Doc News: Gary Sinise, John Lennon, Hot Dogs

– Because there’s not enough “Forrest Gump” reminders at the box office this weekend (Tom Hanks has a new movie, while “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” features a “Gump”-ish opening sequence), you can also experience one on the web. A new documentary about Gary Sinise’s rock group, Lt. Dan Band, which is named after the actor’s “Gump” character and regularly performs at U.S. military base, will debut on the web July 4th. Titled “Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good” and directed by Jonathan Flora (“On the Road in Iraq with Our Troops and Gary Sinise”), the award-winning film will cost about $4 to stream on its site. From that cost, $1 will go directly to the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports a number of charities for U.S. troops. Check out a trailer for the doc, which apparently features interviews with Robert Duvall and Jon Voight, after the jump. [via Fox News]

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Doc News: Ryan Reynolds, “Tabloid” Refuted, “The Life of Muhammad” Attacked

– The attention-hungry subject of Errol Morris’ “Tabloid,” Joyce McKinney, showed up at a Museum of Modern Art screening last week to refute the parts of her story the film allegedly gets wrong, according to Peter Labuza’s blog. She also claimed to be upset about everyone laughing at her expense, just as she had done at the infamous DOC NYC screening I attended last fall (see video of that one after the jump). I can’t say I disagree entirely that the film exploits and makes fun of its character a bit much, but she’s not exactly proving herself undeserving of scrutiny by hammily egging us all on like this. Little does she realize, I guess, is that in addition to her own personal agenda and attention-seeking, she’s also just making people more interested in the film. Hopefully she will regularly turn out for screenings (perhaps she could clone herself?) when IFC releases the doc July 15. [via IFC News]

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Doc News: “The Thin Blue Line”, R.J. Cutler, Cee Lo Green

– Last week Errol Morris tweeted the first major report of the passing of Randall Dale Adams, who had died of a brain tumor in October at age 61. Adams was one of the two main subjects of Morris’ classic “The Thin Blue Line,” he being the wrongfully imprisoned man who was exonerated in part by the film itself. He had spent 12 years behind bars for a Dallas police officer’s murder he didn’t commit. After his release he sued the filmmaker over the rights to his story, which seemed a bit like biting the hand that unlocks your prison cell, and after that he disappeared from limelight (Morris stopped talking to him after the legal matter) and apparently ended up in Ohio, in a city called Washington Court House, where he died. Since Morris’ tweet more lengthy reports and obituaries, such as this one in the NY Times, have gone out. One of the most famous documentary figures of all time, it’s sad to hear this news. If you’ve somehow never seen “Thin Blue Line,” it’s on Netflix Instant. In lieu of a decent clip from the film, check out a bit of Philip Glass’s score after the jump, specifically “Adams’ Theme.”

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Watch Peter Falk in the Oscar-winning Doc “Scared Straight!” and “A Constant Forge”

“These teenagers are going to prison.”

That’s the first line (excluding a warning about language) spoken by Peter Falk, who passed away yesterday, in the Oscar-winning 1978 documentary “Scared Straight!” Out of context it would sound like “Columbo” had solved a case involving youths, and Falk’s famous TV role is likely why he was hired to narrate (and momentarily appear in) the introductory part of Arnold Shapiro’s legendary film. Really the teens are going to Rahway State Prison for a three-hour “sentence” to be, yes, “scared straight” by a number of threatening, foul-mouthed (hence the language warning) inmates.

Even if you haven’t seen the original doc, you’ve likely seen any one of the many parodies it inspired, such as a recent one on “Saturday Night Live.” And if you have seen the doc, you might have seen the Apted-like revisited version hosted by Danny Glover which shows us what’s happened to those teens in the 20 years since the film was made. I would embed this version as it’s on YouTube, but due to copyright issues the video is silent, which means you can only see Falk, not hear him. But you can check it out with sound now at LiveLeak.com or rent the whole DVD from Netflix.

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Review: “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”

One of the most accessible docs of the year, “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” opens tomorrow, so I’d like to direct your attention to my review of the film from SXSW, posted over at Cinematical (r.i.p.). Somewhere between “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” and the even more accessible “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” the Conan tour film, directed by “Leprechaun 2″‘s Rodman Flender, left me nearly dead from laughing so hard and also a bit dubious. Here’s an excerpt:

Some of ‘Conan’ almost seems unrealistically ingenuous, as if he’s either playing up his cantankerous behavior and biting insults for the sake of Flender’s camera or he’s simply just kidding around regardless of being filmed. There are only a few moments in which it truly comes across that he’s being mean-spirited and his words are met with discomfort rather than laughs (on screen, that is; all these bits are met with laughs from the viewer).

Maybe it’s that I didn’t hear enough of what O’Brien actually says, over the roar of the audience. Or, maybe it’s that, for example, Jack McBrayer, who gets a hilarious heap of derogation from his old boss backstage, appears to be in on a gag rather than truly functioning as the Donovan to O’Brien’s Bob Dylan (other cameos include Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt, Jim Carrey, Eddie Vedder and Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman). But ‘Conan’ isn’t likely more prank than frank, though occasionally it does feel like a better version of ‘I’m Still Here.’

Read the whole thing over at Cinematical. And check out a trailer for the doc after the jump.

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Doc News: John Steinbeck, Hilary Swank, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, Muhammad


– An exploratory documentary that would make Andre Bazin proud: an adaptation of John Steinbeck‘s non-fiction book “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” has begun from producer Robert Kanter, who has just acquired the rights. The plan is to recreate, as in somewhat reenact, Steinbeck’s six-week scientific exploration of the Sea of Cortez with marine biologist Ed Ricketts in 1940. Filming will start next year and will have a sort of environmental agenda. The doc can’t be entirely faithful, obviously, and Kanter aims to present how the flora and fauna have changed in the past 72 years. He also states that he hopes to attract a perfectly fitting actor to narrate the finished work. For more info, see the press release here.

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Doc News: Morton Downey Jr., the Death of “Reality TV”, “Klitschko” Release Date

– Remember Morton Downey Jr.? The late talk show host was the Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh of the ’80s, as we’ll be reminded with a new documentary titled “Évocateur.” The film, which is expected to release sometime next year, will feature interviews with Sally Jesse Raphael, Chris Elliott, Al Sharpton and Pat Buchanan. Directed by the team of Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger (“The Linguists”), the last wrote to Pop Candy’s Whitney Matheson today to assure her that the doc also devotes a “whole section” to the man’s cult album “Morton Downey Jr. Sings!” I admit I’d forgotten about Downey until this news but am now excitedly looking forward to the film. There’s already a trailer available, so you can check that out below and join me in anticipation:

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