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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Art > Artist > Music > Rock > Pop > Politics > Gay > Counterculture > Australia TV > P > Danny Says (2016/Magnolia DVD)/Fifty Years Of Australian Television: The Complete Collection (2017/Channel 9/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD Set)/Hot Type: 150 Years Of The Nation (2016/First Run

Danny Says (2016/Magnolia DVD)/Fifty Years Of Australian Television: The Complete Collection (2017/Channel 9/Umbrella Region Free PAL Import DVD Set)/Hot Type: 150 Years Of The Nation (2016/First Run DVD)/Requiem For The American Dream (2016/Chomsky/Gravitas Ventures Blu-ray)/Silicon Cowboys (2016/MVD/FilmRise DVD)/Zero Days (2016/Magnolia DVD)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Fifty Years Of Australian Television Import DVD set is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on DVD players that can handle the PAL DVD and can be ordered from the link below, while Requiem For The American Dream is now only available online from our friends at Movie Zyng and can be ordered via the order button atop this review or on top of our right hand sidebar.

Our latest round of documentaries cover media, entertainment and even politics in fine, even exceptional ways...

Brendan Toller's Danny Says (2016) tells the story of Danny Fields, a man bored with life, was semi-openly gay and wanted to do more than just get involved in boring business. This leads to him working for a teen magazine aimed at young ladies featuring music, which then has him landing in the promo department of the newly-formed Elektra records in the late 1960s. From there, he bares witness to the rise of Punk, the Counterculture, the music industry in the Rock Era and much more. He is open about his sexuality and shares more than enough about hi carnal encounters, but his personality and the famous names he worked with and partied along side is another untold story of how greta the industry was.

New and archival interviews, new animations, vintage film & video footage and plenty of talking by Fields makes this a rich, compelling, informative 103 minutes all the way to his work with The Ramones and how that both did and did not work out. In between, we get the MC5, The Doors, Nico, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground, Warhol's Superstars and many others. It also shows how rich the period was and this adds to telling that story. Definitely worth going out of your way for.

Extras include Danny Fields & Byron Coley Q&A At Amherst Cinema (October 14th, 2015), Danny Fields & Lou Reed Audio Recording (November 7th, 1975), Michael Alago On Danny Fields & Henry Rollins Interview Outtake, Justin Vivian Bond & The Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat Interview Outtake, Nico, ''Evening of Light'' Elektra Promo Film/Music Video featuring The Stooges (Directed By Francois De Menil), an Interview With Director Brendan Toller and the Original Theatrical Trailer.

Fifty Years Of Australian Television: The Complete Collection (2017) brings together six separate releases tracing back the rise of the TV industry Down Under in 1956 to 2006, how it was similar, yet different from its U.S. and U.K. counterparts, the big regional names that made the medium a hit, other big names (The Bees Gees, Olivia Newton-John, Helen Reddy) that became international icons and local TV stars (Graham Kennedy, Brian Henderson, Don Lane) who were so likable, witty, smart, funny and personable, that they gave a life to Aussie TV that made it all the better that it would have lacked without them. Having seen them in their later careers on other Umbrella releases, we can see why they were instantly embraced.

This does not include shows from other channels unfortunately, but we have six titles for the different releases including Five Fantastic Decades, Fabulous '50s, Swinging '60s, Sexy '70s, Exciting '80s and The '90s To Now. Most run over 50n minutes, but a few longer, so we get 5.5 hours altogether. There is no narration or placards that tell us much chronologically, so the editors have let the clips speak for themselves and I think that works just fine. This is a great set worth diving into, especially if you are not used to their TV world, comparing and contrasting to what you know.

There are sadly no extras, though maybe we'll get a new disc covering the decade or so since. My only quibble is that in half a century, Crowded House, Tim Finn, Neil Finn and Split Enz never showed up on Channel 9? Hmmm.

Legendary documentary filmmaker Barbara Koppel's Hot Type: 150 Years Of The Nation (2016) tires to fit a century and a half (versus only 50 years) into a mere 93 minutes on how one of the most independent political voices in the history of print came to be, rise, thrive and now even survives today. Starting as a right-of-center voice after The Civil War, it later became an intellectual base of the counterculture and that is where it stays, always challenging the reader to think, know and understand the realpolitik of the U.S. and world at large. Katrina vanden Heuvel is the current (as we post this review) and famous editor who has had the guts to keep it as real as possible, so we get to know her better and how she keeps the unbeatable vision of the publication in full force.

