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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Game > Sport > Disability > Teens > India > China > Politics > Arts > Censorship > Oppression > He > Algorithms: Blind Chess Players Of India (2014/First Run DVD)/Disorder (2009/Icarus DVD)/Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here (2013/First Run DVD)/Remote Area Medical (2013/Docurama/Cinedigm DVD)/Super

Algorithms: Blind Chess Players Of India (2014/First Run DVD)/Disorder (2009/Icarus DVD)/Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here (2013/First Run DVD)/Remote Area Medical (2013/Docurama/Cinedigm DVD)/Super Bowl XLIX Champions: New England Patriots (2015/NFL Films/Cinedigm Blu-ray)

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

Now for a diverse new set of documentary programs...

Ian McDonald's Algorithms: Blind Chess Players Of India (2014) is an all black and white-shot look at how a group of young fans of the great board game land up getting involved in serious competition in it in ways that could change their lives for the better forever. Just getting involved is a triumph in the 100 minutes we spend with them overcoming odds to be involved in something special. The shooting style for some might throw them off from watching this, but it is well done and definitely worth a look.

Extras include Additional Scenes, a Director Q&A piece, short film Seescapes and Audio Descriptive Services.

Huang Weikai's Disorder (2009) is in even rougher black and white as we see a 58-minutes compilation of troubled times and problems in modern China. The work is trying to argue that modernization is the underlying root, but it simply seemed like trouble you could find in any modern city, so that part did not work for me. It is still an interesting, rare look at a society that is still somewhat closed.

The director's 2005 film Floating is the only extra.

Amei Wallach's Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Enter Here (2013) is about the artists who survived and reflected the darkest decades of the USSR, in which Ilya in particular was affected as a human being (no peace from being observed and watched by the government al the time, especially when he became an artist early on) and just how ugly, phony and disturbingly sad the Soviet Union was as a country that could not fall fast enough.

The mix of new footage, older stills of the Kabakovs and key footage of the USSR along with histories of all synergize into a compelling look at a nightmare hidden behind The Iron Curtain and how their innovative artwork gives us a rare, privileged look at just how bad and how badly its victims wanted to be free of that nightmare. Definitely worth going out of your way for.

Outtakes and Extended Interview clips are the extras.

Jeff Reichert & Farihan Zaman's Remote Area Medical (2013) takes place in the birthplace of the Country Music genre (Bristol, Tennessee; the medics set up shop at the Bristol Motor Speedway) where one man is bringing free health care to people in deep trouble and dire straits who cannot access the care. Some have not been seen by a doctor in 40 years (!!!) and that some are still alive with some of the ailments they suffer is remarkable in itself. It is also a work that makes the big statement of how the national health care situation is worse than you might have thought and how this has gone especially badly since the 1980s.

There are some sad stories, interesting ones, ones of people barely getting by and of other people who care enough to give their time and help to help others who have fallen through the cracks. Running 80 minutes, this is an intense work everyone should see and could have run much longer. Hope we get a sequel!

Extras include the Original Theatrical Trailer, Deleted Scenes and two short films: the original version of this feature and Kombit.

Super Bowl XLIX Champions: New England Patriots (2015) will go down in infamy for two reasons. The winning Patriots were in a deep cheating scandal (again!) days before the game, then they won when the opposing team (the Baltimore Ravens) made the worst play in the history of the NFL, if not the entire history of professional sports. True analysis would take a separate essay and maybe a book, but this new Blu-ray covers none of this.

Instead, we get a roughly 90-minutes journey to the big game that won the Patriots their fourth trophy (as has been the case with previous entries in this series) and extras that simply include 14 bonus clips running over an hour. This is a totally rosy, cleaned-up view of what happened produced for the many fans of the team. In that, it succeeds.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Patriots may have some stylizing, noise and flaws throughout, but it is the best presentation here, especially as it is the only Blu-ray here. The noisy, black and white 1.33 X 1 presentation on Disorder is the poorest presentation since the whole thing is essentially a culmination of hidden cameras. That leaves the rest of the DVD here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image digitally-shot presentations that have their softness, but are just fine throughout. Algorithms is all black and white as well, but retains remnants of its color scale.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Patriots is a little compressed, disappointing and should have stuck with 2.0 Stereo, so lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the Enter DVD is actually able to compete. However, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the rest of the DVDs are weaker than expected, in part due to location audio (sometimes subtitled, so the makers know this) and you should be careful of high volumes and volume switching in their cases.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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