Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > History > Racism > Militarism > Biography > Poverty > Oppression > Sexism > Afghani > Axe In The Attic (2007/IndiePix DVD)/Frontrunner (2008/IndiePix DVD)/Hawaiian Rainbow & Kumu Hula: Keepers Of A Culture (1987, 1989/Robert Mugge/MVD DVD)/Olvidados (2014/aka Forgotten/Cinema Libre Blu

Axe In The Attic (2007/IndiePix DVD)/Frontrunner (2008/IndiePix DVD)/Hawaiian Rainbow & Kumu Hula: Keepers Of A Culture (1987, 1989/Robert Mugge/MVD DVD)/Olvidados (2014/aka Forgotten/Cinema Libre Blu-ray)/The Square (2013/MVD Visual DVD)/The Storm Makers (2014/First Run DVD)

Picture: C/C/C+/B-/C+/C Sound: C/C/C/C+/C/C+ Extras: B-/C/D/C/B-/C- Main Programs: B/B-/B/C+/B/B-

PLEASE NOTE: Axe In the Attic and Frontrunner are part of a really nice 10-DVD set called the IndiePix Mix 10 Collection in time for the holiday season & sold through Amazon here at http://amzn.com/B01577BN8S.

Here's a new round of documentaries and a related political drama for you to know about...

Ed Pincus & Lucia Small's Axe In The Attic (2007) tells us the ugly history behind the madness that was unleashed when Hurricane Katrina arrived and the U.S. Government not only did nothing, but (by denying people supplies like water and food) made things much, much worse. The co-directors try not to get too involved, but it is hard when the people interviewed are in such dire straits and years later, certain agencies are STlLL stonewalling people who have done nothing wrong and deserve the help.

It also shows how backwards the U.S. Government and country have become since the 1980s, another excellent record of how bad things are in ways mainstream news has miserably failed to do their job since the 1980s and you sit watching constantly asking 'why aren't we being told about this?' when you have military men threatening to shoot good people just for trying to get water to hurricane victims? This is as must-see as anything on the list and is definitely worth going out of your way for.

Extras include Filmmaker Commentary with updates, Interactive Journey Map, Film Festival Q&A Sessions, 30+ minutes of Deleted Scenes and 2 short films: Fast Women, Slow Horses and Lower Ninth Ward that tie into the main program very well.

Virginia Williams' Frontrunner (2008) involves the first time a woman EVER ran for political office in Afghanistan and that it happened as a public backlash against Taliban rule. Though she met with limited success at first among other resistance, Dr. Massouda Jalal took on 16 other candidates to make her mark, make a point and help try to save and love the country of her origin. She had energy, joy, personality and what it takes to win. Can she?

In a male-dominated society that needs to change and is increasingly unsustainable, the work makes some great points that have only become more relevant and pointed in the 7+ years since its release. I was impressed by the boldness necessary to make this and Jalal's boldness to risk herself to get things done. This should age very well, especially with upcoming events.

Extras (strangely NOT listed on the back of the DVD case) include a Making Of featurette, Slideshow, Trailer and an 8+ minutes promo for the program.

Robert Mugge's Hawaiian Rainbow (1987) & Kumu Hula: Keepers Of A Culture (1989) are solid companion films running about 90 minutes each that show the music, dance and culture of Hawaii in smooth, extended detail with a sense of joy you rarely see in anything these days. You could also think of both as everything you always wanted to know about these islands and their people but were afraid or didn't know to ask, so detailed they are. With interviews, people performing and interacting, I vaguely remember seeing these a long time ago. If you are interested, you'll like them a lot, but if not, you might find them trying. They also make great reference material.

There are unfortunately no extras.

Carlos Bolado's Olvidados (2014/aka Forgotten) is the one drama on our list, but it is as political as anything here showing the results of the infamous CIA-backed Operation Condor (an operation using dictators in South America to fight communism, even if it was resorting to torture, kidnapping and the like during the Cold War) specifically dealing with Bolivia and focuses on a small group of people who were not necessarily involved with the more extreme groups, even if they were part of a socialist and/or communist discourse to vote in their own personal and economic interests.

Most of the facts are likely on the accurate side, but the film cannot decide whether it is a drama and melodrama (as if only the U.S. and CIA ever did anything like this; we never hear anything about Stalin) and a docudrama about what happened. As a result, the film becomes very uneven and even awkward in the torture scenes which are not as potent as a result, yet can be graphic, but also manages not to become torture porn. However, its journalistic integrity is undermined in its 112 minutes running time despite good acting and casting. I also did not like the visual look of the whole thing, which rang phony and worked against it. Still, it was worth a look for something different and that it was political at all. Unfortunately, it is also a bit cliched.

Extras include Theatrical Trailers, a Making Of featurette and a Photo Gallery.

Jehane Noujaim's The Square (2013) is an Emmy-Winning, Oscar nominated documentary about how bad thing have really become in Egypt. If you wonder why you've heard the name President Mubarak discussed often on the news during the international politics segments, he stepped down from power in 2011 to allow the military to start running the country. Turns out they are running it into the ground hiding behind Islam (making it a national religion) and up to torture, kidnapping, murder and much more. The title refers to the people who gathered at the title locale and demanded to have their country back... then were tricked. Should they have stayed until they got what they really wanted?

Maybe, but it might not matter. We meet protesters, victims of the military who had been beaten & abused and along with the extras, shows us the terrible shape Egypt is sadly in. Will things change for the better? Can a real leader take over and wrestle the country away from a militarist police state? We'll see, but this is really well made and a must-see for those interested in the subject. Good to be informed.

Extras include over 90 minutes of Deleted Scenes with more unseen footage.

Guillaume Suon's The Storm Makers (2014) is the never-long-enough (at 65 minutes) documentary about child sexploitation in Cambodia and how authorities there let it continue, haunted for me in particular by the genocide that followed the end of the Vietnam fiasco when the Khmer Rouge took over the country in one of the ugliest reigns of terror (murder, torture, et al) in our time and all time. It is like the country never recovered from that, though great people have done great things there to make things better.

This nightmare has likely always been going on there (wonder how the Khmer Rouge handled this on their watch, as if they cared) and this even has children being sold into slavery in this day and age. That sounds naïve, but it is from outrage we should never stop having because of how 100% unacceptable it is. It is a solid place to start exposing this issue, though it happens all over the U.S., so this is a worldwide problem still not being addressed enough. We meet 16-year-old Aya, who was one of the children sold, making the case for the crisis there very explicitly. Well done, I hope this becomes a series of exposes.

A trailer is the only extras.

Due to the raw low-def (even analog) footage in the documentaries, playback is often rough as expected to see what is really going on, so it is odd that the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Olvidados is the best performer here, but has its share of issues (raw footage purposely looking degraded, bad black and white imitation, some phony shots, more darkness in the frame than their ought to be) that stops it from being the runaway best entry here, though it still is. Both 1.33 X 1 Hawaiian films are shot on film (likely 16mm), we get some softness and aliasing errors holding back what should be two films that eventually deserve HD upgrades. Square has enough good shots to tie it for second place, but all the remaining documentaries have sometimes bad digital copies of older digital or analog video analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color issues, faded color and tape damage.

Like Square, the rest of the DVDs are here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presentations, save the 1.33 X 1 on Frontrunner, which joins Axe and Storm as the poorest performers, though they remain as for real as anything here.

All the releases have lossy sound including the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Olvidados Blu-ray and Square DVD, but Square is simply spreading the sound around and has location issues, to the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Storm actually sounds better (partly by luck?) and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Frontrunner, Hawaiian and Axe tie Square for second/last place.

- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com