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5 Of The Best Documentaries Around Right Now

In the past 6 – 12 months I have seen a lot of documentaries. A lot. And so it is with some confidence I can list my top 5.

I will tell you now, barring one of them, they are all highly emotional and only two of these I’ve watched because I chose them. The others were thanks to my college English class.

Of course, disclaimer, some of these documentaries are not completely accurate so don’t base all of your knowledge off of one documentary, as you already know.


Jiro Dreams of Sushi

PG – 1hr 22 min

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world and as a loving yet complicated father.”

-From Amazon.com

As I love Japan, I chose this movie after looking at the documentaries on Netflix and boy was I happy with this one. It did make me very hungry and want some sushi, as well as to go to Japan like right now, but I also learnt a lot as well. It is subbed, so if you aren’t into foreign documentaries with subtitles, this may not be the right one for you, but come on! It’s sushi! Who doesn’t love sushi?! The filming was fantastic as well. Simple, elegant, and made everything just look so yummy! If you like sushi, or really food in general, and like Japan then you cannot miss this one!


Life According to Sam

NR – 1hr 34min

“A moving look at a couple’s inspiring efforts to save their only son Sam from the rare and fatal premature-aging disease of progeria.”

From Amazon.com

An extremely moving documentary about children who are born with a rare disease that causes them to age rapidly, dying by the age of about 15 years old. My English teacher met one of the kids and so he had wanted us to watch the documentary and learn about it and I have to say that it was one of the more eye opening documentaries. It’s made me appreciate life as these kids in the documentary will not live long and their parents who are way older will out live their kids, due to reasons that are not their own. The filming was great and it was well done though it was incredibly stressful to see these young children being treated like specimens. Overall it was extremely good but if you’re not into seeing something like this with kids and such, then this may not be the documentary for you.


Hot Girls Wanted

NR – 1 hr 22 min

“This 2015 Sundance Film Festival breakout documentary from producer Rashida Jones spotlights the “amateur” porn industry and the women it exploits.”

-From Netflix.com

This was a Netflix original and I probably would have never come across this or really wanted to watch it but something made me curious. It wasn’t my intent to actually finish it because I thought it was all going to be about sex and something stupid like that. But actually it was quite good. It followed one girl who found out about an ad on Craigslist and her story into the amateur porn industry and how it effects these girls and how they even find out about it. It was quite stressful but very eye opening and made me grateful for the family that I have. This is a mature documentary, even though it is NR, definitely because of the content, but it’s good for people to know about as well. People think that porn is all beautiful and perfect but they don’t realize the life some of these people have as well as how these girls get started and this did a pretty good job of showing it.

Warning: The trailer is kind of graphic. NSFW slightly and not for a younger audience. 


The Square

NR – 1 hr 35 min

“A group of Egyptian revolutionaries battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience.”

-From IMDB.com

This was a fantastic documentary to learn about Tahir square and the kind of stuff which was going on around with that event, but I will have to give a few disclaimers. First off, it was quite violence and graphic. And violence and graphic in fiction is one thing but this was actual footage from the event and people died. You saw people shot at and others run over by vehicles and it was sickening and difficult to watch. There was also quite a lot of blood. Another disclaimer is that the translations are not accurate. It is known that they aren’t and while watching it there was a kid in my class who understands Arabic and was saying how some of the words they were saying were more sayings but the translations were making them seem so much bigger and more violent, which of course is what people filming documentaries want so they’d gain support for it and such. It was a good watch and I was able to understand a situation better, but please do not use just this as your information on the Tahir square revolution. Other than that, as supplemental information, as well as seeing it from their perspective, it was quite well done.


Blackfish

PG-13 – Ihr 24 min

“Killer whales are beloved, majestic, friendly giants, yet infamous for their capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of the notorious performing whale Tilikum, who — unlike any orca in the wild — has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. Blackfish expands on the discussion of keeping such …”

-From Amazon.com

This was a good documentary but I honestly hated watching it. It stressed me the hell out and was sickening to watch and I don’t want to go and see animal shows ever! I never went to Sea World as a kid and I’m so glad that I didn’t. Wile this documentary isn’t completely accurate and portrays the horrible side of everything, it was enough to make me not want to support companies in what they do. I had tears in my eyes from the beginning and felt violently sick throughout the entire thing. If you like animals and hate animal cruelty, this may not be the documentary for you because it will make you sick, but it is good to watch and be aware about because not many people know about all of the disasters that occur and what the lives are like for Killer Whales. And this made me know, even though I didn’t really want to know. Would I recommend this? Yes, but would tell the viewers to watch with caution.

