Ride 'em, cowboy! My pick of the week, Marquette Williams' Buckle Brothers, is not like any other Western you've seen. For one thing, it's a documentary. For another, it's about four young people from the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles and Compton, California, trying to make it on the modern-day Bill Pickett Rodeo circuit. They're an engaging, tenacious group, determined to rise above their surroundings and achieve something on their own -- and they love horses like nobody's business. The doc is compassionate but unflinching in showing the young bull riders' triumphs and failures. It's the antithesis of slick filmmaking.

The DVD is available from Indican Pictures. The film's official site has a gallery, trailer, and details on the featured riders: Lil Ron, Yah-Ya, Jazz and Mike. Director Williams and producer Marcus Franklin made the doc while working day jobs; the doc is truly a labor of love. The two filmmakers recently completed the thriller Unspeakable.

"Writer-director Jeff Nichols's Shotgun Stories is a tale of the South -- the flat fields and summer heat of Arkansas, where people struggle with the past every day," wrote James Rocchi in his review. "At heart, [it's] a film about people who discover what they have to let go of, and who confront the terrifying possibility of hope."

Jeffrey M. Anderson was slightly less enamored, but still quite complimentary of this tale of two families (with the same recently-deceased father) who come into conflict. Liberation Entertainment's DVD includes an audio commentary with Nichols, an audio track containing the isolated score by the band Lucero, production stills, and trailers. The film's official site has a trailer, stills, cast and crew information, and more.

After the jump: a family drama, and a John Sayles classic finally emerges.
categories Features, DVDs, Cinematical