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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Medical > Injury > Paralysis > Biography > Car Racing > Show Business > Stage > Terrorism > Re > Driven: From Wheelchair To Race Car (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013/Sundance Selects/MPI DVD)/16 Acres (2012/First Run DVD)/Top Hat & Tales: Harold Ross & The Making Of The New

Driven: From Wheelchair To Race Car (2013/Cinema Libre DVD)/Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013/Sundance Selects/MPI DVD)/16 Acres (2012/First Run DVD)/Top Hat & Tales: Harold Ross & The Making Of The New Yorker (2001/First Run DVD)

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

Here are some new documentaries for you to know about...

Brian Malone's Driven: From Wheelchair To Race Car (2013) tells the story of Michael Patrick Bauer, who in the 1970s and early 1980s was becoming a teen idol and also moved into pop and rock music. He never became as famous as some other names of the time (Leif Garrett, Rick Springfield, etc.) but he shared many teen magazines with them. Moving onto family life, everything seemed at least stable until one night, he was in a car accident that caused him paralysis from the waist down and made his life a nightmare. His family helped change that, but he misses his previous mobility, especially from a man who was so active so often.

Some friends and his family make one dram possible, the ability to race a sports car again and they take a Corvette and design it for him to drive any way he wants to. This is an untold story people should see and we meet some terrific people in the process. Running 55 minutes, I wish it were longer.

Extras include a Photo Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer, The Car Build clip and Mike's Test Lap clip.

Chiemi Karasawa's Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013) is a profile of one of the greatest stage performers of all time, still going strong in her twilight years, selling out venue after venue, an icon in action still in demand, but starting to deal with old age, loss, the damage from years of alcohol abuse and health issues. Stritch is as feisty as ever and she is often as sharp as anyone around her, not only knowing show business thoroughly, but being show business incarnate. This gem runs 81 minutes and I wanted it to go on longer, but the makers cut is a little short. Still, it captures the highs and lows of a living legend not enough people know about and does a fine job in the process.

Extras include the Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes and the Poster Photo Shoot with Brigitte Lacombe.

Richard Hankin's 16 Acres (2012) is one of the most interesting of the 9/11 documentaries to date, this time not only dealing with the event and the survivors looking for justice and closure, but the how and why it took so long to rebuild the space where the towers were permanently annihilated. Politics, confusion, opportunism, politicians who did not know what they were doing, some who did and a real estate magnate in the middle of it all cannot seem to get anything done in that area. This is the amazing story of how things finally did happen up to the time of the film's release.

It should have never been a struggle to rebuild the space around Ground Zero and took way more years than it should have, but here it is and this is a very underrated work everyone should see. It runs a very healthy 92 minutes.

Extras include a Photo Gallery and three clips about the construction.

Last but not least is Adam Van Doren's Top Hat & Tales: Harold Ross & The Making Of The New Yorker (2001), an older, relevant-as-ever work about the man who established one of the greatest magazines ever against many odds. We learn about the founder of the title, but also how the magazine took shape and who supported it, political incorrectness and all. It also reminds us of the greatness of the print magazine that has a value books, movies, newspapers, the Internet and other media just don;t have and never will. We get some great vintage clips and stills throughout that sketch out a real publishing classic. Though it runs only 47 minutes, this is very rich and worth your time as well.

There are no extras.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presentations are offered by the Driven, Stritch and Acres DVDs, but due to the documentary nature and digital shooting of the programs, most have more motion blur and picture flaws than I would have liked, but the Stritch DVD fares best with less blur and more stable, consistent images. The 1.33 X 1 image in Yorker is the oldest production here from an analog NTSC video source, having staircasing and aliasing errors like the other DVDs, but color can be limited.

As for sound, Stritch and Acres offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, while Driven and Yorker have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but they all even out sonically with their share of older audio, flaws and location audio limits.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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