aka Wyatt Cenac. The former Daily Show writer and correspondent (and current star of the TBS series People Of Earth) wrote and directed this 6 part web series of shorts for Topic.com. He stars as Wyatt, a Brooklynite who moonlights as the crime fighting vigilante The Viceroy. Joining him is Penny (Emily Tarver of Orange Is The New Black), who operates a food truck that doubles as a base of operations, and Felix (Thomas Fowler), the original Viceroy who is now retired and serves as his not always encouraging mentor. Wyatt is earnest in keeping Brooklyn safe, but finds himself more at odds with gentrifiers and public indifference than he does with criminals. Though each episode runs about 10 minutes, Cenac and the cast manage to get in a lot of pointed – and funny – observations about a borough that is struggling to retain its character. In many ways, it’s the Northeast’s answer to the FX series Atlanta, thought it clearly has its own style and voice. It’s one of the best series to come out this year and will have you begging for more episodes. aka Wyatt Cenac is available now on www.topic.com..
Gilbert. Brash, unapologetic and always funny, Gilbert Gottfried has been a fixture on the comedy circuit since the 1980s. He’s also carved out a solid career doing voiceovers, appearing in a number of animated films and commercials. This new documentary from Neil Berkeley charts his meteoric rise in comedy, fearlessly mining the laugh out of any subject, no matter how sensitive or controversial the topic. It also shows Gottfried off stage, recalling his early years growing up in Brooklyn, and employing, let’s just say, a rather economical approach to life on the road. The most moving part of the film is showing Gottfried’s latest reinvention: As a loving husband and father. Some of the biggest names in comedy are on board (Dick Van Dyke, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Belzer, Jay Leno, Jeff Ross, Bill Burr, Penn Jillette, Arsenio Hall, Howie Mandel) to pay tribute to an undisputed giant. A must see doc for all comedy fans. Gilbert opens in New York this Friday, in Los Angeles on November 10th, and in select theaters starting November 8th. You can also go to www.gilbertmovie.com for more information.
Augie. The extraordinary life of Augie Nieto is the subject of the latest documentary from James Keach (Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me). It chronicles how Augie Nieto, who revolutionized the fitness industry as the founder of LifeCycles, was diagnosed with ALS (better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2005. But as his body began to shut down, his mental approach grew stronger. He re-dedicated himself to his marriage to his wife Lynne and put all of his managerial and entrepreneurial skills to help raise money for research. While ALS patients usually have a life expectancy of 2-3 years, Augie has managed to live with the condition of over 12 years – all while raising over 55 million for help find a cure and inspiring fellow ALS patients. Keach captures the essence of Augie throughout all phases of his life, with a fly in the wall approach to his day to day struggles to overcome his condition. What’s truly inspiring is how Augie and Lynne have managed to still smile, laugh and love through it all. As much of a love story as it is a story of inspiration, this is a moving and compelling portrait that urges everyone to remain positive even through the toughest of times. Augie opens this Friday. You can also go to www.augiemovie.com for more information.
Frank Serpico. In the HBO series, The Deuce, there’s several references to The Knapp Commission, which investigated widespread corruption within the New York City Police Department. Frank Serpico was the cause of, and a key participant of that commission, fearlessly exposed just how deep the rot was within the ranks. Antonio D’Ambosio’s new documentary profiles Serpico, who is still alive, well and as outspoken as ever. Using photos and archival footage, it shows Serpico’s early days as a patrolmen, then, later, living a downtown, hippie lifestyle while working undercover. Serpico also details how the corruption within the NYPD was so widespread, that those who questioned it were met with indifference from police brass and shunned by colleagues. The most harrowing part of the doc is when Serpico returns to the Williamsburg apartment to relieve the night of February 3, 1971, in which he was shot in the face during a drug bust – which, to this day, he feels he was set up in retaliation for coming forward. D’Ambosio put in a ton of time and research into his subject, from tracking down surviving friends and foes, incorporating Serpico’s news and talk show appearances; showing just how accurate the Academy Award nominated film starring Al Pacino was, and right down to shooting the secluded areas Serpico spend during his years in self-imposed exile. It’s a doc that is very much like its subject: unfiltered and without compromise. Frank Serpico opens in select theaters this weekend.
