Samin Nosrat cooks for dinner guests in her home.

‘Salt Fat Acid Heat’ Shines Brightly Among Food Documentaries

Netflix has advertised their new food documentary, Salt Fat Acid Heat, for several weeks now, billing it as a delightful tour of the globe to teach their viewers about the vital elements of good food. With vibrant cinematography, a cheery soundtrack and compelling direction by Samin Nosrat, it delivers a unique take on the food documentary a la the late Anthony Bourdain. Part observational and part educational, this four-part series is an enjoyable watch with production value rivaling Chef’s Table. Samin begins her tour (albeit out of order) on the intricacies of fat, traveling to northern Italy to discover the secrets of such delicacies as red cow parmesan and traditional focaccia. This episode first captures the process of olive oil production straight from the source, complete with funny-looking harvesters and an industrial-size press.

Ashley Bell and Lek Chailert among elephants in Love & Bananas.

‘Love & Bananas’ is Emotional, but that’s About It

Love & Bananas, at times, feels like a souped-up vlog. At other moments, it makes you want to run out of the theater and go hug an elephant. Unfortunately, the nearest zoo is 40 miles away from campus, which makes that a tad difficult.
The documentary follows actress Ashley Bell and elephant conservationist Lek Chailert on their mission to rescue a 70-year-old elephant, Noi Na, from a trekking camp. Bell’s narration introduces the audience to the largely unknown plight of Asian elephants. She, with Chailert’s assistance, details the horrors of human abuse toward the massive, yet gentle, creatures.

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Hit the Road and Celebrate Humanity with Agnès Varda and JR

Just to be upfront, I’m upset by a bunch of Oscar results this year. But seriously, how could they give Best Documentary to Icarus when something as beautiful and humane as Faces Places was in the race? I learned about Agnès Varda in a film class and have since been a fangirl of hers. As the leading female director of the French New Wave, she has approached both fiction and documentary with her experimental yet always personal cinematic vision. This time, at 89, she set out on a journey with JR, a 33-year-old photographer and mural artist.

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Where is Our Home Now? Ai Weiwei’s “Human Flow”

Few words are needed to express the heavy realities found within our global refugee crisis. Ai Weiwei’s documentary Human Flow captivates an awareness of this crisis chronicling the unimaginable narratives of refugees around the globe. Weiwei follows a series of stories, capturing the lives of refugees in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France, Greece, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico and Turkey.

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Rebel in the Rye Epitomizes Holden Caulfield’s Favorite Word

As a fan of Salinger’s works, and someone who generally enjoys biopics about writers and creative people, Rebel in the Rye seemed to be right up my alley, but unfortunately fell flat in many places. I felt that Rebel in the Rye did not reveal or add much to what many fans already know about Salinger’s life.