This Mayhem (2014/VSC/MVD
Blu-ray)/Black Church Inc.
Dance Goodbye (2014/First
The Mystery Of Creation
(2012)/A Year In Champagne
(2014/First Run DVDs)
C+/C/C/C+/C+/C Sound: C+/C/C/C+/C+/C+ Extras: C+/C/C-/C/C/C
is a diverse
set of new documentary releases....
(2014) is the latest of a vibrant, healthy cycle of documentaries and
films on the world, history and culture of skateboarding. This time,
however, it is from Australia, a part of the world we don't hear from
much in this matter unless it is an Australian (or New Zealander for
that matter) competing. In particular, this focuses on brothers Tas
and Ben Pappas, but its 104 minutes is plenty of time for the whole
industry and those Down Under in particular to get plenty of screen
to see such an extensive record on the people and the subject, well
done with some heart and taking us to a part of the business we might
otherwise miss. The success of the Pappas Brothers is another
amazing story of success against the odds and one where they helped
bring to life the sport in their homeland, leaving a great, permanent
include two featurettes and 15 Deleted Scenes.
L. Williams' Black
(2014) is a much-needed look at the problematic, highly exploitive
world of mega-churches, but particularly in the African American
community. Instead of the help and synergy the community needs,
these opportunists (like Creflo Dollar; yes, that's his name) take
advantage of the good will and needs of the community and disaster
results. They get rich and those putting them there are thrown away.
also goes on with mega-churches all over the world, a type of church
(isn't the one time Jesus gets ticked-off in ALL versions of The
Bible when his church is being used as a marketplace? I think
so....) that started in the 1980s, then really took off in the 2000s
in what is a developing story of corruption, money, back-stabbing and
even blasphemy. Williams does a solid job here in only 49 minutes.
Hope to see a sequel soon, because this mess is far from over.
Scenes, including one where Director Williams is harassed and
intimidated, are the only extras.
Steinman & Eileen Douglas' The
(2014) is a biographical look at the short but great professional
life of a ballet dancer, as seen through the experiences of a very
exceptional ballerina, the amazing Merrill Ashley. She was a big
success in the business and will remain a big name in any serious
telling of the story of international ballet forever.
all kinds of stock footage, stills and new interviews, we see how
exciting this world can be, how talent makes it happen, but that the
idea of the hard work and sacrifice does not begin to really cover
what is going on in this artform. The makers have kept the older
1.33 X 1 aspect ratio since we gather so much of the footage as that
way, but this is very watchable and informative throughout running
only 56 minutes. Wish it was longer.
bios and a Photo Gallery are the extras.
(2014) is a serious look at how a sinister gun culture in our society
has manifested itself into an increasing epidemic of senseless
violence like we have never seen anywhere, but this film shows how it
is happening in the great city of Chicago. Despite the main city
having its old Loop section plus a newer Magnificent Mile section
forming an amazing city, some of the surrounding areas are nice, but
others too economically depressed, not sharing the benefits or
progress of the city in its next-step-ahead form. It is as shocking
as it is sad, unless you are so perpetually cynical you expect the
interviews, all kinds of surveillance footage and the like, we see
how a city this great could beat out totally blighted majors (I will
NOT name names of those cities in more trouble, but it is long and
unacceptable) as having the highest murder rate in the USA. I don't
like the new nickname of Chiraq, combining Chicago (or Chi-Town) with
Iraq as a way to describe these new killing fields, because it lands
up glorifying the murders and such a celebrated ugliness will only
make the situation worse. It is just a situation that will need to
play itself out and/or need serious, even innovative means to change
it, without oversimplifying a nightmare that should NEVER be
few Extended Interviews clips and some Deleted Scenes are the extras.
The Mystery Of Creation
(2012) has plenty of churches and old architecture in it,
specifically the title structure still in the making since its
conception in the 19th
Century (!) and dozens are interviewed to tell this story, why this
is being made and will it ever get finished. It manages to cover
everything you need to know about it in its 94 minutes, but it is not
for everyone, for it will be long for the less interested.
short bonus clips are the extras.
finally we have David Kennard's A
Year In Champagne
(2014), a really interesting look at the world capital of the making
of the bubbly title drink, though it is still limited to the subject
that you may or may not like. I am fine with it, but it is limited,
though it tells us how hard it is to make this literally most
celebrated of drinks.
also makes the people, locales, techniques to produce and event he
weather the stars of this piece. It also does a fine job of
explaining origins, tradition, tiers of production and names involved
(love the ads first used to make the drink a party drink) that makes
this a solid record of the subject matter and it is recommended for
(again) those interested.
include text on the Director and Winemakers, plus two bonus clips.
1080p 1.78 X 1 image on Mayhem should be the best performer
here, but it has far more low def and analog video than expected, so
the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on GunLand and
Sagrada can compete, but the softer image on the rest of the
DVDs (1.78 X 1 as well, save 1.33 X 1 in Dance) can be more
for sound, Mayhem
may offer a lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 sound, but more
than a chunk is analog, even monophonic audio from stock footage and
stereo-at-best interviews, so surrounds only engage for music at
best. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on GunLand
and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Year
can compete often. That leaves the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 sound on
on the weak side with volume and location audio issues, plus rough