The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx. Released in 2007, Nikki Sixx’s harrowing account of his year-long addiction to heroin – which culminated with his near fatal overdose – was the ultimate tale of the highs and lows of rock stardom in the mid 1980s. To coincide with the 10th Anniversary of its release – and to call attention to the opioid epidemic affecting the country – The Heroin Diaries is back as a deluxe edition. Co-written with noted music journalist Ian Gittins, it contains the original text and photos, along with a new epilogue that details insights into sobriety, the end of Motley Crue, and newfound success as husband, father, photographer, broadcaster, businessman and musician. With appearances by his former Crue bandmates, Slash, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, producer Bob Rock and a slew of ex-lovers, managers and more, Sixx has put together an incredible story of having and losing it all, and the extraordinary climb back to living a fulfilled life. The Heroin Diaries is available now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City. True West: Sam Shepard on Film. The passing of this Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, actor and director this past summer left a huge void in the worlds of theater and film. This new BAM retrospective looks back at his film output, which includes his collaborations with Wim Wenders, Michaelangelo Antonioni, Robert Altman; an Oscar-noiminated performance in The Right Stuff and career defining performances in such films as Days Of Heaven and Frances. The series will also cover works that Shepard wrote and co-wrote including Paris, Texas, Zebriskie Point, Me And My Brother, and Fool For Love. Shepard’s directorial debut, Far North, starring his long time partner, Jessica Lange will also be featured. It’s the most comprehensive look at a true giant of the screen and the page. True West: Sam Shepard On Film will be at The Brooklyn Academy Of Music November 3rd through the 9th. You can also go to www.bam.org for tickets and more information..
New York City. Hank and Jim: Henry Fonda and James Stewart. As The Great Depression raged across the country, two struggling New York-based actors, Henry Fonda and James Stewart began a friendship that would last over 50 years.. To coincide with the release of a new book by film historian Scott Eyeman, Film Forum is presenting a retrospective that showcases the best of their work. As you expect, there’s nothing but classics: Rear Window, Once Upon A Time In The West, The Philadelphia Story, Vertigo, The Ox Bow Incident, The Grapes Of Wrath, Winchester ‘73, The Lady Eve, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Fail-Safe, Fort Apache and much more. Though they had decidedly different approaches to their craft, the end result is the same: Movie magic. It’s a fitting salute to their friendship and their exceptional careers. Hank And Jim will be at Film Forum through November 16th. You can also go to www.filmforum.org for a complete rundown of films, tickets and more information.
New York City. Legends Of Hip Hop by Janette Beckman. Timing was, and continues to be, everything for documentary photographer Janette Beckman. She was at the forefront of the British punk scene that emerged in the 70s, capturing stirring images of bands such as The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Jam.. After moving to New York in 1982, Beckman found herself drawn to a new scene that was coming out of The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn called hip hop. Her images captured many of the genre’s Godfathers and Godmothers at the height of the acendency, charting the course that is still being felt today. A new exhibit at The 212 Arts Gallery culls some of the best of those images featuring luminaries such as RUN DMC, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, Slick Rick and much more. It’s a great snapshot into hip hop’s golden age and a time capsule of a much edgier city. Legends Of Hip Hop by Janette Beckman will be at the 212 Arts Gallery Novembefr 3rd through November 14th.
Los Angeles. Grant Ave: All Access. Now in its 3rd year, this day long event celebrates Grant Ave as the epicenter of the L.A. arts and culture scene. 10 institutions will be participating with highlights including a chance to conduct a small chamber orchestra; a recital featuring up and coming L.A. opera resident musicians; free admission to The Museum of Contemporary Art; a Day Of The Dead celebration in Grant Park and much more. The coolest part is that all of the events are free. If you are looking to expand and explore your artistic horizons – all under fantastic weather – this is a great way to spend a fall afternoon. Grant Ave: All Access will take place on Saturday, November 4th from 11am-5pm. You can also go to www.grantavearts.tumblr.com to more information.