‘Love Meetings,’ ‘Return to Homs’ and ‘Private Violence’ Top This Week’s Nonfics Home Picks

love meetings poster

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 October 14, 2014:

1. Love Meetings (Comizi d’amore)

[New to Fandor] — What perfect timing that this 1964 film by Pier Paolo Pasolini has become available to stream right after we included it on our list of the most essential documentaries about sex and sexuality. Maybe the timing actually has more to do with it turning 50 earlier this year, the occasion for which Daniel Walber wrote on the Italian nonfiction classic. Here’s part of that celebration: “This is not a fully panoramic portrait of Italy. Those who contributed censored themselves. Sometimes Pasolini even mutes the words of his subjects, presumably because they approached him after and asked that their more inflammatory words not be included. There is also the skew of self-selection. These are only the Italians willing to talk about sex. Moravia himself comments on this, explaining that the film is a true portrait of only half of Italy. It is valid but incomplete. […] It is a funny, brash and public exploration of human sexuality with real faces and voices. Since 1964, things have only become more and more open. We now fight about access to birth control on Facebook and Twitter. Pasolini the poet might cringe at the way this has changed language, but Pasolini the public intellectual would have been enthralled.” (★★★★★)

Also available on DVD.

2. Return to Homs

[New to Vimeo On Demand] — This winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance this year also featured on a list that Daniel Walber compiled of the best docs of the 2014 Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Here’s what he wrote: “The Abounaddara Collective has spent the last three years issuing urgent, brief messages from war-torn Syria. Director Talal Derki has taken a much different approach, assembling a feature film from the breathtaking and harrowing footage he took in the besieged city of Homs. This hotbed of anti-Assad activity was first a center of the revolution and then an occupied disaster-area held by the regime, with a whole lot of gray area in between. Return to Homs has images of determination and destruction that haunt and amaze. Derki walks his camera through an endless series of bombed-out apartments, using strange passageways birthed by artillery fire. His central figure, a once-promising young soccer player turned revolutionary, undergoes the sort of transformation that evokes the great performances found in historical epics. Yet all the while it is kept profoundly intimate, a tremendous achievement of nonfiction human narrative.” (★★★★)

Currently exclusive to Vimeo.

3. Private Violence

[Premieres on HBO Monday, October 20th] — Also featured on that Human Rights Watch list, this film on domestic abuse directed by Cynthia Hill was reviewed from Sundance by Dan Schindel. Here’s his take: “The film is quiet in presentation, but the emotions it provokes are potent […] This is a movie that taps into the viewer’s instinct for righteous anger in a way that would likely be derided were it to come from a fiction film. But these women are real, their stories are real and their pain is agonizing to behold. I knew I was in trouble when I was tearing up during the very first scene, when a woman wailed as she went over all the horrible things her husband had done to her. Others might not find themselves so moved.” (★★★★)

Exclusive to HBO and will be available on HBO GO soon after the TV premiere plus HBO On Demand the following day.

4. The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

[New to iTunes, Vimeo On Demand and other digital outlets*] — We had a major disagreement on this site about this documentary about the so-far history of the online currency bitcoin. Dan Schindel, who gave it a one-star review, really didn’t like the subject matter or how it was approached. I named it one of the best docs about the Internet. Here’s what I wrote then: “Most documentarians would love to be on top of a story as early as director Nicholas Mross was for the start of Bitcoin. Fortunately, he was kinda just making a film about his brother, who got in on the craze early as a “miner.” The filmmaker wound up exploring the digital currency deeper over the course of its first big year, coming across other substantial characters and narratives that can properly go down in history thanks to this doc. I’ve compared it to the idea of having a film chronicling, first-hand, Tim Berners-Lee at the start of the World Wide Web or Mark Zuckerberg during the beginning of Facebook. It’s a necessary and comprehensive introduction.” (★/★★★★)

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

5. The Price of Gold (30 for 30)

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — A whole bunch of ESPN’s 30 for 30 docs have returned to Netflix Watch Instnatly this month, and while we sadly can’t say we’ve seen many of them (I keep saying I’m going to make room and see the good ones), we did review this installment commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan scandal. From Katie Walsh’s review: “Directed by Nanette Burstein, The Price of Gold expertly utilizes archival footage from the period (the perms and sequins alone are worth the price of admission) and interviews with friends, coaches, reporters and investigators from both sides of the sordid tale. Most compelling of all, though, is Harding, who remains as fierce and brassy as ever, fluttering her long red lacquered nails, and adamantly defending herself. In the archival footage, she has the hardened look of a mean girl straight from a John Waters movie (weep for the missed opportunities), all poofy blonde ponytails and unrefined ferocity, endearing in her hardscrabble determination […] ultimately the showcase allows us to see her in all her campy goddess glory. You’re either going to love or hate her, but it’s nice to see that her spark hasn’t entirely gone out.” (★★★★)

Also available on DVD and Amazon Instant Video.

