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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Abortion > Murder > Politics > Wrestling > Biography > Art > Architecture > Civil War > Photog > After Tiller (2013/Oscilloscope DVD)/Alexander Calder (1998/First Run DVD)/The Booker (2012/IndiePix DVD)/Civil War 360 (2013/Smithsonian/Cinedigm DVD)/Peter Simon's Through The Lens (2014/MVD DVD)/Hi

After Tiller (2013/Oscilloscope DVD)/Alexander Calder (1998/First Run DVD)/The Booker (2012/IndiePix DVD)/Civil War 360 (2013/Smithsonian/Cinedigm DVD)/Peter Simon's Through The Lens (2014/MVD DVD)/Hitler & The Nazis (2011/Cinedigm DVD)/Secrets Of The Third Reich (2014/Smithsonian/Cinedigm DVD)

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

Here's a serious new selection of documentary material you should be aware of...

Martha Shane and Lana Wilson co-direct After Tiller (2013) a stunning look at one of the most under-reported stories of recent decades, the politically assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009 after a campaign (with the chant Tiller The Killer) by certain dark political segments, ultra Right Wing interests and even a few national TV networks and even more AM radio interests who wanted him to be killed, hoping a lone nut would do the job for them. The cowardly scheme worked (again).

This rich, vital and never-long-enough 88 minutes shows the human being, legitimate medical professional and pro-female medical care Dr. Tiller was, helping women and doing what was totally, 100% federally legal in all aspects of his career. That this happened and all we got was silence and no backlash adds up disturbingly with the weird, odd and suddenly explicit ultra Right Wing campaigns against women in everything from working right, maternal leave, birth control and every other thing they lost on the in 1960s. At least that is starting to slowly get a backlash. There are some great interviews here too and add all that to other surprises and that makes After Tiller one of the best documentaries of the last few years.

Extras in their fine slipcase packaging include a DVD-ROM downloadable resource guide, interview with the co-directors, Sundance Film Festival Q&A where the co-directors are joined by doctors, One of Four interview with Dr. Susan Robinson and vintage interview with Dr. Tiller from Physicians For Reproductive Health.

Roger Sherman's Alexander Calder (1998) may be the oldest program here, run only an hour and be from TV, but it more than holds its own in its portrait of the innovative artist and sculpture who is still not as know as he should be for all of his influence. I had seen this one a long time ago and it not only holds up well, but is long overdue for discovery, especially for those interested in art and architecture. Why are there not more programs on this man?

Extras include a Photo/Art Gallery, Roger Sherman text bio and about six minutes of Sherman on Calder.

Michael Perkins' The Booker (2012) wants to be a serious look behind the scenes of wrestling with Mickey Rourke credibility, but it is a sloppy, wacky mess that shows us nothing we have not seen before, much we ought to avoid and does this by taking its digital video and making it into sloppily edited faux black and white. This 96 minutes of torture starts bad and just becomes more and more excruciating. Yikes is this one bad.

There are no extras.

Civil War 360 (2013) is the first of three Smithsonian-produced entries, here splitting yet another look at the war into three parts with three hosts: Ashley Judd, Dennis Haysbert and Trace Adkins (a better host than actor so far) with their own separate episodes to show the war. Its not bad for a played out subject, but a little can go a long way for some like this writer h=who has seen this almost rendered trivial by so many programs on it.

The program Lincoln's Nation At War is the only extra.

Peter Simon's Through The Lens (2014) is a double-DVD set where the longtime photographer goes through his archives with thousands of often amazing still photographs that make this into the video version of what Simon often holds and refers to throughout his explanations of his career and this artform, a high quality coffee table book. Those interested in film, the counterculture, music and US history will really enjoy the set up and all the details. I even liked the chapters.

Two sets of 10 commonly asked questions are the extras.

We conclude with two strong mini-series n WWII that run long, but tend to be impressive for all the material here and how often this subject has been covered before. Hitler & The Nazis (2011) runs 268 minutes, while the Smithsonian-produced Secrets Of The Third Reich (2014) runs 184 minutes with better editing and less overlap. Unknowns wrote and narrate both, which do a solid job of sticking to their subject matter and both deserve to be added to a master list of titles on the subject that all libraries should have.

There are no extras on either set.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Tiller edges out the rest of the releases here with the cleanest and most consistent presentation, followed by 360, Lens and Right, also with the same widescreen type. Hitler has more flaws in the same 1.78 X 1 presentation too often tied for third place by the older 1.33 X 1 analog NTSC Calder. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 would-be black & white image on Booker is sloppy, hideous and to be avoided. All the discs offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Calder in monophonic) and about about even save Tiller just that much more well recorded and Booker sounding as bad as it looks with shrill, poor location audio, plus compression and mixing issues.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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