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Sonnets of World War I ~ The Words of Wilfred Own

Royal Irish Rifles ration party Somme July 1916 Collection from Imperial War Museum

 

 

 

As today marks the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I, I thought it was appropriate to share a poem by Wilfred Owen who was an English soldier and poet.

Just take a moment to think back to what those men went through and how without them, the world may not be as it is today.

 

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,–
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

 

Wilfred Owen 18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918

 

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A History of Weapons by John O’Bryan (Author) and Barry Orkin (Illustrator)

“Crossbows, Caltrops, Catapults & Lots of Other Things that Can Seriously Mess You Up”

One of the coolest covers ever! 😀

Summary

“BEHOLD more than 150 of the freakiest weapons in history.

UNLOCK the secrets of Genghis Khan, the “peaceful” Shaolin monks, and the ass-whooping Rajputs of India.

DISCOVER the truths about strange and ancient weapons like the atlatl, the sarissa, the urumi, and the Maka Pahoa Ko’oko’o

BECOME ONE with the often eccentric and always fascinating history of weapons”

-From the back of the book

Review

WOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW!! This book is freaking AWESOME! I haven’t read the entire thing as it isn’t supposed to be read like a regular novel. It is a factual book but its fun to read. The book is broken up into different sections, classifying weapons under what time period they are from or who used them. An example would be that there is a section just on the cavemen’s weapons and then there is a section of Ninjas and Samurai and shows the difference between the two groups and the weapons that they used. The chapters start with an explanation of the group of people in history that are being mentioned and then there is one page per weapon. There is a picture of the weapon itself and then a paragraph or so on what the weapon actually is and what it was used for and its historical importance. Sometimes it will say how easy it is to use the weapon (usually for better known weapons as in the katana and such), it will sometimes say how it became famous (a historical event, movie, or even video game), and some uses that it was used for. It also may talk about what other weapon was used with it.

The setup was incredibly easy to understand and made the book more enjoyable. I also LOVED the illustrations!

You may think that this book would be boring and all historical and stuff but it most definitely is not. There was one weapon which was talked about which made me laugh because what was said in the description. The weapon was the Mancatcher which is a glorified pair of tweazers, massive style. It has spikes inside of it and was used to keep an enemy down while they were being bound or blindfolded. And John O’Bryan, in one of the sentences said,

“After a victim was subdued by the mancatcher, the knight would typically bind the person’s hands for the ride home. Or if he was feeling like a dick, he might leave the person inside the jaws of the mancatcher for the entire horse ride. Ouch.”

The writing in this book is not like a regular history book where big words are used and such. It is written in a common dialect and it makes it more fun and engaging. The pictures also really add to the book as well because otherwise I would have ABSOLUTELY no idea what the weapons are that are being talked about.

I had always been fascinated with weapons and such and this just does the trick for me (also some of the stories I’m writing has historical contexts and Wikipedia searches just aren’t cutting it for the weapons.) This book puts all of the weapons that you are ever going to need to know in one fun, friendly, and easy to use book.

I also loved the cover. It caught my eye and I loved the tagline of the book. It made me laugh and intrigued me to as what the book was about. What can I say…I sometimes judge a book by its cover and boy am I glad that I did.

I personally love this book and will be reading it from beginning to end. It it set up amazingly well and I am so glad that I made this purchase. You should definitely go and try to find this book. It is worth the price, (not that expensive, about $19). If you are interested in weapons then this is a great thing to buy, but would be an amazing gift for someone who is interested in weapons as well. But even if you aren’t interested in weapons, it’s still a fun read and you may learn something.

So go and check it out and let me know what you think of it.

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MADAME TUSSAUD: A NOVEL OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION BY MICHELLE MORAN

Summary

The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin.