6. Whitey: United States of America v James J. Bulger

[New to DVD and Blu-ray via Magnolia Pictures] — This listing previously appeared in some form on another Nonfics Home Picks: The latest from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger (the Paradise Lost trilogy) is not his best work, but there’s so much to it that you’ll have a difficult time not getting something out of it. Whitey is focused, as the title suggests, on the trial of Boston’s most notorious gangster of the modern era (he’s the basis for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed), yet it also has to give us the contexts of Bulger’s life and the background of organized crime in Beantown. It sort of goes down a rabbit hole thanks to the complicated and uncertain levels of police and FBI corruption linked to the story, and that can make it both fascinating and frustrating if you’re expecting a straight case.” (★★★)

Also available on iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

7. Midterms

[Premieres on Al Jazeera America on Sunday, October 19th] — I haven’t yet seen any of this new series from AJ Schnack, but I trust that the guy who gave us Caucus can do no wrong with more coverage of politics in Iowa. That’s where the first of the three-part documentary returns him as he follows the midterm State Senator race between Jodi Ernst and Bruce Braley. The other two episodes present races in Colorado (premieres October 26th) and North Carolina (November 2nd). Just in case you don’t want to trust me on something i haven’t watched yet, Al Jazeera America is also showing the eerily tremendous Into Eternity this week. See the TV guide below. (star rating TBD)

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

America: Imagine the World Without Her [Nonfics rating: ★; Nonfics review]

Ballin’ at the Graveyard


Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy

Dick Cavett’s Watergate

Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ‘70s

Every Three Seconds

History of Warfare: The Gulf & Afghanistan 1991–2011

History of Warfare: The Korean War

History of Warfare: Vietnam

History of Warfare: WWII in the Pacific

Lamb of God: As the Palaces Burn

Led Zeppelin: You Shook Me

Miracles: A Journey Into the Realm of Inexplicable Experiences

Monster Madness: Mutants, Space Invaders, and Drive-Ins

Moonshine and the Dixie Mafia

Pearl Jam: In Their Own Words

Secret History of World War II

Secrets of Iconic British Estates

Vikings: Stories of the Norse Raiders

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger [Nonfics rating: ★★★] [Also on Blu-ray]

Witches, Ghosts and Monsters (National Geographic Classics)

Wrestling for Jesus

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

The 16th Man (30 for 30)

The Band That Wouldn’t Die (30 for 30)

The Best That Never Was (30 for 30)

The Birth of Big Air (30 for 30)

Fernando Nation (30 for 30)

Four Days in October (30 for 30)

Guru of Go (30 for 30)

The House of Steinbrenner (30 for 30)

Into the Wind (30 for 30)

Jordan Rides the Bus (30 for 30)

June 17th, 1994 (30 for 30)

Kings Ransom (30 for 30)

Little Big Men (30 for 30)

Marion Jones: Press Pause (30 for 30)

Muhammad and Larry (30 for 30)

No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson (30 for 30)

Once Brothers (30 for 30)

Pony Excess (30 for 30)

The Price of Gold (30 for 30) [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review]

Run Ricky Run (30 for 30)

Silly Little Game (30 for 30)

Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? (30 for 30)

Tim Richmond: To the Limit (30 for 30)

The Two Escobars (30 for 30)

The U (30 for 30)

Unmatched (30 for 30)

Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. New York (30 for 30)

Without Bias (30 for 30)

New to iTunes/Amazon Instant/VOD:

The Act of Killing Director’s Cut [Nonfics rating: ★★★★] — POV

Active Life — Doc Alliance

America: Imagine the World Without Her [Nonfics rating: ★; Nonfics review] — iTunes

American Promise [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review] — POV

