Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > History > Government > Biography > Counterculture > Literature > Poverty > Enviro > 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)/Pat

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-



Now for 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:




Like the 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.



Also done 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.


Extras 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.



Alma 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 criminal.


We follow 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 Scenes.



Cinema Libre’s 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.


The title 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 replaced.


Europe 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.


Extras include additional interviews.


Brian 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!


This 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.


Extras include a Resource Guide, text Director Bio and a Photo Gallery.



Finally 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.


Extras 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.



The 1.33 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


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com