Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Documentaries Part Two

More documentaries! You can find these documentaries on Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Vimeo, and YouTube. And all of these can also be found on my new documentary website!

Decoding Neanderthals
Definitely a "laundry documentary," but there was some really interesting info here. The more and more we research early humans, the more clear it is that they were more advanced than we thought. It seems that early man was capable of language much earlier than we originally thought, and created and used much more advanced tools.

Nature: The Gathering Swarms
Nature is weird and awesome. This would be another "laundry documentary," except it really does need to be watched to be fully appreciated. This covers everything from swarms of bees to schools of fish to flocks of birds. Together, animals create a unique intelligence that's greater than the sum of their parts. It makes me think of the human there are all these connections between individual parts that create a whole.

Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007
This was a cool documentary because it covered EVERYTHING about James Bond, from the books to the overview of the whole franchise. Here's something cool--it's really been a family affair. The current producer is the daughter of the man who produced the original films. They talked about the different phases James Bond has gone through and how each film was received, and it's place in film history.

Totally fascinating. This covered the cultural and medical ideas behind breastfeeding and focused on the journeys of several different women in different situations. One of my favorite mythic/poetic ideas they covered is that in some ways, breasts are phallic. They give this life-sustaining liquid. The woman who made this point said it might be more fun to just say that penises are breastly. :)

Frontline: Secret State of North Korea
North Korea is so crazy, but I think things are slowly moving towards change. I think it's going to be in the next few decades that change will come to North Korea. More and more outside influences are moving into the country (movies, music), and more and more people are openly resisting the regime. Government officials are turning a blind eye to free market business more and more often. The little infrastructure that remained in the country is crumbling, and the current leader doesn't hold the same religious fervor over the people that his father or grandfather did. Time will tell.

E-mail Order Bride
Laundry documentary all the way. This focuses on the international marriage broker business, mostly in bringing together men from the U.S. and women from Russia. It focuses on several different stories and covers the challenges and benefits of a brokered marriage. Here's what I think--I think there are a handful of men who do simply struggle to connect with women, and for them, this could be a helpful service. And there are also men who are jerks--who choose Russian women because they "haven't had feminism over there" and those women "just want to stay home and take care of their men." And there are the rare cases in which creeps who are unhappy with their brokered bride get crazy and murder them. But it seems that nowadays, it's a little safer.

To Be Takei
Oh I love this man. I love love love George Takei. That voice. That sense of social justice. That sense of humor. This documentary was charming and enlightening and made me adore the man even more. It covers his early years in a Japanese internment camp, his choice to remain closeted for much of his life, his relationship with his now-husband Brad, his career path, his Facebook presence, and much more. Awesome.

Reel Injun
AWESOME documentary chronicling the history of how Native Americans have been portrayed in film. One of the very first motion pictures EVER was of a tribal dance--there are many people who believed that a main purpose of film was to capture native peoples before they disappeared (ominous). Native Americans have filled a gamut of archetypal roles since then, and it's only the last few decades that film has been truly representative, instead of just stereotypical.

Secrets of the Dead: The Lost Diary of Dr Livingstone
Laundry documentary, but with some decent cheesy reenactments. One of the coolest parts of this documentary was how they deciphered Livingstone's old journals. He didn't have access to plain writing paper, so he recorded his notes on the pages of old books, on newspapers, etc, using ink made from berry juice. Which meant that his words are incredibly difficult to read. They did a whole series of experiments to try to read the diaries--what they came up with was pretty darn awesome.

Jesus Camp
I'm not even sure if I'm ready to talk about this. I found it incredibly upsetting. But to discuss it is to tread a fine line...I can't criticize other religious groups if I'm not willing to let my own be criticized. And that's difficult. But the disregard of science among evangelical Christians makes me furious. I sense so much fear and anger among fundamentalist religious groups, and I don't think it's making the world a better place. I recognize that there are sects of Mormonism--break off groups that are the same way. And I don't like them either. And in some cases, well-intentioned orthodox Mormons can create a culture of fear and anger and fundamentalism, and I don't like that either. It distresses me to realize that a whole generation of the world's children are growing up in a world of fear, and disregard for science. And I don't know what to do about it. Shut churches down? Nope. Because I believe in the First Amendment. Ugh.

Bound By Flesh
Interesting documentary about conjoined twins who grew up at a time when Vaudeville and sideshows and circuses made a fortune in "freaks." This focuses a lot on their story, but also covers the history of the entertainment industry in general. There are some strange complications in the world of conjoined twins...things I hadn't thought about until I saw this documentary.

History Channel: Albert Einstein Documentary 
(I'm having trouble finding the actual title of this documentary, but I found it on youtube here.) 
Here's something crazy. Sooooo while Albert Einstein was brilliant at physics, he was not so brilliant at marriage. But here's how things went down. In 1905, Einstein publishes the general theory of relativity, which totally disregards Newton's explanation of gravity. Newton said that objects pull things towards them--and the larger the object, the stronger the pull. Einstein said that gravity was caused by the mass of an object bending the fabric of space, kind of like if you put a bowling ball on a piece of fabric. But it's an almost unprovable theory. There's no way to test it. So Einstein finally gets the idea to prove it by photographing a solar eclipse. If he's right, the stars around a solar eclipse will appear to shift slightly. So it's four months before THE solar eclipse that will either prove him right or wrong. He and his wife are on the rocks. Finally, he tells her that if she divorces him, he will give her all of the Nobel Prize money. She will take their two sons and move back to Zurich, and their support will all depend on that money. Which is a total gamble, because he doesn't know if he's going to win the Nobel Prize. It all came down to whatever the eclipse reveals. But here's the other snag. Einstein is German. The eclipse is only visible from Russia. And it's 1914. (Google World War I history...)

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