‘Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers’ and ‘The House I Live In’ Top This Week’s 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 January 27, 2015:

1. Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers

[Now Available on Fandor] — One of our favorite Les Blank films is now streaming for a limited time as part of Fandor’s partnership with Criterion. Here’s what I wrote for a list of under-appreciated food docs: “It’s very unlikely that you will ever see this classic as it was meant to be seen, which is with the accompaniment of garlic being cooked in the back of the auditorium. I guess you can watch at home and have some garlic being cooked on the stove, but then you’re not seeing it on the big screen. Still, whatever way you can, you must become familiar with this wonderful work of one of the greatest documentarians of Americana, and really of any subject matter, who ever lived. The National Film Registry-recognized film, made just after his far more famous “food” doc Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (and before the very famous Burden of Dreams), has history and culture and some unbelievable characters surrounding the love of the “stinking rose.” (★★★★★)

Also available on DVD and Blu-ray, including as part of Criterion’s Les Blank box set.

2. The House I Live In

[Now Available on Vimeo On Demand] — It’s about time I had reason to spotlight this great film by Eugene Jarecki, which I’m still annoyed wasn’t nominated for an Oscar two years ago. From my review at Movies.com: “[This] documentary from the director of Reagan and Why We Fight is surprisingly subjective, inspired by a personal, lifelong relationship to someone whose life has constantly been tragically affected by the U.S. War on Drugs. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, it’s unlike most issue docs and most first-person films, bringing us through a comprehensive history and contemporary look at the systemic problem of illegal drugs. It’s both a brilliant investigative piece that somewhat controversially relates the War on Drugs to the Holocaust and a true nonfiction complement to The Wire, complete with extensive commentary from that series’ creator, David Simon.” (★★★★)

Also available on Netflix Watch Instantly, DVD, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

3. Art and Craft

[Now on DVD via Oscilloscope Laboratories] — Some of the following is reprinted from an earlier post. This doc appears on many best-of list submissions to our poll. Here’s the beginning of Dan Schindel’s review: “One of the most delightfully unusual stories on film this year. Directors Jennifer Grausman and Sam Cullman found a terrific subject to work with, and while there are plenty documentaries that squander promising characters and subject matter, what makes this one stick out is its marvelous tone. If you didn’t know it was real, you could mistake it for a Christopher Guest mockumentary, so perfectly does it play with its quirky collective of people and the strange things that are happening to them. It has the right balance of dry remove and the willingness to peek closer in moments of vulnerability.” (★★★★)

DVD bonus features:

– Feature-length audio commentary with directors Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman, and co-director Mark Becker
– Deleted scenes
Faux Reel — new featurette with film subjects Matt Leininger and Aaron Cowan
– Post-screening Q&A audio recording with forger Mark Landis
– Theatrical trailer

Also available on iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

4. Exit Through the Gift Shop

[Now Available on Vimeo On Demand] — Some of the following is reprinted from an earlier post. Nominated for an Oscar and winner of the top prize at the 2011 Cinema Eye Honors, Banksy’s amusing and subversive look at street art is even more significant than a lot of people gave it credit for then. It’s one of a a handful of docs that stick it to the art world establishment (the two latest of which are Finding Vivian Maier and Art and Craft) in a way that is still very necessary. We still don’t know how much of it is a construct and how much genuinely happened as we see it, but especially with four years behind us, it doesn’t matter. Not just because we’re so celebratory lately of the “art of the real” but because it’s always deserved recognition for being the “real of the art.” (★★★★)

Also available on DVD, Netflix Watch Instantly, Hulu Plus, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

5. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

[Now on DVD via New Video] — Another documentary involving artists, this one from Mami Sundada looks at the inner workings of the Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli. From Tom Clift’s review at Film School Rejects: “the man who is of by far the greatest interest is studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki. Aged 73, Miyazaki’s name is synonymous with the Ghibli brand, having directed more than half of the studio’s films, including many of its most beloved titles. In early scenes he’s exactly how you might imagine him; fussy, friendly and packed to the brim with energy. Sunada chases him around the studio as he rushes from one place to another, seemingly unable to sit still. It’s fascinating, getting a glimpse into Miyazaki’s methods […] As movie lovers, we have a tendency to elevate our heroes to superhuman status. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness reveals the truth: filmmakers are human, with the same insecurities and frailties as everybody else.” (★★★)

DVD bonus features:

The Kingdom According to Ushiko
– Trailers

Also available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

6. Burt’s Buzz

[Now Available on Vimeo On Demand] — From my introduction to my interview with director Jody Shapiro: “The film is about and follows Burt Shavitz, the famous face of Burt’s Bees personal care products, who also co-founded the company yet now only works for the brand in an image and marketing capacity as the man behind the logo. When not doing public appearances, the septaugenarian is living modestly on his farm in Maine with his dogs and guns and, yes, bees. When he is out representing lip balm and other items, he’s a rock star. Especially in Taiwan. Burt is a one-of-a-kind codger, the sort of eccentric old man that seems destined to be a documentary subject. If he’d even allow it. He did, and in spite of his superficial oddities and the simple division of his life, he was full of surprises in his story and his persona.” (★★★)

Also available on DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix Watch Instantly, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

7. Sweet Dreams

[Now Available on iTunes] — An excerpt from my review: “In Sweet Dreams, a white lady from Brooklyn travels to Africa to show a group of women how to heal their ravaged nation with the joy of ice cream. This sounds like an uplifting Hollywood drama attempting to filter a look at the aftermath of the Rwandan civil war and genocide through an identifiable American protagonist. But it’s a documentary. The American is not some heroine out to do good for self-satisfying reasons and is hardly even a major figure of the film, and the audience is never forced to feel anything about what she or the Rwandan women do or say. […] This is a small story that feels bigger because it’s inescapably a part of the greater Rwandan narrative, more so to be unavoidably lumped in with films concentrated solely on the war and genocide. Still, as a part of that narrative we’re given the first step towards moving into split-off stories that aren’t so tied to the past.” (★★★)

Also available on DVD, Google Play and YouTube.

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

America: The Beautiful Country [Blu-ray]

Art and Craft [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review]

Gerard Way & My Chemical Romance: How It All Began

Hawaii: The Magical Volcano Islands [Blu-ray]

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness [Film School Rejects rating: B; Film School Rejects review]

The Many Storeys and Last Days of Thomas Merton

Plot for Peace

Science & God

The Story of Women and Art

Unbreakable: A Story of Hope and Healing in Haiti



Warriors of Budo — Episode 2: “Karatedo”

What Matters: The Search for Meaning

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

New to iTunes/Amazon Instant/VOD:

Artifact — Vimeo On Demand

Backstreet Boys: Show ’Em What You’re Made Of — Amazon

The Baby Manual — Vimeo On Demand

Bad Brains: The Movie — Vimeo On Demand

Barzan — Fandor

Booze Traveler Season 1 — Amazon

Brain Games Season 5 — Amazon

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin — PBS

Burt’s Buzz [Nonfics rating: ★★★] — Vimeo On Demand

Chief Executive Artist: The Bundle — Vimeo On Demand

Cyber-Seniors — Amazon

Edison — Amazon

Exit Through the Gift Shop [Nonfics rating: ★★★★] — Vimeo On Demand

Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers [Nonfics rating: ★★★★★] — Fandor

