‘Only the Young’ and ‘Tough Bond’ Top This Week’s Nonfics Home Picks

Only the Young 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. 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 May 6, 2014:

1. Only the Young

[Now Streaming via POV through 6/4] — Summertime is approaching, school will be out soon and teenagers will be kicking around and finding little romances and, in my mind, living out scenes similar to what we see in Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet’s 2012 debut. It was one of my favorite films of that year and I continue to reminisce about it when listening to the music of Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr, who I only discovered through the movie (the rest of the soundtrack, including Nick Thorburn’s original tracks, is also great). Here’s what I wrote on the film two years ago for Movies.com: “Everything about Only the Young is amazing, from the fact that it’s the most genuinely honest and heartfelt teen movie since John Hughes (and Say Anything) — and not because it’s real, either — to […] charming me with a classic love triangle involving the most endearing evangelical skate punks you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. It has some external context, namely of the economic variety, though it’s mostly a timeless coming of age story that admirably doesn’t harp on any of the religious, sub-cultural, sexual, temporal or regional aspects of the characters’ lives.”

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

2. Tough Bond

[New to VOD Starting Friday] — One of the most memorable films I saw at Hot Docs last year, this is a powerful movie about powerlessness, presenting a pretty hopeless situation of Kenyan street kids huffing glue without any interference on the part of directors Austin Peck and Anneliese Vandenberg. At Film School Rejects I called it “a documentary that stuns with its imagery and sound and helplessness.” For Nonfics, Dan Schindel called it “an absolutely unshakable film” and wrote: “Tough Bond is one of the rare documentaries where the experience of watching it feels almost perverse, far stronger than the mere urge to look away that comes from films about difficult subject matter. There are so many shots of very young boys wandering zombielike through the streets with glue bottles affixed to their lips. It’s deeply, viciously upsetting. […] one of those films that feels like something you can only endure once. It doesn’t feel like a call to action as much as it does a plaintive query as to just what the hell can possibly be done about this kind of hell, which seems utterly pervasive and insurmountable.”

3. The Up Series (Seven Up, 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, 49 Up and 56 Up)

[Streaming on Netflix Watch Instantly] — With this week marking the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Seven Up!, the entire series is worth another recommendation. I’m glad to see that all eight installments are still all available on Netflix. Here is part of what I wrote on Film School Rejects yesterday in honor of the half-century milestone: “There’s something about today’s social keep-up culture, however, that also makes the Up series as significant as it was prescient. Facebook may have led to a decrease in high school reunion attendance, but it hasn’t killed it, and in some cases it has helped organizers in finding and wooing alumni. Meanwhile, celebrity personality twitter accounts hasn’t killed those celebrities’ for-profit endeavors. And similarly the greater ability to keep tabs on some of the Up characters hasn’t kept fans from wanting to see them all in the usual Up doc structure and setting. If anything, the Internet has helped awareness and interest in the series, mainly via Netflix streaming the whole series now and again.”

Also available on DVD.

4. Beware of Mr. Baker

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — Another of my favorites from 2012, this SXSW-winning film about drummer Ginger Baker is, as I wrote two years ago, a “wild, funny and richly textured audio-visual treat.” More from that review at Movies.com: “Appealing to some for the same reasons other foul-mouthed, curmudgeonly subjects make for entertaining docs, Beware is also notable for terrifically tying up all of this year’s best nonfiction music films (so far). It helps that there’s the increasing trend for directors to be curiously interested in researching obscure, forgotten and thought-dead personalities (SXSW ’12 selections Searching for Sugar Man and Paul Williams Still Alive and SXSW ’11 vet Last Days Here). And then there’s a commonality between Searching for Sugar Man, Under African Skies and this film, all of them predominantly shot and set in South Africa. As far as what I consider the best of its kind […] Beware is without a doubt the most fun.”