Ballin’ at the Graveyard — Amazon

Body Without Soul — Fandor

Corpus Christi — Amazon

The Days With Him — Doc Alliance

Dear Uncle Adolf — Amazon

Defamation — Amazon

Dive! — Amazon

Face to Face — Doc Alliance

Jorge’s Path — Doc Alliance

The Last Hijack [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review] — Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu

Love Meetings [Nonfics rating: ★★★★★] — Fandor

Marie Antoinette: Queen of Versailles — Amazon

Mudbloods — iTunes

Not Angeles But Angels — Fandor

Olmstead and America’s Urban Parks — Amazon

One Last Hug: Three Days at Grief Camp — Amazon

Propaganda — Fandor

Return to Homs [Nonfics rating: ★★★★] — Vimeo On Demand

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoins [Nonfics rating: ★/★★★★; Nonfics review 1; Nonfics review 2] — Vimeo On Demand

Tabato — Doc Alliance

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum — Doc Alliance

To Herbais Hamlet — Doc Alliance

Transgender Tuesdays — Fandor

Untitled — Doc Alliance

What Happened Here? — iTunes

Where to Sit at the Dinner Table — Doc Alliance

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger [Nonfics rating: ★★★] — iTunes

Must-See Nonfiction TV:

(All Times Eastern)

Wednesday — 10/15

12:15am: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

2:00am: The 50 Year Argument [HBO2 West]

3:15am: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO West]

4:00am: My Kid Could Paint That [Encore Family]

6:40am: Unraveled [Showtime 2]

9:40am: Unraveled [Showtime 2 West]

6:30pm: Ballplayer: Pelotero [Fusion]

11:45pm: My Kid Could Paint That [Encore Family]

Thursday — 10/16

7:45am: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest [Encore Black]

3:00pm: Into Eternity [Al Jazeera America]

4:20pm: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest [Encore Black]

8:00pm: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO2 East]

11:00pm: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO2 West]

Friday — 10/17

1:30am: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO2 East]

2:00am: Ballplayer: Pelotero [Fusion]

4:30am: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO2 West]

6:10am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Showcase]

9:10am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Showcase West]

5:15pm: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Showcase]

7:20pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO Signature]

8:15pm: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Showcase West]

10:20pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO Signature West]

Saturday — 10/18

4:00am: Into Eternity [Al Jazeera America]

7:00am: Ballplayer: Pelotero [Fusion]

1:00pm: Ballplayer: Pelotero [Fusion]

11:30pm: 12 O’Clock Boys [Showtime Extreme]

Sunday — 10/19

12:20am: How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (And Enjoy It) [Encore Black]

1:20am: Project Nim [HBO Family]

2:30am: 12 O’Clock Boys [Showtime Extreme West]

4:20am: Project Nim [HBO Family West]

8:05am: West of Memphis [Encore Suspense]

9:30am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime 2]

10:50am: The 50 Year Argument [HBO2]

12:30pm: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime 2 West]

1:50pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO2 West]

5:00pm: West of Memphis [Encore Suspense]

9:00pm: Midterms [Al Jazeera America]

Monday — 10/20

4:40am: Doc of the Dead [Epix East]

7:40am: Doc of the Dead [Epix West]

2:25pm: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never [Epix East]

5:25pm: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never [Epix West]

6:00pm: Sicko [Pivot]

9:00pm: Pearl Jam Twenty [Palladia]

9:00pm: Private Violence [HBO]

Tuesday — 10/21

12:00am: Pearl Jam Twenty [Palladia]

12:00am: Private Violence [HBO West and HBO Latino]

1:25am: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO Signature East]

1:45am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime 2]

4:25am: Hunted: The War Against Gays in Russia [HBO Signature West]

4:45am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime 2 West]

3:00am: Private Violence [HBO Latino West]

3:10am: 12 O’Clock Boys [Showtime 2]

4:00am: My Kid Could Paint That [Encore Family]

4:40am: Private Violence [HBO]

4:45am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime 2 West]

6:10am: 12 O’Clock Boys [Showtime 2 West]

7:40am: Private Violence [HBO West]

9:30am: Grizzly Man [Starz Cinema]

10:00am: Sicko [Pivot]

2:30pm: Stories We Tell [Epix East]

5:30pm: Stories We Tell [Epix West]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.