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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Sports > Football > Disease > Gleason (2016/Sony DVD)

Gleason (2016/Sony DVD)

Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C+ Documentary: B-

At 34-years-old, New Orleans Saints star football player Steve Gleason was diagnosed with the awful illness ALS, a disabling disease that slowly stops a person from being able to not only control their body muscles and movements, but even the involuntary functions like breathing cease. This nightmare illness needs to be eliminated ASAP, but to Gleason's credit, he started recording himself starting with finding out and showing his slow decline suffering from this. That footage, new interviews and more make up J. Clay Twell's new documentary Gleason (2016).

Before we learn of the illness, we see Gleason, his life and his amazing success as an NFL player, beloved, respected and it is not with the hype some of the phonier players made to be 'good guys' (and were not) get when the whole NFL is being sold to the public. He helped the team make a comeback after the nightmare flooding and environmental hurricane disaster that happened to his city and surrounds areas (made famously worse by poor, even politicized) governmental failures to help people. That sets us up for this vital chronicle of how his health was ruined by ALS and sadly, he is far from the only person this has struck.

I also give credit to his friends and family for fighting back to help him, get more recognition to the disease an help for (including funding) to slow it down and cure it. This also becomes a character study of the man, those he loves, those who love him and more triumph against a really bad run of luck for New Orleans. Even if you're not a football or sports fan, this was very informative and unfortunately, we're probably going to see more ALS cases for a while before it gets solved. Thanks to Steve Gleason using his celebrity to expose it to a wider audience before it took him on, there's more hope it can be solved.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a mix of new HD video, broadcast TV video (analog NTSC and digital) and his own digital video, but we get flaws in the earlier work including image warping, video noise, video banding, cross color, faded color and digititis. Still, this looks good for such a documentary and as good as it can in this format. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is a mix of newly recorded audio for the program and older sources that can be practically monophonic.

A feature length audio commentary track by the Director and Michel Varisco, Gleason's wife, is the only extra. However, despite not talking all the way through all the time, it is also another view into the events of the main program.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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