‘20,000 Days on Earth’ and ‘The Manor’ Top This Week’s Nonfics Home Picks


Most people don’t get to see documentaries until they arrive on a home video platform of some kind, whether it’s DVD, Blu-ray, VOD, iTunes, TV, Netflix streaming, etc. Join us every Tuesday for a look at what documentaries and reality programming is recommended by myself and other contributors to the site. As always, if you know of something we missed or should be aware of, drop us an email or a note down below.

Here are our ordered picks for November 19, 2014:

1. 20,000 Days on Earth

[New to DVD and VOD from Cinedigm] — This hard-to-define work by directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard starring Nick Cave was just nominated for the top award at the 2015 Cinema Eye Honors. Here’s what Daniel Walber had to say about it in his review: “An introspective, slow-moving journey backward into the life of a man who puts a great deal of effort into looking effortlessly cool. The musician’s languid style is matched by the film. Cave lives in Brighton, a rainy seaside resort town on the coast of England, its aging landmarks jutting silently into the Channel. There is a haze, a weathered air of experience and gloom about the proceedings. Forsyth and Pollard, aided by the eye of cinematographer Erik Wilson, have placed Cave’s life into this blurred mirage by clever use of the landscape […] Gloomy, enigmatic and oddly seductive, 20,000 Days on Earth is unlike anything else this year.” (★★★★)

DVD Bonus features: The Making of 20,000 Days on Earth; Deleted Scenes Featuring Extended Interviews, Rehearsals, and Performances; 24-Page Booklet; Theatrical Trailer; Digital Download

2. The Manor

[Now Streaming on Amazon Instant Video] — What’s it like to grow up in a strip club? Find out in Shawney Cohen’s underrated 2013 doc. From my review at Film School Rejects: “he has now made an irresistible film about the family business, where he also works part time. Named after the club, The Manor presents the place like any of us might share our own childhood backdrop. In a way it’s merely a common setting in the context of Cohen’s life, yet it’s also quite significant to the story of his parents, both of whom have an eating disorder. Over the course of multiple years of coverage, as his obese father has bariatric surgery and his mother is pushed to get help for anorexia, this dynamic is where the documentary maintains its focus […] Cohen’s thinking that his childhood was no big deal is correct, in as much as none of our backstories are big deals. And yet, with great storytellers involved, they may support terrific films that are themselves definitely big deals.” (★★★★)

3. Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets

[Now Available On Demand] — From Landon Palmer’s review: “Pulp itself is hardly the most interesting thing about Pulp. No doubt propelled by the band’s unofficial manifesto, the film intersperses time well spent with the band alongside footage of the, ahem, “common” working class people of Sheffield. An interesting choice, this device serves several ends: demonstrating the reach and depth of Pulp’s influence on fans, lessening the rock star status of Pulp to something more accessible by juxtaposing them amongst (and of) the people of Sheffield, and giving some color and specificity to Sheffield as a place of origin for Pulp, thereby undermining any opportunity to turn the band’s hometown into a vague, nostalgic site. Sheffield, in other words, isn’t Liverpool.” (★★★★)

4. Banksy Does New York

[Now playing on HBO] — Like a semi-sequel to Exit Through the Gift Shop, this crowdsourced project directed by Chris Moukarbel (Me at the Zoo) is yet another doc that gives the middle finger to the art world, but this one more seems to flick off the hangers-on and the hipsters who may have become fans of Banksy and the idea of Banksy from that earlier film. At the same time, it is positive towards some of his fans who went hunting for his work during his month long residency in NYC last year. Mostly it gives us a feeling of the frenzy of that exciting time for the city. In a way, it’s also a semi-sequel to Style Wars, clips of which appear. (★★★)

Also available on HBO GO.