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

5. The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — This listing previously appeared on another Nonfics Home Picks: Sophie Fiennes‘s sequel to The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema reunites her with philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek for more sequences where he’s inserted into movie scenes, this time to explore how ideology operates. Landon also penned our ★★★★ review, in which he writes: “hardly a gimmick, as Fiennes’ technique lends a fascinating immediacy to Zizek’s interchangeably insightful, dense, abstract, obvious and redundant ideas. She materializes the thinker’s mind in a way that one of Zizek’s fevered lectures or difficult manuscripts never could. One leaves The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology with a lingering sense that this is how academic essay films (or at least the seemingly expanding Žižek subgenre, specifically) should be done in the 21st century…a convincing piece of evidence that the language of cinema is not only compatible with complex ideas, but animates them like nothing else can.”

Also available on DVD, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

6. The Trials of Muhammad Ali

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — This listing previously appeared on another Nonfics Home Picks: One of my top 20 docs of last year, this historical film by Bill Siegel (co-director of Oscar nominee The Weather Underground) looks at Muhammad Ali’s life following his conversion to Islam and his protest of the Vietnam War, which landed him a prison sentence for draft evasion and ruined his favor with many Americans for decades. From my ★★★★ review: “[Siegel] doesn’t waste space with the usual, cliche stock footage of Vietnam and undefined shots of random protests in the streets. Every bit of material appears to be directly relevant. It helps that there is much archival footage of Ali to use, but even with access to and allotment of tons of footage many filmmakers still include familiar filler. I don’t know for sure how much here is previously unseen content, but it all definitely feels fresh while also being entirely essential … It’s a look at a history by way of Ali, and it’s a look at Ali by way of history, and it’s one of the best docs I’d claim to have learned something from all year.”

Also available on DVD.

7. Dogtown and Z-Boys

[Streaming on Netflix Watch Instantly] — In honor of its reference in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This listing previously appeared on another Nonfics Home Picks: Stacy Peralta‘s history of skateboarding in 1970s Southern California is a modern classic, and definitely has to be seen if you’ve only watched the remake, Lords of Dogtown. Sean Penn narrates the film, which is otherwise primarily made by the people who were there. Peralta was a member of the Zephyr team he focuses on, as were other members of the production team. And most of the footage is first-hand archival material shot by Z-boys and their friends. Yet it never feels too introspective or narcissistic. It’s also one of a few docs that proves paying for a good soundtrack can pay off.

Also available on DVD, Blu-ray, itunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

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

Abraham Lincoln: Father of Freedom

Alexander Calder (American Masters)

All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman

Ariana Grande: Tattooed Heart

Balanchine: New York City Ballet in Montreal Vol. 2

Beyonce: Girl Talk

Broadway Idiot [Nonfics rating: ★★]


A Celebration of Blues and Soul: The 1989 Presidential Inaugural Concert

Desert Riders

Empire’s Shield: Royal Navy in the First World War

Forget Me Not

The History of Detroit Television

Imagine Dragons: Iconic

Johnny Cash: American Icon

Lorde: Her Life, Her Story

Mega Dino Pack Collection Three

Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America

Public Enemy: Welcome to the Terrordome

Radio Wars

The Rolling Stones in the 1970s

Rush: The Rise of Kings

Secrets of the Dead: Carthage’s Lost Warriors

Secrets of the Dead: Lost Diary of Dr. Livingstone

Secrets of the Vatican (Frontline)

The Story of the Jews

The Story of John Fogerty

Taylor Swift: Starlight

Trapped in Hitler’s Hell

Your Inner Fish

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

1976: Hunt vs. Lauda

The Anonymous People

Best Kept Secret

Beware of Mr. Baker [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Movies.com review]

Broadway Idiot [Nonfics rating: ★★]

Encounters at the End of the World

JFK: The Smoking Gun

Kiss the Water

Muscle Shoals

Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip


Terms and Conditions May Apply [Nonfics rating: ★★]

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review]

