On DVD: BURT’S BUZZ

burtsbuzz_01Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, September 16: BURT’S BUZZ

Jody Shapiro’s profile of Burt’s Bees unlikely figurehead debuted at Toronto last year. It went on to screen at San Francisco, Ashland, Seattle, Panama, Wisconsin, Santa Barbara, and Sedona, among others.

I included the doc in my Toronto coverage here.

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On DVD/VOD: EVERGREEN

evergreen_smoking_joint_0Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, September 16 and already released on VOD earlier this month: EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION

Riley Morton’s exploration of Washington State’s path to marijuana legalization bowed at last year’s Seattle International Film Festival. It went on to screen at Spokane and Bermuda Docs, and to enjoy a limited theatrical release this Summer.

I covered the doc upon its theatrical release here.

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On VOD: FIGHT CHURCH

FightChurch_440x300Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, September 16: FIGHT CHURCH

Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel’s film about pastors with a punch debuted at IFF Boston this Spring, where it won the best documentary award. Its festival circuit has also included Nashville, Maryland, Seattle, Woods Hole, Denver, Fantasia, Sidewalk, and Rome. It now comes to iTunes, Amazon, Google, DirecTV, Sony PlayStation, XBOX, Vudu, and other VOD platforms.

A growing number of American churches have turned to mixed martial arts as part of their mission to reach the masses. Junge and Storkel focus on several men of God who spend time in the ring when they’re not preaching to their flock. That they use a brutal sport that’s dedicated to inflicting pain to impart the teachings of a religion that typically emphasizes love and tolerance is a contradiction that’s not entirely lost on these pastors, though some engage in some dubious rationalization to justify their dual passions. While this intriguing dichotomy remains at the center of the film, the filmmakers never push back quite far enough, instead permitting subjects to spout very similar rhetoric unquestioned, making for an at times frustrating viewing experience. In contrast, two characters who engage with the issue in a more complex manner, the concerned wife of one of the pastors and a philosophical trainer, could have used further screentime. All that said, the film is by far the most compelling MMA-themed documentary to emerge in a subgenre that’s typically flooded with tired portraits of interchangeable fighters, and there’s real provocation in its exploration of the seductive indoctrination that results from blending religion and bloodsports – a scene of a kids’ match carries particular impact.

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On VOD: AI WEIWEI: THE FAKE CASE

the_fake_case-624x421Coming to VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, September 16: AI WEIWEI: THE FAKE CASE

Andreas Johnsen’s chronicle of the controversial artist’s continuing clashes with Chinese authorities premiered at IDFA last year. Screenings have followed at Hot Docs, One World, Istanbul, Tempo, Tampere, and DocsBarcelona, among others. It now comes to iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

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

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On Cable: TERROR AT THE MALL

terror-at-the-mall-tv-review-hboComing to HBO tonight, Monday, September 15: TERROR AT THE MALL

Dan Reed’s harrowing account of last year’s massacre in Nairobi makes its official debut tonight, the third of three films the director has made on infamous terrorist attacks around the world.

The present film comes just under a year after the attack on Nairobi’s upscale Westgate Mall. On September 21, 2013, four young Somali gunmen affiliated with Al-Shabaab strolled through the building, indiscriminately and inconsistently shooting patrons as a supposed act of revenge for some vaguely defined affront against Somalia and Islam. Effectively conveying a sense of raw danger and immediacy, Reed structures his film primarily through surviving security camera footage in various locations in the embattled complex, identifying various subjects in the grainy material who supplement his terse narration with interviews. As a result, the viewer is immersed in a shocking, nearly first-hand experience of panic, confusion, and fear that is hard to shake.

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On VOD: STARRING ADAM WEST

starring-adam-westComing to VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, September 16: STARRING ADAM WEST

James Tooley’s tribute to the iconic star of the 1960s BATMAN TV show debuted at the Sun Valley Film Festival last year. It has also screened at the Napa Valley and San Luis Obispo film festivals. FilmBuff now releases the doc across VOD platforms.

From being, for a time, the biggest star of the small screen to a long stretch as a typecast actor who had to make car show appearances to support his family, Adam West has been run through Hollywood’s gauntlet. Despite a resurgence in his career, thanks to opportunities presented by now-grown childhood fans, like a regular role on FAMILY GUY, many still view the genial actor as a has-been. His biggest fans, like LA’s KROQ host Ralph Garman, feel he hasn’t been given his due, as signaled by his lack of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Garman’s quest to correct this slight, working with West’s daughter, Nina, serves as an occasional, and frankly not very engaging, thread in Tooley’s film, which lends the title a double meaning. The bulk of the doc consists of West recounting his career, intercut with scenes from his present day activities, from convention appearances to FAMILY GUY voice recording studio sessions. It’s generally a workmanlike but breezy treatment that will appeal to the actor’s legion of fans without being particularly memorable.

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On DVD/VOD: CASTING BY

casting byComing to DVD and VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, September 16: CASTING BY

Tom Donahue’s appreciation of the casting director debuted in Toronto in 2012. Festival screenings followed at the New York Film Festival, Los Angeles, Sarasota, Montclair, Denver, Cleveland, Ashland, Provincetown, and RiverRun, among others. In addition to DVD, the doc now becomes available via iTunes.

I previously wrote about the film upon its initial release here.

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