Geographic DVDs: Gerald R. Ford: A Test Of Character/The
Great Human Race: Season One/The
Survivor: Season 1/United
States Of Animals: Season 1/The
Yards: Season 1 (2016
cycle/Fox DVDs)/True New
York (2016 shorts
compilation/First Run Features DVD)
C+) Sound: C+ Extras: D (York:
C+) Main Programs: C+/C+/C+/B-/C+/B-/B-/C+
a new set of documentary and docudrama releases, shorts and TV....
start with the final round of National
DVDs we've been looking at as part of a larger cycle of releases. I
conclude looking at the following:
Great Human Race: Season One,
Survivor: Season 1,
States Of Animals: Season 1
Yards: Season 1
are trying to be upscale reality TV series and they are not as
contrived as their flashier, more obnoxious, commercial versions, but
still fall into the same phony pitfalls. Animals
is the least problematic, but it still rings false often and Yards
gets a little melodramatic, but it is a rare look at blue collar
R. Ford: A Test Of Character
runs about an hour, plays like an old A&E Biography
installment and covers the failed presidency of the man who
succeeded, pardoned and apologize for Richard Nixon's transgressions
against the nation while becoming a laughing stock, but this program
tries (too hard?) to counter that and the people asked are
sympathetic to conservative causes. The result is a mixed program
hardly lasting an hour.
deals with the amazing achievements of a people and civilization
against many odds and runs a 3-episode/163 minutes length that often
does justice to its subject, but can also drag a bit. Still, one of
the better releases in this series.
we have Original
examining taboos, shaming, oppression, breakthroughs and privacy
issues throughout its 6-episode/265 minutes-long run. This has some
goofy moments and sometimes does not focus on intimacies and
important questions (that I will NOT get into here) that I thought it
might, so expect more speculation than usual. Still, one of the
better releases here, if not consistent and as involving as I had
overall we have the 2016 shorts collection True
with five slice-of-life shorts, as follows, extrapolated from the
(Director: Jordan Roth) ''tells the story of a group of Bronx boys
who leap off the 100-foot tall cliff known as "C-Rock" and
into the Harlem River. A dangerous rite of passage going back
generations in the Bronx, the film captures the rawness of youth
while also revealing a wistful nostalgia for a changing
(Director: Joshua Z Weinstein) ''is a powerful and touching look
inside a taxi depot in Queens filled with classic New York
personalities and a melting pot of immigrants with big dreams of
making it in America. The film focuses on Johnnie "Spider"
Footman, a colorful octogenarian who has driven a taxi all his life
and is New York's oldest taxi driver.''
(Director: Jeremy Workman) ''reveals the amazing story of Philip
Coppola, who has devoted four decades to cataloging, archiving, and
sketching every station in the New York City subway system.''
(Director: Yoni Brook) ''is a classic immigrant story and father/son
tale. Imran is just another 27-year-old New Yorker struggling to take
over his family's business, which happens to be a halal
slaughterhouse in Queens. Imran must confront his mixed
Bangladeshi-Puerto Rican heritage and gain acceptance from his
father's conservative community.''
(Directors: Sam Cullman & Benjamin Rosen) ''focuses on street
performer Otis Houston Jr., a self-taught artist from Harlem who
performs before a captive audience of car-bound commuters along
Manhattan's FDR Drive.''
the plus side, they all capture something important and special about
the great city, but because of length limits, possibly budget limits
and just trying to tell the honest basic stories well, none really
exceed their limits, though some had potential for more. Still,
these are not as contrived as the Geographic
offerings which need to be tidier and/or more compressed because of
the money and more commercial needs they fill. These still impress
in their own way and are all worth a good look.
releases feature anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image
presentations, but the Geographic
DVDs offer more aliasing errors, video noise, video banding, telecine
flicker of film sources where applicable, tape scratching, cross
color, faded color, digititis and staircasing than expected and it
makes them a bit difficult to watch at times. York
is a little soft in all 5 short presentations, but they are better
and cleaner in playback, making them the visual winners.
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Geographic
DVDs and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on York
are a draw since the surrounds are never great on the former series,
sometimes pushing it a bit, while the York
shorts sound fine, though all have location audio issues.
DVDs have no extras, but York
adds Director Interviews. For more Geographic
DVDs from this cycle, try these links...
Justice: Season 3/Map
Protection: Season 2