Barack Obama: From His Childhood To The Presidency (2011/Biography/A&E DVD)/The Beat Hotel (2011/First Run Features DVD)/Bombay Beach
(2011/E1 DVD)/Genetic Chile (2012/Earth Now!/Cinema Libre DVD)/Patagonia Rising (2011)/Voices Of The Andes
(2009/First Run Features DVDs)
Picture: C/C+/C/C+/C+/C Sound: C+ Extras: D/C/C+/C/C-/C+ Main Programs: B-/B-/C+/B/B-/B-
some special interest documentary DVD releases…
Barack Obama: From His Childhood
To The Presidency
(2011) is the latest in a long line of DVDs on the President, the seventh and
counting, this time from A&E and their Biography Channel. It is a worthy (if short at 45 minutes)
companion to other releases you will find at this link:
others, this is needless to say the last work on what he has really
accomplished, including saving the country from the brink. There are no extras, but this is a solid
introduction to him if you don’t know much or review of his life, especially if
you are somehow undecided on the 2012 Election.
a bit often has been programming (including dramas) on The Beat Generation and
how they made the Counterculture possible.
Alan Govenar’s The Beat Hotel
(2011) runs 82 minutes and tells about in 1957, a certain hotel in Paris became the scene and
locale for many happenings about various key writers like William S. Burroughs,
Allen Ginsburg and many others. There is
some overlap, especially if you are familiar or somewhat familiar with the
subject and unless you are a big fan or don’t know much on the subject, you
will be bored at times when the makers wallow too much on the obvious. Otherwise, this is well done.
include trailers for other First Run Features DVDs, two related short films, a
Deleted Scene on Burroughs and Ian Sommerville and Elliot Rudie Drawings of the
time and place.
Har’el’s Bombay Beach (2011) tells
us of a nice beach area that was once a tourist’s stop, now long fallen into
disrepair and is specifically The Salton Sea.
Now, it is environmentally wrecked, empty and a few people with few
resources actually live there. This
76-minutes look at the locales rise and fall is a sad tale and maybe more
common than we think, showing how once things got too hard to maintain, the
0place was not only abandoned, but neglected in ways that are pretty much
one family and see how they handle being there and this is definitely worth a
look, from the new footage to vintage photos and vintage footage, including
promos to bring business there. Extras
include Music Videos from the director, select scenes with commentary, a Where Are They Now? segment and Deleted
latest DVD release is Chris Dudley’s imperative Genetic Chile (2012), which looks at the rise and lies surrounding
so-called genetically engineered foods.
Sold as drought and bug-resistant, it turns out it is simply a few
companies trying to find a way to enhance every kind of seed possible so they
can make as much money off of the food chain as possible and Monsanto (known by
its enemies as Mon-Satan) is the worst offender and all this from a company
know for making plastic.
refers to the top food crop of New Mexico as microcosm of how these companies,
totally unregulated, are going in (including bullying farmers who want to be
left alone) and trying to replace perfectly good seeds with their sick seeds
that are a mix of healthy seeds injected with bacteria (bad idea) and with
insect killer in advance (like Round-Up brand) but land up using more
repellant, water and other resources, then are not as good as what they
has banned such foods and their growth, but some of these companies have paid
off enough politicians to make sure you are eating this type of food whether
you know about it, like it or not. It is
why we have an organic foods movement and as I type this, California might be able to pass legislation
to be the first state in the U.S, to force these companies top label their
foods. If they were so good, they would
have nothing to hide, but these companies are not helping anyone. As I watched this, I found out Monsanto just
won a court battle against DuPont over violating patents to engineer seeds and
food. It has become that wacky.
include additional interviews.
Lilla’s Patagonia Rising (2011) also
tells a tale of corporations making money off of trying to control and alter
nature just to make money, no matter the consequences. This time, it is about a few companies in South America building dams to control and hold off water
in the name of creating electricity, but without any regard to whose livelihood
or ways of life they will alter, ruin, destroy or whom they might even kill,
plants, animals or humans. This goes
back to foolishness about companies acting like they own water to the point
that one greedy company had tried to say they owned one country’s water so
totally, they even owned the rainfall!
documentary tells the tale of how the people in Chile
eventually could not take the abuse anymore and started standing up to the
companies down there in ways we too rarely see in the U.S., running
88 minutes, this program does not waste much time and is pretty good. If anything, it could have run a little
longer and even expanded into other comparative cases, then you could probably
make a reality TV show out of this subject.
include a Resource Guide, text Director Bio and a Photo Gallery.
we have Stéphane Pachot’s Voices Of The
Andes (2009) which simply gives voice to a side of the lives of indigenous
people living along the Great Inca
Road aka Qhapaq Nan, from Peru to Ecuador. At 78 minutes, there is little talk and much
to show in a visual piece that is not a poem or a travelogue, but a look at a
little scene but great locale worth capturing and especially worth
preserving. I really liked this program
and its laid-back approach, taking us somewhere we had not been for the most
part. It may not be an IMAX film, but it
is still very compelling in its scope framing.
include text Filmmaker Bio, Trailer Gallery and a Making Of featurette, but no translation for the opening text of
the film, yet it has subtitles otherwise.
X 1 on Obama, anamorphically
enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Beach and
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Andes are both a little softer than
expected throughout, while the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Beat, Genetic and Rising are
better, they also have motion blur and their own set of issues, all of which is
to be expected for such documentary productions today. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on all but
Beach, which tries to stretch its
sound to a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix are equal in their flaws, sonic limits
and uneven sound sources.
- Nicholas Sheffo