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. So, this may be the most important post of the week for fans of nonfics. 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 September 17, 2013:
1. 99% — The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film [TELEVISION PREMIERE]- Today is the two-year anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street, and that’s clearly why this new doc from Audrey Ewell and Aaron Eites and others is making its television debut on Pivot tonight. Here’s what Daniel had to say in his 4-star review: “The resulting film is…something different, something exciting. It stands apart from the previous independent films on the subject because of its stylistic and structural choices, but it also presents the story with a much greater degree of honesty and depth than any of the more conventional media readings of the movement. It may not be the perfect chronicle of Occupy Wall Street — that won’t be written, or filmed, for decades. But for something like this to exist now, so soon after the tumultuous autumn of 2011, is a gift.” Check Pivot’s listings here.
2. Bernadette [NEW TO DVD and VOD] — This is one of those docs that isn’t necessarily well-crafted in a technical sense but that has to be recommended for its content anyway. Normally I live by the rule of promoting films for how they’re about their subject rather than for what they’re about, but this is a rare exception. It’s about a young woman with the fairly common yet hardly known neurological disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT). As one of the many people (including doctors) who had never heard of it, I feel greatly informed and aware now thanks to the film. On top of the educational experience, Bernadette also focuses on a very appealing and inspiring main character who I just couldn’t stop watching, even through the number of problems I had with the filmmaking. You’ll understand why she’s the best possible face and spokesperson for the awareness of CMT while many other diseases choose to go with a celebrity if you give the doc a chance. Now available on DVD via Cinema Libre Studio and streaming via VOD outlets, including Amazon Instant. There is also a special screening of the film tonight at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood featuring a Q&A with the director, subject Bernadette Scarduzio and others.
3. Last Days Here [TV AIRING] — It usually takes a lot for me to really champion a rock doc, especially if it’s on an artist I didn’t know beforehand. This one about the crack-addicted heavy metal singer Bobby Liebling, of the ’70s group Pentagram, is one of those unusually incredible films that engaged, surprised and affected me. Maybe because it’s not just another look at a forgotten rocker hoping to reclaim the spotlight, instead focusing partly on a passionate fan trying to intervene and get Liebling sober that sets it apart. It would be just as great if there was no music element at all. Set your DVR for this one, because it’s airing on SHO Next this Friday morning at 2:40am ET. See the film’s listing here.
4. Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God [TV AIRING]- This documentary on pedophilia in the Catholic Church is yet another must see from director Alex Gibney. It’s not new to HBO, having debuted on the channel six months ago, but this week is a great time to catch up with the film, fresh from its three Emmy wins Sunday night. You can probably find it on HBO GO, but it’s also airing this Thursday morning on HBO Signature East. See the film’s listing here.
5. The Revisionaries [NEW TO VOD]- During the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, our own Daniel Walber tweeted the following about this doc by Scott Thurman on the Texas Board of Education: “THE REVISIONARIES is scary & Texan textbook policy is nuts, but the film really shines as a character portrait of an embattled creationist.” Now available through all major VOD outlets (including iTunes, etc.) from FilmBuff.
6. HANK: Five Years From the Brink [NEW TO NETFLIX] — While we haven’t yet seen this doc about/starring Henry Paulson, it’s the latest from Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost trilogy; Under African Skies), who is pretty dependable. And because this is a film that’s gone exclusively straight to Netflix Instant, I haven’t heard any reason not to see it. Hopefully I can get to it soon for a late review. Now available on Netflix Instant.
Also New to DVD and/or Blu-ray (I need to point out that I haven’t yet seen any of these films):
Triumph of the Wall
A Girl and a Gun (Review)
Frontline: Two American Families
You Don’t Need Feet to Dance
Space Junk 3D
Also New to Netflix Watch Instantly:
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu
Sushi: The Global Catch
Tent City, U.S.A.
Race for Glory
Also New to POV Streaming:
The World Before Her
The Light in Her Eyes
Also New to VOD:
Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony
No Look Pass