We also meet others in the office, some of her family and hear of many amazing stories about groundbreaking writing, unforgettable moments, historical moments and more in this very compelling release. Koppel always seems to know how to get to the point fast and she has not lost that knack yet. See it!

Extras include three Bonus Shorts on the subject worth seeing after you watch the documentary.

Requiem For The American Dream (2016) is the latest release featuring the challenging philosophy if the great Noam Chomsky, rightly critical of things happening worldwide that seem to make things worse. I don't always agree with everything he says, but even if he may or may not go off the deep end, getting you to shake off propaganda from elsewhere and think for yourself is more important than what is being said. Billed as his last long-form lecture, he offers 10 points on how The American Dream and promise of the U.S. as a first-world country for all has been undermined in bits and pieces, slowly but surely, since the early 1980s.

I wish this one had even been longer than its very rich, smart 73 minutes, but like any other such political release (no matter the ideology or who speaks), the material can become dated no matter what. What holds up is how prolific the ideas person is or is not and Chomsky is on the money more than just about anyone I can name today. People are hurting and being lied to, but there are those brave enough like him to speak their mind and not worry about who does not like it (in this case, Right Wing Extremists who want all critical thinking to cease and you to be a vegetable), so there is a pricelessness and pure Americanism to his discourse we should treasure and value. This is up there with his best offerings and is highly recommended to those who are serious about not being dumbed down and like thinking for themselves.

Extras include a brief Q&A clip with Chomsky after a theatrical screening if the film and the Original Theatrical Trailer. For more on Chomsky's thoughts, try the links for these DVDs...

Rebel Without A Pause


Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?


Distorted Reality...


Jason Cohen's Silicon Cowboys (2016) is the first of our last two docs, looking at the tech world, in this case, about how IBM-clone producer Compaq figured out a way to make bulky desktop computers portable and landed up challenging and even breaking IBM's hold/monopoly on the consumer computer industry and more. Though looking bulky and crude by today's lite and portable device era, getting a very small CRT picture tube in a heavy-duty box with an attached keyboard was an amazing accomplishment at the time and made them a huge company. No, they did not last and that part of the story is told here too, but you'll learn why we say Mac and PC, not Mac and IBM after the intense 87 minutes of this great documentary.

Anyone serious about technology, computers or understanding the world we live in needs to see this one at least once.

There are sadly no extras.

Alex Gibney's Zero Days (2016) is the other side of the tech world, a secret one involving cyber-warfare and how 'someone' came up with a new virus that self-destructed when released and was designed to have no way to trace it back to the creators. The target turned out to be Iran and their fledgling nuclear program, but not all went as smoothly as it should have. Dubbed 'Stuxnet' by anti-virus firms, it turned out to be a very cleaver piece of tech work. So what happened then? Why do government officials all over refuse to talk about it?

Gibney yet again finds an excellent subject to cover, one the mainstream media wants to ignore or discuss very little and uncovers a deeper truth about the world we live in so we know what is going on. Cheers to all those who would discuss the subject and know that the 114 minutes here are as must-see as anything on the list.

Extras include an Interview with Director Alex Gibney and the Original Theatrical Trailer, though I had hoped or a little more in this case.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the newer documentary DVD releases are going to show the age of the materials used, but that is to be expected, so I'll add they look as good as they can in the format, the newer interviews and footage look fine and some even add animation to tell their stories. That never hurts or distract. The 1.33 x 1 image across the six Australian Television DVDs can have footage as rough as anything here, as the earliest surviving materials come from kinescopes or early PAL analog videotape. Flaws in all five DVD releases offer the expected flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, tape damage and when you get to color footage, faded color and cross color issues.

You can even see that on the best performer her, the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Dream Blu-ray, but its new HD footage and animation makes it more involving and compelling, as it is also our first Chomsky Blu-ray. All releases here are offered in lossy Dolby Digital sound, with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on all releases save lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on Danny and Zero, but some stock footage is monophonic across the discs (most of the Australian Television DVDs are monophonic until stereo comes to TV in the 1980s). For some reason, Zero tends to be weaker than usual overall, so be careful of volume switching and overly loud playback.

To order the Umbrella import Fifty Years Of Australian Television DVD set, go to this link for it and other great, even hard to get releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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