5. Ivory Tower

[Premieres on CNN This Thursday, November 20th] — This listing previously appeared in some form on another Nonfics Home Picks: Andrew Rossi (Page One) directs this doc about the rising costs of higher education and student loan debt. We got our resident PhD candidate, Landon Palmer, to take a swing at it. Here’s part of his review: “Offers an informative, impassioned and timely overview of the current crisis in a remarkably accessible and organized manner. It is this year’s Inequality for All: a useful primer and a thorough introduction to a large, complex topic that has profound implications for many, many people living in the U.S.” (★★★)

Also available on DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube and more.

6. Los Angeles Plays Itself

[Now Streaming on Netflix Watch Instantly] — This listing previously appeared in some form on another Nonfics Home Picks. Another classic that had been released (just recently) in another format but well worth waiting for the Blu-ray for the best experience of the new 10th anniversary remastered edition. We’ve written a lot in the last year about Thom Andersen‘s essay film about L.A. as portrayed in the movies, and now you can finally (we had thought it impossible) see it at home legitimately and legally. Here’s an excerpt from Dan Schindel’s review of last year’s theatrical release: “There is so much in Los Angeles Plays Itself that to comment on every idea would take a full-length dissertation, which is redundant, since the film itself is already a dissertation. […] a truly unique film. As an examination of the interplay between culture, art and how it breeds our perception, it is unparalleled. As a look at how Hollywood tells its myths, it is fascinating. As a tribute to Los Angeles (not L.A.!) as a city, it is heartfelt and greatly welcome.” (★★★★★)

Also available on iTunes and Google Play.

7. Happiness

[Now Streaming on PBS.com] — Once again, against my scruples, I’m including an abridged version of a documentary that was cut down for its Independent Lens episode. I definitely encourage everyone to see the full version when it’s available, and maybe not even bother with this stream, but I wanted to highlight the movie itself at least. I don’t know that I can say I saw it optimally, either, even though I loved the experience of watching it in a cave at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year. Here’s what I wrote on it then: “Thomas Balmes‘s follow-up to Babies is focused on an 8-year-old prospective monk whose remote Bhutanese village is about to get electricity, and with it television. The premise was paralleled by the way it was watched, inside of a remote natural wonder that has been wired for lighting and, for this case, the import of a giant screen. […] Happiness is a doc that will always be significant for its reflexiveness and therefore will always be significant for our watching it and how.” (★★★★)

New to DVD [and/or Blu-ray]:

20,000 Days on Earth [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review] [Also on Blu-ray]

Archko Confessions

Bruno Monsaingeon Edition, Vol. 2 — Yehudi Menhin Box Set

Everything Will Change [Also on Blu-ray]


How to Look at a Painting

Iron Shiek: The Maim Event Wrestling — Uncut Director’s Edition

JFK: The Private President

K2: Siren of the Himalayas


The Last Play at Shea [Blu-ray/DVD combo]

Legends of the Knight

Master of the Universe

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster [Also on Blu-ray]

Next Year Jerusalem

Open Road


Search for Paradise (Cinerama) [Blu-ray only]

Seven Wonders of the World (Cinerama) [Blu-ray only]

Slow Food Story

Transhumanism: Recreating Humanity

Viva Viva

Warriors of the Road: The Saxon Chronicles Part II [Also on Blu-ray]

Welcome to My Darkside: Women in Horror

What Now? Remind Me

What’s the T?

When Comedy Went to School

Wisconsin Rising

Women of the Bible

World War I: The War to End All Wars

Wrigley Field: The Centennial

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:


Every Three Seconds

La Bare

Los Angeles Plays Itself [Nonfics rating: ★★★★★; Nonfics review]

Sewing Hope

When the Garden Was Eden (30 for 30)

New to iTunes/Amazon Instant/VOD:

20,000 Days on Earth — Amazon, Vimeo On Demand

The Beatles: Parting Ways — Vimeo On Demand

Bergman 101 — Fandor

Bergman Island — Fandor

Citizen Autistic — Vimeo On Demand

Conflict Tiger — Vimeo On Demand

Discoboy — Doc Alliance

Exploring the Film — Fandor

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2 — Amazon, Fandor, Vimeo On Demand

