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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Death > Philosophy > Greiving > Biography > WWII > Spy > Codes > Poverty > Exploitation > Childr > After The End (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Dieppe Uncovered (2012/E1 DVD)/Lucky Express (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (2001/IMAX/Image Blu-ray)/Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s (2012/E1 DVD

After The End (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Dieppe Uncovered (2012/E1 DVD)/Lucky Express (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (2001/IMAX/Image Blu-ray)/Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s (2012/E1 DVD)/SOMM (2013/First Run DVD)


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



Now for a really good cycle of the latest documentary releases…



Andrew Morgan’s After The End (2013) is an all-too-rare, honest look at death, grieving and the challenges that come with it, especially when it is as shocking as the many situations presented in this very intense 79 minutes starting with Morgan’s own encounters and including many others.  Each story is awful, heartbreaking, painful and all who participated are very brave.


We see footage of the departed, including toddlers, children, relatives and varying circumstances that could happen to anyone, but we also get some key clips of legendary Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross discussing how we deny death, how not dealing with it properly can come back to haunt us and she is joined by several active experts who add to the interviews throughout.  It may not be what you might consider watching at first, but it is a great work for when you can handle it or need something to watch when a crisis occurs.  I recommend you see it before that.


Extras were supposed to include a Photo Gallery, but all we get is an Original Theatrical Trailer.



Wayne Abbott’s Dieppe Uncovered (2012) is a smart TV production with some big surprises about one of the most secretive operations of WWII and it leads to none other than Ian Fleming!  On August 19, 1942, the Allies invaded the French city of the title which the Germans had taken over and to more of an extent than anyone had expected, with an invasion that reaped far more casualties than expected.  Weather played a factor, but many to this day wonder why it was such a mess.


Many generalized theories have been considered, but top secret documents that have only recently been declassified held the answers, even if a new round of research was needed to piece things together.  Turns out that Fleming, who we now know was running major chunk of British Intelligence, had taken his newly former commando team (a dram was just made of that tale) and send them in during the raid for the real mission and it involved the Enigma decoder the Nazis had developed to send coded messages.


The Brits had figured out how to decode the messages, but the Nazis had created upgraded machines that even British Intelligence could not break the codes of, so the real objective of the mission was to get any print materials or even a new version of this machine to get the war to go their way again, but not let the Axis thugs realize they had penetrated their defenses.  I will not say much else except that this is a very pleasant surprise and a must-see for all spy and war tale fans.


There are no extras.



Anna Fischer’s Lucky Express (2013) is a very brave look at the hidden, lost children of India’s massively impoverished lower class and how they get caught in and barely survive life on the streets, but in this case, on the many thousands of train stations throughout the country.  Exploited for everything from slave labor to sex to being beaten & mutilated by sick people to money to even being imprisoned and having their organs removed to be sold on the black market, it is one of the ugliest crisis the country is facing and one of the most horrid untold stories of child exploitation worldwide.


Covered up by those more interested in tourism money, Miss Fischer and company get into trouble more than once and go places most could not and have not.  There are so many stations for one of the most populous places in the world that some are no longer active, so they become special havens for exploitation and more dangerous.  The result is (in 86 minutes) a very priceless document that if more people could and would see it, could cause permanent change.


Salmon Rushdie criticized Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire for being ridiculous and unrealistic, maybe even glamorizing poverty, if I understand his statement on the film.  After seeing Lucky Express, I can say there is definitely a great deal of validity to his statement.


Extras include a Photo Gallery and an Original Theatrical Trailer.



Bob Talbot’s Ocean Men: Extreme Dive (2001) is a terrific, underseen IMAX film about two men who are part of an elite tradition of deep sea diving without any scuba equipment.  As of this release, the two champs with two different approaches in breaking world records and competing heavily with each other are Pipin Ferreras and Umberto Pelizzari.  We see about their childhoods, their predecessors & their own groundbreaking past achievements and the amazing science describing how they can do what most cannot.


This might run only 40 minutes, which is the usual for IMAX special subjects, but this one is so rich in this special history, a love of the ocean and the amazing things these men do that you  want to watch it over again as soon as it is over like the best IMAX productions.  If you have never seen this one, consider it another IMAX must-see and on this great Blu-ray,. must-have.


Extras include a huge number of Original Theatrical Trailers for other IMAX films that happen to be on Blu-ray, most of which we have reviewed.



Matthew Miele’s Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s (2012) is an amazing look at the rise and continued relevance of the upscale clothing department store in New York City known as Bergdorf Goodman’s.  Established in the late 1800s, it was joined by many other great, even legendary clothing stores, but this store managed to somehow see trends ahead of the others, became the first upscale store to do off the rack clothes for the wealthy and steadily became the epitome of the worlds of better things both New York City and fashion are supposed to be about.


The interviews are a who’s who of the fashion world including some of the most important designers ever, celebrities like Joan Rivers who tells it like it is again and new designers all singing the praises of the store.  Past and current employees talk about stories of the store, while we see the man who creates their stunning window displays that are a cut above the rest.  This is an intense, must-see 93 minutes that opens us up to a dream store for women worldwide and why it continues to be so.


Extras include Additional Interviews worth seeing after the film.



Last but not least is Jason Wise’s SOMM (2013) about a special class of Sommeliers, experts in food, wine, cigars and other related, upscale delights, the insane study and massive, extensive expertise it takes to gain said title and how achieving success in the field (including serving the moist discriminating of the rich) means big money and helps add to the success of the greatest hotels, restaurants and clubs in the world.


Some may think of it as too much and not be interested, but the makers show us that it matters to enough people (money or not) that it is a little-seen part of this world that can also separate the ignorant rich from those with money in the know and that is why I ultimately liked it.

Extras include an Alternative Ending which I thought was not bad, Official Original Theatrical Trailer, Sommeliers’ feature length audio commentary track and a Making Of featurette.




All five DVDs offer anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image transfers, but quality varies, with Dieppe, Ashes and SOMM faring best despite some softness and motion blur, but End and Express are much softer and rougher, though the circumstances they were made under accounts for some of that.


The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Ocean is easily the best presentation, shot entirely on 65mm film and looking great shot after shot, including demo shots that will impress on HDTVs and even now Ultra HDTVs.  Most impressive is that the archive footage shown also is exceptionally clean and clear, which is not always the case in IMAX presentations when they show older film footage.


All five DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes save Ashes, which is actually in lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, but it might as well be simple stereo often because there is only so much the audio can offer.  SOMM has the poorest sonic performance being just too soft and even monophonic at times, so be careful of audio switching and high playback levels.


That leaves the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Ocean the clear sonic winner and though narration can be towards the front speakers, it is consistent with the larger IMAX-sized soundfield and is well-transferred along with vintage audio.  The new audio is tops, however, with fine sonic moments to spare.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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