Though fans will likely go out of their way to see it, those familiar with Frank Zappa will probably not gain any major insight from the new documentary by Thorsten Schütte, Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words. Anyone who already gets Zappa, however, will easily fall in love again. But those with only a passing familiarity with the icon and an interest in popular music’s tension between culture and business, need to see this movie. Made with the cooperation of some of his family (son Ahmet Zappa and recently deceased wife Gail Zappa have executive producer credits), Eat That Question is a refreshing declaration of a man’s desire to express himself freely in the face of moralizing doctrine imposed by the few, the powerful and the sheeple.

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When we caught up with singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist Ken Stringfellow he was as occupied as you might expect … even in a foreign land like Helsinki, Finland. Touring through town as part of the Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg tour, filling the spotlight for the late Joey Ramone, Stringfellow — who has also been a member of REM and Big Star, not to mention having founded the still active alternative rock band The Posies — also had time to visit a studio and record with a Finnish band.

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She hugs strangers and loves to declare “Cool sauce!” punctuating the quirky saying with operatic singing of “rock sauuuce!” Samantha Montgomery, known to her YouTube subscribers as Princess Shaw, has positive energy to spare. A recent documentary about her, Presenting Princess Shaw, which we reviewed last week (Presenting Princess Shaw reveals value of success in music without the money — a film review), reveals she didn’t come to her positivity lightly.

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While the odd couple trope has been done before, in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, actor/writer/director Taika Waititi is able to breathe new life into the genre with his adaptation of Barry Crump’s 1986 novel Wild Pork and Watercress. The New Zealand filmmaker, who is also a painter and comedian, brings to life an endearing relationship between Ricky Baker, a 13-year-old Maori boy, and Hec Faulkner, a cantankerous old Caucasian man, who lives in the New Zealand mountains.

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The internet is filled with weirdos. In Tickled, all the dangers of those weirdos that your mother or grandmother warned you about come true. In this bizarre, true story, New Zealand TV reporter David Farrier digs deeper than he should into the extreme sport of competitive tickling. He finds hundreds of videos online featuring young men tickling each other while wearing athletic gear. The phenomenon piques David’s curiosity so much so that he decides to investigate further.

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Presenting Princess Shaw is a sweet yet frank documentary on the aspirations of an amateur YouTube star as she unwittingly is about to go viral. By focusing on Princess Shaw (real name: Samantha Montgomery) — the YouTube user — and the popular YouTube channel of Israeli multi-instrumentalist Kutiman (real name: Ophir Kutiel), Israeli director Ido Haar reveals the rather noble possibilities of a relatively new medium in the world of music. Due to legal circumstances, Kutiman’s channel is free of pop-up ads so as not to infringe on the contributions of the musicians he samples. This allows for more cathartic rewards of success to resonate and reveals how vital and essential success is to the unknown talent of Princess Shaw.

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Unlike many indie filmmakers who plied their craft in the 1990s era of uncomfortable humor whose grim laughs came from looking at the darkest parts of humanity, the films of writer-director Todd Solondz have retained a sort of unshakable relevance. Part if it comes from how he continues to follow certain characters, years later. But also, Solondz himself has grown as a filmmaker. He has a special knack to tap into the ineffable with a sometimes murky kind of storytelling that speaks to humbling truths in humanity that can range from embarrassing to terrible and always feel inexpressible in polite company.

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