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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Horror > Zombie > History > Criticism > Biography > Comedy > Illness > Doc Of The Dead (2014/Altitude Region Free Import PAL DVD)/Life Itself (2014)/Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic (2013/Magnolia Blu-rays)

Doc Of The Dead (2014/Altitude Region Free Import PAL DVD)/Life Itself (2014)/Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic (2013/Magnolia Blu-rays)

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

Here are three interesting new documentaries on show business, especially the film business...

Alexandre Phillipe's Doc Of The Dead (2014) is the latest documentary about zombies, zombies on film and the current history and mania connected to them, but the difference in this work from the director of The People Vs. George Lucas (reviewed elsewhere in this site) has more non-U.S. filmmakers and fans interviewed, plus some rarer clips and film history several similar productions missed. We are lucky to see this one since this is a (Region Free) Import PAL DVD from the solid new Altitude label, but I could see this being a U.S. hit with ease.

George Romero and Tom Savini are interviewed as expected, but Bruce Campbell, Alex Cox and Simon Pegg get the extra screen time they deserve and though some people come up with ideas and concepts that are off-base (or outright inaccurate), this runs a solid 81 minutes and is worth your time, as well as that for serious film fans beyond the zombie cycle or its history. Well done.

A trailer is the only extra.

Steve James' Life Itself (2014) is a documentary about the longtime film critic Roger Ebert, who became a legend beyond his press success when his show from PBS affiliate WTTW Chicago with rival film critic Gene Siskel became one of the biggest hits in public television history. James, whose Hoop Dreams became a hit thanks to the critical duo backing it, was doing a profile when Ebert became even sicker from his horrible cancer ordeal and passed on. As a result, this became a memorial to his legacy, one that is very effective, well researched, thorough and worthy of his legacy.

New interviews, a plethora of vintage clips, behind the scenes footage and much more fill this sometimes painful-to-watch two hours (I am personally angry that Ebert went through what he did with cancer in a day and age it should have NEVER HAPPENED) as Ebert triumphantly does what he can not to let his illness get in the way of living, loving and his love of family, friends and film. Prepare for some serious highs and lows, but this is one of the best documentaries of the last few years.

Extras include a Sundance Tribute, Original Theatrical Trailer, AXS-TV piece to promote its release, interview with Director James and Deleted Scenes.

Last but not least is Marina Zenovich's Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic (2013), a serious look at one of the most important talents the U.S. ever produced, comic or otherwise, a groundbreaking innovator as important as Robin Williams, who was actually interviewed recently or this one before we lost him. At 83 minutes, this os one of those too-rare releases that should have gone on much longer, which I can say about the Ebert piece above for that matter, buy more so.

We get the biography of his life, then a bunch of rare photos and even clips behind the scenes of his rise to success, fame, his troubles along the way personally, as well as in a Hollywood that did not understand him (he was to star in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, which he co-wrote, but Warner Bros. did not think he could handle it) and how he made important contributions to everything he did. We also see more about his successful series of comedy albums, how he was a cause celebre on every TV talk show he ever appeared on and how his work in 1980s Hollywood films did not work out (and not because The Toy, a remake of a French film, was a 'white' script as one interviewee states). To see his comebacks and health decline is something, but Dave Chappelle says it best, something I will let you see by having you see this film.

Extras include extended interviews with some of the principal persons talked to including Quincy Jones, Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin, Willie Nelson and more.

This is also now part of a new 13-DVD set on Pryor you can get, we reviewed and you can read more about at this link:


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Dead DVD is not bad, though some archival footage is weak as expected, while the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on the two Blu-rays can show the age of the older materials used as well, but their HD presentations and new footage look pretty decent throughout.

As for sound, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Dead is just fine for dealing with films that are mostly monophonic releases and interviews that are simple stereo at best, while both Blu-rays offer lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless sound, but Itself has a 5.1 mix and Pryor has 2.0 Stereo. They turn out to be about even performance-wise and are as good as expected.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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