'Sweet Micky for President' hits big screen; Brando on Showtime; 'The Wolfpack' makes Netflix debut
So many accomplished and absorbing documentaries are newly available this weekend that you could easily spend now until Monday experiencing them.
Sweet Micky for President, directed by Ben Patterson and produced by and starring former Fugees band member Pras Michel, opens today in Los Angeles [next week in New York].
Sweet Micky tells the incredibly unlikely story of how Pras convinced Haiti's most popular musician -- Michel Martelly, aka 'Sweet Mickey' -- to run for President of that impoverished country, despite having zero political experience. Before running for Haiti's highest office, Martelly was best known for parading around on stage in a diaper or halter top.
James Carville has met his match in Pras, who comes off as a remarkably shrewd political operator, all the more remarkable given that he had no background in king making. Entertaining, hilarious and informative. Watch the trailer here
New on Showtime
Listen to Me Marlon, the moving, innovative documentary based on Marlon Brando's private audiotapes, makes its debut on Showtime this Saturday. British filmmaker Stevan Riley directed the film with the blessing of the Brando estate.
The film is a startlingly intimate portrait of the artist, as a sensitive child, a young man, a star and an old man still attempting to cauterize the psychic wounds of his youth.
Listen to Me Marlon recently earned a nomination for the prestigious International Documentary Awards. It's a strong Oscar contender. Watch the trailer here
New on Netflix
The Wolfpack, directed by young filmmaker Crystal Moselle, is the stirring story of the Angulo Brothers, an endearing sextet who grew up in isolation in the midst of one the world's busiest cities -- New York.
Their Peruvian-born father, who comes off as a kind of would-be cult leader, kept the children under lock and key in a Manhattan apartment. Deprived of contact with the outside world, the boys retreated into a world of movies, which they re-created in imaginative detail.
The Wolfpack became one of the break-out hits at Sundance, later enjoying a successful run in theaters. It joined the Netflix lineup Thursday. Watch the trailer here
>Also making its Netflix debut this weekend is Call Me Lucky, directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.
The standup comedian trains his camera on a fellow practitioner of the craft, Barry Crimmins, a performer whose difficult past inspired him to become an advocate for abuse victims. The films includes interviews with some of comedy's best-known talent including Steven Wright, David Cross, Margaret Cho, Patton Oswalt and Marc Maron.
Goldthwait says his late friend Robin Williams gave him the money to fund the project. The film premiered at Sundance and has won awards from the Boston Independent Film Festival, the Chicago Critics Film Festival and the Boulder International Film Festival. Watch a preview with Bobcat here
Playing at Film Festivals
If you're in Colorado Springs, Colorado this weekend, don't miss the screening of Sherpa at the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival. Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom directed this gripping documentary about the Sherpa guides who are indispensable in shepherding international climbers to the top of Mt. Everest.
Peedom was on the mountain the morning of April 18, 2014 when an avalanche took the lives of 16 Sherpas -- the most tragic single day in the history of Everest climbing. The disaster inspired Sherpas to become more militant in their fight for greater recognition and pay.
The film recently qualified for Oscar consideration. Watch the trailer here
More New Docs in Theaters
>Rock in the Red Zone directed by Laura Bialis. Now playing at Cinema Village in New York. Opens in LA December 2.
"Rock in the Red Zone is a personal view from the ground on the frontlines of an endless war, and a powerful exploration into the lives and art of musicians struggling to create in a conflict zone," according to the film's website. "On the edge of Israel's Negev Desert lies Sderot, a city of factory workers and rock musicians -- the children of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. Despite being pummeled for years by homemade missiles, the people of Sderot persevere." Watch the trailer here
>Steve McQueen: The Man and LeMans directed by Gabriel Clarke and John McKenna. Now playing at Laemmle's NoHo 7 in North Hollywood.
The late Steve McQueen was one of those movie stars -- like Paul Newman and Tom Cruise -- who gravitated toward auto racing. The New York Times describes the film as "a niche documentary about the making of a niche, rather unloved movie [McQueen's LeMans]. It doesn’t really succeed in conveying McQueen’s great passion for auto racing. In truth, it mostly makes him seem like a jerk — but cinephiles might enjoy it as a case study of moviemaking gone wrong."
Docs Expanding to More Theaters
>Heart of a Dog directed by Laurie Anderson expands this weekend to San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, Kansas City, Missouri and many other cities [full list here]. Her film is not easily described, but trust me it is poetic, profound and funny. And you'll get to see Laurie's dog Will walk around in clogs. And her dog Lolabelle paint and play piano. Seriously.
Watch the Heart of a Dog trailer here
>Meet the Patels, the hit comedic documentary from siblings Geeta and Ravi Patel, expands to more cities this weekend, including DC, Nashville and Princeton, New Jersey. [Full list of locations here]
The film about Ravi's attempts to negotiate his parents strong desire that he get married and produce grandchildren has earned an impressive $1.5 million in nine weeks of theatrical release. It's been the top documentary at the box office for most of that time.
Geeta told Nonfictionfilm.com this week that she's thrilled with the movie's performance.
"It feels so great," she said. "Most importantly I think we made this film in order to share it with people. We wanted it to be a film that would create dialogue about family and relationships so we’re thrilled that more people are able to watch it."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.