Cat Daddies, Documentaries, and Tom Wolfe | Real Reels

This month’s must-see documentaries feature feline fathers, a not-so-prestigious automobile race, and a study of one of the 20th century’s most celebrated writers. 

Cat Daddies. 89 min. Brainstorm Media. 2022. DVD UPC 1013494259. $20.99.

As the title of the film suggests, director Mye Hoang focuses on “cat dads” and their shared love and dedication to felines. It’s a diverse group of men—firefighters, a social media influencer, a homeless man in New York—each with a unique story and special bond with their cats. One of the more interesting elements of the film is how Hoang approaches the subject of masculinity via cats: many of the men claim they aren’t “cat people” while a cat is purring in their lap. This is a charming, life-affirming film, and viewers can expect lots of scenes of cats going on nature hikes, playing with toys, being sleepy-eyed and yawning, and staring at the camera aloofly. VERDICT This cute cat overdose is a must-see for cat lovers.

Hoopties. 63 min. Gravitas Ventures. 2022. DVD UPC 1009777415. $17.99.

One of the most prestigious automobile races in the world is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Less famous? The 24 Hours of Lemons races, with a completely different class of cars, known as “hoopties.” Jeremy Berger’s film covers a few races as various teams with silly names join together to try and win an endurance race. Mostly, instead of winning, it’s about the spirit of the event, the camaraderie, the smell of gasoline and exhaust, and the endless roar of the engine. This would have been a stronger film had it included more scenes with the people and the cars (the race footage itself is rather repetitive) but it is still a fun watch. VERDICT Those interested in cars or quirky subculture competitions might enjoy this film about people doing what they love.

Radical Wolfe. 75 min. Kino Lorber. 2023. DVD UPC 3832926420. $19.99.

Tom Wolfe, the white-suited, sharp-tongued satirist, gets a fast-paced bio-doc from director Richard Dewey. Wolfe, who became a cultural sensation in the 1960s when he tapped into the zeitgeist of the times with what he codified as “new journalism” and then transitioned into a best-selling novelist by the late 1980s, was a complicated figure, both loved and loathed by his admirers and detractors. This offering, with interspersed readings by actor Jon Hamm, is scant on details of Wolfe’s private life, as it mostly focuses on the importance and influence of his work with energetic, sometimes comical, interludes on most of his well-known fiction and nonfiction works. VERDICT One of the 20th century’s most celebrated writers gets a colorful dose of documentary praise.

Subject. 96 min. Greenwich Entertainment. 2022. UPC DVD 3832926504. $19.99.

Could this be the golden age of nonfiction filmmaking? With streaming and algorithmic programming, the supply of new docs seems never to run out. Camilla Hall and Jennifer Tiexiera assemble important examples of famous documentaries that show the positive and negative results of agreeing to be in a film that can empower, psychologically damage, or completely alter someone’s life. They also pull the curtain back on the intimate, complicated ethical entanglements between doc director and subject. VERDICT An important topic. Doc lovers will find much to ponder in in this fascinating work, as it raises a myriad of questions about the current state of documentary filmmaking.

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