PBS’ ‘Native America’ Is This Year’s — And One Of PBS’ — Best New Docs

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution

This critic has said time and again, that movies “based on actual events” are not the way to learn about history.  That is because it is clear with said movies, there are any number of overly embellished stories.  That being the case, this critic prefers to learn about history through the bevy of more trustworthy documentaries turned out annually by PBS and other relatively reliable resources.

The noted outlets have released yet again this year, quite the impressive crop of new documentaries.  From stories of  the evolution of the American circus,  the role of jazz in the Cold War and the role of Native Americans and their ancestors to today’s world to profiles of American legends, such as Teddy Roosevelt, Bob Hope and Fred Rogers and more, this year’s crop of new documentaries has given audiences plenty of stories that are just as good as — if not better than — any of those stories “based on actual events” churned out by Hollywood.

Topping this year’s list of new notable documentaries is the simply-titled Native America.  This four-part doc is the presentation that Native Americans have deserved and needed for ages.  It clearly outlines how their advancements have played a critical part in  America’s own development while also outlining in depth, the atrocities committed against Native Americans.  The pairing of the positive from their contributions and the negative of the damning story of how they were so horribly mistreated makes for a powerful program that everyone should see at least once.

Coming in second in this year’s list of the year’s best new documentaries is NOVA: The Impossible Flight.  The story at the center of this doc follows the round-the-world flight of a famed solar plane, and is just as gripping as any Hollywood drama that could ever be churned out — again — if not more gripping.  Audiences will be on the edge of their seats to see if the plane completes its journey.

Third Place belongs to American Experience: Into The Amazon.  The story at the center of this doc is another Hollywood-ready story that thankfully Hollywood has not yet ruined.  It follows Teddy Roosevelt as he journeys into one of the world’s most dangerous realms, the Amazon jungle.  It is revealed that the journey comes after his defeat for the presidency in his final run for the White House.  It is a gripping dual “man vs. nature”/”man vs himself” story that history buffs and action movie fans alike will appreciate.

Along with the titles noted here, this year’s list also features other new docs, such as a look back at Hannibal’s legendary trek over the Alps, a profile of the Jews who joined America’s military and played a critical part in the Allies’ victory in WWII and a touching profile of a blind magician who refuses to let his disability stop him along with the previously noted docs.

As always, the top 10 titles are the best of the year, while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is  Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 New Documentaries.


  1. Native America
  2. NOVAThe Impossible Flight
  3. American ExperienceInto The Amazon
  4. American ExperienceThe Circus
  5. Dealt
  6. Line 41
  7. American MastersThis is Bob Hope
  8. G.I. Jews
  9. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  10. Mr. Rogers: It’s You I Like
  11. Secrets of the DeadHannibal in the Alps
  12. The Jazz Ambassadors
  13. NOVADecoding The Weather Machine
  14. American ExperienceThe Secret of Tuxedo Park
  15. The Paris Opera

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‘Dealt’ Is As Good As And Possibly Better Than Any Hollywood Underdog Drama

Courtesy: IFC Films

Card mechanic Richard Turner is one of the greatest and most respected figures in the world of card tricks. Turner has, for decades, wowed audiences across the country with his sleight of hand abilities, and next week, a new documentary from mpi media group and IFC Films will profile the veteran performer with a new documentary titled Dealt. The nearly 90-minute doc, which is also rather aptly titled, is an entertaining, inspiring and memorable work that is an easy candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s top new documentaries. That statement is supported in part through the program’s story. It will be discussed shortly. The program’s pacing also supports that statement and will be discussed later. The bonus material included in the program’s presentation supports said statement even more. Each element is important in its own way, as will be discussed. All things considered, they make Dealt a program that is pure magic. Yes, that pun was fully intended.

Dealt, the new Richard Turner profile from mpi media group and IFC Films, is an aptly titled, truly magical presentation that will appeal to not just magic lovers but audiences in general. That is proven in part through the doc’s inspiring and entertaining story. The story in question profiles Turner and what has made him such a respected figure in the magic community throughout his life and career. It is also a profile of a man who as he has gotten older, has had to come to terms with his disability, learning to accept it rather than be ashamed by it. As audiences will see over the course of the program’s 86-minute run time, Turner starts out being upset about being blind, even somewhat ashamed of it. That is obvious as he talks about his anger over media figures bringing it to light in their interviews with him. Yet over time, he finally begins to accept his situation, learning to live with it rather than hide it. There’s even an eventual award reception for his talents included in the story. One could argue that, considering all of this, this story is the stuff of so many Hollywood underdog dramas, except being an un-embellished and true story, is even better than that fare. Keeping this in mind, the story forms a solid foundation for Dealt, proving easily in itself why this doc is, again, its own magical presentation. Of course, the doc’s story is only one part of what makes it an impressive offering. The story’s pacing, by connection, is important to discuss.

