July 23, 2018

Screen Time: Week of July 23

The late writer Jonathan Gold. From Laura Gabbert's "City of Gold."

Screen Time is your curated weekly guide to excellent documentaries and nonfiction programs that you can watch at home.

Editor's Note: I didn't know Jonathan Gold personally. And I'm not a hardcore foodie. But Jonathan Gold, whose shocking death on Saturday night of pancreatic cancer, was not simply a Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic. Food, to Gold, was the port of entry to a richer appreciation of culture, of which cuisine was as essential an ingredient as language, music, history and folklore. Gold was an amiable populist, more at home sampling taco-truck fare on the sidewalks on East LA than sitting down for a five-star meal in Beverly Hills. He drove his truck all over LA County in search of a new discovery, and we readers reaped the benefits of happening upon a new neighborhood and opening our senses to a brand-new city, 237 years in the making. City of Gold, Laura Gabbert's 2015 documentary, captures the heart, mind and soul of both this irreplaceable renaissance man and the city he loved. See it on Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Itunes or Google Play.

Premiering tonight on PBS' American Masters, and streaming throughout July, is Ted Williams: "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived", directed by Nick Davis. Williams played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox, combining his preternatural gifts with a fierce work ethic to elevate the act of hitting a baseball into both an art and a science. The film explores not just his Hall-of-Fame accomplishments on the field, but also his complicated relationships with his family, teammates, press, fans and himself.

Erin Heidenreich's The War To Be Her premieres tonight on PBS' POV and streams online through July. In Waziristan, "one of the most dangerous places on earth," Maria Toorpakai defies the Taliban, disguising herself as a boy so she can play sports freely. But when she becomes a rising star, her true identity is revealed and death threats force Maria to leave her country. Undeterred, Maria decides to return facing the danger and to play the sport she loves.

Available July 24 on iTunes, Half the Picture, from director Amy Adrion, celebrates the groundbreaking work of female film directors and investigates the systemic discrimination that has, for decades, denied opportunities to far too many talented women in Hollywood.

Premiering July 27 on Netflix is The Bleeding Edge, the latest from filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who investigate the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit-driven incentives that put patients at risk daily. Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks, What life-saving technologies may actually be killing us?