My wife and I (and even some of our young children) watched Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos recently. It’s a slick documentary that raises some important questions and concerns about the increasingly monopolistic company that keeps prices low (instead of raising them like past monopolies).
The movie wasn’t enough to make me ditch my Amazon Prime or Alexa accounts, especially given how much time and money Amazon has saved my family over the last two decades. That could change, but for now I’ll say: so far, so good. In fact, I’d rather convert to Android and stay with Amazon than stay with Apple and ditch Amazon—I like them that much.
For its slick production and warranted scrutiny, I award it ★★★★☆.
Fun fact: Walmart made twice as much money as Amazon did last year ($512 billion versus $233 billion).
In short, it’s a terrific documentary on a charismatic con man, blind faith, broken promises, and a willingness to belong. 5 stars out of 5.
Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
I recently watched 180 Degrees South. It’s an enjoyable documentary by surfer, climber, and conservationist Chris Malloy, in which he follows the adventurous footsteps of his two mentors—Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and North Face founder Doug Tompkins.
This is what I took from the film: Continue reading…
I recently watched (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies. This is what I learned:
- Honor codes, moral self-reminders before brushing with temptation, and asking others to be honest in tempting situations can reduce dishonesty to almost zero, researchers found.
- People are increasingly dishonest as they distance themselves from tangible things (i.e. its easier to steal digital money than tangible money, and it’s easier to cheat in golf by kicking your ball while looking away as opposed to picking it up). To heighten honesty, look at ill behavior right in the face before doing it.
- Everybody is dishonest. Everybody. And all nationalities are equally dishonest, researchers found. It’s just that foreign cultures feel more dishonest because they cheat in unfamiliar ways.
- Scandinavian economies and The U.S. have the world’s highest levels of social trust—Africa and South America the least, which has a dramatic effect in the size and health of those respective economies.
- Bankers cheat twice as much as politicians. Lying can be appropriate when it’s done for the good of others as opposed to selfish reasons and only if the truth wouldn’t later upset the person that was deceived (i.e. telling a hysterical passenger on a crashing plane that you’re an aeronautics engineer and everything is going to be okay or lying to your children to keep them out of imminent danger or harm’s way).
Highly recommended. Four stars out of five.
My wife and I watched Atari: Game Over last night on YouTube (part II here). It’s an hour long documentary about the fast rise and even faster demise of video games in the early ’80s and the misinformation surrounding their fall (the games, not the decade).
That’s just the pretext, however. The documentary is really about hurtful group think, toxic urban legends, and the unfair, if not tragic, treatment of Howard Warshaw, a talented and pioneering game designer that was ostracized for his largely innocent role.
Although the documentary handles some weighty baggage, director Zak Penn keeps it fun, fast-paced, and peppered with likable characters. When Warshaw is partially redeemed by the end of the movie, I was rattled with sympathy.
Atari: Game Over isn’t as fist-pumping fun as Kong of Kong, which you should watch posthaste if you haven’t already. But the former is more accurate and just as endearing. Furthermore, it challenges the viewer to scrutinize their beliefs before accepting them and encourages us to give others the benefit of the doubt.
Five stars out of five.
I just finished watching IJsbrand van Veelen’s excellent 50-minute documentary on the glamorization of amateur content producers and the potential negative effects that it may or may not have on society, especially as experts (informed individuals who work for, reason with, and experience wisdom) are waning in popularity. Here are some thoughts: Continue reading…
Lindsey and I watched The King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters on Wednesday, a hilariously funny “documentary” that follows Steve Wiebe as he attempts to overtake the world’s highest score in a game of Donkey Kong from reigning champion Billy Mitchell.
Not only is the movie entertaining, but it’s cleverly presented in “good vs. evil” fashion, boasts an awesome soundtrack, and features some very creative transition effects. Oh, and it stars lots of socially inept individuals who are fun to watch.
I’ve blogged about Helvetica before (my review here), and now that the documentary is posted in its entirety on Google Video, there’s really no reason for anyone not to see it. Get that!
I watched an inspiring documentary on PBS this weekend — Harvesting the Wind narrated by Morgan Freeman. The film profiles wind farmers from southwest Minnesota, and how they are harvesting wind energy to provide local power and supplemental income for a decline in crop profitability.
The idea, which has shown initial success, is that wind farming can bring business back to small town America, without multinationals owning all the pie. In Minnesota, more than 25 percent of wind farms are owned by private individuals or cooperatives to keep money within the community.
I finally saw Helvetica on DVD last night with my non-designy wife. Some thoughts: Continue reading…
This documentary was a surprise to me. It is extremely well done and the cinematography is fantastic. It’s a heart-felt story of how Empire Penguins migrate and breed during the cold winter months in Antarctica. You will be amazed and impressed upon seeing what it takes to give birth to a baby chick and how family oriented Penguins can be. Very good story and it helps to have Morgan Freeman narrate.