Things I Love: Documentaries on Netflix


Netflix streaming may be the best thing that ever happened to people who make a living at yarncraft. Probably sewing and other creative pursuits, too. And probably even for people who don’t make a living at such things. It’s so great to be able to find something interesting to watch at the push of a button to entertain you while you work.

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Oh, Netflix, I love you so.

When I was spending all that time fruitlessly knitting like a crazy person a couple of weeks ago, I was watching a lot of documentaries on Netflix. Usually I’ll watch at least one a week. It’s a great way to be entertained and, hopefully, learn something when you have to be sitting down anyway.

Here’s a rundown of some of the things I’ve watched lately. If you’ve seen any good docs (or movies, for that matter) on Netflix lately, I’d love to hear about it!

  • Page One“: A story about the New York Times, particularly the media desk, that looks at the thrill of chasing a story, the threat and opportunities of “new media” and what it all means for traditional newspaper journalism. As a newspaper geek from way back, I loved this one, and even though I never lived through a buyout, the scenes surrounding the cutbacks in the newsroom almost brought me to tears. Anyone who cares about the state of real journalism in America should watch this one.
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead“: This documentary looks at a guy from Australia with a rare autoimmune disease, who’s also severely overweight and facing a lifetime of health problems, who goes on a 60-day juice fast, loses a ton of weight, gets healthy, and takes an American truck driver along for the ride. If you’ve ever thought about juicing, even not a juice fast, this movie will inspire you to want to run out and get a juicer, stat.
  • Helvetica“: again with being a journalism nerd, I wish I were more of a design nerd. This one is pretty geeky, outlining the viewpoints of whether Helvetica is the ultimate modern font or a sign of the perils of bad design becoming ubiquitous. It’s a good one for design nerds, and it is really funny to see how this font is everywhere. You’ll start paying attention to fonts, if you don’t do so already.
  • Objectified“: speaking of design, this one is more about industrial design and how everyday objects can be both functional and beautiful. It will, a little bit, make you wish you lived at Ikea.
  • The Business of Being Born“: This one was actually in my house on disk when I went into labor, but I decided at the time I didn’t need to watch it. Of course I’m glad I had a hospital birth given that I had a preemie, and I don’t know if this movie would have changed my mind about that even if I had been in a position to have a less industrial delivery. If nothing else it again gives me great respect for people who do it naturally and those who help people who do it naturally, but I think there still needs to be respect for people who know their options and make the choice to go the hospital route, too.
  • The Universe of Keith Haring“: I have a Keith Haring diaper bag (with the radiant baby on it, of course), but I was interested in this iconic artist for a long time before that. Of course I was just a kid when he was alive and creating his larger-than-life pieces of public art. (It turns out I watched this one the day before the 22nd anniversary of his death, which is today.) I love his idea that art is meant to be for the masses and it is meant to change lives, to make people happy, to inspire and to educate. His life and work should continue to be an inspiration even all these many years later.

Some things I’m thinking about watching soon include “Freakonomics,” “Waiting for Superman” and “Exit through the Gift Shop.” What should I add to my list?

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