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, 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 my ordered picks for September 3, 2013:
1. Stories We Tell — Sarah Polley’s foray into documentary filmmaking is a brilliant family history presented with a Rashomon-style structure in which her father, siblings and others discuss the actress-turned-director’s heritage, birth and childhood with some emphasis on the life of her late mother. Exploring memory, identity and storytelling with incredible insight and composure and originality, this might just be the best internalizing personal investigation film since Sherman’s March. Now available on DVD and Amazon Instant from Lionsgate. Also VOD where available.
2. The Other F Word — That “f word” is “fatherhood” (and to a degree “family” in general) in this look at punk rock stars who are now dads, some of whom have grown up or become more assimilated into regular society in other ways as well. Inspired by a book by Jim Lindberg of Pennywise and focused on his life, the film also features Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Fat Mike (NOFX), Art Alexakis (Everclear), Mark Hoppus (Blink-182), Duane Peters (U.S. Bombs) and skater Tony Hawk. I wish director Andrea Blaugrund (Oscar-nominated producer of Still Kicking: The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies) had included more mothers who were former punks, but the title wouldn’t have been so perfect. See this before Jason Segel (The Muppets) ruins the idea with a planned narrative remake. New to Netflix Watch Instantly.
3. Forks Over Knives — Expecting this to be cheap vegan propaganda, I was surprised to learn a lot from this documentary that focuses more on the health side of a no-meat, no-dairy diet (aka whole food, plant-based diet). It’s not about scaring us away from the medical/insurance concerns of eating meat but simply positively promoting the benefits of not doing so. I think it’s the film that came closest to turning me off completely from milk and cheese, however. I originally caught the film streaming on Netflix two years ago, so this isn’t new to the service, maybe just returning. Now available on Netflix Watch Instantly.
4. A Place at the Table — The problem of childhood hunger in America is given the Participant Media prestige issue film treatment with Tom Colicchio producing (and appearing) and his wife, Lori Silverbush, co-directing with Kristi Jacobsen. It also features Jeff Bridges for his campaign for the cause. I do think it’s an important topic and I give the film props for acknowledging the significance of the 1968 CBS TV doc Hunger in America and how it got the Nixon Administration to develop the Food Stamps program and how it’s a shame we don’t have that sort of influential news/documentary programming anymore. New to Netflix Watch Instantly.
5. Great Directors — I actually kinda hate this movie thanks to how prominent director Angela Ismailos puts herself into her own film, almost taking over the focus from the many great directors she interviews. I call her style “selfie filmmaking.” But as a movie geek I still appreciated the conversations with Catherine Breillat, John Sayles, Bernardo Bertolucci, Richard Linklater, Agnes Varda, David Lynch, Ken Loach, Lilliana Cavani, Stephen Frears and Todd Haynes. If you’re a movie geek, you’ll also struggle to get over Ismailos’s ego for the goods here. New to Netflix Watch Instantly.
Also new to DVD and/or Blu-ray:
Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie
Secret Disco Revolution
Also new to Amazon Instant Video:
A Girl and a Gun
Also new to VOD:
Also new to Netflix Watch Instantly:
Most Valuable Players
The Case for Israel: Democracy’s Outpost
Crips: Strapped ’n’ Strong
The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun
One Lucky Elephant
Hecho en Mexico