Category Archives: Releases

In Theatres: DIEGO MARADONA

Coming to theatres today, Friday, September 20:
DIEGO MARADONA

Director:
Asif Kapadia

World Premiere:
Cannes 2019

Select Festivals:
Telluride, Sheffield, Karlovy Vary, Biografilm, Jerusalem

About:
An archival portrait of the celebrated but controversial soccer star.

Diego Maradona emerged from the slums of Buenos Aires to become a worldwide sports phenomenon. With access to Maradona’s own personal archives, Director Asif Kapadia turns his signature approach to the notorious bad boy, focusing on the seven years Maradona spent in Naples after he transferred from Barcelona in 1984. With the fate of the club on his shoulders, the champion athlete embraces the impoverished Italian city and its excesses, resulting in a wild tragicomedy that should prove compelling even for non-soccer fans.

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In Theatres: BUZZ

Coming to theatres today, Friday, September 20:
BUZZ

Director:
Andrew Shea

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2018

About:
A revealing portrait of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS author Buzz Bissinger.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger is known for getting his subjects to open up for Vanity Fair assignments like profiling Caitlyn Jenner, as well as for his book, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Now he reveals himself during a tumultuous year in his personal life filmed by his longtime friend Andrew Shea. As he collaborates with Jenner on her biography, Bissinger exposes his own buried desires in ways that test his marriage and family. This surprising portrait explores the toll of seeking one’s authentic self.

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In Theatres: DON’T BE NICE

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, September 20:
DON’T BE NICE

Director:
Max Powers

World Premiere:
Hot Docs 2018

Select Festivals:
AFI Docs, Palm Springs, Urbanworld, Bushwick, Black Harvest, Brisbane, Guelph, Vail

About:
The Bowery Slam Poetry Team prepares for the national championships.

Capturing the voices of a diverse group of young black, Latinx, and queer writers, Max Powers’ film follows their efforts to express themselves with authenticity through slam poetry. Guided by a supportive but no-nonsense coach Lauren Whitehead, Ashley, Timothy, Joel, Noel, and Mega push themselves to confront deeply ingrained trauma and the harsh realities of growing up in an often racist, homophobic society, exorcising it through spoken word. Dealing with more challenging subject matter than most competition docs, the film succeeds in transcending its subgenre, and sharing some difficult, but necessary truths.

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In Theatres: ALWAYS IN SEASON

photo by Washington Post

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, September 20:
ALWAYS IN SEASON

Director:
Jacqueline Olive

World Premiere:
Sundance 2019

Select Festivals:
Hot Docs, Full Frame, RiverRun, Dallas, Salem, Minneapolis-St Paul, Oxford, Sun Valley, Cleveland, Indie Grits, Atlanta, Freep, Florida, Thin Line, San Francisco, Bentonville, Provincetown, AFI Docs, BlackStar

About:
An interrogation of the disturbing, lasting legacy of lynching in America.

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

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On DVD: MANSON: MUSIC FROM AN UNSOUND MIND

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images | Courtesy Vision Films

New to DVD this week:
MANSON: MUSIC FROM AN UNSOUND MIND

Director:
Tom O’Dell

World Premiere:
VOD release (August 2019)

About:
An exploration of how Charles Manson’s failed music ambitions informed his criminality.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: THE PUSHOUTS

Coming to PBS’s Voces this Friday, September 20:
THE PUSHOUTS

Directors:
Katie Galloway and Dawn Valadez

World Premiere:
Full Frame 2018

Select Festivals:
San Francisco, Urbanworld, St Louis, Indie Memphis, Sebastopol Doc, Bentonville, Latino fests in Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego

About:
A former dropout-turned-professor is on a mission to re-engage at risk students.

Victor Rios was on a path to nowhere by his mid-teens – a dropout, drug dealer, gang member, and convicted felon. Through the critical help of mentors, however, Rios found a way out of the poverty and violence, and eventually became a professor. Recognizing the failures of the American education system, Rios reframes the idea of “dropouts” to “pushouts,” questioning how schools fail their students instead. Directors Katie Galloway and Dawn Valadez weave Rios’ story together with those of present-day 16-24-year-old youth mentored as part of the Yo!Watts youth center. The film’s strength is in the charismatic Rios; its too-short running time unfortunately leads to only a cursory sense of the kids in the mentorship program. Despite this, the doc offers a positive message – one responsive to the needs of students rather than the school system.

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On DVD/VOD: IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS

New to DVD/VOD this week:
IRON FISTS AND KUNG FU KICKS

Director:
Serge Ou

World Premiere:
Melbourne 2019

About:
A look at the origins and popularization of martial arts films.

Taking a fast and furious approach to this genre love letter, director Serge Ou assembles an impressive collection of film clips – beginning with the prolific output of Hong Kong’s legendary Shaw Brothers and continuing, more or less, to the present day – with commentary from an expansive parade of talking heads representing actors, academics, and film programmers. Best when focused on the giddy enjoyment of the films themselves, with their over-the-top action and wild energy – echoed to an excessive degree in the doc’s distracting score – the film also tries to make the case or martial arts mania’s impact on such disparate developments as hip-hop, parkour, and even boxing dramas like ROCKY – some claims more convincingly than others. While, unsurprisingly, best suited to pre-existing genre fans, Ou’s doc still has its pleasures for the casual viewer.

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