A delicious documentary, free-climbing thrills, Western tunes, and more to watch this weekend

Sunset Cinemas: The Best Western-Themed Documentaries

This week, we’re focused on documentaries and non-fiction projects that you can stream using one or more of the most common services. Our recommendation to you: If you see a project marked as “downloadable,” pull it down during the slow internet hours. Many of us have already experienced death-by-buffering during peak hours of 7 p.m. onward, and YouTube and Netflix have already dropped their bit rates meaning your spankin’ new 4k TV might not show its stuff.

Enough preamble: let’s get to the flicks.

Wild Alaska, Netflix
Leave it to the brits to wax poetic about the wildest part of the West. This three-part series, each chapter clocking in at a swift 50 minutes, is the perfect fare for a family—or background watching for a board game night. Think Planet Earth, but with a Klondike focus.
Free with Subscription

More Videos From Sunset

Anything by Teton Gravity Research
We’ll watching anything and everything by this gravity-defying film troupe, but their Winterland offers an alternative to spring skiing, which became a distant dream for many last week when resorts across the West shut down.
$4.99, Amazon (also available elsewhere)

Free Solo, Hulu
Alex Honnold scaled the slick face of Yosemite’s Half Dome to glory sans ropes in 2018. If you’re a Hulu user, this one streams free—and it’s a great introduction not only to the sport of climbing but Yosemite itself.
Free with Subscription

The Dawn Wall, Netflix
If you ask us, this is the better film—especially for this era of separation. While Honnold’s glory is mostly his own (filmmaker and climber Jimmy Chin deserves credit for bringing it to life), in The Dawn Wall Honnold’s friend and adviser Tommy Caldwell carves off a different challenge on the same stretch of rock—and brings along a buddy, a sport climber named Kevin Jorgeson. While Free Solo leaves us in awe of Honnold, The Dawn Wall reminds us of the stubborn persistence of the human bond in times of duress, a takeaway I think we can all get behind right now.
Free with Subscription

Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution, PBS
An early proponent of the farm-to-table revolution, Alice Waters changed the world from her kitchens in Berkeley, California, one organic ingredient at a time. Though it dates to 2003, this in-depth look at her career by filmmaker Doug Hamilton is a worthy intro to the food world—and thanks to the backing of PBS, just about as free as it gets.
Free to KQED Passport members

The National Parks by Ken Burns, Amazon
Speaking of PBS, this epic series by the dean of American documentary filmmaking brings to life the battle to forge our National Park system. With panoramic views of some of our finest refuges, it’s
Free with Subscription

Echo in the Canyon, Netflix
Los Angeles’s Laurel Canyon was a hotbed of musical energy in the 1960s. In this doc, Jakob Dylan interviews everyone from Ringo Starr to Eric Clapton about the period, and folds in a number of performances with contemporary musicians including Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, and beck.
Free with Subscription

Dust to Glory, $3.99 Amazon
The definitive chronicle of the Baja 1000, this off-road racing documentary by Dana Brown sits you shotgun as hundreds of daredevil drivers and teams make their way from Tijuana down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. When they’re not avoiding certain death or getting mired in booby-trapped obstacles the tension breaks and everyone can bask in the beauty of Baja.

Endless Summer, Amazon
Speaking of the Brown family, Dana’s father Bruce crafted this legendary 1966 documentary about the surfing scene, following a posse of wave-chasers who circle the globe in search of the perfect break. While not shot entirely in the West, our beaches hold their own among those featured—and is there any sport more Sunset than surfing?
Free with Subscription