On DVD: WHITEY

whiteyComing to DVD today, Tuesday, October 14: WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V JAMES J BULGER

Joe Berlinger’s look at the trial of the infamous gangster bowed at Sundance this year. Its fest circuit has also included Hot Docs, Sarasota, Nashville, Montclair, and Dallas, among others.

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

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On DVD: LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF

los-angeles-plays-itself_592x299Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 14: LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF

Thom Andersen’s exploration of a city through its defining industry premiered at Toronto in 2003. Festival screenings followed at Sundance, Rotterdam, Marseille, Karlovy Vary, and CPH:DOX, among others. It now comes to DVD/Blu-Ray for the first time via Cinema Guild.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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On VOD: MUDBLOODS

mudbloodsComing to VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, October 14: MUDBLOODS

Farzad Nikbakht Sangari’s look at sport born from popular literary origins premiered at AFI Docs this Summer. It has also screened at Tacoma, IdeaFestival, Hot Springs, Potter Fest, and the upcoming Philadelphia, Hawaii, Gold Crest, and Napa Valley festivals. It now comes to VOD on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, and Vudu.

Sangari’s film explores the underdog sport of Quidditch – technically, I suppose, Muggles Quidditch, the real-world adaptation of the fantastical sport created by JK Rowling for her HARRY POTTER series. While earthbound, owing to the lack of functional flying Nimbus 2000s or Firebolts outside of Hogwarts, the sport has gained a passionate if still relatively small following on college campuses across the US and beyond. Embracing co-ed teams and unfazed by criticism of geekery, teams like UCLA take the game very seriously, as shown in this engaging and likable chronicle of their attempt to defeat reigning champion Middlebury College in the Quidditch World Cup. Sangari balances conventions of sports docs and fandom docs while profiling affable subjects like UCLA captain Tom, whose earnestness and determination successfully connect with audiences, whether they are Potter superfans or not.

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On DVD: AS THE PALACES BURN

as palacesComing to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, October 14: AS THE PALACES BURN

Don Argott’s unexpectedly dramatic profile of a band had its premiere at Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre this Winter before its theatrical release in a series of one-night-only special events.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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On TV: BULLY

Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens tonight, Monday, October 13: BULLY

Lee Hirsch’s exploration of the impact of bullying debuted at Tribeca in 2011. It screened extensively, including Hot Docs, the Hamptons, Silverdocs, and the Los Angeles Film Festival, among others, and made the Oscar shortlist following its theatrical release.

I previously included the doc in my Tribeca coverage here.

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New Orleans 2014: Documentary Overview

noffCelebrating its 25th anniversary, the New Orleans Film Festival begins this Thursday, October 16 and runs through next Thursday, October 23. The event continues to grow, establishing itself as a key regional Fall festival, and attracting significant visiting filmmaker and industry presence. Sadly, while I’m not among those visitors this year, I offer the following highlights of the fest’s robust documentary programming, which makes up about half of the nearly 100 feature lineup: Continue reading

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In the Works: SKY LINE

Can scientists make a celebrated sci-fi author’s vision of a functional space elevator a reality?

sky lineIn his 22nd century-set award-winning 1979 novel, THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE, noted science-fiction author Arthur C Clarke imagined an orbital tower connecting Earth with an orbiting satellite, eliminating the need for costly and environmentally destructive rockets. While he did not originate the concept, which was first theorized by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in 1895, drawing inspiration from the Eiffel Tower, Clarke’s novel popularized the idea of the space elevator. While various scientists have considered the possibility of actually realizing such a project, they have been hampered by the lack of strong enough materials or sufficiently advanced technology to make it feasible. Directors Miguel Drake-McLaughlin and Jonny Leahan follow a group of scientists exploring the possibilities enabled by new technological developments to make this seemingly unattainable goal a reality, and to allow them to reach for the stars. Continue reading

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