Category Archives: Recommendations

In Theatres & On VOD: THE FIGHT

Coming to theatres and VOD tomorrow, Friday, July 31:
THE FIGHT

Directors:
Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
AFI Docs, CPH:DOX, Miami, Full Frame, Cleveland

About:
A profile of several ACLU attorneys as they challenge the Trump administration’s assault on civil liberties.

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

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On DVD/VOD: EL MAR LA MAR

New to DVD today and VOD last week:
EL MAR LA MAR

Directors:
Joshua Bonnetta and JP Sniadecki

Premiere:
Berlin 2017

Select Festivals:
New York, London, IDFA, Indielisboa, Dokfest Munich, Docaviv, Docs Against Gravity, AFI Docs, Camden, Chicago, Vienna, AFI Fest, San Francisco, Hong Kong

About:
An immersive exploration of life and death in a desert along the US/Mexico border.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: MADE IN BOISE

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, July 28:
MADE IN BOISE

Director:
Beth Aala

World Premiere:
AFI Docs 2019

Select Festivals:
Margaret Mead, GlobeDocs, Hot Springs Doc, Woodstock

About:
An exploration of how and why Boise ID has become the center of America’s surrogacy industry.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: ADVOCATE

Coming to PBS’s POV tonight, Monday, July 27:
ADVOCATE

Directors:
Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche

World Premiere:
Sundance 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Docaviv, IDFA, CPH:DOX, Hot Docs, Sheffield, Thessaloniki Doc, Krakow, Human Rights Watch, Doc Edge, Philadelphia, Other Israel, United Nations Association, Antenna, UK Jewish, San Francisco Jewish

Notable Recognition:
The doc was shortlisted for the Academy Awards.

About:
An exploration of the Israeli justice system through a passionate Israeli attorney working for Palestinian defendants.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Virtual Release: HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Coming to virtual theatrical today, Friday, July 24:
HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Director:
Gero von Boehm

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (cancelled)

About:
A portrait of the often controversial fashion photographer.

The work of German photographer Helmut Newton is synonymous with transgression, eroticism, and, for some, a disturbing misogyny. Working for Vogue and other influential fashion magazines beginning in the late 1950s, but truly emerging as an iconic image maker in the ’70s and ’80s, Newton focused on the female body, often nude, more than fashion. Influenced by the imagery of Leni Riefenstahl and his time as an apprentice to the underappreciated but pioneering Weimar era photographer Madame Yva, Newton eroticized and fetishized the body, both celebrating it and holding it at a distance, something to be desired, but also, perhaps, to be feared. Filmmaker Gero von Boehm followed the photographer prior to his accidental death in 2004, while also speaking to several of his muses – beyond his wife and business manager, June, models like Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini, Claudia Schiffer, Hanna Schygulla, and Marianne Faithfull. Their affectionate for Newton – a self-described “naughty boy” – and admiration for his professionalism seem to disavow the charges of objectification and the darker undercurrents of his work, but the film would have benefitted from delving deeper into the criticism. Still, von Boehm’s portrait conveys his subject’s charisma and serves as a fitting showcase for Newton’s striking imagery.

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On VOD: THE REMIX: HIP HOP X FASHION

Photographer: Dove Clark

New to VOD via Netflix this week:
THE REMIX: HIP HOP X FASHION

Directors:
Lisa Cortés and Farah X

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2019

Select Festivals:
Urbanworld, New Orleans, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Napa Valley, St Louis, Sound Unseen, Woodstock, Bahamas, Sidewalk, Harlem DocFest, Boston Women’s, Doc’n Roll

About:
An exploration of the intersection of fashion and hip hop in the late 1980s and ’90s.

It’s undeniable that hip hop has been wildly influential as a cultural force since its origins in the 1980s. Filmmakers Lisa Cortés and Farah X focus on one specific aspect of its reach – the world of fashion. With the growth of hip hop music also came the development of a wide range of looks and styles, eventually leading to lucrative brands. This entertaining doc reveals some of the individuals behind the fashion, perhaps well known from within the hip hop scene, but not necessarily given the credit or wider acclaim they were rightly due before their creativity was co-opted and appropriated by corporations. Figures like Misa Hylton, April Walker, Kerby Jean-Raymond, and Dapper Dan – pivotal in establishing the iconic imagery of hip hop culture – come out from behind the scenes to claim the spotlight and reveal the sometimes contentious history of their visionary looks.

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On VOD: NEW HOMELAND

New to VOD via Sundance Now this week:
NEW HOMELAND

Director:
Barbara Kopple

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2018

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, IDFA, Sarasota, Cleveland

About:
Refugee boys attend a summer camp to help with their adjustment to a new country.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple chronicles the experiences of five refugee children from war-torn Syria and Iraq whose families have resettled in Toronto. In this sweetly observed group portrait, Kopple follows the boys over several weeks as they attend a summer camp in the wilderness, a Canadian rite of passage. We watch as some boys thrive while others struggle, putting the best intentions of the camp counselors to the test.

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Special Screening: THE FIGHT

Coming to Rooftop Films drive-in tomorrow, Thursday, July 23:
THE FIGHT

Directors:
Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
AFI Docs, CPH:DOX, Miami, Full Frame, Cleveland

About:
A profile of several ACLU attorneys as they challenge the Trump administration’s assault on civil liberties.

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

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On VOD: THE GRAND UNIFIED THEORY OF HOWARD BLOOM

Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, July 21:
THE GRAND UNIFIED THEORY OF HOWARD BLOOM

Director:
Charlie Hoxie

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2019

Select Festivals:
Santa Barbara, Design Science

About:
A portrait of a music publicist turned eccentric scientific philosopher.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Howard Bloom spent much of the 1970s and ’80s as the publicist for iconic musicians including Michael Jackson, Prince, Joan Jett, Run DMC, and Aerosmith. When a rare disease left him housebound for 15 years, Bloom reinvented himself as an author, publishing several books on evolutionary psychology and humanity’s role in the universe. Now, in his 70s, the eccentric philosopher readies an unfathomably long masterwork that will unify all of his unorthodox theories, and makes plans for his legacy.

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On DVD: GEORGE W BUSH

Photo courtesy of the George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, July 21:
GEORGE W BUSH

Director:
Barak Goodman

World Premiere:
American Experience (May 2020)

About:
A two-part biography on the life and career of the 43rd president of the United States.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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