Fantastic Fungi (2019)
A wildly popular mushroom movie? Yes! This is a wacky, whimsical, and wonderful documentary film about the fantastic lives of fungi (1.5 million species). What really drives the popularity of this movie (100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), I suspect, is the time-lapse cinematography of mushrooms that is out-of-this world gorgeous. Add to this the truly scientific commentary by some of the experts (cf. the bioluminescent species). But many viewers have also noted the (take your pick) hokey or irritating parts of the narration that wander into the woo-woo consciousness of tree huggers, most notably about the medicinal powers of mushrooms. There's no doubt that the compound psilocybin that is found in about 200 species of mushrooms has some sort of healing powers. But one bad trip could also fry your brain, and so I thought that the sanguine perspective on the illegal drug was outright irresponsible. There is rhetoric like this gem from the opening lines of the movie: "There's a feeling, a pulse of eternal knowledge. When you sense a oneness, you are with us. We brought life to earth, we are the wisdom of a billion years, we are creation, resurrection, condemnation, and regeneration. We are mushrooms!" Or consider the TED Talk by the mycologist-narrator Paul Stamets, "Six Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World" (6.8 million views). Nor did I need to hear from the celebrity doctor Andrew Weil about mushrooms and alternative medicine. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this movie. I watched it on Netflix.
Dan Clendenin: firstname.lastname@example.org