“Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon”
“Supermensch,” in theaters on June 6, chronicles the life of a minor-league drug dealer who took took career advice from Jimi Hendrix (“Are you Jewish? You should be a manager”) and went on to guide the careers of artists ranging from Anne Murray to Alice Cooper. Along the way, Shep Gordon invented the celebrity chef, dated Sharon Stone and bonded with the Dalai Lama. Mike Meyers, a friend since he approached Gordon about using one of Cooper’s hits in “Wayne’s World,” directs the film with unabashed affection.
Also set for June 6 release, “Burt’s Buzz” profiles another maverick from the ’60s: Burt Shavitz, the Maine hermit whose backwoods beekeeping enterprise grew into Burt’s Bees, an eco-minded personal-care products empire that the Clorox Company acquired in 2007 for a reported $925 million. Shavitz saw very little of that money, however. Not that it matters: To this day, he lives in a converted turkey coop, heats water on a wood stove and considers a good day one “when no one shows up and you don’t have to go anywhere.”
This politically charged documentary lost its footing last year when, according to the New Yorker, public television withdrew its funding rather than risk offending billionaire David Koch, a longtime PBS supporter. Yet the project survived, thanks to Kickstarter. Directed by Oscar nominees Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, "Citizen Koch" argues that the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United ruling invites plutocrats like Koch to exert undue influence and essentially “buy” elections. Release date: June 6.
“Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr.”
One of the most revered — and reserved — actors of his generation opens up in a documentary about his late father, Robert De Niro, Sr., an abstract expressionist painter whose work hangs in many museums around the country. This intimate portrait of the artist explores De Niro Sr.'s place in the New York School and also delves into his personal journals, which reveal that he left his wife because he was gay. Although director Perri Peretz told the Hollywood Reporter that De Niro originally wanted a film about his father made just for his family, “Remembering the Artist” is set to premiere on HBO on June 9.
This is as far from “All Cheerleaders Die” as you’re likely to get. Directed by Janaki Challa, a writer for Rolling Stone, the film puts you in the company of scholars passionate about Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher who prefigured existentialism. That may sound like heavy going, but the film, which debuts on June 10, aims to inspire. Consider this, from the trailer: “The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived.”
“The Case Against 8”
Courtroom drama adds a measure of suspense to this documentary about the effort to repeal Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment against gay marriage, even though we know how the whole thing turns out. Five years in the making, the film focuses on two couples, one male the other female, selected as plaintiffs. There's also an odd couple — attorneys Ted Olson, a Republican, and David Boies, a Democrat — the unlikely duo who joined forces to argue the case. “The Case Against 8” debuts on HBO on June 23.
Much has been made of 1964 marking the arrival of the Beatles in America, but it was also the year that hundreds of young idealists headed to Mississippi to register black voters on the eve of the Civil Rights Act. Not all of them made it back. “Freedom Summer,” directed by Emmy winner and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Stanley Nelson, premieres on PBS American Experience on June 24, exactly 50 years after the week three young activists went missing.
“Whitey: The United States of America vs. James J. Bulger”
Oscar-nominated director Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost”) blends archival footage and interviews with cops, criminals, attorneys and witnesses who tell the riveting tale of Whitey Bulger, the Boston mobster who inspired Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Departed.” One detail from "Whitey," which hits theaters on June 27, underscores Bulger’s stature as a lowlife: With a $1 million bounty on his head, he was the FBI’s second most wanted fugitive — after Osama Bin Laden.
“Magic Mike,” Steven Soderbergh’s 2012 comedy-drama about male strippers, focused on a Dallas club called Xquisite. Now Joe Manganiello, who co-starred in that film as “Big Dick Richie,” has directed a documentary about the place that inspired Xquisite: La Bare Dallas, a favorite destination for bachelorette parties and "girls' nights out." An advance review in Variety suggests that “La Bare,” in theaters on June 27, offers plenty of flash, not much substance, and a bit of comedy as aspiring strippers lamely show their stuff on Amateur Night.
“The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz”
The tragedy of Reddit co-founder and Internet folk hero Aaron Swartz — who committed suicide last year at the age of 26, after his arrest for hacking into the academic digital library JSTOR led to a13-felony indictment — receives sympathetic treatment in this Kickstarter-funded documentary, which debuts in theaters on June 27. Directed by Brian Knappenberger, "The Internet's Own Boy" movingly presents the computer-programming prodigy as a victim of overzealous prosecution. Current score on Rotten Tomatoes: 100 percent.
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From Mark Spitz, who set the gold standard in the '70s, to Kerri Strug, the 4-foot-7 dynamo who collapsed and was then carried to the podium by her beaming coach