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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > Elections > Censorship > Unions > Democracy > Fracking > Propaganda > Nazis > WWII > Citizen Koch (2013/MPI DVD)/Fracknation (2012/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Fuhrer Cult & Megalomania (2011) + Siege Of Leningrad (2013/First Run DVDs)

Citizen Koch (2013/MPI DVD)/Fracknation (2012/Magnolia/MagNet Blu-ray)/Fuhrer Cult & Megalomania (2011) + Siege Of Leningrad (2013/First Run DVDs)

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

Here's some new documentary releases for you to know about, including one that was censored.

That film would be Carl Dean & Tia Lessin's Citizen Koch (2013) which was originally intended as a PBS event film, but was censored since PBS now only gets 15% of its funding from the government via taxpayers and the Koch (pronounced Coke) Brothers have made millions of dollars in contributions to PBS of late. They got the film killed in a sad day for public television and journalism. So what were they so afraid of?

The action takes place in Wisconsin where Scott Walker campaigned as a moderate conservative and turned out to be a union busting extremist who suckered enough Reagan-type Democrats and Independents to vote him in. The resulting disaster was the immediate targeting of unions and their political funding and activities in one of the most anti-democratic, anti-American events in recent U.S. politics. This made the people in the state angry enough to get a recall vote going to get rid of Walker, but suddenly legal anonymous money flowed into the state favoring walker and as a test run of how to ruin voting nationwide, many ultra-Right wing entities (led expllicity by the Koch Brothers) outspent democrats and grass roots people 8-to-1, resulting in Walker staying.

Very ugly. The film starts with a film that never got released: Hillary The Movie, the poison pill propaganda film that led to the Supreme Court saying corporations somehow had freedom of speech and could spend as many billions (with a B) of dollars ads they wanted on candidates and do it secretly through Super PAC organizations. We will not even go into the issues with that, though it does allow foreign money to come in, which itself is a big problem. Fortunately, more and more people have caught onto what is going on here like in the madness of fracking across the country, no matter the environmental consequences.

Nice touch to start it like Welles' Citizen Kane (1941), but we do not get a work about Hillary, but about how the rich have not only failed democracy and the true promise of America as Welles' classic did, but how we now have explicitly, vicious rich people who are on a tear that most people would never approve of. A remarkable film in itself, the truth hurts and that is why the film had to be stopped, at least temporarily. Nice to see it hitting DVD in time for the 2014 midterm elections and beyond. No matter who you are or what your political leanings are, this is a must-see documentary.

Extras include Deleted & Extended Scenes, the Original Theatrical Trailer, Sundance Film Fest: Meet The Artists for this film and Big Brother On Film with a screening hosted by Michael Moore.

The premise of Fracknation (2012), which somehow took three directors to make despite being only 77 minutes (!!!) is that the Award-Winning Gasland documentary about the dangers of fracking (breaking underground earth crust to free it of natural gas) is flawed and some how dishonest. The team (led by narrator/co-director Phelim McAleer) raised their money to make this release via a web fundraising site, so in advance, we are told this is totally independent and the makers represent total truth and honesty. However, what could have been an honest documentary saying fracking has its advantages or might not be as bad as others are saying turns out to be a propaganda flick with master manipulation only matched by its condescending attitude.

No points are ever totally argued well, finding possible flaws in someone else's work does not invalidate their entire work and then in the topper, pleasant animation reminiscent of those drug ads where they tell you everything is great while warning you of a laundry list of deadly side effects under their breath (we get no such whispering here) talks of fracking as if it were as natural, easy and harmless as ordering a pizza. The best part is when they talk of some chemicals being put into the ground without naming them or their deadly side-effects, but that is how juvenile this one gets. This is just a Right-wing work not so cleverly disguised as indie journalism and I was not fooled. You should not be either.

Trailers are the only extras, which is no surprise in this case, but BD Live functions are sadly included as well

Adding to their stable of great releases on WWII, the Nazis and The Holocaust, First Run has issued to more recent programs worth your time running just under an hour and made by Michael Kloft. Fuhrer Cult & Megalomania (2011) examines how Hitler was building a massive shine to himself and the assumed success of the Nazis winning WWII that would have been finished by the mid-1950s. It is a remarkable new look behind the scenes at just how pompous they were equaling their murderousness. Then we have Siege Of Leningrad (2013) which gets to the ugly side of how an unprepared Stalin threw his people under the truck (and tanks, et al) when the Nazis invaded Leningrad breaking the so-called non-aggression pact and trying to take over the Soviet Union.

Instead, many Nazis died, but so did Soviets and most who resisted had zero weapons, uniforms or the means to defend themselves, so they literally were killed on sight. The scorched earth policy trapped many a Nazi and many were captured and/or killed, but those in the city had so little food that they even resorted to cannibalism! This was a mostly untold story until the USSR collapsed by 1990. Ugly but true, Kloft handles the subject matter extremely well, but know that both programs have their darkness and some viewers may find some of the content disturbing.

There are no extras on either release, unfortunately.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Fracknation is not a great presentation with its mix of video footage, but it is sadly the best presentation on the list, which says something about the choppy nature of documentary and propaganda films. As compared to the other, better works, its relative cleanness is actually suspect in addition to its content. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the 3 DVDs here come in a close second to the presentation just the same with the film footage of the Nazi programs in sometimes impressively good shape (outside of the black & white Triumph Of The Will clips, we get real full color footage (early color Agfa film) that can be chilling) and play just fine for their formats.

As for sound, Fracknation offers a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on that is again only marginally better than the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Koch and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on all the DVDs, but again not by much. All have more than passable sound.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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