The Trials of Muhammad Ali [Nonfics rating: ★★★★; Nonfics review]

Unhung Hero

Where I Am

Winged Migration

Wrestling for Jesus: The Tale of T-Money

New to iTunes/Amazon Instant/VOD:

An Affair of the Heart — Amazon

Beyond Bollywood— Amazon

Brothers on the Line — Amazon, iTunes

Forget Me Not — Amazon

Freemasonry: Tracking the Code — Amazon

Holy Flying Circus — iTunes

Incident at Oglala— Amazon

Katami National Park and Preserve: The Ends of Earth

Let’s Roll — Amazon

Made in India — Amazon

Tough Bond — iTunes, Google Play, XBox, Playstation and cable VOD

We Always Lie to Strangers: The Incredible True Story of Branson, Missouri— iTunes

Must-See Nonfiction TV:

(All Times Eastern)

Tuesday — 5/6

12pm: Grizzly Man [Starz Cinema]

5pm: American Teacher [Pivot]

6:40pm: Paris is Burning [The Movie Channel Xtra]

11pm: American Teacher [Pivot]

Wednesday — 5/7

12am: El Bulli: Cooking in Progress [Link TV]

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

4am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime]

8:30am: All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State [HBO East]

11:30am: All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State [HBO West]

3pm: Last Days Here [Showtime Next]

7pm: Exit Through the Gift Shop [Pivot]

8pm: Valentine Road [HBO 2 East]

9pm: El Bulli: Cooking in Progress [Link TV]

10pm: Elway to Marino (30 for 30) [ESPN Classic]

11pm: Valentine Road [HBO 2 West]

Thursday — 5/8

2:05am: West of Memphis [Starz Edge]

4am: American Commune [Al Jazeera America]

10am: Paul Williams Still Alive [The Movie Channel East]

11am: The Hip Hop Project [Pivot]

11:15am: The Fog of War [Sony Movie Channel]

1pm: Paul Williams Still Alive [The Movie Channel West]

7pm: A Place at the Table [Pivot]

Friday — 5/9

2:40am: Gloria: In Her Own Words [HBO2 East]

5:40am: Gloria: In Her Own Words [HBO2 West]

8:35am: Chimpanzee [Encore Family]

3pm: American Commune [Al Jazeera America]

4:30pm: Chimpanzee [Encore Family]

6pm: Dave Chappelle’s Block Party [Showtime Next]

Saturday — 5/10

1:30am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime 2]

4:30pm: Searching for Sugar Man [Starz Cinema]

8:30am: Open Heart [HBO2 East]

9am: Exit Through the Gift Shop [Pivot]

10:45am: All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State [HBO East]

11:30am: Open Heart [HBO2 West]

1:45pm: All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State [HBO West]

8pm: Norman Mailer: The American [Link TV]

11pm: Norman Mailer: The American [Link TV]

Sunday — 5/11

2:30am: The Flaw [Link TV]

3:30am: Louis C.K.: Hilarious [Comedy Central]

8:30am: Gloria: In Her Own Words [HBO2 East]

11:20am: First Comes Love [HBO2 East]

11:30am: Gloria: In Her Own Words [HBO2 West]

2:20am: First Comes Love [HBO2 West]

6pm: El Bulli: Cooking in Progress [Link TV]

9pm: Food, Inc. [Pivot]

Monday — 5/12

1:30am: The Hip Hop Project [Pivot]

4am: El Bulli: Cooking in Progress [Link TV]

9am: Exit Through the Gift Shop [Pivot]

9:15am: The Gatekeepers [Starz Cinema]

Tuesday — 5/13

2:35am: West of Memphis [Starz Edge]

5:45pm: All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State [HBO East]

9am: Paul Williams Still Alive [The Movie Channel East]

12pm: Paul Williams Still Alive [The Movie Channel West]

8:45pm: All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State [HBO West]

9pm: Pearl Jam Twenty [VH1 Classic]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.