Kenneth Turan’s documentary picks on DVD: just the facts

Documentaries are particular favorites of mine, and three recent releases show just how far-ranging the subjects and techniques of nonfiction film can be.

“We’re in the Movies,” newly out from Flicker Alley, showcases two separate docs about little-known aspects of film history. “Itinerant Filmmaking” deals with folks back in the day who went from town to town making films, while “Palace of Silents” tells the lurid story behind one of Los Angeles’ exhibition institutions, the Silent Movie Theater.

“The Trials of Muhammad Ali,” released by Kino Lorber, takes one of the best-known individuals of our time and, by looking almost exclusively at his activities outside the ring, shows us an aspect of the fighter we might not have understood.

Finally, also released by Kino Lorber, comes one of my favorite documentaries ever, “The Five Obstructions,” co-directed by Jorgen Leth and Lars von Trier. In it, Von Trier takes a beloved short film by Leth and challenges him to remake it five times, each with a different set of obstructions. This is a one-of-a-kind film for sure.


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