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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biking > Cycling > Science > Terrorism > Biography > Politics > Medical > Autism > Cruzin (2013/Indiepix DVD)/The End Of Time (2012)/Mercedes Sosa: The Voice Of Latin America (2013)/Picture Of Light (1994/First Run DVDs)/7 Days In September (2002/Cinedigm DVD)/Too Sane For This Worl

Cruzin (2013/Indiepix DVD)/The End Of Time (2012)/Mercedes Sosa: The Voice Of Latin America (2013)/Picture Of Light (1994/First Run DVDs)/7 Days In September (2002/Cinedigm DVD)/Too Sane For This World (2014/Cinema Libre DVD)

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

These are a new cycle of documentaries worth knowing about...

Scott O. Nguyen's Cruzin (2013) shows how biking Olympian Antonio Tony Cruz and some friends took a 1,000 mile, 12-day trip all the way from the north to south ends of Vietnam in a decent look at the heart, soul, lifestyle and love of the sport and the lifetime experience they all get out of it. They are often friends or about to become so and this is not bad, but only lasts an hour when one wishes it was longer. The side curio to all of it is that Harrison Ford's son Willard is a cyclist and is here often. Fans will enjoy this is no one else, though I was not happy with the playback quality.

A feature length audio commentary track, trailer and cooking class video are the extras.

The End Of Time (2012) is the first of two Peter Mettler documentaries here, this one taking 114 minutes with its theories about time, what it is, how humans might throw out this measurement one day (though I found the argument weak) and has extensive philosophy voice over on the subject throughout. A mixed bag, it is watered down and oversimplified versus better films on the subject (the Qasti trilogy, Baraka, Chronos, et al) that is sometimes very flat, but it is a point of view defined well enough. I just did not buy enough of it for it to work.

An feature length audio commentary track, Photo Gallery and text biography are the only extras.

Mettler is more successful with Picture Of Light (1994), filmed in Arctic Canada and more original in the questions it asks about life, living, what we believe, what we feel we need to see and even tries to deconstruct the idea (and the need perhaps) of filming. Outside of the mixed results of that line of thinking, this is a very interesting journey of a film and takes us somewhere we have not been hardly before. At 83 minutes, it could have been a little longer, but I enjoyed it and it is definitely worth a look.

An article, Photo Gallery and text biography are the only extras.

Rodrigo H. Vila's Mercedes Sosa: The Voice Of Latin America (2013) is the best of our releases, presenting an unflinching biography of the legendary singer and political activist from Argentina who became a political target for her left-wing politics and feared for her massive, undying popularity. At a rich 93 minutes, we trace her life from childhood, to her rise as a singer and artist, then how that quickly evolves into Sosa-mania and political backlash. Her timing turns out to be at a critical time when right-winger militants are going in full force to take over and rule the country, et al.

We get interviews with her friends, major music figures (including David Byrne) reveal a vital, priceless history of an artist who is not as well known as she should be in the U.S., where many current right-wingers would consider her too dangerous and subversive. In real life, she was amazing and that is why should put this one on your must-see list.

There are sadly no extras.

Steven Rosenbaum's 7 Days In September (2002) is a compilation work interviewing survivors of the 9/11 attacks that we never got to see on home video, but is here now as Memorial Day approaches. Running 93 minutes, we get 27 people telling their then-fresh first-person accounts of the events and the only problem is that it just might not be long enough. Otherwise, if you can handle the subject matter, this can be added to the historical filmography on key works on the subject.

A Photo Gallery is the only extra.

Last but not least is William Davenport's Too Sane For This World (2014), a work that also weaves the lives of several people with common denominators into a key work on its subject, which here has all the persons talked to all have to deal with autism. After a great introduction by Temple Grandin, we follow the lives of the several subjects who talk about their experiences, triumphs, pain and living in a 63-minutes work that is well-rounded, but I wish had much more exposition since the makers are on a roll here and was longer. Still, it is a solid work and another one everyone should go out of their way to see.

A trailer and Music Video are the only extras.

All the DVDs are here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presentations save the letterboxed, color, 1.66 X 1, 16mm-filmed image on Light, which ties Time and Sosa as the best presentations here. Cruzin has some good color for a digital production, but the transfer is highly problematic with aliasing errors, digititis, coming, blocking and crazy motion blur on the long list throughout, making it very difficult to watch. That leaves Days and World somewhere in the middle, softer and more flawed than one would like, but not as unwatchable.

As for sound, Days and Time try to deliver credible, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes, but Days is very weak and ties with the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Cruzin as the poorest sonic performers on the list with poor location audio and some compression issues among the limits, while Time never achieves much depth, so the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Sosa and Light can more than compete.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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