Smart and ambitious, Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, and even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, yet her greatest dream is to attract the attention of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI; their stamp of approval on her work could catapult her and her museum to the fame and riches she desires. After months of anticipation, Marie learns that the royal family is willing to come and see their likenesses. When they finally arrive, the king’s sister is so impressed that she requests Marie’s presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. It is a request Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away
from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.

As Marie gets to know her pupil, Princesse Élisabeth, she also becomes acquainted with the king and queen, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.

Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution. . . . Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more important, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?

Spanning five years, from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom.

-From Amazon.com from Hardcover edition

Review

Now I would never have picked this book up but it was on my summer reading list, and I am so glad that I chose it. I loved it.

I was having some doubts in the beginning of the book as the opening was slow, but then it started to get more and more interesting. It was quite a large book with small print, so it took a lot longer to read then most books. This was one of those books that after you had only read for a little while you felt like you had read the entire book but you really had only read like 10 or 15 pages. But you cannot put it down, you always wanted to know what happened next and not because there was suspense but because of the story line.

You really grew attached to the characters and there were quite a few emotional moments which made you feel really depressed. I also like the atmosphere which the author created in this book. You really felt that you were in the time period that this book was set and what life was like for these people. I was fortunate to get a copy which had all of the characters listed in the beginning of the book (I do not know if all the copies have that) and it really was useful as there are quite a few characters and after a while it gets confusing as to who is who. I still made an old-fashioned family tree though and I found it helpful.

This is a book for older readers for quite a few reasons. There was some sexual talk but not too much that is terrible. But during this book there were a lot of deaths and some of the things which happened were kind of sickening because it happened to some of the characters which you grew attached to.😦 Also Marie had to make wax faces of dead people by using the decapitated head quite a few times and it went into quite a lot of detail as to what happened and it was not just what she saw, but what she smelt.

This book seemed to be an extremely historically accurate novel and I absolutely loved it. It is a must read but I recommend this book for 15 year olds and over because of the violence and there was a lot of political talk during this book which got a little confusing. But a must read so please go and check this one out.

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DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC: A TAKE OF MADNESS, MEDICINE AND THE MURDER OF A PRESIDENT BY CANDICE MILLARD

*Just found this somewhere in my drafts and did this review a while ago. Decided to get it up now🙂

Summary

“The extraordinary New York Times-bestselling account of James Garfield’s rise from poverty to the American presidency, and the dramatic history of his assassination and legacy, from bestselling author of The River of Doubt, Candice Millard.

For a man forced into the presidency, the legacy of James Garfield extended far beyond his lifetime, and Destiny of the Republic revisits his meteoric rise within the military and government with meticulous research and intimate focus. Garfield was a passionate advocate of freed slaves, a reformer at odds with Republican power brokers and machine politics, a devoted father, and a spellbinding speech-giver. Four months after taking office he was shot twice by an unhinged office-seeker, Charles Guiteau, and a nation already recently fractured by war shattered, leaving the wounded president at the center of a bitter, behind-the-scenes struggle for power. Examining the medical reform spurred by Garfield’s unsanitary medical treatment, and reflecting on the surprising political reform brought on by his former political enemy Senator Roscoe Conkling, Destiny of the Republic passionately brings President Garfield’s unknown-but-widely-felt legacy into focus.”

-From Amazon.com

Review

I would normally never have chosen this book as I don’t usually read nonfiction but this was a very interesting read. It is all facts but you really do learn a lot about Garfield. I personally never knew that we had a president named Garfield. I also never knew that Alexander Bell had over 600 lawsuits due to his telephone invention. There is not terribly much to say about this book due to the fact that it is a nonfiction but it does have nice imagery. I really enjoyed reading this book. I originally thought that I was going to hate it, but it really read like a novel and was quite enjoyable.

There is a lot of politics so it does get a little confusing at a few points but you can usually figure out where it is going. There is also some gruesome imagery as they talk about what happened to Garfield once he was shot. It was described in great detail what was seen so that is something to watch out for.

I definitely recommend reading this book as it was really interesting. I recommend it for people over the age of 14/15 due to the fact it is for mature readers and will be hard to follow for the younger readers. It is an adult book.

So go and get this book and I hope that you enjoy.

Oh and there are pictures😄.