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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Crime > Legal > Politics > Justice > Foreign Affairs > Baseball > Sports > Elections > Biograp > Give Up Tomorrow (2012/First Run DVD)/Knuckleball (2012/Film Buff/MPI DVD)/Patriocracy (2012/Cinema Libre DVD)/Walk Away Renee (2011/Sundance Select/MPI DVD)

Give Up Tomorrow (2012/First Run DVD)/Knuckleball (2012/Film Buff/MPI DVD)/Patriocracy (2012/Cinema Libre DVD)/Walk Away Renee (2011/Sundance Select/MPI DVD)


Picture: C+/C+/C+/C     Sound: C+     Extras: B-/B-/C+/C+     Documentaries: B/B-/B/B-



Now for some decent documentaries worth your time…



Michael Collins’ Give Up Tomorrow (2012) is the unbelievable tale of how one man in the Philippines has been railroaded by corruption, injustice and scapegoated for a horrible crime he could not have possibly committed.  Paco Larranaga was dreaming of being a chef when unbeknownst to him and his family, two young ladies were kidnapped and possibly raped and murdered.  Without DNA evidence or any other kind of evidence, he was grouped together with other young men as if they had done this unproved crime and he was convicted with the death penalty.


This was dodged through diplomacy and he was eventually transferred to his other home country of Spain, but the mother of one of the alleged victims turned out to have many powerful connections, displayed bizarre behavior, said extremely inappropriate things and then some related to the case suddenly died.  I don’t want to ruin the amazing work here in the intense 96 minutes presented, but this is just one of the tales we know of innocent people railroaded by elites up to no good, even if we cannot figure out why, save “because they can do it”.


This story deserves more international attention and this documentary should be seen by everyone, asks some serious questions about international laws and reminds us that we live in a too often sick world where people with common sense should have objected to what was going on immediately instead of letting such ugly things happen.  I was also shocked how some in the TV media were complicit by sensationalizing the events and making things much worse.


Extras include a compilation of Film Festival Highlights, Deleted Scenes, Filmmaker Interviews and a New Alternative Ending.  You can read even more at this link;





On a less serious note, we have Knuckleball (2012) about the rarest pitch in baseball that seems to cliché and amateur and yet, a few people have made careers out of it by using it in very effective ways.  The latest is 2012 Cy Young Award Winner R.A. Dickey, but the 85 minutes here manage to cover the history of the men who have used it throughout MLB history and became legends in their own right.


Fans and novices will be impressed by the intense, thorough coverage and it gives the pitch its moment in the sun.  Some may find it overdone, but I think it does what it needs to do and quits while it is ahead.  You also get 2 hours of extras supporting the documentary with more interviews, featurettes and rare footage.



Brian Malone’s Patriocracy (2012) shows how people are profiting by splitting up journalism into extreme camps, passing off entertainment and commentary as news and making a mint out of it.  Though much has changed since this was released less than a year ago, it is still pretty accurate and observant on how this all works, then expert interviews criticize the petty talk, dumb talk, big money that should not be allowed in elections and what is being done to counter this.


Since it’s released, President Obama was reelected, though it suggests he might not simply because some angry billionaires might buy the election.  Despite that not coming to pass, much of what is said and shown here is still valid and could become more so in the next mid-term 2014 and Presidential 2016 elections.  We’ll see, but I highly recommend this great look at Civics Gone Wild and extras include a trailer and extended interviews.



Finally we have Johnathan Caouette’s Walk Away Renee (2011), his follow up to the well-received Tarnation which had him take film and video home movies of his family and take a brutal look at his life and theirs.  Here, he is fighting to help his very ill mother cope with emotional and mental illness issues brought on more by medical mistreatment than anyone should have experienced.  Though he apparently did not sue anyone, he is going out of his way to take care of her against the odds of limited resources and bureaucracy.


It can be painful and even brutal, but it is also brave, especially in an age where (since the 1980s especially) mental illness has been restigmatized and a record number of people who need and deserve help are falling through the cracks.  It is also often fearless and shows his love of family.  The style of editing is fine, though the restylizing of much of the footage hinders the presentation.  Still, it is worth seeing, even if you did not see the first release.


A trailer is the only extra.




The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on all three DVDs are fine for documentaries that are compilation-based, but Renee has more softness and image flaws more from style choices than the quality of the film or analog amateur videotape.  The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on all the DVDs but Renee (which tries to upgrade its sound to lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, but the sound is just not there) are simple stereo at best, but all have their monophonic moments throughout.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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