Category Archives: Releases

On TV: MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY

Coming to Showtime this Sunday, November 29:
MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY

Director:
Errol Morris

World Premiere:
AFI Fest 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC

About:
A profile of Joanna Harcourt-Smith and her life on the run with Timothy Leary.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris is drawn to larger-than-life characters, but Joanna Harcourt-Smith soars above them all. She’s a Scheherazade of sexual escapades and psychedelic tripping as she describes her life with the High Priest of LSD Timothy Leary through his period as an escaped convict who was recaptured in her company. Did she betray him as Allen Ginsburg and others suspected? Harcourt-Smith doesn’t hold back in questioning her own behavior in this humorous, outlandish chapter of 1970s excess.

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On VOD: ZAPPA

Coming to VOD tomorrow, Friday, November 27:
ZAPPA

Director:
Alex Winter

World Premiere:
SXSW 2020 (unscreened)

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Camden, Montclair, Philadelphia

About:
The definitive portrait of musician Frank Zappa.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Through his pioneering band, Mothers of Invention, as well as his solo work, Frank Zappa embraced a variety of genres, from rock and jazz to experimental and classical music, ultimately producing more than 60 albums in a career spanning four decades. An outspoken critic of the status quo and staunch defender of free expression, he was an iconoclast who literally inspired a revolution in Czechoslovakia. Granted access to Zappa’s personal archives, including thousands of hours of unreleased music, films, and interviews, director Alex Winter has constructed the definitive portrait of the maverick musician. 

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On DVD: CREEM: AMERICA’S ONLY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MAGAZINE

New to DVD this week:
CREEM: AMERICA’S ONLY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL MAGAZINE

Director:
Scott Crawford

World Premiere:
SXSW 2019 (under its original title, BOY HOWDY! THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE)

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Freep, Cleveland, Maryland, Asbury Park

About:
The history of the influential Detroit-based rock publication.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD/VOD: THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER

Coming to DVD/VOD today, Tuesday, November 24:
THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER

Director:
Nathalie Bibeau

World Premiere:
Hot Docs 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, DOXA, Taipei Golden Horse, Hot Springs Doc, Melbourne Doc, Newburyport Doc

About:
A former marine animal park trainer wages a war to save his beloved walrus.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Phil Demers, an eccentric free spirit, becomes an unexpectedly popular trainer at Niagara Falls’ Marineland after forming a bond with the park’s first walrus, Smooshi. For the next decade Demers cares for Smooshi and other animals in increasingly decrepit conditions. After he quits as a result of these concerns—and is accused of plotting to steal a walrus—Demers takes to social media and the courts, waging war to save Smooshi. Unconventional and heart-wrenching, Nathalie Bibeau’s film follows Demers on his crusade for justice.

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On TV/VOD: THE MYSTERY OF DB COOPER

Coming to HBO tomorrow, Wednesday, November 25 and to HBO Max this Thursday, November 26:
THE MYSTERY OF DB COOPER

Director:
John Dower

World Premiere:
Camden 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Nashville

About:
An investigation into the identity of the infamous plane hijacker.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
In 1971, on Thanksgiving Day, a man calling himself Dan Cooper hijacked a commercial flight, holding passengers ransom for $200K. After his demands were met, he freed the hostages, forced the plane back in the air, and escaped mid-flight via parachute, never to be heard from again. Combining meticulous archival footage, stylish re-enactments, and in-person interviews with those who flew the plane and others who claim to know Cooper, this high-octane film attempts to solve the longstanding mystery of DB Cooper’s identity and ultimate fate.

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On TV: THE BLESSING

Coming to The WORLD Channel’s America ReFramed tomorrow, Tuesday, November 24:
THE BLESSING

Director:
Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein

World Premiere:
Full Frame 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Big Sky Doc, Docs MX, Telluride Mountainfilm, Woods Hole, Portland, Minneapolis/St Paul, Planet in Focus, Ashland, Dallas, Sedona, Bend, Calgary

About:
A Navajo family struggles with the contradictions of working for the coal industry.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Deep in the Navajo Nation, one family struggles to honor their ancestry while embracing the future. Lawrence, a single father, is employed by Peabody Energy, a company tearing apart his sacred homeland for coal. As he contends with the contradictions between his work and his heritage, his secretive teenage daughter, Caitlin, finds herself going against tradition to discover her own identity. With unparalleled access to reservation life and the palpable trust of their onscreen subjects, filmmakers Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein craft a poetic and deeply moving family portrait.

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On TV: BELLY OF THE BEAST

Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens today, Monday, November 23:
BELLY OF THE BEAST

Director:
Erika Cohn

World Premiere:
Human Rights Watch NYC 2020

Select Festivals:
Mill Valley, Heartland, Double Exposure, Cucalorus, Rocky Mountain Women’s

About:
A woman sterilized without her consent while in prison teams with a dedicated attorney to stop the process.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: BELUSHI

Coming to Showtime this Sunday, November 22:
BELUSHI

Director:
RJ Cutler

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (unscreened)

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Cannes, AFI Fest, Chicago

About:
A profile of legendary actor/comedian John Belushi.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
On John Belushi’s 30th birthday, he had the top TV show in SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, the top film in ANIMAL HOUSE, and the top record with THE BLUES BROTHERS. But his insatiable appetites and anarchic energy were fraught with danger. Filmmaker RJ Cutler (THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE) combines footage of Belushi’s legendary acts with rare footage and personal letters to his wife Judy to illuminate one of the great performers of the late 20th century.

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In Theatres & On VOD: COLLECTIVE

Coming to select theatres and to VOD today, November 20:
COLLECTIVE

Director:
Alexander Nanau

World Premiere:
Venice 2019

Select Festivals:
Sundance, DOC NYC, Toronto, IDFA, Zurich, Goteborg, Thessaloniki Doc, Docaviv, Docs Against Gravity, Docville, Moscow, Hamptons, Montclair

About:
An investigation reveals disturbing corruption in Romanian state agencies following a fatal nightclub fire in Bucharest.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Virtual Release: KOSHIEN: JAPAN’S FIELD OF DREAMS

Coming to virtual cinemas today, Friday, November 20:
KOSHIEN: JAPAN’S FIELD OF DREAMS

Director:
Ema Ryan Yamazaki

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2019

Select Festivals:
DMZ Docs

About:
An inside look at Japan’s popular national high school baseball championship.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Baseball is life for the die-hard competitors in Koshien, Japan’s national high school baseball championship, whose alumni include US baseball stars Shohei Ohtani and former Yankee Hideki Matsui. As popular as America’s World Series, the stakes are beyond high in this single-elimination tournament. For Coach Mizutani, cleaning the grounds and greeting guests are equally important as honing baseball skills, however, demonstrating discipline, sacrifice, and unwavering dedication. Director Ema Ryan Yamazaki follows Mizutani and his team on their quest to win the 100th annual Koshien, and, in the process, goes beyond baseball to reveal the heart of the Japanese national character.

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