Saturday, January 15, 2011

Theatrical Releases

Every Friday we update you all with the week's theatrical documentary releases. Now, this is not a perfect process as our beloved genre prefers the rolling/limited release schedule instead of a big nationwide or international-wide release. So apologies if a film isn't out in your area or if you are a filmmaker and we missed the boat on announcing your documentary's big day (if that is the case, please let us know and we'll correct the mistake).

Now, with that introduction out of the way, here's this weekend's releases with their current rating on the amazing website

Plastic Planet - (rating - 43%) - We live in the age of plastic. It's cheap and practical, and it's everywhere - even in our blood. But is it a danger to us? The amount of plastic we have produced since it was invented would be enough to cover the entire globe six times over. But this inexpensive and convenient substance comes with a hefty price. Plastic stays in the ground and water system for up to 500 years. Numerous studies have proven that the chemicals it releases migrate into the human body and may contribute to or cause grave health problems. For Austrian German director Werner Boote, plastic is personal. His grandfather was one of the early manufacturers of plastic and he introduced Boote at a young age to the magic substance that would change the world. Many years later, after reading about the global threat posed by plastic, he decides to embark on a quest to discover the truth about this pervasive substance.(Rottentomatoes)

Petition - (rating - 100%) - Since 1996, Zhao has documented the 'petitioners' who come from all over China to make complaints in Beijing about abuses committed by their local authorities. Gathered near the complaint offices, living in most cases in makeshift shelters, the complainants wait for months or years to obtain justice. Peasants thrown off their land, workers from factories which have gone into liquidation, small homeowners who have seen their houses demolished but received no compensation, they pursue justice with unceasing stubbornness, facing the most brutal intimidation and most often finding that their hopes are in vain. Unfolding like a novel by Zola or Dickens, but with the existential absurdity of Beckett, “Petition” reveals the persistent contradictions of China in the midst of powerful economic expansion. (Rottentomatoes)

I'm Dangerous with Love - (rating - 40%) African shamans have used Ibogaine in their rituals for centuries, but in the US it is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance and illegal, so Dimitri must work in underground networks to guide addicts through the same detox that he says saved his life. “I'm Dangerous with Love” traces Dimitri's risky journey as he treats desperate drug users. It follows this man of edgy energy as he goes from one addict to the next without stopping to catch his breath. It also follows him on his own search for recovery when one session goes bad in a remote snowed-in Canadian home, and a quiet young man almost dies. Dimitri must decide whether or not to continue his mission. Is he serving the addicts or simply releasing his own demons? To find answers, Dimitri travels to Gabon, West Africa, to consult with Bwiti shamans, and puts himself through a punishing Iboga initiation. (Rottentomatoes)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Autism film gets all-star soundtrack

Going from (in my mind) obscurity to limelight, Gerardine Wurzburg's latest documentary has become a pleasant surprise. Titled, Wretches and Jabbers, the film follows two autistic men travelling the world to change our perceptions of disabilities and intelligence.

Providing a direct outlet for those with autism, the film is certainly worth consideration, especially considering Wurzburg's Oscar winning pedigree and extensive work covering the disability. However, if you needed further reason to support Wretches and Jabbers, perhaps it's impressive collection of musical talent will sway you.

The soundtrack (released yesterday) features 20 original songs written and produced by (Grammy award winner) J. Ralph and features artists like Antony, Vincent Gallo, Ben Harper, Norah Jones, Scarlett Johannson, Carly Simon, Steven Stills, Bob Weir and more.

Already playing in a limited screening capacity, Wretches and Jabbers will only get a boost from the media attention on this soundtrack, so I expect a limited theatrical run or DVD release in the near future. In the meantime, head on over to the film's website to learn more about the documentary and its soundtrack, watch a trailer, or just learn about the two main characters.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

12th Annual Golden Tomato Awards Announced

For all of you not familiar with the great website, you're missing out on a film site that compiles numerous reviews to create a love/hate percentage for released movies. The site's success allows it to compile the best and worst of the year and announce those to the world.

This year's top documentaries (according to their system):

1) Marwencol
2) Waste Land
3) Restrepo
4) Exit through the Gift Shop
5) Inside Job

Not a bad list and it's probably a strong indication of who the front runners are for the Academy Awards. But, it is important (and odd) to note that Rottentomatoes listed 'Last Train Home' ahead of the aforementioned documentaries in it's list of top 'limited release' films. So there could be a battle brewing with the award season getting into full swing.

Head on over to for the full details then tell us your thoughts. Do you think Marwencol was the best documentary of 2010?