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Minimalism: a Documentary About the Important Things 2016

NR CC

How might your life be better with less? Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life—families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker—all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.

Starring:
Dan Harris, Ryan Nicodemus, Joshua Fields Millburn
Runtime:
1 hour, 17 minutes

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Format: Amazon Video
I have followed the Minimalists from their earliest beginnings. Tonight, after long-growing disillusionment, I finally unsubscribed from their list. In all honesty, they had ceased offering anything of value some time ago, but I felt a loyalty to them for the insights they had given me in the past and I wanted to believe, but their latest offerings have underlined a growing rift between my expectations of minimalism and their execution of it.

I was excited by the announcement of their upcoming documentary, but less-than-thrilled when I saw the trailer – it seemed so very… well… vacuous. They have a long-standing weakness for moody hipsterish photos of themselves and the trailer seemed to be more of the same, just moving. Nice moody photos may make for excellent branding but it doesn't make for good entertainment. But I thought, 'Don't judge, trailers can be very misleading', so I still felt (a little less) excited to see it. There was a long wait to see it here in the UK, but, finally it made it onto Vimeo, irony of ironies, NOT to rent, but to buy. What's more, the price was outrageously expensive – £13.72 – but, hey, it did have 6 hours of bonus features that looked a lot more interesting than the trailer did. I still hesitated though – that price, and I would really rather do the minimalist thing and rent it, plus every time I watched the trailer I thought, 'That really does look underwhelming', so I decided to wait, in the hopes that it would become available to rent.

However, my partner undid all my caution by deciding to pony up said outrageous sum as a surprise birthday treat for me. I was pleased, but my joy didn't last. That night we watched the long-awaited masterpiece – and it was exactly as dull, flat and uninspired as the trailer forewarned.
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Terrible! Please don't waste your time or your money like I did. I was so excited about this documentary months ago before it came out. This is just a movie about their cross-country road trip advertising themselves. There is no substance to their message. It says nothing about the "how to", the challenges, or the benefits. It doesn't even give you a real picture of the day to day lives of the folks who are actually living it. It shows the "backstage" and the set up of various locations but absolutely NONE of the presentations. Makes me wonder.... have they just fooled us all?
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This... promotional documentary... lacks of any substance or insight to the underlying philosophy and benefits of minimalism other than "have less stuff". Perhaps the lack of useful information and reluctance to delve deeper into the possibilities this lifestyle delivers is also part of the minimalist approach? Though it felt a bit more like moody self obsession in service of generating traffic to their website and securing their income.

I can't help but feel like this type of promotional films are part of an odd pyramid scheme- the sooner you get in the more you have to gain as it seems like the main source of income for people like those two gentlemen is talking about their lifestyle and helping other people get started with same. It's nice to live in the mountains and write a blog about the virtues of minimalist living but once the hype is gone there goes the income with it. In my mind, a philosophy such as this one is valid if it can sustain and grow itself through adverse circumstances. Though it is up for discussion as to what constitutes a "real job", it feels that this movement will die as soon as the scheme runs out of new recruits. That's when we will see those mountain cabins and tiny apartments abandoned by people making their way back to reality... until something equally easily exploitable comes around. One can also wonder if the cell phones and other comm devices aren't the reason why people are able to follow the minimalist movement... making the consumerism they speak up against the very reason for their success, however limited. Show me a great community of well to do minimalists who make their money without preaching or promoting minimalism and it will feel less like a hype and more like a way of life. While the idea is not a new one and not one I disagree with, this film failed on every level.

We turned off the tv with 17 minutes to go as it was obvious the epiphany had eluded us.
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I agree what they are saying, but the movie is horrible. How many people can say the same thing over and over. I think there should have been a broader message, deeper insight. It's not worth time and money.
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By D on October 17, 2016
Format: Amazon Video
Ironic I suppose. A movie about minimalism that I cannot rent.
3 Comments 69 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Josh and Ryan, The Minimalists, are awakened but I have to wonder if they are enlightened. This documentary explains their journey to leading a meaningful life (paraphrasing - left my job, exploring life, less is more). Theirs' is not an original concept that any of us have not pondered. They explain so obviously that consumerism won't make us happy. Near the end of this documentary Josh reflects on finally leading a genuine life free of manipulating others to achieve his success (e.g. not marketing cellphones to kids). But Josh and Ryan left corporate jobs and replaced their income by enticing viewers through seductive marketing within this documentary. They film themselves on a self promoting book tour espousing 12 minute talks or eight minute book reads for people to BUY OUR BOOK. One one hand, I applaud their courage to redefine their lives outside the box. On the other hand, they are asking us to support their lifestyle by consuming their junk. Where is the story about the nobility of the minimalist school teacher or farmer actually working to sustain themselves without manipulating others to survive. It seems there is very little combined effort by Josh and Ryan worthy of profiting from this endeavor or feeling they added value to our lives. Too hypocritical.
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