With movie rental stores becoming a thing of the past, people of every age are forced to come to a decision. Whether you choose to watch your flicks via pay-per-view, by purchasing movies online, using Red Box vending machines or investing in a Netflix account, today’s movie connoisseurs have a plethora of options when it comes to viewing. Though many find themselves incorporating a few or all of these methods throughout the course of the year, Netflix seems to be a consistently popular course of action. According to Statistics Brain webpage, an astonishing 29.2 million American people subscribe to some form of Netflix account. The company offers hundreds of thousands of TV series, movies of every genre and documentaries for those who are eager to get a new perspective on any given topic with visuals, commentary and behind-the-scene footage.
It may be the lack of brain stimulation that comes with an on-summer-break-college lifestyle, but documentaries can actually be an awesome way to learn a great deal about anything without even opening a book. Where a book can take days, weeks or maybe even years to finish with all the stopping and starting, a documentary packs in a ton of information in usually an hour or less. The ability to watch footage or listen to narration from a primary source is much more interactive experience for the audience that a book just can’t beat.
Running through the hundreds of documentaries streaming on Netflix Instant Que can be overwhelming and also extremely surprising. There are documentaries ranging from Bo Jackson’s career as a dual professional baseball and football player in You Don’t Know Bo to films that examine women’s obsession with all things footwear in God Save My Shoes. There truly is a documentary for everything. Here are a few you may want to check out this summer:
1. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Directed by David Gelb, this 2011 American documentary takes a closer look at Jiro Ono, an 85-year old sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant, on his continuing quest to perfect the art of sushi. Earning three stars on the Michelin guide is no easy feat. And to put it in perspective, the entire country of Italy is listed as having only 7 deserving 3-star restaurants. What’s most interesting about this film is that sushi really is an art for Jiro. He trains a select few of especially gifted apprentices, but also has encouraged his two sons to take on the Japanese tradition. With only 10 seats available at a time and a required month in-advance reservation, a 30 minute meal here will cost you $300 or 30,000 yen.
2. Life in A Day
Creators of this documentary asked thousands of people from every walk of life to record and send banal and remarkable everyday events on July 24, 2010 in an effort to record exactly what occurs throughout the world on any given day. Director Kevin MacDonald led a team of editors to condense more than 4,500 hours of video into this picture of life on Earth. The film captures universal moments of routine events that people engage in throughout the course of their day, from the birth of babies to the cracking of an egg for breakfast. The video introduces you to people like Okhwan Yoon, who has been traveling around the world by bicycle for more than nine years now. He has visited more than 190 countries, been struck by cars six times throughout his journey and received surgery five of those times. It’s people like this that you don’t meet every day.
3. Girl Model
Girl Model is a lyrical exploration of a world defined by glass surfaces and camera lenses, reflecting back differing versions of reality to the young women caught in their scope. As we enter further into this world, it more and more resembles a hall of mirrors, where appearances can’t be trusted, perception becomes distorted, and there is no clear way out. Will 13-year old Nadya, and the other girls like her in search of a means to provide for their impoverished families, be able to find anyone to help them navigate this maze? Or will they follow a path like Ashley’s, a model scout, who has learned the tricks of the labyrinth but is regrettably unable to escape its lure? As Nadya’s optimism about rescuing her family from their financial difficulties grows, her dreams contrast against Ashley’s more jaded outlook about the industry’s corrosive influence.
Following a similar plotline as the ever popular McDonald’s 30-day challenge film, Supersize Me, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks, filming their progress or hesitation accordingly. What makes this film unique in comparison to other similar healthy food varieties is that you witness the dramatic lifestyle changes these three curious, but comfortable carnivores embark on. The selected experimenters play on all of the common stereotypes of those who go vegan, even juxtaposing them to the likes of an extraterrestrial alien. The documentary also includes behind-the-scenes footage of the treatment of cows, pigs and chickens that will definitely make you second guess the meat-based diet Americans have grown to love and are forced to question.