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Small Screen | “The Oath” and “Teenage Paparazzo” Headed to Your TV

Small Screen | "The Oath" and "Teenage Paparazzo" Headed to Your TV

Two of this past year’s most buzzy docs are coming to broadcast television this week — Laura Poitras’s “The Oath” will get its PBS POV premiere tonight and Adrian Grenier’s “Teenage Paparazzo” will debut on HBO September 27. A few specialty gems also become available today on DVD — Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood,” Academy Award-winning foreign language film “El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” and Neil Jordan’s Colin Farrell-starring fantastical “Ondine.”

Laura Poitras’s follow-up to “My Country, My Country,” “The Oath” (criticWIRE rating: B+) debuts tonight on POV (if you miss it and forget to DVR it, it will be available on the POV website September 22 through September 27). In his response to the film’s first screening at this year’s Sundance, iW Editor-in-Chief Eugene Hernandez noted, “A quietly disturbing, often complex portrait of an Al Qaeda insider and a Guantanamo Bay detainee, Laura Poitras’ “The Oath” offers a chilling preview of emerging Middle East battleground Yemen and poignantly questions American policies over the past decade in the Middle East.” The film profiles Abu Jandal, a Yemeni cab driver who pledged an oath to Bin Laden and al-Qaeda that he has recently had no need to act upon, which leads him to wonder if and how he would honor a call for help from the leader or organization. Dennis Lim, writing for the Sundance Channel website, also gives the film a stamp of approval, saying, “It’s an unnervingly intimate portrait of a would-be jihadist and a sober, intelligent condemnation of America’s wrong-headed war on terror.”

As for Grenier’s doc, “Teenage Paparazzo” (criticWIRE rating: B+) which begins its HBO run Monday September 27, critics have been similarly enthusiastic. In her generally positive reaction to the film, LA Weekly‘s Karina Longworth sums up the film: “Grenier’s film tracks his personal quest to better understand the paparazzi industry, using a 14 year-old home-schooled professional pap as a catalyst. Blonde, brace-faced Austin appears to already have a career going by the time Grenier enters his life, but his association with the ‘Entourage’ star ups his profile, for better or for worse.” Writing for the L.A. Times, Mark Olsen pays Grenier the highest of compliments. “While always told with a tone of sly playfulness, the film at times takes on some heady concepts, not exactly the stuff of Vinnie Chase and the Hollywood fast lane. Grenier understands the distinction between who he is and who he plays on TV and uses the slippage between the two to wedge himself into the cracks of the machinery of fame and the media.”

In the DVD/Blu-Ray world, Juan José Campanella’s “El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)” (criticWIRE rating: B) this year’s foreign language Oscar-winner from Argentina comes home today. The film, which looks back on a cold case through the eyes of the man who investigated it years ago, got a mostly warm response from the critics. For Tim Grierson at LA Weekly, the film “has a plot line seemingly lifted from your average Cold Case episode, but it’s a testament to director Juan José Campanella that the film (based on Eduardo Sacheri’s novel) feels so spry.” Michael Koresky, writing on Reverse Shot, is not so warm. The film, he says, “is indeed about the hidden fears, passions, and capital-e Evils one can glean from looking into another’s peepers, be they open and inviting or wide shut. Unfortunately in Juan José Campanella’s film, these windows to the soul reveal little more than superficialities and reflect only hoary movie conventions.”

Also in stores today are: Ridley Scott’s wholly necessary reprise of the story of “Robin Hood” (criticWIRE rating: C), Neil Jordan’s latest “Ondine” (criticWIRE rating: B-) which stars Colin Farrell as an Irish fisherman who thinks he has caught a mermaid, the first seasons of “Modern Family” and “Community,” season 4 of “30 Rock,” and this week’s most amazing title, the Disney direct-to-DVD sequel, “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue.”

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