Banksy in Exit Through the Gift Shop

The House I Live In [Nonfics rating: ★★★★] — Vimeo On Demand

Kladno — Fandor

Knuckleball — Vimeo On Demand

Manny — iTunes, Vimeo On Demand

Marcus — Amazon

Minecraft: Into the Nether — Amazon

Of Time and the City — Fandor

A Path Appears Season 1 — Amazon

Plot for Peace — Amazon

Red Obsession [Nonfics rating: ★★; Nonfics review] — Vimeo On Demand

Save the Farm [Nonfics rating: ★] — Vimeo On Demand

Shot in the Dark — Amazon

Slums: Cities of Tomorrow — Amazon

Street Outlaws Season 4 — Amazon

Sweet Dreams [Nonfics rating: ★★★; Nonfics review] — iTunes

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One — Fandor

Tiny House Hunting Season 1 — Amazon

Tiny House Nation Season 2 — Amazon

Ultimate Survival Alaska Season 3 — Amazon

Without Shepherds — Fandor, Vimeo On Demand

Must-See Nonfiction TV:

(All Times Eastern)

Wednesday — 1/26

'Kings Point' (HBO Documentary Films)

11:30am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Next]

12:20pm: Tim’s Vermeer [Starz Cinema]

12:45pm: Last Days Here [Showtime Next]

2:10pm: Kings Point [HBO 2 East]

5:10pm: Kings Point [HBO 2 West]

7:00pm: Finding Vivian Maier [Showtime 2 East]

9:00pm: The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz [Pivot]

10:00pm: Finding Vivian Maier [Showtime 2 West]

Thursday — 01/29

Paris is Burning

1:45am: Tyson [Starz in Black]

2:00am: Paris is Burning [Flix]

4:00am: Grizzly Man [Outdoor Channel]

4:30am: Shut Up and Play the Hits [Epix 2]

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

4:30pm: Mad Hot Ballroom [Flix]

9:00pm: Nas: Time Is Illmatic [Showtime Showcase East]

11:10pm: 12 O’Clock Boys [Showtime Next]

Friday — 01/30

Deliver Us From Evil

12:00am: Nas: Time Is Illmatic [Showtime Showcase West]

12:05am: My Kid Could Paint That [Encore Family]

12:50am: Standing in the Shadows of Motown [MoviePlex]

4:50am: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest [Encore Black]

4:55am: Deliver Us From Evil [HBO Signature East]

7:55am: Deliver Us From Evil [HBO Signature West]

12:30pm: The Newburgh Sting [HBO 2 East]

3:00pm: Standing in the Shadows of Motown [MoviePlex]

3:30pm: The Newburgh Sting [HBO 2 West]

9:00pm: Winged Migration [Outdoor Channel]

Saturday — 01/31

Finding Vivian Maier Case

9:00am: West of Memphis [Encore Suspense]

10:30am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Next]

11:00am: Head Games [Al Jazeera America]

4:20pm: West of Memphis [Encore Suspense]

7:00pm: Artifact [Palladia]

7:30pm: Finding Vivian Maier [Showtime Showcase East]

10:00pm: Inside Job [Pivot]

10:30pm: Finding Vivian Maier [Showtime Showcase West]

Sunday — 02/01

'Inside Job' (Sony Pictures Classics)

5:45am: Mondays at Racine [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

8:45am: Mondays at Racine [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

9:05am: Mad Hot Ballroom [Showtime Family Zone]

12:00pm: Cesar’s Last Fast [Pivot]

5:00pm: Inside Job [Pivot]

6:00pm: Mad Hot Ballroom [Showtime Family Zone]

8:00pm: And the Oscar Goes To… [TCM]

9:35pm: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest [Starz in Black]

Monday — 02/02

Valentine Road

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

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

9:25am: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest [Starz in Black]

10:20am: The Yes Men [Epix 2]

4:45pm: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest [Starz in Black]

6:30pm: Valentine Road [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

9:30pm: Valentine Road [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

10:00pm: Jodorowsky’s Dune [Starz Cinema]

11:45pm: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime 2 East]

Tuesday — 02/03

Occupy Wall Street Documentary

2:45am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime 2 West]

11:00am: 99%: The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film [Pivot]

12:25pm: Bears [Encore Family]

7:00pm: Bears [Encore Family]

10:00pm: Nas: Time Is Illmatic [Showtime 2 East]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.