Must watch documentaries on Netflix

The Fish Tank from Whore’s Glory

As part of my goal to stream as many movies and TV shows on Netflix as I can (mostly because I don’t have cable), I have discovered some great documentaries. Some people consider documentaries boring since there isn’t much action, I, however, think, not only can they entertain, but also educate us about the world, art, religion, people, cultures and the list can go on and on.

So as part of my venturing out to different forms of storytelling, I discovered three great documentaries on Netflix that should be put in the queue if not yet viewed.  These aren’t recent documentaries but these stories told are captivating and thoughtful. One deals with prostitution, another about art and garbage, and one about sushi.

Whore’s Glory (2011)

The story takes place in three different countries where the women work in one of the oldest professions: prostitution. Directed by Michael Glawogger, this story purposely lacks a narrator or any commentary except for the interviews done on the women who sell their bodies to make a living. It doesn’t take a judgmental tone but rather shows what the women think and feel about sex as a job. The women in Bangkok, Thailand, sit behind a glass room called a Fish Tank and wait until picked by customers. Before work, the women are shown going to a Buddhist shrine to pray for good business.

It then takes us to a more upsetting place in a compound called the City of Joy in Bangladesh where prostitution is legal. Many of the girls shown here seem to be teenagers or even younger and are often sold to madams by their families to help feed the remaining family members.  These girls are trained from a young age to sell their bodies and learn the business so they can become madams themselves.  The last section takes place in the red-light district of Reynosa, Mexico where the prostitutes are older and are often addicted to drugs. The most graphic scenes take part in this section where a woman charges 300 pesos for partial sex. The documentary starts from the glitzy lights of Bangkok and ends on a melancholy note in Mexico.

Waste Land  (2010)

As the title suggest, the film is about waste but surprisingly the film deals with the people who work in Sao Paolo, Brazil, biggest landfill and how the trash they pick is renewed into art. Artist Vik Muniz, who is a Sao Paolo native based out of Brooklyn, chose to collaborate with the catadores, or trash pickers, to bring amazing art out of trash. Muniz, who is known for his re-creations of famous artworks using unusual materials, changed the lives of the catadores who participated in the film introducing them to a world beyond the landfill.

The process for the art included Muniz taking pictures using the pickers in some famous poses and then blows the picture up on the floor in a nearby studio where he would direct the pickers to fill the images with garbage collected from the landfill. A photograph of the finished assembly was the final art work. It’s hard not to get teary eyed when Tiao, one of the catadores featured in the documentary, weeps as his photograph is sold in London for $50,000.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)

Jiro states in the opening he dreams of sushi and the documentary tells the story of a then 85-year-old Jiro and his passion and love for making sushi. I am not a big fan of sushi; however, watching Jiro prepare and make his craft is fascinating. He is a perfectionist to the point that he worries about the placement of mats on the counter. And if you want to be an apprentice at his restaurant, you need to learn how to squeeze a towel properly before moving into the kitchen. His passion for sushi borders on obsession but that is what makes the documentary and Jiro interesting.

His restaurant is a small eatery in Tokyo near a subway station and only seats 10 people. It takes about a three month reservation period to eat there and the minimum cost is roughly $300. Although his sushi looks simple, his restaurant was awarded three stars, the highest possible, by the Michelin Guide. For any sushi lover this is a must watch and for anyone interested in learning about a man who loves what he does.


Baby Judith not dead, Carol returns on The Walking Dead

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

Back in December when the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead aired, the show left us wondering what had happened to the survivors of the prison. There was one particular character that had left us, well at least me in particular, wondering what had happened to her: baby Judith. I had some theories of what could have happened and I was hoping that the mid-season opener was going to answer it but alas it did not until this Sunday’s episode of “Inmates.”

The last image we saw of baby Judith, aka Little Ass Kicker, was the bloody empty car seat she was being carried on by the little kids. I had three theories: one, Carol had taken her;  two, Michonne saved her with her bad ass katana; and three, she crawled away to safety. Sadly, neither of my theories were correct. I was a little bit bummed but, hey, can’t always get them right. So it turns out baby Judith was with Tyrese. This was a little twist but some people did point out that while he was running he was carrying something. Although when I re-watched it, I couldn’t really tell.

I was really hoping for my Michonne theory to be correct because as the mid-season opener showed us in Michonne’s trippy-flashback dream she had a baby pre-walker world. Unfortunately, the only thing she was carrying was her katana and two pet walkers – although still very bad ass of her. My third theory was far off but anything can happen in television.

My Carol theory wasn’t too far off as she did show up to save Mika and Lizzie from emanate death by walkers, and she had been following them since the prison attack. I threw my hands in the air when Carol 2.0 re-appeared as she was wrongfully banished from the group by Rick for killing two people (who I might add were sick and posed a threat to the prison surviving group). Rick, of course, didn’t see it this way.

I did point out that Tyrese and Carol would end up together. As you might recall, one of the people Carol offed was a woman whom Tyrese had feelings for, and he doesn’t yet know Carol was behind the death of his former love interest. For us viewers it has been months when we last saw these characters, but in Dead it has only been a few days. When asked by Tyrese where she had been, she lies as she isn’t ready to tell him tell him what she’s done. She tells him instead she had been out searching for food and returned when the prison being attacked, and she had been tracking him and the girls. Clearly, this wasn’t moment to come clean about what she had done. I’d have to agree with her. It will be interesting to see if she does tell him and how he will react to the news.

