Has anyone else watched Chef’s Table?

Its a Netflix original and made by the same guy who made Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Each episode focuses on a different chef’s story and there is no host- just a beautiful story about food and those passionate about it. I have only watched one episode, but I am already enamored and excited for the rest of the season!

Disclaimer- just like fine dining, this is not bingable & this will make you hungry.


Doc Club: Cartel Land

I keep remembering great documentaries I have watched… so I’m just going to keep posting. I didn’t realized what an impact the Sundance film festival has had on my movie watching until I started posting about all the documentaries. In addition to watching films at the festival, the Sundance Institute does a neat job of supporting the community through the rest of the year with free outdoor movies in the summer at great venues.

For a while, Tom and I would try to watch previous years Sundance documentary winners on Netflix. Its surprising how many how up on Netflix streaming.

Cartel Land is why I’m posting today though. This movie was nominated for an Oscar this year and I was able to see it at the 2015 Sundance festival, the director showed up as well as on of the main characters (more on that later). This is a great film about how the Mexican drug cartels have impacted life on both sides of the boarder. It mostly concentrated on the vigilante groups that have come as a result of the cartels in northern Mexico (Autodefensas) & Arizona (Arizona Border Recon). The local police aren’t able to secure all parts of the US boarder and catch drug mules so the Arizona Boarder Recon keeps watch while in Mexico, the Autodefensas tries to keep the cartel’s violent influences out of their communities.

This was a really educational and interesting movie about something that impacts some people’s lives so strongly yet I don’t hear about it often. One of the Arizona Boarder Recon members made a really awful comment around race during the film which got quite the reaction from the audience and we later found out that the leader of the Arizona Boarder Recon was in the audience with us which made the Q&A a bit uncomfortable, but still really interesting.


A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I am still in February as far as blog time. A good documentary that I saw at Sundance a couple years ago is called The Wolf Pack it is now available on Netflix. It is about a large family growing up in an apartment in I believe New York. The father is very controlling and the family rarely leaves the apartment, so their only connections are to each other. The children have been raised learning about the outside world through movies. Quite an interesting social film.
Another very good film I saw at Sundance was called Marmato and it was about a deeply religious mining community and the Canadian mining company that ran their mines. I don’t remember much but it was a good film.
SO recently I have seen three current releases which is a lot for me. They all three happened to be good so I figured I should share.
The first movie I saw was Room, I had read the book, it is based on a true story about a girl abducted. She then has a child while in captivity and is raising the child all the while trying to get out of that situation. The movie was good and comparable to the book.
This weekend I saw two movies in theaters, both were based on true stories.
I saw Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot. Excellent!! As is Tina Fey per usual!!
Then Leo and I saw Eddie the Eagle also a really good movie! The story very inspirational, and well done!
Well now I have officially become a blogger. First time for everything!


Doc Club- Bill Cunningham New York

Premise: Bill Cunningham is a street fashion photographer in New York and has documented the fashion scene for the last 50+ years.

My Thoughts: Bill is just a really happy and humble guy that loves what he does and has devoted his life to it. In parts he seems lonely its really just him, his camera and the streets of the city, but that simple life makes him happy which is inspiring.  I enjoy learning about and following fashion so this was an interesting subject.

TLDR:Watching this made me really happy.

Availability: Streaming on Netflix

Length: 1h 24min

Doc Club- Mads Brügger

Mads is a Danish documentary maker that takes a very different approach to documentaries than most. He completely inserts himself in a situation and films in secret. The nature of his films are to expose political corruption in a captivating and somehow comical way.


The Red Chapel– Undercover, Mads and two other Danish men pose as a comedy troupe on a cultural exchange. Not surprisingly the government officials censor the routine. This is a very funny but emotional film. One of the men is born in North Korea with a physical disability and if he was not adopted by someone into Denmark, he would have not survived this long as North Korea has been accused of disposing those with disabilities.

The Ambassador– Mads is able to purchase a diplomatic title and a diplomatic passport from Liberia and pose as an ambassador to the CAR. Again, undercover, Mads exposes corruption in the CAR specifically around the diamond industry.

My Thoughts: These are the most enjoyable documentaries I have seen. Mads takes a very comical approach to these dangerous situations that will in ways remind you of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character. I watched these wide eyed at the dangerous feats he is able to accomplish- much less film! These keep you captivated by humor but make a big political point around corruption.

Availability: Streaming on Fandor (its an app, first week is free, $9.99/mo)

Length: 90ish min each

Doc Club- A Piece of Work

Premise: Joan Rivers, all about her life, the highs, lows and why she still had an active career up until the end.

What You’ll Learn: All about Joan’s life.

My Thoughts: Before watching this documentary, I had no real opinions of Joan Rivers (if anything, slightly negative because of the plastic surgery stuff), after watching this, I have a lot of respect for Joan. I wouldn’t have necessarily sought out the film, but I really enjoyed watching it.
Joan is a hard working lady that busted into an industry littered with men and carved out a place for herself. I know I’m sounding like a broken record here, but I saw this one at Sundance and after the film- Joan came out for Q&A! She was SO sharp and funny.

Availability: Streaming on Netflix

Length: 1h 24min

Doc Club- Living on One Dollar

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This is totally a by proxy review. I have actually not seen this movie but Jake brings it up so much in conversation that I’m going to be watching it soon. Perhaps not before the end of the month so I figured I should write about it now.

Living on One Dollar follows the journey of four friends as they set out to live on just $1 a day for two months in rural Guatemala. They battle hunger, parasites, and extreme financial stress as they attempt to survive life on the edge. An unimaginable reality for most young Americans, the challenges they face are real and plague over 1.1 billion people around the world. While the friends quickly learn there are no easy answers, the generosity and strength of Rosa, a 20 year old woman, and Chino, a 12 year old boy, give them resilient hope that there are effective ways to make a difference.

This is a family friendly film, Jake saw it while looking under Children and Family Section of Netflix. Never can start too soon teaching Wyatt empathy for those around us.

Available on Netflix – 56 min. (ha ha 56 days, 56 dollars, 56 minutes Kay will enjoy that!

Doc Club- Banksy Does New York

Premise: Banksy took residence in New York for a month, this film follows the hype/hysteria that followed his 30 day art project.

What You’ll Learn: This is an in depth look at all the art pieces that Banksy did and the reactions from people that lived there. Some of the pieces were commentary in the same way ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ was commentary.

My Thoughts: This was a nice lighthearted film. I think I watched it while I was doing laundry (so it doesn’t require 100% of your attention). This is a good compliment to the ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’ documentary I wrote about last week. I really enjoyed this one.

Availability: Streaming on HBO Go

Length: 1h 19min

Doc Club- Bhutto

Premise:   This film brings you through the life of Benazir Bhutto, her rise to power and eventual death. While nothing like Evita, its also a story about a strong woman is a country that is not my own, her rise to unlikely political leadership and how a country eventually mourned the leader’s death.

What You’ll Learn: I learned a lot about Pakistan, the life of Benazir Bhutto, her family and legacy.

My Thoughts: I recently read I am Malala (really good) which is also set in Pakistan and she mentions being inspired by Benazir Bhutto. This film filled in a lot of the historical political knowledge that I didn’t have about Pakistan that was helpful as I was reading Malala’s book. I am really embarrassed that the first time I watched this movie was at a Sundance middle of the week midnight showing, I somehow fell asleep to only find out that her children were also in the theatre watching the documentary. I really learned a lot and found a lot of value in watching the film and would recommend it to others.

Availability: Streaming on Netflix

Length: 1 h 51 min

Doc Club- The Square

Premise:   This a street level view of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution that began the Arab Spring. The ‘Square’ refers to Tahrir Square which is where a lot of the main action of the revolution was set.

What You’ll Learn: The Egyptian Revolution from the point of view of those that were actually leading the revolution. I have a hard time following along why conflict exists in the Middle East, who the players are, where the conflict stems and this helps make some sense of it all.

My Thoughts: This was another film I saw because it won the documentary award for audience choice at Sundance. The amazing thing was that the documentarian was at the festival and at the end of the film, she taught the audience a chant that they chanted in the square. There should have been more people in the film at the Q&A, but the documentarian said “Somehow these guys can dodge bullets in Egypt, but they get lost finding the library in Park City, Utah?”. This is a really high quality and incredible film- it was even nominated for an Oscar a couple years ago.

Availability: Streaming on Netflix

Length: 1h 44min