Werner Herzog’s ‘The Act of Killing’ Commentary and ‘Control Room’ 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 January 7, 2014:

1. The Act of Killing Director’s Cut With Commentary By Werner Herzog and Joshua Oppenheimer

[New to DVD and Blu-ray] — Joshua Oppenheimer’s shocking documentary about death squad ‘gangsters’ in Indonesia topped last week’s Home Picks, thanks to iTunes having the exclusive jump on the Director’s Cut finally being released in the U.S. Why not let it stay at #1, especially since it did top our critics poll? This week sees the physical release of the movie on disc, and aside from this allowing you to have a display copy for your home rather than a digital file (one of which comes with the Blu-ray, by the way), there’s also a commentary track featuring Oppenheimer and Werner Herzog, who is an executive producer on The Act of Killing. You can get a peek at some of the stuff the two talk about in last week’s Commentary Commentary column at Film School Rejects, but simply reading what Herzog says is hardly as fun as listening to him say it. The two-disc set also includes an essay by the other notable executive producer, Errol Morris, as well as a bunch of deleted scenes.

Also available on iTunes and Distrify.

2. Control Room

[New to Netflix Watch Instantly] — Ahead of their exclusive debut of The Square on January 17, Netflix has added director Jehane Noujaim’s Control Room, which also celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. I just recently recommended this documentary about Middle East news network Al Jazeera to people going to see Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. It really is the best film about broadcast journalism ever, revealing a lot about American media in contrast with how differently the 2003 invasion of Iraq was portrayed here and there. Not that it’s exactly pro-Al Jazeera. At the center of the film, for the perfect in between, is the U.S. Central Command, which shares what both the Americans and the Middle Easterners are being shown and not shown. I might like this doc even more than The Square. Also be sure to check out Noujaim and Chris Hegedus’s Startup.com, which airs on Showtime Next this Friday.

Also available on DVD and streaming through Hulu Plus.

3. Milius

[Premieres Saturday on Epix] — We get docs about filmmakers and Hollywood all the time, because there is a specific large audience of movie lovers that they appeal to. This one on writer and director John Milius (Apocalypse Now; the original Red Dawn) might not be of interest outside that circle more than any others, but it is a slight step above most of its kind. That’s mainly because Milius is very appropriate to the anecdote-filled sort of doc that normally comes off as being too positive towards its subjects. Milius deserves this kind of panegyric mythmaking, and much of the time the film (by regular Kevin Smith collaborators Joey Figueroa and Zak Knutson, directing, and Scott Mosier, executive producing) acknowledges, through interviews with everyone from Scorsese to Spielberg to Eastwood to Coppola to Lucas that these stories may be true or false or thought to be legend but actually fact, etc. Milius offers a look at the life of one larger-than-life figure in the industry while telling much about the industry from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in the process. It’s the better of the two docs about the movies out this week, the other being Birth of the Living Dead.

4. Monica & David

[New to SundanceNow Doc Club] — It’s becoming the norm that I’ve only seen one of the films curated for the SundanceNow Doc Club each month. For January, programmer Thom Powers has chosen the theme of women directors, and one of those filmmakers spotlighted is Alexandra Codina, who turned the camera on her cousin with Down Syndrome as the young woman prepares for her wedding to a similarly disabled young man. Monica & David one of the sweetest, most romantic documentaries of all time while also presenting an unfamiliar kind of mother/daughter story, too. Other films in the club this month, most of which I’ve heard are really great, are Laura Poitras and Linda Goode-Bryant’s Flag Wars, Kate Davis’s Southern Comfort, Havana Marking’s Afghan Star, Chiara Clemente’s Our City Dreams, Robin Hessman’s My Perestroika, Tracy Droz Tragos’s Be Good, Smile Pretty and Jessica Yu’s Protagonist (I’ll admit, I actually have seen this but I’m not a fan of it). As always you can watch all of them, plus previous curated selections, for only $4.99. Best doc deal there is.