The pacing of the story at the center of Dealt is important to note because of how much ground the story covers in its nearly 90-minute run time. The story starts out immediately by introducing Turner to audiences before eventually making its way into the heart of the story, the development of Turner’s blindness at a young age, and his attempts to cope with that disability. At the same time, there are discussions on both sides about coping with blindness by featuring a woman who is blind but accepts it, and is working with Turner to accept his blindness. Considering the doc’s deeper feature that tackles the issue of coping with disability and the bigger story of Turner’s talents and his legacy, there is so much going on here. Even with so much going on, those behind the story’s creation timed every aspect of the story expertly, moving fluidly from one to the other from start to finish. That fluidity insures just as much as the story itself audiences’ maintained engagement. While that engagement does plenty to help the doc’s presentation, it still is not the last of the program’s last important element. Its bonus material rounds out its most important elements.

The bonus material included in Dealt is relatively simple. It includes a handful of deleted scenes and a group of card mechanics (they apparently don’t like being called card trick magicians) giving viewers a quick show. One of the most interesting of the deleted scenes comes as Turner jokes about his blindness with the woman working with him on handling his condition. The jokes that the pair share cannot be repeated in this review, as they are rather adult-oriented, but are certain to have any viewer laughing, sighted or not. The opening deleted scene in which Turner is teaching another aspiring blind card mechanic is just as interesting because it shows the impact that he has continue to have throughout his career. It’s a moving moment to say the least. The bonus magic shows are enjoyable because of their variety. Audiences will get a kick out of one magician’s take on the classic shell game — in which a pea is placed under a shell and moved around. The trickster’s sleight of hand here is impressive. The other card variants displayed add their own enjoyment to this feature. When the enjoyment brought by the deleted scenes is coupled with that brought by the mini-magic shows, the whole of the bonus material shows fully why even as minimal as it might be, it is just as important to the whole of this program as the other noted elements. When all three elements are joined together, they prove without a doubt that this documentary is truly a magical presentation in itself.

Dealt, the new profile of card mechanic Richard Turner, is a powerful, entertaining and inspiring profile of a great man who is also very aptly titled. It shows that despite the *ahem* cards that one is dealt in life, it is possible to make the best of said situation, which is what Turner essentially learned through the course of this real life doc. That is the ultimate message presented in the doc’s central story, which serves as a solid foundation for the program. The story’s pacing strengthens that foundation even more. The bonus material included with the program adds even more enjoyment to its overall presentation. Each element, as has now been noted, is important in its own way to the whole of Dealt. All things considered, they make Dealt a truly magical presentation that is as good as any major Hollywood underdog drama if not better. It will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, February 13. More information on this and other title from mpi media group is available online now at:

Website: http://www.mpimedia.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mpimediagrp

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MPIMediaGroup

More information on this and other titles from IFC Films is available online now at:

Website: http://www.IFCFilms.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifcfilms

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

IFC Films To “Deal” A Special New Doc Next Month

Courtesy: IFC Films

This February, IFC Films will release a “magical” new documentary about a man who has overcome great odds to become one of the most respected figures in his profession.

Dealt will be released Tuesday, February 13 exclusively on DVD. the program focuses on magician Richard Turner.  Turner, over the course of his life, has become known as one of the world’s most respected card magicians.  What makes this so interesting is that he has built his career and reputation without being able to see.  Turner is blind.

This doc tells the story of how Turner has, instead of letting his blindness limit him, overcome his disability and succeed in life, leaving audiences everywhere in awe.  the program itself has left audiences in awe, too, winning awards at the SXSW Festival, Dallas International Film Festival and Independent Film Festival of Boston.

More information on Dealt and other titles from IFC Films is available online now at:


Website: http://www.IFCFilms.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IFCFilmsOfficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ifcfilms


To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.