(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…
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
include an Original Theatrical Trailer, two Deleted Scenes four Outtakes.
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.
extra is a so-so copy of the 1925 silent version of Wizard Of Oz with Oliver
Hardy as a killer Tin Man!
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,
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