Well, this is a change – I’m back once again (saying I’m back has become a regularity here) – but this time this is a space dedicated to all things film. Since I’ve been on a documentary kick recently, today I’m going to talk about a few I would absolutely recommend watching. I’ve found myself watching a lot of wellness and lifestyle documentaries – I find them particularly interesting as they’re such a controversial topic, so in this post I’m going to focus on a few documentaries in this area.
Everything I mention is available to watch on Netflix – so if you’re a Netflix user I’d highly recommend these.
I would also like to preface this post by saying that a few of these documentaries discuss treatments for various illnesses – please do not try them without first discussing with a relevant professional, as documentary filmmakers also sometimes take creative liberties in order to tell their stories and alternative treatments should only be used in conjunction with modern medicine where necessary.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron
Down to Earth is a docuseries which follows Zac Efron as he travels to a range of countries to discover new cultures, environments and people. Along with personal trainer and guru Derin, he visits Iceland, Costa Rica, Sardinia and many more countries, in order to explore both their countries and the environmental issues faced by them.
He speaks with people such as a water sommelier in LA, food blogger Deliciously Ella in London, and many locals of native communities to gain insight into healthier ways of living.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this series – Zac Efron’s persona comes across very well throughout and it did get me curious about some of the topics discussed and wanting to know more.
Many critics had issues as Efron is not an environmental expert in any way, but in my opinion while he is idealistic, he does not pretend to be an expert. He is completely open from the start that this is environmentalism for beginners, that he is new to this but very interested. This makes for an eye opening watch for viewers who also don’t know anything about what we should be doing in these areas but who want to do better. It also shows in a very visual way that we should be looking around us more and appreciating differing cultures.
Minimalism: A Film About the Important Things
Minimalism, directed by Matt d’Avella, follows “The Minimalists” Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus as they bring their titular book Minimalism on tour. It tells the story of how they both left their jobs on the corporate ladder in order to focus on what they felt “was truly important.” Along the way they interview many experts, such as psychologists, as well as different people who have chosen minimalism as a way of life.
Minimalism was made for the most part by Matt d’Avella on his own, from camera work to editing. They brought on producers afterward for distribution and marketing, and outsourced sound and colour grading once they knew that they had the body of the film in the bag. I found knowing this made it a particularly interesting watch – if you do watch Minimalism and want to know more about the making of it I would strongly recommend Making Minimalism, a behind-the-scenes series on Matt d’Avella’s own YouTube channel.
I watched this at a very fitting time as I had just cleared out my student room and brought home three suitcases and three giant boxes into a room that was already full of – you guessed it – stuff. Watching Minimalism definitely made me re-evaluate the value of everything I owned – from the many Urban Decay palettes I bought when I was 15 to my treasured books – so if you need motivation to go through whatever area you’ve been putting off this is it.
This is a docuseries recently released on Netflix. There are six episodes, each of which explores a modern wellness industry such as essential oils, bulking on breast milk or bee sting therapy. Each episode explores the different sides of that area, and interviews extreme users as well as those using it in conjunction with western medicine.
Each episode of this series takes us on a journey of following someone who has reached a place of such desperation in their illness that they will try anything and have found these alternative therapies that seem to be working for them – however, as there is success stories there is more opportunities for these to be exploited into billion dollar industries.
I found each episode of this series to be balanced in the variety of people it interviewed and gave a really well rounded discussion of the benefits and misuses of these forms of alternative therapies. It showed both skeptics and believers which really allows the viewer to make up their own mind about where they stand with each therapy.
Many of the people featured are suffering from Lyme disease, cancer, mental illness, gastrointestinal illness and other chronic illnesses, and their journeys and struggle through treatment and alternative medicine are depicted throughout this series.
As this is a very controversial area, this series makes for a very interesting watch.
This documentary explores the relationship between the human psyche and our physical health. It features both scientists and spiritual leaders such as Dr. Deepak Chopra, Anthony William ‘Medical Medium’, Marianne Williamson and many others, discussing how our thoughts and beliefs impact our ability to heal from many various illnesses. Alongside this we see three individuals go on their own healing journeys from cancers, autoimmune diseases and physical injuries.
Directed and produced by Kelly Noonan, this documentary is similar in style to [UN]WELL only rather being based on an industry it is purely focused on the power of mindset. This film has come under fire from critics for selling pseudoscience, which I think is also important to take into account when watching and forming opinions on it.
The main idea sold by this film is that these people are not victims of their diagnoses, and that we all have more power than we think in our mind in dealing with what we are faced in our lives. While I won’t be abandoning the doctor any time soon it definitely encouraged me to be more mindful in how I deal with things.
The Game Changers
The Game Changers follows James Wilks as he goes on a journey to discover the ultimate diet for the human body to thrive on, and for athletes to develop maximum strength. He speaks with scientists and other specialists, as well as well known athletes such as Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and James Cameron. Throughout the film it is argued that much of what we believe about meat protein being essential to the human diet is, in fact, untrue.
Wilks is a former MMA fighter who is also on his own journey of recovery from an injury. This is what motivates him to explore a plant based recovery, and to investigate this as a diet for those aiming to bulk up. He draws the conclusion on this journey that he feels a significant reduction of inflammation and a boost in energy which he attributes to this switch in diet. He also explores how a plant based diet can cause increased blood flow and improved muscle efficiency.
I found this a very interesting watch as most documentaries to do with veganism and plant based diets take the angle of either animal rights or environmentalism – I hadn’t seen this angle of the benefits to the human body before which made it quite a compelling watch for me.
All of the documentaries mentioned above are available to watch on Netflix.
That’s all for now!