Circus of Books

    Circus of Books


    For decades, a nice Jewish couple ran Circus of Books, a porn shop and epicenter for gay LA. Their director daughter documents their life and times.

    Your Movie Library


    • Rachel MasonHerself
    • Josh MasonHimself
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    • Dorian WoodHimself


    • 100


      Karen’s dogged pragmatism, and her complex relationship to the smut that provided her family’s livelihood for thirty years, is why Circus of Books is such a rare delight — and a nearly perfect documentary.
    • 88

      Resembling Maude Apatow in her youth, Rachel is a richly fascinating figure in her own right, and though she originally hadn’t planned on putting herself in the film, she wisely chose to have her face on camera (a la Bing Liu in “Minding the Gap”) when interviewing Josh, which heightens the emotional impact of their scenes together considerably.
    • 80

      The Hollywood Reporter

      [A] very funny, very moving documentary.
    • 80

      Film Threat

      This extreme level of intimacy also becomes the film’s main drawback, however, as Mason is so close to her subjects that there’s no way she can possibly remain impartial.
    • 75

      Movie Nation

      The film doesn’t judge, either. Viewers who might cringe at the subject matter can decide for themselves if the sweeping changes in the culture that the ensuing decades have brought have been glorious, catastrophic or a seriously mixed bag.
    • 70


      Circus of Books is an affectionate look at one of the most unusual mom and pop businesses in America, directed by the person who knew Mom and Pop best.
    • 70

      Los Angeles Times

      Rachel Mason performs a nice bit of misdirection with the film, starting with humorous juxtapositions of this nice, elderly Jewish couple running a gay porn shop and then moving toward a poignant story of acceptance.
    • 70

      The New York Times

      The remembrances are the movie’s heart — not a family secret, but a community’s pride.

    Seen by

    • MARTIN