The ‘Up’ Series and ‘Caesar Must Die’ 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. 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 December 24, 2013:

1. Up Series (Seven Up, 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 29 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, 49 Up and 56 Up)

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — I was really disappointed when the Up series was suddenly taken off Netflix W.I. recently, as it’s my easiest way of recommending the whole shebang to people. Now it’s back, from the very start (directed by Paul Almond) through the recent 56 Up (which, like the other seven films since the first, is by Michael Apted), which one of my top 20 films of the year and also made our critics poll list. Now is the perfect time to run through a marathon of the whole series with your family during the holidays and follow the lives of a bunch of English people over the course of half a century. The box set (pictured) also makes an excellent Christmas gift (via First Run Features), which I guess now would be a bit belated. Maybe an excellent New Year’s gift? 2014 is the 50th anniversary, after all. Read my review of 56 Up at Film School Rejects.

2. Caesar Must Die

[New to DVD] — A Golden Bear winner at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival and last year’s submission by Italy for the foreign language Oscar. From Daniel’s review at Film School Rejects: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani worked with Rebibbia Prison “and its arts program on a production of William Shakespeare‘s Julius Caesar, filming the rehearsal process and final performance. More than that, however, the brothers scripted around the play itself and created a semi-documentary film that follows the internal life of the prisoners alongside their theatrical performances. The inmates not only perform as Shakespeare’s Romans but also as fictionalized versions of themselves. The result is a 76-minute tour de force that packs more punch than many a three-hour adaptation of Hamlet or Henry V … Shakespeare has never been quite so terrifying.”

Also available on Netflix Watch Instantly

3. Cutie and the Boxer

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — Previously a Nonfics Home Pick back in October, it remains one of my favorite docs of the year, and was recently named #3 best of 2013 on our critics poll list. Zachary Heinzerling‘s film about married artists Noriko Shinohara and the much more famous Ushio Shinohara is definitely a must watch and will likely be seen by millions thanks to Netflix. The slightly dysfunctional duo in the film provides a romantic yet complicated love story filled with wonderful animations of Noriko’s autobiographical cartoons and an underlying feminism. After watching it last January, I wrote that it “has a kind of violent beauty” and is “engaging and wonderful and upsetting and empowering and funny and sad and amazing.”

Also available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video. Hits DVD on February 4.

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

Animal World Volume 1

Animal World Volume 2

Caesar Must Die

Frontline: Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria

More Than Honey [Also on Blu-ray]

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

Food, Inc. [Stream Now]

G-Dog [Stream Now]

More Than Honey [Stream Now]

Shepard & Dark [Stream Now]

Sunset Strip [Stream Now]

New to iTunes/VOD:

Church Rescue [Amazon Instant Video]

The Crop Circle Enigma [Amazon Instant Video]

Love Is the Best Medicine [Amazon Instant Video]

Source of the Secret [Amazon Instant Video]

Street Outlaws Season 2 [Amazon Instant Video]

Tank on the Moon [Amazon Instant Video]

Must-See Nonfiction TV:

Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer (One of 5 Must See Music Docs of 2013) [12/24 on HBO Signature, 12:30am ET]

The Other F Word [12/24 on Showtime Women, 2:50am ET]

Woody Allen: A Documentary [12/24 on MGM HD, 10am ET]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.