Documentaries among new video releases

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Candy Darling. – Photo: Courtesy

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From ''If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front.'' – Photo: Courtesy

'Beautiful Darling'

Subtitled "The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar," James Rasin's compassionate documentary gives the late transgender actress, who was immortalized in song by Lou Reed, the recognition that she rightly deserved.

Rasin bookends Darling's life between the story of her close companion Jeremiah Newton's search for a way to give her ashes a proper burial and the actual "funeral" event. In between, "Beautiful Darling" combines dazzling archival photographs and film footage of Darling with audio recordings of interviews and Darling's diary entries, read by Chloé Sevigny. Rasin incorporates present-day interviews with actors, filmmakers, personal and professional associates and Warhol Factory legends including Fran Lebowitz, John Waters, Julie Newmar, Michael J. Pollard and Holly Woodlawn. 

Born James Slattery, Darling lived as a woman but never had the inclination for gender reassignment surgery. Warhol provided the chance to fulfill her dreams of movie stardom when he cast her in some of his pictures. Amid Warhol's hip, pop art scene, Darling was a throwback to old Hollywood, the kind of actress who wished the old studio system still existed. She was photographed by the great photographers of the day, including Richard Avedon, Francesco Scavullo, Cecil Beaton and Peter Beard.

An artist whose greatest work was herself, Darling became the toast of the town, the reigning queen of 1960s Greenwich Village. She held court in the back room of Max's Kansas City and did everything in her power to conquer New York before it conquered her. Living as a veritable prisoner of her own making, Darling died of lymphoma in 1974 at the age of 29. A glamour girl to the end, she enlisted the late gay photographer Peter Hujar to photograph her in her hospital bed shortly before passing.

"Beautiful Darling" is kindhearted portrait of a legend whose light dimmed too soon. 

'If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front'

This Oscar-nominated doc focuses on Daniel McGowan, a member of the radical titular environmental group. The son of a Brooklyn cop, McGowan was arrested in 2005. He relates his life story while under house arrest, explaining how he went from a business-school graduate to an activist with what's been described as a "domestic eco-terrorist organization." His story is a fascinating journey.

Filmmaker Marshall Curry is careful to present a variety of voices and opinions from the logging industry as well as the environmental movement. Wherever you stand (or fall) on the issue, "If a Tree Falls" is sure to make you barking mad. DVD special features include audio commentary, deleted scenes, extended interviews and more.

Also on the doc docket are:

Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," which follows an exclusive expedition team into France's Chauvret Cave, the site of the most ancient cave illustrations. The Blu-ray includes a 3D version of the film on the same disc.

In "The Other F Word," second-wave punk rock fathers, including Mark Hoppus (Blink-182), Art Alex (Everclear), Fat Mike (NOFX), Jim Lindberg (Pennywise) and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) offer their unique take on being a parent.

Real-life "horse-whisperer" Buck Brannaman is the subject of "Buck" (Sundance), the fascinating story of how Brannaman overcame the odds (including a troubled childhood) to become a sensitive, successful and in-demand professional.