Green Tomatoes by Patrick Lee: Fantastic Fungi Review

FANTASTIC FUNGI (2019)


In this third review of my Green Tomatoes series we go from broadly covering the land (with Kiss the Ground) and zoom our focus in on the fantastic world of fungi with the aptly-titled documentary Fantastic Fungi.

Source: Monterey County Weekly


Let’s start by analyzing the Rotten Tomatoes score for this film: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fantastic_fungi
Fantastic Fungi has a PERFECT Tomatometer score of 100% (22 reviews) and an audience score of 94% (50+ verified ratings). This is the highest Tomatometer score of all three films I’ve reviewed to date, and with 22 reviews, the score should be fairly stable. As with the previous films, it’s likely that more critic reviews will not be added for this film.

Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg & narrated in part by Brie Larson features interviews with Paul Stamets, Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil, and more. This is a gorgeous documentary, and includes shot after shot of beautiful time lapse sequences of mushrooms sprouting up from the ground, spores exploding into the air, and more. There are also a number of CGI sequences, many of which are hard to distinguish from the time lapse ones.

The documentary starts innocently enough, covering the basics of fungi and mushrooms. It then takes a sharp turn and jumps into the “stoned ape” theory that magic mushrooms helped our ancestors evolve brains. Not sure I buy that theory, but it’s definitely an interesting hypothesis. The film then delves into the history of penicillin, then to fungi’s ability to alter consciousness, the government’s ban on research and use of psychotropic substances in the 70’s, all the way up to recent times when some of those bans have been softened or lifted. The film ends on a positive note talking about the many ways which fungi can benefit society, such as assisted psychotherapy, strengthening bees’ resistance to viruses, eliminating termites, and more.

Overall I learned a lot about fungi from this documentary. It was more than I ever expected to know, but I didn’t mind as I found the documentary to be super interesting. At times the film made me question the validity and accuracy of its statements. Other times it made me quite curious; for example, when it discussed assisted psychotherapy or when one of the interviewees told the story about how magic mushrooms cured his stuttering problem. 

Patrick’s recommendation: Absolutely gorgeous, informative, and interesting. Certified fresh!

Green Tomatoes by Patrick Lee: Kiss the Ground Review

In this second review of my Green Tomatoes series, we move from the sea with Seaspiracy, to land – with the documentary Kiss the Ground. 

Source: Kiss The Ground

Let’s start by analyzing the Rotten Tomatoes score for this film:

Kiss the Ground has a Tomatometer score of 88% (8 reviews) and an audience score of 99% (500+ ratings). The Tomatometer and audience scores are very high, even higher than Seaspiracy, but there aren’t a lot of reviews yet. Like Seaspiracy, the score could fluctuate quite a bit as more reviews are added. However, it’s likely that more reviews will not be added for this film.

Kiss the Ground is a documentary that espouses the virtues of ‘Regenerative Agriculture’. Prior to watching this documentary, I had never come across this term before. 

Source: Kiss The Ground

So what is ‘Regenerative Agriculture’?

From Wikipedia:

“Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.”

For more on Regenerative Agriculture, check out our article on 8Shades:

IS REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE THE ONLY WAY FORWARD?

On its face, the “Regenerative Agriculture” approach makes sense. Conventional methods of farming lead to short term gains, but degrades the soil and reduces long term productivity. The documentary drives this point home quite well with before and after shots of deserts and dust bowls that are transformed into lush fields of green.

The film is narrated by Woody Harrelson and features plenty of cameos from climate-conscious celebrities including Jason Mraz, Giselle, Patricia Arquette, and more. The message is hopeful and positive; and I especially like that it lays out concrete solutions. If we can fix the ground, we can fix the planet. While it’s likely not the whole solution, the film makes a compelling argument that this is a step in the right direction.

Patrick’s recommendation: Enjoyable, informative, and easy to watch. Definitely recommend!

Green Tomatoes by Patrick Lee: Seaspiracy – the next gamechanger?

This film has a Tomatometer score of 75% (8 reviews) and an audience score of 88% (250+ ratings). The Tomatometer and audience scores are high, but there aren’t a lot of reviews yet. The score could fluctuate quite a bit as more reviews are added.

Seaspiracy throws a lot of facts and statistics at the viewer and makes a pretty compelling case if you take everything at face value. A quick scan of reviews and articles on the film makes it clear that not all the numbers can be backed up; and some are outright incorrect. That being said, the basic premise is on point:

“Commercial fishing is bad for the Earth. Keep doing it at our own peril.

Watching this documentary makes me want to stop eating fish (which is what the filmmakers were going for). Not sure if I can cut it out completely, but I will definitely think twice before doing so in the future. Can making such a change really make a difference? Possibly, if enough people do it. 

Patrick’s recommendation: Go see this film, eat less fish, and spread the word.

Check out Seaspiracy on Rotten Tomatoes here.

Introducing: Patrick Lee and Green Tomatoes

It never ceases to amaze me how powerful a well-told story can be. We are living in such a unique era – seeing the transition from print to digital and witnessing the power and influence of social media alongside the emergence of new forms of technology that have come to shape our mind and culture. 

Having been behind and in front of the screen, not to mention in the hot seat at times, I am afforded a very unique perspective on the power of storytelling and the impact it can have on our viewpoints.  


I want to specifically shine a light on the power of documentaries.

They have the ability to open our eyes to unfamiliar stories. 

They can inspire us to discover topics that we may never have been interested in. 

They give us the opportunity to educate ourselves about information that we may not have otherwise discovered. 

They expand our knowledge base and encourage us to see things from a unique perspective. 

They might even have us questioning our own understanding of our world. 

I personally find that documentaries make hard subjects easier to understand and boring subjects more entertaining!  

(Can you tell, we love documentaries over here…?) 


At 8Shades we believe that starting the conversation around lesser-known topics encourages expansion and innovation to emerge. 

It’s for this reason that I’ve invited my friend Patrick Lee, the co-founder of Rotten Tomatoes, to start a monthly blog at 8Shades.com called “Green Tomatoes”. Each month he will personally recommend and review the best documentaries and new releases in the hope that we expand our knowledge and open our eyes to the world around us. 

So find a friend, crack open a bottle of wine and grab your popcorn. Join us on the sofa and let’s make the world a shade greener.  


In case you don’t know how awesome Patrick Lee is, here’s a short bio on why we should listen to what he’s got to say. 

Source: Tech in Asia

Patrick is an entrepreneur focused on the intersection of tech & entertainment best known for being a co-founder and the founding CEO of Rotten Tomatoes (rottentomatoes.com), a leading entertainment website focused on movie reviews and news. 

He is part of the Founding Team and a Board Member of the Gold House Collective and is an active advisor to a number of startups. He has also mentored and/or supported programs at SOSV, Berkeley SkyDeck, Mozilla Builders, Blue Startups, Founder Institute, and more. Patrick holds a BA in Cognitive Science from the University of California at Berkeley.


Read Patrick Lee’s latest Green Tomatoes reviews: