‘Print the Legend,’ ‘Lady Valor’ and ‘Mistaken for Strangers’ 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 September 30, 2014:

1. Print the Legend

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — From the makers of the delightful teen magician movie Make Believe comes a whole different sort of competition doc. Directed by J. Clay Tweel and Luis Lopez and produced by King of Kong’s Seth Gordon, this documentary chronicles a few years in the life of the 3D printer industry as two new startups attempt to compete with each other and the big companies. The filmmakers seem to be everywhere they need to be every step of the way and so deliver an exhaustive account of the rise of MakerBot Industries and Formlabs as well as printed gun advocate Cody Wilson. It’s a dense 90 minutes, during which I felt like I was present for every step of the story, as a great documentary should do. (★★★★)

2. Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story

[New to Vimeo on Demand] — I’m upset with myself for missing the release date of this a few weeks ago, but better late than never. Here’s what I wrote in my list of the best docs of the 2014 SXSW Film Festival: “This could be the best depiction of transgender yet, or at least the most accessible and comprehensible look at a transgender person — who funny enough admits she’s not 100% sure herself of what it means. Kristin Beck is a Navy SEAL who recently came out and began the process of becoming a woman, and because of her position of national note and because that job is so defined by its macho reputation, her story is especially interesting — and maybe especially controversial — to many Americans. Beck, even though a poster person for transgender, mostly wants to be accepted as just a human being. Directors Mark Herzog and Sandrine Orabona depict her as a wonderful one at that.” (★★★★)

Also available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and Vudu.

3. Mistaken for Strangers

[Premieres on Showtime on Friday, October 3rd] — This listing previously appeared in minor form on another Nonfics Home Picks: Be warned that this documentary is not about The National as much as it’s a personal film about the director, Tom Berninger, brother of the band’s frontman, Matt Berninger, as he chronicles his experience on tour with them. In that way, it’s not quite a rock doc, yet it’s also one of the most interesting rock docs in years. The film landed at the top of guest contributor Andy Markowitz’s list of the top 10 music docs of 2013, and I joined in the praise with the following excerpt from my review: “Mistaken For Strangers isn’t exclusively a film about the making of a film. It has a lot more of an emotional center than most docs of its kind. There’s a heartfelt narrative on the surface regarding the bond and the disconnect between two brothers, one who is not only more famous but also plainly more quantitatively successful than the other. The film’s making is part of that, of course, in that the doc is Tom’s way of proving himself, accomplishing something and maybe even getting an advance in notoriety in the end to further his career. Occasionally we meet the siblings of celebrities in biographical docs, but I don’t think there’s ever been something so in-depth about the feelings of inferiority and envy that such relatives may have […] The real music in this not-quite-music-doc is that which is made from tugging on your heartstrings, yet not in a cheesy or manipulative way.” (★★★★)

Also available on Showtime On Demand and Showtime Anytime as of October 4th, plus DVD, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

4. The Act of Killing

[Premieres on PBS via POV on Monday, October 6th and streaming on PBS.com starting Tuesday, October 7th] — If you somehow haven’t seen Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar-nominated, Nonfics Best of 2013 poll-topping doc, then by all means make up for it with the abridged version on PBS or streaming for free on PBS.com starting next Tuesday. Here’s what Landon Palmer wrote of the film for our Top 13 of last year list: “Oppenheimer’s staging of interrogations and killings by members of Indonesian death squads makes this perhaps the most provocative documentary concept to come about since The Thin Blue Line. The genius of the film lies not in its buzz-generating conceit, but in the opportunity that its scenario provides for exploring “the act”‘s fraught relationship to its mediated depictions. The Act of Killing is neither singularly about mass murder nor about movie violence, but about the interminable gap between the horror of the act itself and our strained ability to truly comprehend that horror through its representation.” (★★★★)

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

5. Los Angeles Plays Itself

[New to iTunes] — We’ve written a lot in the last year about Thom Andersen’s classic 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 via Cinema Guild and iTunes. Here’s an excerpt from Dan Schindel’s review of the 10th anniversary 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.” (★★★★★)

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

2000 Years of Christianity

Al Capone: Icon

American War Generals

The Big Burn (American Experience)

Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story

Fidel Castro Tapes

Fight for Fallujah

The Great War 1914–1918

Lives of Service (The Testament of Mother Teresa; Nelson Mandela: The Life and Times; Mahatma Gandhi)

Motown 25: Yesterday — Today — Forever

The Mystery of Agatha Christie

Time Team America Seasons 1 & 2

To Be and To Have

Vaccines: Calling the Shots (Nova)

Yembi Yembi: Unto the Nations

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

Free the Mind

Make Me Superhuman

Print the Legend

New to iTunes/Amazon Instant/VOD:

Back Home Years Ago — Fandor

Blockade — Fandor

Chantal Ackerman, From Here — Fandor

Days of Hope — Amazon

Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium — Amazon

Horn — Amazon

The Human Scale — Fandor

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

Martin Clunes’s Wild Life — Amazon

The Meeting in St. Gervais — Fandor

Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP — Amazon

Rebel: Loreta Velazquez, Secret Soldier of the American Civil War — Amazon

Must-See Nonfiction TV:

(All Times Eastern)

Wednesday — 10/1

1:00am: Ballroom Dancer [Link TV]

3:00am: Cool It [Epix East]

6:00am: Cool It [Epix West]

6:30am: Every Little Step [Starz Cinema]

10:30am: I Am Divine [Showtime]

7:00pm: Bully [Pivot]

8:00pm: Hoop Dreams [Aspire]

8:15pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO2 East]

10:00pm: Tim’s Vermeer [Starz Cinema]

11:00pm: Hoop Dreams [Aspire]

11:15pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO2 West]

Thursday — 10/2

2:00am: Bully [Pivot]

8:00am: The 50 Year Argument [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

9:30am: Unraveled [Showtime 2]

11:00am: The 50 Year Argument [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

12:15pm: All About Ann: Governor Richards of Texas [HBO2 East]

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

3:15pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

3:15pm: All About Ann: Governor Richards of Texas [HBO2 West]

6:00pm: Food, Inc. [Pivot]

6:15pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

11:00pm: Ballroom Dancer [Link TV]

Friday — 10/3

12:35am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime]

2:00am: Cesar’s Last Fast [Pivot]

4:00am: Mad Hot Ballroom [Showtime Family Zone]

8:20am: Inside Job [Starz Cinema]

9:15am: Casting By [HBO2 East]

11:00am: Pearl Jam Twenty [Palladia]

12:15pm: Casting By [HBO2 West]

2:30pm: West of Memphis [Encore Suspense]

8:00pm: The Amazing Race [CBS]

9:00pm: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime]

Saturday — 10/4

12:45am: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer [HBO2 East]

3:45am: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer [HBO2 West]

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

6:00am: Sicko [Pivot]

6:00pm: Bidder 70 [Free Speech TV]

9:00pm: Standing in the Shadows of Motown [AXS TV]

11:55pm: Standing in the Shadows of Motown [AXS TV]

Sunday — 10/5

3:40am: My Kid Could Paint That [IndiePlex]

5:20am: A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY [HBO Signature East]

8:00am: Food, Inc. [Pivot]

8:20am: A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY [HBO Signature West]

10:55am: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime Showcase]

1:20pm: Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest [Encore Black]

1:45pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO East and HBO Latino East]

4:15pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO West and HBO Latino West]

10:30pm: Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff [TCM]

Monday — 10/6

1:35am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime 2]

3:00am: The Celluloid Close [Pivot]

3:15am: West of Memphis [Starz Cinema]

5:20am: Redemption [HBO Signature East]

8:20am: Redemption [HBO Signature West]

10:25am: The 50 Year Argument [HBO Signature East]

1:25pm: The 50 Year Argument [HBO Signature West]

10:00pm: The Act of Killing [PBS]

Tuesday — 10/7

1:15am: Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic [Showtime]

1:30am: 12 O’Clock Boys The Director’s Cut [Showtime Extreme]

9:35am: A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY [HBO Signature East]

12:35pm: A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY [HBO Signature West]

6:10pm: Mad Hot Ballroom [FLiX]

9:05pm: Tim’s Vermeer [Starz Cinema]

10:00pm: Mistaken for Strangers [Showtime 2]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.