4 Documentary Highlights | Part I.
I have the worst tendencies when turning on Netflix or Hulu to watch the same old shows I've watched 100 times through, just for some background noise I find contentment in (I'm looking at you It's Always Sunny, That 70's Show, and Archer.) However, the many hours I waste just listening to these shows instead of actively engaging in new media is kind of astonishing. So much so, I wanted to be sure to intentionally fill those minutes with something more fruitful.
I have tried to make it part of my weekly routine to pop on at least one documentary with something hopefully educational or inspirational, as to not watch the same material ad nauseam. Documentaries are not long, which is why I will be adding runtimes to the list, just so everyone knows how much time you needn't invest to engage with wonderful material. This was the first month I did this, so I wanted to highlight the wonderful worlds I explored.
A Grand Night In: The Story of Aardman | 59 minutes.
Growing up, my father introduced my sister and I to the wonderful characters of Wallace and Gromit. As a child, we really enjoyed their inherently British antics, as well as the novelty of watching something made entirely from clay. It was almost magical.
Watching this documentary made me remember all of the wonderful smiles and laughs I had throughout my childhood watching Aardman creations such as Chicken Run and Flushed Away. It was heart-warming, beautifully executed, and showed me more of the world of Aardman than I previously knew. It truly highlighted how hard the work they do is, and it showed how they changed the world of animated film forever.
The actual execution of the documentary, including the cast for the interviews apart from those working for Aardman, was all-star and delightfully funny. Martin Freeman, David Tennant, David Lasseter were all present, just to name a few. If you haven't enjoyed any Aardman anything, I would make it a priority. As they said in the documentary, one of the best things an animator can do for this world is to leave a legacy of simple smiles; and that is what Aardman done.
The Truth About Alcohol | 58 minutes.
I have to say, this was probably my favorite documentary of the bunch.
This is a documentary debunking some myths and unveiling truths about alcohol consumption. It provides science and research to back up everything you could ever want to know about alcohol such as the effectiveness of a nightcap, what makes a lightweight, what is a real hangover cure, alcohol's affects on appetite, and even the health benefits of red wine. I think the main point this film is: if you consume alcohol, do your responsible amount of research so you don't hurt yourself.
I learned a great deal from this documentary. These are some of my favorite notes:
Alcohol tolerance isn't related to weight—it's related to muscle mass, which equates to how much water there is in your body. So, the more water, the more tolerance. If you want to increase you alcohol tolerance, go to the gym.
The study about red wine being good for the heart is a true one. Red wine contains polyphenols which dilate blood vessels, which is good for cardiovascular health. However, the same effect can be achieved by eating almonds or drinking coffee.
Nightcaps are a myth. It does aid in one falling asleep faster, but the overall night's sleep is lesser in quality, with few points of "deep sleep" and more points where the brain is actually awake.
Despite humans longing for a hangover cure, there isn't one, and there is little research done on it. Taking borage capsules before drinking or eating a fry-up breakfast the morning after are said to be helpful, but there is not a way to mitigate the effects of a hangover entirely.
Ultimately, if you drink, watch this. I can't stress that enough! It's good, it's well made, and the A&E doctor leading you along the way is charming and eloquent to boot.
Lego House - Home of the Brick | 47 minutes.
It's clear I like watching things that can be described as fun. I have a mild obsession with Danes, so this was an immediate must. This documentary entails the building and thought process in building the Lego House. It intimately details the decisions made for each room, the architectural process, and highlights the importance of LEGOs in history.
I think my favorite part of the documentary was when they were play-testing the certain rooms. CEO Kjeld made it a priority to keep interacting with the children, and emphasized hands-on learning is what makes the most creative inspiration and problem solving builds in the house. Those who watch Kjeld work describe him as always having fun, but taking it seriously, because the industry, intricacy, and social science of creating fun and memories is something that shouldn't be brushed off as juvenile—it should be taken seriously.
The things people create with LEGOs never ceases to amaze me, and if you want to be mind-blown for a solid hour, this is the documentary to watch.
Swimming with Killer Whales | 48 minutes.
This film follows the amazing research of Dr. Ingrid Vissir, a brave woman in New Zealand studying the orca population. This short doc demonstrates not only Ingrid's bravery and contribution to animal conservation, but how we as a species need to focus on what we put into the environment.
What I appreciated most about this documentary was Ingrid's compassion toward the whales. She swims with them, pets them, plays with them, and they do not harm her. I think this is a wonderful depiction of how humans should engage with wildlife and how misconceptions of that wildlife can lead to harm in the long run. Despite them being called "killer whales", they are kind to humans, even joyful, if we treat them with respect.
The saddening portion of this documentary came from Ingrid's findings in the dead orca and ray samples she found. Numerous chemicals and flame retardants exist in the blubber of the whales, and she is striving with the help of conservation organizations to put bans on these toxins so it saves the rapidly fading away orca population. This film definitely provides some nice food for thought.
What have you watched lately that's made you learn a thing or two? What have you watched lately that has inspired you?
Thanks for reading! Cheers.