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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > Argentina > Philosophy > Art > Holocaust > Biography > Terrorism > War > Neuroscien > Fatherland (2011/First Run DVD)/Fold Crumple Crush: El Anatsui (2011/Icarus DVD)/Gottfried Heinwein & The Dreaming Children (2011/First Run DVD)/The Hunt For Bin Laden (2012/Smithsonian Channel/Incept

Fatherland (2011/First Run DVD)/Fold Crumple Crush: El Anatsui (2011/Icarus DVD)/Gottfried Heinwein & The Dreaming Children (2011/First Run DVD)/The Hunt For Bin Laden (2012/Smithsonian Channel/Inception DVD)/In Search Of Memory (2008/Icarus DVD)/May I Be Frank (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Scavenger Hunt (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/The Yellow Brick Road & Beyond (2009/Passport DVD)


Picture: C/C/C+/C+/C/C/C/C+     Sound: C+/C/C+/C+/C+/C+/C+/C+     Extras: D/C/C/D/D/C/C/C+     Main Programs: C+/C+/C+/B-/B/C+/C+/B-



Here is a set of recent documentary releases of all kinds for all interests…



Nicolas Prividera’s Fatherland (2011) is not so much a “film” or documentary per se as it is 100 minutes of various people reading (in and near places of the dead) in Argentina the political philosophies of various rulers and philosophers over the years and we even get some older people singing a tribute to Evita Peron!  As a compilation of read works, it is just fine, even if you do not agree with what is said, but there is no ironic distance involved, so this only goes so far.  At least it collects like works, which has its own intrinsic value.


There are no extras.



Susan Vogel’s Fold Crumple Crush: El Anatsui (2011) and Lisa Kirk Colburn’s Gottfried Heinwein & The Dreaming Children (2011) are similar looks at emerging artists whose works say something about people in distress and worse with Professor Anatsui’s works made of the simplest materials into murals that tend to speak of what happens to the things we throw out when we are done with them and it has its analog with people to often being treated as disposable.  Heinwein’s work echoes the murder of children in the Nazi Holocaust in new paintings and images so stark, they become the basis for an opera on the subject in this also-interesting telling of his background, inspirations and origins.


Both men are likable and have a new way of seeing things, plus a heart and soul to their work that mire than justify this coverage.  You might want to see these now before they become more popular, then you can compare where they start to where they are going.  Both have extras with Anatsui offering “Eight Short Films” about his work (though they are more like video clips) and Heinwein adds Outtakes and an Art Gallery.



The Hunt For Bin Laden (2012) is a 93-minutes long Smithsonian Channel program being issued by Inception Media on DVD in time for the release of Zero Dark Thirty on Blu-ray and DVD, et al and is not bad for the obvious overlap you would come to expect from a work that offers materials so covered in the news alone.  Still, it is worthwhile, even if I thought it had some limits and issues, including its linear approach that seems to miss nuances of what happened, but that is what the feature film is for.  No bad, but there are no extras.



Petra Seeger’s In Search Of Memory (2008) follows Nobel Prize-winning Neuroscientist Eric Kandel dealing with his Jewish past, desire to become the groundbreaking scientist and researcher he is, dealing with the nightmare of the Holocaust and how human and humane his approach to science is.  This is my favorite entry on the list and is as much biography as journey into all the subjects that are covered and the people around Kandel. 


He is also a great man outside of his accomplishments, with amazing candor, social skills, boldness and the 95 minutes here did not seem long enough.  I strongly recommend this one, though unfortunately, there are no extras.



May I Be Frank (2013) has multiple directors and is about Frank Ferrante, who is 54 years old, overweight, having depression issues and has health troubles.  A group of men who run an eatery where he frequents decided to intervene and tape record their attempts to help him out, help him get into better shape, eat better and reclaim his life.  It is quite an extraordinary thing to do, but the men of Café Gratitude do this and the results are interesting and sometimes amazing.


So many people these days need serious help and as many recent shootings prove, even seeing a professional is not enough, so though I found the program a mixed bag, I was happy to see the kinds of results and especially to those who are interested, this documentary will not disappoint.


Extras include a featurette on how to make a Smoothie, a Deleted Scene where Frank has skipped his anti-depressants for 5 days and follow-up clip to see his progress and the theatrical release of this program.



Matthew Podolsky and Eddie Chung have co-directed Scavenger Hunt (2013), which examines the insane tale of how animal extinction is a more massive problem than we are being told.  The people in this documentary look at why the California Condor was about to disappear and come up with the horrid discovery that it is lead poisoning from unregulated bullet production getting into the food chain which is even reaching humans!


Sometimes more graphic than expected, this tight 56 minutes more than makes the case for eliminating lead from bullets (adding to the gun crazy culture we are hearing much about these days) and how the NRA is partly responsible just to make sure their friends/manufacturing allies have quick, huge profits above all else.  This program does a great job showing us the consequences and that this lead situation has to change.


Extras include an Original Theatrical Trailer, two Deleted Scenes four Outtakes.



Finally we have The Yellow Brick Road & Beyond (2009) which is being reissued to take advantage of Disney’s Oz prequel and does cover the history of the books and various adaptations over the years to the Broadway hit Wicked.  Running only 50 minutes, the program packs in more than you might expect and is on par with other independent coverage of Oz history and is worth a look.  L. Frank Baum’s biographical information is also not bad here.


The only extra is a so-so copy of the 1925 silent version of Wizard Of Oz with Oliver Hardy as a killer Tin Man!



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image that is on almost all these releases is softer, more flawed and more problematic than I expected.  I can live with location video issues, but only Heinwein and Laden look as good as they ought to for the format.  The 1.33 X 1 on Oz has more than its share of aliasing errors too, but the color is good and is as good as any presentation here, surprisingly.


Lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is featured on all the DVDs save the PCM 2.0 sound on Hunt which tends to have more compression and errors than expected.  Even when the titles are supposed to be simple stereo, some location audio is an issue and other times, we get distortion or moments that are practically monophonic.  All in all, they sound as god as expected, but Fold has more audio errors than expected.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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