Photo by Gene Page/AMC

“Inmates” was a great episode finally putting together the pieces of what happened to the remaining survivors from the prison. A quick recap: Beth and Daryl ended up together – possible romance? Maggie, Sasha and Bob were in the woods and Maggie went in search of her husband, Glen. Glen was in the prison and ended up saving former Governor supporter, Tara. Six more episodes remain of season 4 and with the end introducing three more new characters it will be interesting to see if the separated group will reunite.

Michael Sam could be first openly gay NFL player

Missouri's Michael Sam is hoping to enter the NFL as a draftee this summer.

Michael Sam is hoping to enter the NFL as a draftee this summer.

Over the past few days there has been a lot of news about University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam announcement of his sexuality and his possible future in the National Football League. At first I didn’t see what the fuss was all about and why so much attention was being given to this football player. Sam had been out to his former Missouri Tiger teammates since last August so his announcement to them and to anyone who knew him was nothing out of the ordinary yet his “coming out” was on ESPN, The New York Times, and Outsports.

Yet no person currently playing in the NFL is openly gay and if Sam is drafted to the NFL in May, he would technically hold the title. His decision for coming out was not be the making headlines in the news but for him to own his truth. In The New York Times interview, he said that when he was playing in the Senior Bowl he wasn’t aware of how many people didn’t know he was openly gay so he wanted to own his moment before anyone broke the story later on.

He did right in doing so on his own terms and telling his story the way he wanted to rather than have reporters stalking his house and the media hounding him for information. He said he knew this was a big deal but that his purpose was to play football, and he did not want to be defined as “the gay football player” but rather for being a good person and having good character.

I believe he is handling this moment in the way any professional person would. He wants to be judged by the fact that he is a great football player. As we go for job interviews our sexuality isn’t put in question whether we can perform the job or not, but rather the skills we possess. His circumstance is heightened by the fact that he could be the first openly gay NFL player but should that matter?

The NFL is very much a very masculine/macho sport and players and executives have been supportive of Sam possibly playing for the league; however, some of the concern has not been whether Sam can play football or not but rather what happens behind the scenes in the locker room.

Two weeks ago New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said in an NFL Network interview, “Imagine if he’s the guy next to me, and you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me, how am I supposed to respond?”

Although he retracted his statement later on Anderson Cooper 360, his statement is a concern for other players in the locker room. If you think about it, these men take showers together and statistically speaking the chances that a gay player has showered in the same locker room, yet none of those possible players have been out like Sam. There is a certain locker room culture these men have and having an openly gay teammate could change the dynamic of that.

Former Minnesota Viking player Chris Kluwe, who is a same-sex marriage supporter, stated on Anderson Cooper 360 that there is a small minority of players who might feel the way Vilma expressed it but in the past eight years of his professional career, he has seen a shift to more tolerable and acceptance. He said that the problem isn’t with the players but rather the people in charge of signing the paychecks who might be more hesitant in signing an openly gay player like Sam.

Hopefully what Sam has done by coming out is open the door for future players to not be afraid to be openly gay and the real issue would only be, not their sexuality, but rather their professional skill to play football.

New dating site offers part-time love

Who’s down to have a part-time relationship? A raise of hands? According to a new website, this is now possible! Maybe you don’t have time to be in a fully committed relationship either because you are focused on your career or you have gone through a messy divorce or just don’t want the responsibilities of a full-time relationship, but the idea of having a companion, part-time that is, is a rather favorable choice to not consume your everyday life. According to the Parttimelove website, a part-time relationship is a “meaningful romance without the everyday commitment.”

I am having a little bit of trouble understanding this concept. Is this like a part-time job where you are only available certain hours during the week and you only put the effort when you have the time for it? Most people would call this part-time relationship a “booty call,” but according to the founder of the website, Helen Croydon who is an author and blogger, says that the ultimate goal is for lasting love, not a casual encounter.

The website states, “[w]e are not a no-strings website. Friends-with-benefits this is not. We are a platform for contented singletons who want to find genuine romance with chemistry, friendship and respect, without the five-times-a-week demands of a conventional relationship.” The site makes it sound as if though being in a relationship is a job.

The site was launched in January and it seems to cater to people in the UK, US and Australia. It doesn’t say how many current members belong to the site.  However, one testimonial says, “I have found a wonderful weekend lover. He asks for nor more and the times we spend together are magical” from “Leah, 38.”

Maybe the idea and intention is unique but I am not sure how it works when feelings begin to develop beyond the physical attraction as the ultimate goal of this site is to have genuine romance. Can you really have part-time feelings for someone? If you are genuinely invested in someone for who they are and how they make you feel, how could it be just a part-time relationship? Feelings for someone aren’t measured in quantity. You either feel for someone or you don’t. And although you may not always be able to spend time with the person because of whatever is going on in your life or their life, your feelings aren’t half-full or half-empty.

I have to admit this type of relationship does sound appealing. On the one side, you are sort of protecting yourself and allowing yourself to be your own person and have your own space without compromising the supposed relationship or your own person. It’s somewhat ideal. It’s the no-fuss, no-muss-type of relationship. But on the other side, part of being in a relationship is being vulnerable. And eventually, one person or even both may want to have a more committed relationship which sort of defeats the purpose of the part-time relationship this site claims to be.

Croydon wanted her site to be for singletons to enjoy a meaningful love affair without sacrificing their existing lifestyles but even if this is the case at a certain point in this part-time relationship you will start to demand something from the other person to either go to certain places whether it be a birthday party or a vacation. I mean part of why you would want to have this part-time lover is not only to cuddle in bed but to also enjoy each other’s company outside the bedroom as well.