The Flying Frenchies: Back to the Fjords — Vimeo On Demand

H.R. Giger Revealed — Amazon

Happiness (abridged for Independent Lens) [Nonfics rating: ★★★★] — PBS

Honorary Citizen — Doc Alliance

How to Look at a Painting — Amazon

K2: Siren of the Himalayas — Amazon

Killer at Large — Vimeo On Demand

The Last Play at Shea — Amazon

Legends of the Knight — Amazon, Vimeo On Demand

The Manor — Amazon

Navraty/Returns — Doc Alliance

No Fragrance — Doc Alliance

The Only Known Photography of God — Doc Alliance

President’s Funeral — Doc Alliance

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review]

Rules of the Game — Doc Alliance

Rupicapra — Doc Alliance

Scavenger Hunt — Vimeo On Demand

Second Chance — Doc Alliance

Shhh! — Doc Alliance

Slovakia 2.0 — Doc Alliance

Spinning Plates — Vimeo On Demand

Superpower — Vimeo On Demand

To Catch a Comet — Amazon

Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections — Vimeo On Demand

Viva Viva — Amazon

Must-See Nonfiction TV:

(All Times Eastern)

Wednesday — 11/19

5:30: Every Little Step [IndiePlex]

7:05pm: Inside Job [IndiePlex]

10:00pm: Top Chef: Boston [Bravo]

Thursday — 11/20

2:40am: West of Memphis [Starz Edge]

10:15am: Banksy Does New York [HBO East and HBO Latino East

11:50am: Stories We Tell [Epix East]

1:15pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

2:50pm: Stories We Tell [Epix West]

4:30pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

7:30pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

9:00pm: Ivory Tower [CNN]

9:45pm: Louis C.K.: Hilarious SD version [Epix 2]

11:00pm: Ivory Tower [CNN]

Friday — 11/21

1:25pm: Beware of Mr. Baker [Showtime Next]

1:50pm: Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown [HBO Signature East]

3:00pm: Head Games [Al Jazeera America]

4:50pm: Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown [HBO Signature West]

8:00pm: The Amazing Race [CBS]

8:25pm: Jodorowsky’s Dune [Starz Cinema]

9:00pm: Woodstock: Three Days of Peace & Music [VH1 Classic]

11:00pm: Food, Inc. [Pivot]

Saturday — 11/22

2:00am: A Place at the Table [Pivot]

9:05am: Mad Hot Ballroom [The Movie Channel Extra]

11:10am: Private Violence [HBO2 East]

12:05pm: Mad Hot Ballroom [The Movie Channel Extra]

1:30pm: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Showcase East]

2:10pm: Private Violence [HBO2 West]

4:30pm: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Showcase West]

5:00pm: Pearl Jam Twenty [Palladia]

Sunday — 11/23

8:00am: Cesar’s Last Fast [Pivot]

8:30am: Grizzly Man [IndiePlex]

10:30am: Mad Hot Ballroom [The Movie Channel East]

1:30pm: Mad Hot Ballroom [The Movie Channel West]

2:00pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

5:00pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

7:10pm: Grizzly Man [IndiePlex]

9:00pm: Ivory Tower [CNN]

11:00pm: Ivory Tower [CNN]

Monday — 11/24

4:00am: Head Games [Al Jazeera America]

12:00pm: Beware of Mr. Baker [Showtime Next]

10:00pm: Food, Inc. [Pivot]

11:05pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO Signature East]

Tuesday — 11/25

12:00am: The Celluloid Closet [Pivot]

2:05am: Banksy Does New York [HBO Signature West]

5:00am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime East]

6:20am: My Kid Could Paint That [Starz Cinema]

8:00am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime West]

9:10am: The Other Dream Team [Epix East]

12:10pm: The Other Dream Team [Epix West]

1:30pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

2:35pm: Mad Hot Ballroom [The Movie Channel Extra East]

4:00pm: Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown [HBO2 East]

4:30pm: Banksy Does New York [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

5:35pm: Mad Hot Ballroom [The Movie Channel Extra West]

7:00pm: Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown [HBO2 West]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.