Also available on DVD and iTunes and streaming on Netflix and Amazon.

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

1976: Hunt vs Lauda

The Act of Killing (★★★★ Nonfics rating) [Also on Blu-ray]

Aviation: A Complete History — Box Set

Birth of the Living Dead (★★★ Nonfics rating)

Duck Dynasty Season 4 [Also on Blu-ray]

Inequality for All (★★★ Nonfics review) [Also on Blu-ray]

Kiss the Water

Linsanity (★★★ Nonfics review)

Listening Is an Act of Love: A StoryCorps Special

An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

New to Netflix Watch Instantly:

Beautiful Darling [Stream Now]

Control Room (★★★★ Nonfics Rating) [Stream Now]

Good Ol’ Freda (★★★ Nonfics Rating) [Stream Now]

Moving Art: Deserts [Stream Now]

Moving Art: Flowers [Stream Now]

Moving Art: Forests [Stream Now]

Moving Art: Oceans [Stream Now]

Ready to Fly [Stream Now]

Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde [Stream Now]

Upside Down: The Creation Records Story [Stream Now]

New to iTunes/Amazon Instant/VOD:

Eating Alabama [iTunes]

Inequality for All (★★★ Nonfics review) [Amazon Instant Video]

Kiss the Water [Amazon Instant Video]

Murph: The Protector [Amazon Instant Video]

An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland [Amazon Instant Video]

We Cause Scenes: The Rise of Improv Everywhere (★★ Nonfics Rating) [iTunes]

Must-See Nonfiction TV:


Gideon’s Army [1/7 on HBO, 8:45am ET]

Lou Reed’s Berlin [1/7 on Palladia, 12pm ET]

Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington [1/7 on HBO 2, 2:50pm ET]

Into the Deep [1/7 on 3net, 5pm ET]


Hearts and Minds [1/8 on FLiX, 1:30am ET]

West of Memphis [1/8 on Starz Edge, 1:30am ET]

Pussy Riot — A Punk Prayer [1/8 on HBO 2, 3:30am ET]

Every Little Step I Take [1/8 on Bravo, 6am ET]

Deliver Us From Evil [1/8 on IFC, 6:45am ET]

Searching for Sugar Man [1/8 on Starz, 6:50am ET]

Last Call at the Oasis [1/8 on Pivot, 8am ET]

First Cousin Once Removed [1/8 on HBO Signature, 8:20am ET]

The Yes Men [1/8 on Starz, 8:50am ET]

State 194 [1/8 on Pivot, 10:30am ET]


Fahrenheit 9/11 [1/9 on Showtime, 1am ET]

Kumare [1/9 on Pivot, 8am ET]

Chimpanzee [1/9 on HBO Kids & Family, 10am ET]

Foreign Parts [1/9 on Pivot, 10am ET]

King’s Point [1/9 on HBO Signature, 10:40am ET]

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon [1/9 on 3net, 11am ET]


Last Days Here [1/10 on Showcase, 12am ET]

The Crash Reel [1/10 on HBO Signature, 12am ET]

El Bulli: Cooking in Progress [1/10 on Link TV, 1am ET]

Startup.com [1/10 on Showtime Next, 5:30am ET]

Inside Job [1/3 on Starz Edge, 4:20am ET]


Afghan Muscle [1/11 on Link TV, 3am ET]

Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (The Realness podcast review) [1/11 on Pivot, 9:30am ET]

Milius [1/11 on EPIX, 1:45am and 12:50pm ET]


Burma VJ [1/12 on Pivot, 6am]

Mandela [1/12 on Encore, 9:10am]

Life According to Sam [1/12 on HBO Signature, 9:20am ET]

Dragonslayer [1/12 on Showtime Next, 12:10pm ET]

Pearl Jam Twenty [1/12 on VH1 Classic, 8pm ET]

March of the Penguins [1/12 on HLN, 9pm ET]


Everest [1/13 on HDNET, 5:15am ET]


The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia [1/14 on Showtime Extreme, 4:15am ET]

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.