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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Automobiles > History > Sports > Racing > TV > Biography > Filmmaking > Industry > Cars That Rock: Series 1 with Brian Johnson (2014/Umbrella Region Free DVD Set)/Hollywood Banker (2014/Bulldog Video/all PAL Region Free Import DVDs)

Cars That Rock: Series 1 with Brian Johnson (2014/Umbrella Region Free DVD Set)/Hollywood Banker (2014/Bulldog Video/all PAL Region Free Import DVDs)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Cars That Rock Import DVD set is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray and DVD players that can handle the PAL DVD format, is region free and can be ordered from the link below.

Here are two new releases that should be issued in the U.S., but have not. Here's why you should catch them...

Cars That Rock: Series 1 with Brian Johnson (2014) has the longtime member of the band AC/DC showing off his love of fancy cars, so if you like Jay Leno's Garage or miss the trio who just departed from the U.K. Top Gear, this is an extremely well made show that is not just a substitute or filler for those: it is a strong companion. Johnson is a huge fan of cars, more than anyone might have expected, so in each episode, he takes on a famous sports make and celebrates it. Mini deals with old and new Mini Coopers, including surprises like tracking down three from the original Michael Caine Italian Job (1969), Bugatti has an even larger gap between production of its classic cars and new cars all shown here in their all-expensive, exclusive glory in one of the most amazing comebacks in auto history, Rolls Royce tells us the mighty history of the company and how its amazing cards get made, Lamborghini tales us to Italy and through the history of the car that became Ferrari's permanent rival, Bentley shows what a distinctively amazing car it is outside of Rolls Royce (its owner for decades until recently) with its special achievements and style and Porsche shows how an alternative approach to manufacturing (using a Flat 6 engine vs. 8, 12 or 16 cylinders) created a legend of its own.

Rare cars, rare stills, rare archive footage and much more (including surprises we won't spoil) make this series an instant classic on the subject, making me wonder why it is not in the U.S. setting ratings records. It is so good, entertaining and involving, it is worth going out of your way for.

Extras include Deleted Scenes and Outtakes running over a half-hour worth seeing after all the episodes.

Rozemyn Afman's Hollywood Banker (2014) is a deceptively, simply titled documentary about her father Frans J. Afman, who became involved with funding movies in a new way that turned out to hit the jackpot and change filmmaking worldwide. It started when Dino De Laurentiis was needing to fund his 1976 remake of King Kong, which would turn out to be a hit, turning to Afman to get money into its budget. Part of this was a financial experiment, seeing if the band could make any money at this. When that worked out, he backed the first two Superman films, then got involved in a series of low budget films at Cannon that made money, somewhat low budget films at Hemdale (like the first Terminator) that were hits, put more money into big productions at Carolco that were often hits (until they folded) and at Orion in their peak years including Dances With Wolves. That won the Best Picture Oscar, as did Stone's Platoon and Bertolucci's The Last Emperor, back to back, so Afman was on a roll.

Unfortunately, a loud mouth of ill repute got involved with Cannon, who then bought MGM (in what would be a joke and disaster of an acquisition) and Afman could only retreat into damage control. The man who got so many important and fun films made when no one else would make them was suddenly not able to do his best work or any work, also dodging scandals and trouble. He survived to make films again, but the original run ended and all the companies he supported eventually folded or went bankrupt. Afman left an incredible legacy he never gets recognition for and this excellent documentary finally tells the truth about what he achieved. Loaded with great interviews by industry insiders, Mickey Rourke, Paul Verhoeven and more, this is a must-see for all serious film fans.

There are sadly no extras.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on both releases are in 540i picture definition and look just fine, with Cars all in HD and Banker having a mix of all kinds of film and video footage, so playback is visually as good as it can get in the format, though Banker's vintage footage can show analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL cross color, faded color and tape damage. The audio on both is lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and they sound just fine, though Banker has its share of rough, even analog audio from vintage footage.

To order the Cars That Rock Umbrella import DVD set, go to this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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