Document This- Inter-City Kids, Superheroes, and Nutrition

Pressure Cooker
99 Minutes
This documentary told the story of a group of inter-city high school students from Philadelphia hoping to win scholarships in a culinary competition. I really, really enjoyed this movie, since the kids and their struggles reminded me of many of my own students. The teacher, Mrs. Stephenson, was my favorite part of the movie- she was part teacher, part parent, and part friend to these kids. She was definitely not a softy- the woman is a hardass when need be. She bought a few of them prom dresses, drove them around when they needed it, and defended them against those that chastised them (and you could tell it wasn’t just in this movie). The documentary really isn’t about the cooking competition; it’s about a group of teenagers fighting for opportunities and the person that really believes in them. At the end, when they graduate, I found myself getting teary… until they kids started singing “Feel the Rain on Your Skin.” It would have been corny if the kids took it seriously, but they were screwing around so much I was cracking up.

Should You Watch It? Definitely! Don’t expect an intense Top Chef cooking competition, though.

Confessions of a Superhero
93 minutes
This documentary chronicled the lives of the men and women who play Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Hulk outside of Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. It was interesting to see what their lives are like in reality; I hadn’t really thought much about it and wrongly assumed that they were a bunch of winos trying to make some cash (much like the hilarious drunken Disney characters in Vegas). The four were aspiring actors with some really interesting personal lives (anger problems, failing marriages, extreme celebrity worship, and occasional homelessness). While I’m definitely not an expert and don’t have the vocabulary to really discuss this, I have to say the look of the film was interesting- the shots and all that camera stuff.

Should You Watch It? It was a little slow occasionally (or maybe it was the fact I was sick of running/biking), but it definitely offered a different perspective.

Food Matters
77 minutes
I have really mixed feelings about this film- it pushes things like vitamins, raw foods, and nutritional therapy for illnesses, which are all really great things, but not necessarily the only way to go. By the end I felt a little frustrated because nothing ever seems good enough when it comes to eating in terms of nutrition and environment- I’ve stopped eating meat, which is apparently not good enough because my produce is probably covered in pesticides (even the "organic" ones). I’m trying to eat more vegetables, but that’s not good enough because I probably cook more than the recommended 49%. Their discussion on the diet's impact on illness made up the last half hour or so. I'm a little skeptical that you can treat serious diseases like cancer with just food, although I am seriously intrigued. I do agree with the idea that we truly are what we eat, and that a lot of illnesses could be prevented with better diets and more education. I think all the food documentaries and  books are getting to me- after I watched this I went online and started researching nutrition courses at the local university extension courses (anyone have an extra $1000 they’d like to give me?). I seriously wish I could go back to school and get a degree in diet and nutrition- even if it was just for fun.

Should You Watch It? I think it has some really great information and did inspire me to continue being mindful of my diet, but just be cautious of believing everything they say.