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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Prejudice > Oppression > Bullying > Hate > Illness > Sexism > Sexual Assault > Kid > A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (2015/Cinedigm DVD)/Brave Miss World (2013/Linor Blu-ray)/Invisible Scars (2015/First Run DVD)/Loving (2016/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (2015/Cinedigm DVD)/Brave Miss World (2013/Linor Blu-ray)/Invisible Scars (2015/First Run DVD)/Loving (2016/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)

Picture: C+/B-/C+/B & C+ Sound: C+/C+/C+/B & C+ Extras: B-/B/C/B- Films: B

For many years, we have seen a movement to make being mean and hateful palatable and it is one of the worst things I have seen in my lifetime. Racism, sexism, sexual assault as a weapon, looksism, bullying, outright hatred of women, intimidation, official oppression, even homophobia and much, much more. Our next releases cover a wide range of these things at their worst and it is not the first time we have encountered true stories of such matters. This features some of the most painful-to-watch releases I have ever had to sit through via the brutal honesty of the content, the brutality aimed at the victim and the continuing injustice that goes on as you read. Worst of all is the casual way other allow this to continue, having some of the blood on their hands, but these works also show none of us have to tolerate such intolerance because any and all societies who tolerate such things as 'new normals' or the like are bound for failure... and deserve to be.

These three documentaries and fourth drama not only shed light on these of the censored stories (who is benefitting from that?) but also show us we don't need such hate ever.

Sara Hirsh Bordo's A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (2015) is about the real-life woman of the title who survived being born with a disorder that dies not allow her body to retain fat, no matter how much she eats. Thus, she looks different and has also suffered dozens of corrective surgeries to help her. There has also been her mistreatment because she looks different, but there is nothing wrong with her, she is just like the rest of us, human and wanting to have a happy life with friends, progress and a better future. She has a great family, but she deals with all kinds of pain, daily.

One day on YouTube, she finds a video with a title that offers 'ugliest person ever' or the like, clicks on and finds video footage of herself. This was followed by a barrage of ugly, hateful comments typical of the many sociopaths with no life on social media as we speak, leading to her being able to get the clip dropped; yet the goof who put it up even attacks her like the coward he was, is and always will be.

So instead of getting hurt (she's been through that more than anyone should ever be), she gets mad and fights back, starting with her own video channel. This leads to a crusade she becomes part of against bullying, hate and the damage (i.e., unwell targets killing themselves, et al) joined by others and celebrated by everyone who hears her story. I'm proud to join that chorus.

Though she is likely still getting morons dumping on her in misdirected anger and just pure ignorance mode, even with physical issues she has to deal with, hers is a victory against those who think ugly worlds to hurt and kill on the cheap is EVER acceptable. If only those with less challenges who know better could stand up for the same values more often, including in whom we elect!

Extras include Deleted Scenes, TEDx talk Behind The Scenes and singer Sara Bareilles, who has a great visit and meeting with Velasquez, is interviewed.

Cecilia Peck's Brave Miss World (2013) tells us the story on how only weeks before winning a beauty contest as Miss World, Linor Abargil was actually kidnapped, abducted and raped in Milan, Italy! She hid this for ten years (!!!) before she could no longer hold back and started talking about it to liberate herself and help thousands of other women. Again, she met resistance, but moved forward and has also been a groundbreaking figure in a personal, private comeback against the man who denied what he did to the end (awful!) and gets to expose him for the fraud and predator he is.

Unfortunately, her story (outside of the glamour of beauty success) is far from uncommon, so it too is a priceless story all need to see and hear.

Extras include a trailer and over 100 minutes of Bonus Scenes and stories from other survivors of such abuse. You can learn more and order the disc at this link...


Johnna Janis & Sergio Myers' Invisible Scars (2015) tells us about Janis' struggle with being the victim of child sexual abuse, what she decided to do about it and how to break the cycle of abuse forever, though it is not easy, especially when silence is extremely encouraged in the matter in sicker societies. Again, women tend to be more shamed into silence, but male victims are targets of the same. Running a very compelling 86 minutes, the program eventually expands to others, but makes excellent overall arguments and point on why, how and where to speak out.

This too can be a very life-changing program for the viewer and certainly a very important one more need to know about and see, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it may be.

Text film bio and Extended Interviews ate the extras.

Jeff Nichols' Loving (2016) is our drama, one of the years better films about a white man (Joel Egerton's best work in a while) and African American woman (Ruth Negga totally on the money) falling in love and determined to marry and stay together, despite county, town, local, state and federal laws against them being together over their skin color; among the most embarrassing laws ever made!

When threats, official oppression, intimidation and worse do not stop them, they land up in court, then higher and higher courts until the law of the land itself is at issue; in the 1960s yet! Of course, the results might already be known to you and may not, plus we know where we are now. Thus, the great thing about this fine film is that it goes out of its way to get us to know who this couple is, why they love each other and most importantly, why it is nobody else's @$%#&!!!! business. The makers simply, smoothly and honestly show the situation without pretense and that is why it is such a quiet triumph. If you thought you knew everything about this or that it was obvious or predictable, the palpability of this film will prove you fortunately wrong.

Marton Csokas and Michael Shannon also star.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices, while the discs add a feature length audio commentary track by Director Nichols and four Behind The Scenes, Making Of featurettes.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image Lizzie and Scars look as good as they can for the DVD format, joined by the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on World, looking good on Blu-ray, all have older archival materials that obviously show the age of the materials used, from a few film clips and new HD clips, but we also get standard definition digital and analog videotape whose flaws can including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color, aliasing errors, staircasing and even tape damage. Yet, it is never a problem in any case and I give the producers in all cases credit for making it all meld as well as it does.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Loving is obviously going to look the best of the releases here, especially since it is shot on real, great 35mm Kodak Vision 3 film negative film stock with real anamorphic Panavision lenses, but I liked the style chosen and it also has a decent use of widescreen frame that is not taking the scope frame for granted. An anamorphically enhanced DVD is also included that is not bad, but the Blu-ray is the best way to see the film at home.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Loving may have its quiet moments and ambiance, especially considering it is a period piece, but it is still well mixed and presented throughout with as fine a fidelity as can be expected. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is a comedown in comparison, but is fine for what it is, as is the case for the World Blu-ray and Lizzie DVD. Scars offers lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but it sounds as good as the rest of the Dolby Digital releases.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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