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Know Your Mushrooms [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: |
  • Directors: Ron Mann
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Release Date: Dec 15 2009
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B002C68WSM
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Product Description

Know Your Mushrooms

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars 26 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mann's Mushrooms...Bravo! Oct. 27 2009
By B. Bunyard - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's hard to tell what a general audience will make of Ron Mann's new film Know Your Mushrooms. It opens with a clip from one of the first motion pictures ever, Georges Méliès' 1902 Trip to the Moon. After their rocket smacks the moon right in the eye, the astronauts disembark to discover that the moon is covered with what Méliès must have considered the most other-worldly of life forms: mushrooms.
The film segues to the almost equally fantastical Telluride Mushroom Festival--playful enthusiasts, funny hats, costumes, and ceremonial Tibetan bells. The opening credits explode with the psychedelic animation of Mike Roberts, colorful and sparkling--he makes fungus dance. Just as we're beguiled into a world of mushrooms that are funny, exotic and frivolous, the canny filmmaker brings things down to earth with film consultant and mycologist Gary Lincoff explaining that a fungal mat underlies and nurtures all life on earth.
I've followed Mann's work since his first film, Comic Book Confidential, which came out while I was researching my book on the history of MAD magazine. He's very good at illuminating the many facets of a subject in vivid ways. For Know Your Mushrooms he cleverly chooses two complementary guides. Lincoff and Larry Evans are both middle-aged white guys with an obsession with fungus, but their sensibilities quite different. Evans is a pig-tailed, brilliant, chatty, self-described "mushroom gypsy" who can hunt down, field-dress, and cook up our favorites while spouting a stream of fascinating facts and lore. By contrast, Gary Lincoff is a bona-fide mycologist and much-published author who speaks in paragraphs and fills the audience in on the scientific side of things wit and verve. Interestingly, Mann chooses to have the Lincoff, the scientist, describe an hallucinogenic experience. John Cage, Andrew Weil and Terrance McKenna also make short appearances in vintage footage (strangely, Paul Stamets, about whom a whole film could be made, is absent).
Know Your Mushrooms is a collage of information about fungi, including the culinary, spiritual, ecologically remedial, and scientific aspects. The film is interspersed with jokey quiz questions, posed by an anthropomorphized Boletus edulis that are sometimes funny and sometimes an annoying interruption. But the ditzy little guy keeps an information-laden film light, as does the rest of the fabulous animation by Roberts, which appears throughout the film in various artful ways. The soundtrack features lots of songs that have fungus as a theme (who knew?) that Mann has collected.
The film, which was produced in association with Bravo, is meant for a general audience, but it's definitely fun for a more knowledgeable aficionado--you won't learn much, but the mix of documentary footage, great cartoons, vintage film clips from an international selection of movies and documentaries is almost as fun as being at your favorite foray with all your hunting pals around you. And if you have friends and loved ones, even kids, who are perplexed or curious about this fascinating life form and the people who pursue it, Know Your Mushrooms is a wonderful, inspiring, introduction.

Maria Reidelbach, contributor, FUNGI magazine [...]
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Peek at a Subculture, and I'm not talking about the Mushrooms Nov. 13 2010
By Richard R. Powell - Published on
Format: DVD
The first 5 minutes of the movie promise much. "Wow," I was thinking, "this is cheesy, but not too cheesy -- reasonably good 'special effects' and a quality documentary feel."

The film moves along nicely from there, following the various mushroom gurus and fugiphiles as they go on forays, identify mushrooms in the field, speak at festival events, cook up mushrooms, and talk about mushroom induced hallucinations.

If you like colourful characters and getting to know enthusiasts with their blushingly wonky theories about the role of mushrooms in the evolution of our species, you will like the film. It has an almost tongue in cheek feel to it, a sort of halfhearted attempt to present what is clearly an eccentric subculture as objectively as possible.

So, for what it is, it is entertaining and even educational with animated interludes reminiscent of Bill Nye or the Nature Nut showing a little mushroom coming out and quizzing us on our mushroom knowledge. These have a nice "don't take this too seriously" feel to them too.

So, why not a higher rating? Frankly, this film doesn't do anything really well. It is not a straight forward documentary like a NOVA or National Geographic episode delving into the science of the mushrooms and their effects on the body, it is not a big-business-bashing muckraking expose showing the mushroom industries efforts to keep people from finding free mushrooms all on their own, and it is not a "how-to" video on finding, cooking, and enjoying mushrooms. It touches on all these things, but feels like the film maker never really made up his mind on what the film would be.

Now I actually am fine with the "skipping stone" approach to documentaries, giving a general overview of the subject as a sort of aperitif to deeper investigation. Trouble is, this film skips onto some rather odd folks. The experts don't come across as either reputable or credible, except for the enthusiastic Larry Evans, who we see in the field teaching the newbies. Gary Lincoff is underwhelming and the absence of fugi superstar Paul Stamets leaves me wondering if Mr. Stamets would not have anything to do with the project, and if that is true, I wonder why?

If you are curious about mushroom hunting, this film is enjoyable enough and reasonably well filmed, but if you are seriously interested in mushroom hunting, you will probably already know everything in this film, and enjoy it only as a sort of "hmmmm, I guess I better be careful who I associate with in this subculture" kind of way. Which is to say, I think this gives a distorted view of people interested in mushrooms.

I suppose what I was hoping for was an "All In This Tea" and what I got was something closer to "Religulous."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting March 27 2013
By Heather Thomas - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
So many things I never knew about Mushrooms. The people in the video are interesting as well. I had no idea that people even went to festivals for mushrooms till I watched this video.

Choose this rating because if you have not watched and what to know more about Mushrooms you should watch this video.
I liked the whole video very much.
I would recommend this product to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge about mushrooms.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun doc Feb. 9 2012
By Lennartz1 - Published on
I didn't really realize how overlooked mushrooms are in the US. Picking mushrooms is a big hobby in a lot of countries (Russia for example). The documentary makes me want to study up on this really interesting subject.
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, fun and informative documentary Jan. 15 2013
By Michael S. - Published on
Know Your Mushrooms is a quirky documentary that mixes informational interviews, psychedelic imagery, vintage commercials, and high school-style pop quizzes and animations to provide a rather interesting overview of a segment of biology most often overshadowed by the plant and animal kingdoms. Upon first viewing, you aren't really sure what to make of the documentary as it begins with a radio broadcast and odd visual imagery that seems to have been created by somebody who might have actually been tripping on psychedelic mushrooms at the time. Despite its odd nature, the film is actually quite interesting and very informative. It certainly holds your attention, and because of these qualities would definitely be a good film for high school and/or college biology courses to use. Although the film does look into the psychedelic qualities of certain mushrooms, it isn't a documentary about drugs. Much more time is spent on mushrooms as a food source, as a medicine, and as an important part of the ecosystem. It pulls from the great knowledge of noted mycologist Gary Lincoff, but mushroom hunter Larry Evans is certainly the stand-out because of his hippy-like appearance and fun personality.