1) THE REDEEMED AND THE DOMINANT
“You have no idea how good you need to be, just to suck at the Games,” says one commentator in this film documenting the battle to be named Fittest on Earth in 2017. This is the latest documentary of the annual championships and it serves up the ultimate in workout montages, which you can’t help but be inspired by. This year, in particular, sees Tia Claire Toomey finally adopt the mind-set of a champion and power to victory, while in the men’s competition Mat Fraser continued his dominance – even when going lift for lift against a drugs cheat. This is proof that hard work really does pay off.
2) ON YOGA: THE ARCHITECTURE OF PEACE
The film follows acclaimed photographer Michael O’Neill in understanding the philosophy and spirituality of Yoga. O’Neill spent ten years photographing Yoga’s greatest masters and as he travels back to India, Tibet and New York, you get to witness his encounters with them. The result is an incredible portrait of the Gurus and their own mind-sets and beliefs in what makes yoga important and their individual interpretations of how to best include it in your life. Light an incense stick, press play and relax.
3) TAKE YOUR PILLS
In America today, where competition is ceaseless from school to the workforce and everyone wants a performance edge, Adderall and other prescription stimulants are the defining drugs of this generation. Prescription stimulants are in college classrooms, on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley…any place “the need to succeed” slams into “not enough hours in the day.” Although the same problem with prescription meds doesn’t exist this side of the pond, it’s a fascinating insight into the risks of pursuing financial success at any cost.
This documentary posits the far-out science that, by changing one’s perceptions, the human body can heal itself from disease. Thoughts, beliefs, and emotions can have a huge impact on your health and ability to heal. A synopsis of the film says, “The fact is we have more control over our health and life than we have been taught to believe. This film will empower you with a new understanding of the miraculous nature of the human body and the extraordinary healer within us all”, which we can all agree is a little overblown. But the placebo effect, in which the body thinks it should feel better and therefore does, is a fascinating forefront of science worth exploring – even if, in this instance, it should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt.
5) THE MAGIC PILL
Can a high-fat, low-carb diet prevent and even cure illnesses like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and autism? This inflammatory documentary thinks so. The film, from celebrity chef Pete Evans, suggests that the modern diet is to blame for the majority of chronic diseases, an idea that has critics slamming the film for peddling harmful ideas. Yes, the keto diet is on trend, and yes it may well help you to lose weight in the short term, but this film is a good example of pseudoscience gone mad. Watch this and What the Health for a controversial look at the extreme end of nutritional theory. It’s interesting, if not entirely trustworthy.
6) RONNIE COLEMAN: THE KING
Ronnie Coleman is known as “The King” and for good reason. He is the 8x Mr Olympia champion in the world of bodybuilding – sharing the world record for most wins. Now retired, he has undergone more than six surgeries, leaving him unable to walk without crutches, such is the toll his quest to be the best took on his body. And, even in intense pain, his desire to train like a pro bodybuilder won’t be stopped. Exploring the history of his career as a bodybuilding legend and following his journey to recovery, this peels back the curtain on both the ups and downs of the never-give-up mind-set it takes to become a legend in your sport.
While investigating the furtive world of illegal doping in sports, Bryan Fogel connects with Russian scientist, Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory. Rodchenkov creates a plan for Fogel to take banned performance-enhancing drugs in a way that will evade detection from drug-testing, helping Fogel’s experiment to prove that the current way athletes are tested for drugs is insufficient. However, as Fogel continues his training, he and Rodchenkov become friends, and Rodchenkov eventually reveals that Russia has a state-sponsored Olympic doping program that he oversees. It’s a wild story of state-level corruption that has to be seen to be believed.