other day-to-day objects: receipts, canned foods and food containers. These items, in addition to cosmetics, perfumes, household cleaners can impact your fertilitythyroid, and increase your chances of cancer.

The Human Experiment lays it all out in an easy to understand format, told by people who were impacted personally by the chemicals.

Pandora’s Promise

If You Love: Seeing something from a different point of view.

Personally, I’ve never done any research about nuclear energy. I’ve always assumed it was dangerous. The news coverage and videos about Chernobyl and Fukushima burned that into my thoughts. Pandora’s Promise counters the common beliefs on nuclear power and advocates for acceptance of the clean energy, which has the second lowest mortality rate for energy, behind wind generated power.

Advanced Style

If You Love: Sassy older women who put your wardrobe to shame.
2014. NR. 1 hr 12 min.

Advanced Style, a blog ran by photographer Ari Seth Cohen, brings attention to women in their 70s, 80s and 90s with incredible style. His overwhelming success spurred on a documentary that follows (four) women with incredible style. The documentary challenges conventional beauty ideals A colorful, witty and uplifting watch that will inspire dragging your fancy pants out of hiding.

Remote Area Medical

If You Love: Being reminded of how blessed you are.
2013. NR. 1 hr 20 min.

Remote Area Medical is an organization that provides medical services to underserved communities at no cost. Their mission, to prevent pain and alleviate suffering, is beautifully shown in the self-titled healthcare documentary.

The 1.5 hour documentary shows a 3 day pop-up clinic in Bristol, Tenn., which brought out hundreds of people who waited for days ahead of time to ensure medical attention. Many of these people hadn’t been to the doctor in decades and suffered from decaying and infected teeth; untreated blood pressure and diabetes; and a myriad of other issues that can’t haven’t been addressed.

Happy Valley

If You Love: Well, there’s nothing really lovable about this one.

Unless you live under a rock, you remember the harrowing news coverage on the Jerry Sandusky trial. Happy Valley delves into the town desperately trying to recover from Penn State’s troubles. Sandusky’s adopted son, a victim of Sandusky, walks viewers through life in the Sandusky home, family dynamics and life in Happy Valley.


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.