Our weekly doc roundup collects critical reactions to some current documentary releases in the theaters and on DVD.
IN THEATERS NOW
It’s a sparse week for documentary releases in the theaters. The only major release is Rob VanAlkemade’s What Would Jesus Buy, which follows the anti-consumerist Reverend Billy, a performance artist and mock evangelist who organizes the Church of Stop Shopping. The film, produced by Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame, receives generally positive reviews, with the Village Voice calling it “Slick, well-paced and tremendously entertaining,” and the New York Times pronouncing it “…fast and funny.” Some reviewers, however, complain that the issue-based doc “…doesn’t have much to say.” As an addendum to the story, Reverend Billy was arrested in June in New York City, accused of harassing police officers by reciting the First Amendment at a rally in Union Square Park. Yesterday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office dropped the charges against him.
The week’s big DVD release is Michael Moore’s Sicko, an accusing look at the U.S. healthcare system carried out in Moore’s usual brash and opinionated style. Many critics, including Christy Lemire for the Associated Press, acknowledge that Sicko is “…quintessential Moore. Expertly crafted, eminently entertaining, one-sided and overly simplistic.” Nevertheless, many applaud Moore for shining a light on this important issue in his film. The Onion A.V. Club says that Moore “… has a gift (yes, it’s a gift) for reducing complex issues to bite-sized ideological nuggets,” and Rolling Stone praises the film for “…putting a human face on [healthcare] statistics,” calling it a “…movie of robust heart and mind.”