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Monday, Nov. 25, 2013

Home Movies/Out on Digital: Nov. 25

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The Byrd Who Flew Alone: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Gene Clark

Next to The Beatles, The Byrds were the biggest, most influential band of their day. Gene Clark was their main songwriter and when he left in 1966, The Byrds began to slip. Clark went on to become a trailblazer in country rock/Americana, but too many drugs, too much drinking, erratic behavior and a dislike of touring doomed his solo career. Composed from archival footage and interviews, The Byrd Who Flew Alone is a fascinating documentary of an under-recognized musician.

Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus

On a road trip through Chile in search of the mystic mescaline cactus, Jamie (Michael Cera) picks up bad—well, make that odd—vibrations from the tag-along neo-hippie, Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman). Her gushing stream of cosmic karmic cleansing blather threatens to spoil the party. The droll, episodic comedy won a Sundance award and aptly showcases Cera, the cinematic face of Generation X. Sometimes, his ironic dismay starts to suggest a 30-year-old Woody Allen.

Barbara

Hospitals are always promising settings for emotional drama, but in Barbara, the hospital is in East Germany, 1980. Surgery isn’t the only challenge in a place where the fraught relations between dissident and informer complicate doctor-doctor romance. Directed by Germany’s Christian Petzold, Barbara is suffused with low-key anxiety as it follows the protagonist through her rounds. She keeps her distance from strangers, dispenses compassion and plans her escape from a society that appeared solidly entrenched.