In Theatres: DESOLATION CENTER

Coming to theatres today, Friday, September 13:
DESOLATION CENTER

Director:
Stuart Swezey

World Premiere:
CPH:DOX 2018

Select Festivals:
Sheffield, DokuFest, Big Sky Doc, Slamdance, DOXA, Indielisboa, Chicago Underground, Revelation, Sydney Underground, In-Edit Spain, Cork, Freep, Florida

About:
A look back at underground happenings stemming from the 1980s LA punk and industrial scene.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD/VOD: CRYSTAL CITY

New to DVD/VOD this week:
CRYSTAL CITY

Director:
Terrence Crawford

World Premiere:
Cleveland 2019

Select Festivals:
Wicked Queer, Q Doc Portland

About:
Profiles of several gay New Yorkers using or in recovery from crystal meth.

Responding to the open secret of crystal meth use/abuse by gay men, Terrence Crawford’s profiles multiple men who are in recovery, and occasionally relapsing, from its use, as well as one young hustler who is still on meth and doesn’t seem to have any desire to stop. Split into titled chapters, the film explores various aspects of the epidemic, including crystal meth’s history, covalent factors, and recovery programs. The film’s subjects candidly discuss how they were introduced to the drug, and its connections to sex, hustling, and HIV. Crawford assembles a welcome mix of participants reflecting different ages and backgrounds, but there are a few too many, preventing a deeper dive into any individual’s story. The film’s gay male metropolitan context lends an insularity that might prove challenging for outside audiences, but its focus on issues of addiction and sobriety are universal.

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In Theatres: AMÉRICA

Coming to theatres today, Friday, September 13:
AMÉRICA

Directors:
Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside

World Premiere:
True/False 2018

Select Festivals:
IDFA, CPH:DOX, Full Frame, Sheffield, AFI Docs, BAMcinemaFest, New Orleans, Denver, Camden, Guanajuato, DokuFest, Hot Springs Doc, Ashland, Maryland, Sidewalk, Reykjavik, Adelaide, Docs Against Gravity

About:
Three brothers take on the role of caretakers for their grandmother.

After her son, Luis, is (perhaps unjustly) arrested for elder abuse, the care of 93-year-old América falls to her grandsons Diego, Rodrigo, and Bruno. The three brothers, itinerant circus performers, have been estranged, but try to put aside their differences for the sake of their beloved grandmother, who suffers from dementia. Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s wistful, humanistic film follows the family over three years, capturing the young men as they dote on América, navigate the legal system to free their father, quarrel with one another, and, ultimately, demonstrate the deep bonds of familial love.

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On TV: RAÚL JULIÁ: THE WORLD’S A STAGE

Coming to PBS’s American Masters tomorrow, Friday, September 13:
RAÚL JULIÁ: THE WORLD’S A STAGE

Director:
Ben DeJesus

World Premiere:
Los Angeles Latino 2019

About:
A tribute to the life and legacy of acclaimed Puerto Rican actor Raúl Juliá.

Twenty-five years after Raúl Juliá’s untimely passing comes this affectionate and informative tribute to the pioneering actor, one of the few Latinos to break through into mainstream success in Hollywood. Known for iconic roles in THE ADDAMS FAMILY series and KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, Juliá first had a celebrated career on the stage. Director Ben DeJesus traces the actor’s trajectory from his native Puerto Rico to 1960s New York City, where Juliá struggled for a time before coming to the attention of Joseph Papp for his fabled New York Shakespeare Festival, beginning a notable professional relationship that included Tony and Drama Desk nominations, and that led to film and television work. This comprehensive, if standard, biography assembles a who’s who of collaborators, admirers, and loved ones to reflect on Juliá’s life and work, and the impact his career has had on those Latinx performers who have followed.

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In Theatres: MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, September 13:
MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS

Director:
Irene Taylor Brodsky

World Premiere:
Sundance 2019

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Hot Docs, Portland, AFI Docs, Mountainfilm, Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown

About:
A personal meditation on deafness through the experiences of the filmmaker’s son, her parents, and Beethoven.

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

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On DVD: TEDDY PENDERGRASS: IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Friday, September 13:
TEDDY PENDERGRASS: IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME

Director:
Olivia Lichtenstein

World Premiere:
Philadelphia 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Sound Unseen, African Diaspora, Leeds, San Francisco Black, Melbourne Doc

About:
A look back at the triumph and tragedy of the R&B singer.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
The unforgettable voice behind “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Close the Door,” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” Teddy Pendergrass was poised to be the biggest R&B artist of all time with five consecutive platinum albums. But his career was halted by a 1982 car accident that left him paralyzed at age 31. This definitive biography, set to a soulful soundtrack, captures revealing interviews with his closest associates to trace his rise, fall, and post-accident comeback at Live Aid.

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On VOD: SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN!

Coming to VOD this Friday, September 13:
SUPER SIZE ME 2: HOLY CHICKEN!

Director:
Morgan Spurlock

World Premiere:
Toronto 2017

About:
The director takes on fast food once again, opening up his own chicken restaurant.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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