Category Archives: Documentary

In Theatres & On VOD: TO BE TAKEI

to be takeiComing to theatres and VOD tomorrow, Friday, August 22: TO BE TAKEI

Jennifer Kroot and Bill Weber’s profile of the beloved STAR TREK actor-turned-gay icon bowed at Sundance at the beginning of the year. It’s gone on to screen at Cleveland, River Run, Wisconsin, Hot Docs, Los Angeles Asian Pacific, DOXA, Seattle, Human Rights Watch, Revelation, Fantasia, and LGBT fests in Boston, Tel Aviv, Connecticut, San Francisco, Dayton, and Los Angeles, among others. In addition to its theatrical engagements it comes to several VOD platforms, including iTunes, Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast, Cox, Insight, and Time Warner Cable.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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On Cable: SPARK: A BURNING MAN STORY

sparkComing to Showtime tomorrow, Thursday, August 21: SPARK: A BURNING MAN STORY

Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter’s chronicle of the planning behind the annual desert gathering debuted at SXSW last year. Screenings followed in Seattle, Ashland, and SF Doc before a limited theatrical and VOD release.

I previously wrote about the film upon its release here.

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In Theatres: KINK

kinkComing to NYC’s IFC Center this Friday, August 22: KINK

Christina Voros’ behind-the-scenes look at fetish pornography had its world premiere at Sundance last year. It went on to screen at DOC NYC, Seattle, Stockholm, NewFest, and Frameline, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Theatres: THE EXPEDITION TO THE END OF THE WORLD

expeditionComing to NYC’s Film Forum tomorrow, Wednesday, August 20: THE EXPEDITION TO THE END OF THE WORLD

Daniel Dencik’s quirky exploration of the Arctic Circle premiered at CPH:DOX in 2012. It went on to screen at True/False, Docville, Thessaloniki Doc, Planete+ Doc, Karlovy Vary, Los Angeles, AFI Docs, and Traverse City, among others.

I previously wrote about the film out of True/False here.

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On DVD: A BRONY TALE

brony taleComing to DVD today, Tuesday, August 19: A BRONY TALE

Brent Hodge’s exploration of of MY LITTLE PONY fandom debuted earlier this year at Tribeca. It went on to DOXA, Seattle, Calgary Underground, and New Zealand’s Documentary Edge, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc upon its VOD release here.

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On DVD: MANAKAMANA

manakamanaComing to DVD today, Tuesday, August 19: MANAKAMANA

Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s ridealong with Nepalese tourists and pilgrims made its debut at Locarno last year. It went on to screen at Toronto, New York, AFI Fest, RIDM, CPH:DOX, Rotterdam, True/False, and Hong Kong, and to enjoy a limited theatrical release this past Spring.

I included the film in my Toronto coverage here.

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On VOD: LA BARE

labareComing to VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19: LA BARE

Joe Manganiello’s look at the world of male strippers had its debut at Slamdance this year. It went on to screen at Maui and at Dallas’ USA Film Festival before its theatrical bow this past June. FilmBuff now releases the doc on a wide range of VOD platforms.

Manganiello’s foray into onscreen stripping in MAGIC MIKE inspired his directorial debut – a largely workmanlike look at the eponymous strip club in Dallas which claims to be the most popular of its ilk. Profiling several of the beefy dancers, while briefly checking in with some of their family members, fans, and other club employees, the film maintains a generally breezy tone as it both dispels and reinforces some of the myths associated with the profession. While the new-ish Russian owner Alex too briefly notes how he reinvigorated the lagging establishment, losing the drug addicts for more serious-minded professionals, several dancers pepper their backstage banter or interviews with braggadocio, commenting on sexual conquests or getting customers to give them extravagant amounts of money. This lends an overall feeling of watching a bunch of overgrown fraternity brothers, which can grow tiresome at times, capped off by an overlong sequence featuring the dancers mocking the club’s mostly inept Amateur Night contestants. Thankfully, a couple of the dancer profiles move away from this to more honest terrain, such as Cesar, a personable former Army Ranger who relates his old-fashioned background – much more effective than the extended hagiography presented for a recently killed fellow dancer – and mentor Randy, the “Master Blaster,” who, his crude bragging aside, offers a sense of history through his three decade career at La Bare, and who shows the lengths he goes to keep his career, taking strange cryo treatments and skin injections to combat aging.

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On Cable & In Theatres: CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART

captivated newComing to HBO tonight, Monday, August 18 and in NYC and LA theatres through this Thursday, August 21: CAPTIVATED: THE TRIALS OF PAMELA SMART

Jeremiah Zagar’s revisitation of an infamous smalltown murder trial had its debut at Sundance at the beginning of the year. It went on to screen at Nantucket, Hot Docs, Sarasota, True/False, and Full Frame, among others.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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On TV: A WORLD NOT OURS

A-World-Not-Ours-Key-Image-580x300Coming to PBS’s POV tonight, Monday, August 18: A WORLD NOT OURS

Mahdi Fleifel’s chronicle of growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp had its world premiere at Toronto in 2012. Other fest berths included DOC NYC, Berlin, Abu Dhabi, CPH:DOX, BAFICI, and Reykjavik Shorts & Docs.

I previously wrote about the doc upon its theatrical release here.

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In Theatres & On VOD: MISSION BLUE

MissionBlueStill_largeComing to theatres and available on Netflix today, Friday, August 15: MISSION BLUE

Robert Nixon and Fisher Stevens portrait of the life and work of oceanographer/activist Sylvia Earle debuted at Santa Barbara at the beginning of the year. It has gone on to screen at Hot Docs, Ashland, Martha’s Vineyard, Traverse City, and DC’s Environmental fest, among others.

At once an engaging portrait of Earle, the sorry state of our oceans, and her plan to protect them, Nixon and Stevens film is a stunningly photographed immersion into the undersea realm and its wonders. Using the acclaimed scientist’s current project – the creation of government-protected marine recovery zones – as a focus upon which to tell the larger story of her pioneering career, the filmmakers reveal how the still-vibrant septuagenarian challenged gender barriers throughout her career, which included extended undersea living experiments, leading the first all-female aquanaut team, designing deep-sea research submarines, and serving as the first female chief scientist at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. Earle is the bright spot in the film, which otherwise offers sobering information about the damages wrought by mankind through poor stewardship and environmental accidents, resulting in troubling aquatic dead zones which threaten the future of our oceans. Where the film goes woefully wrong, unfortunately, is in the inclusion of co-director and utterly superfluous on-screen co-star and narrator, Fisher Stevens. While the actor is a noted marine lover, having producing the influential Oscar-winning documentary THE COVE, his visible presence here is an unnecessary distraction that should have been rethought.

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