Visual DVD)/Brother, Can
You Spare A Dime?
(1975/Goodtimes/VCI/Sprocket Vault Blu-ray)/For
The Love Of Spock
(2016/Gravitas Ventures/FilmRise Blu-ray)/I
Am Not Your Negro
C/B-/B/B-/C+ Sound: C/C+/B/B/C Extras: D/C+/B/C+/C
The Love Of Spock
Blu-ray is now only available online and can be ordered from our
friends at Movie Zyng via the order button atop this review or on top
of our right hand sidebar.
a look at some strong new documentaries for you to catch up on...
Howard Johnson's Black
(1984) was originally shown on TV (in the U.K. first apparently)
made it to U.S. TV where I saw it much closer to the time of its
creation. Especially by 1984, with rollback pro-Reagan cinema all
over Hollywood, the interviewees has every right to ask the many
questions posed and discussions that ensue. It was only a few years
ago that the Blaxploitation films made all kinds of money, then
nothing? Jim Brown, Alfie Woodard, Rosalind Cash, Diahnne Abbott,
D'Urville Martin and Vonetta McGee offer some great points, ideas and
even stories that can get ugly about all kinds of racism and over
three decades later, its sad that some of this is absolutely STILL
going on despite the critical success of Spike Lee (that would happen
in a few years after this was finished) led to the Black New Wave and
Eddie Murphy's star was about to really take off while Richard Pryor
(the two big names in Hollywood of color) was about to run into
runs a non-stop, solid 75 minutes long. To add to it (it has no
extras) as a sort of update and enhancement of the discussion,
Hollywood was hiring persons of color on the lite side (thus, the
Rae-Dawn Chong controversy of the time), The Color Purple
(1986) has Quincy Jones as a co-producer by no studio was going to
allow a black director to helm it (they got lucky with Steven
Spielberg), when Sidney Lumet's The Wiz (1978) was a box
office dud, Hollywood used it as a excuse to say black consumers did
not pay to see movies much despite the evidence strongly against that
and since 1984, how many studio heads, financially successful
production companies and even film franchises have been created
and/or led by persons of color?
1980s over-commercialism that has led to so many bad recent
blockbusters that barely break even and often bomb is the price we
all pay for bad rollback politics. I'll end here, but that is way
this film is as important as ever.
Can You Spare A Dime?
made to show how bad The Great Depression was, how it was caused by
purposeful recklessness, greed, some hate and carelessness that hurt
millions of people. With FDR programs a proven success by 1975 and
LBJ's Great Society a controversial-but-effective help, many who
would see this film would think that ''we've learned our lesson and
will never let this happen again'' though the 1980s arrived and
recent, unnecessary economic crisis, The Great Recession and other
scandals (S&L, BCCI, Enron, etc.) prove otherwise. Too bad more
people did not see this more often.
film is a remarkable mix of newsreel footage, documentary footage,
stills, music from the period and more as the country goes from the
freedom and fun of the Roaring 1920s to the 1929 Crash, to nightmares
for so many people and the nightmare of the Axis Powers that led to
WWII. We see how one wrong decision could have made things worst or
been the end of the world as we know it (i.e., if FDR had lost at any
time) and also uses footage from Hollywood movies to reflect the
times and situations (James Cagney is used often), so it is also
amazing to see the real America that was able to build and rebuild
its way out of this mess and after a nightmare world, emerge as the
world leader. This is great, important compilation documentary
filmmaking at its best and very much worth gong out of your way for.
thrilled Goodtimes, VCI and Sprocket Vault have brought this gem to
Blu-ray. It was great when it first came out back in the day, I saw
it soon after and was amazed then. Not only does it hold up, fi
anything, its more important and relevant than ever.
The Love Of Spock
(2016) is a great documentary biographical look at the life and
career of Leonard Nimoy, one we looked at on DVD not too long ago at
is Leonard's son and wanted to do a profile that told his story,
despite all of his commercial success as an actor and even director,
but when his father died, the project took on a new importance. When
my fellow writer raved about this, I thought he might be
overreacting, but this is one of the best biography portraits of an
actor I've seen on film or video in a long time and the raves are
more than justified. There is so much good material for this story
(much of which Adam surprisingly gets to) that this could have been
twice the 111 minutes we have here and still been engrossing. Now
with this Blu-ray, see it ASAP!!!
Am Not Your Negro
an incredible documentary about the writer and intellectual thinker
James Baldwin, a close friend of three civil rights icons who were
killed for what they believed in in the 1960s: Medgar Evers, Malcolm
X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the disaster and set-back each
murder represented. Based on work Baldwin left behind for at least
one planned project, this incredible film imagines that work finished
(it would be called Remember
where he asks some very tough, fair, important, honest and outright
questions about hate, prejudice, genocide, freedom and what the
country of The United States of America is supposed to stand for if
it is supposed to be the greatest country.
his lost friends, he is asking these questions on such a deep, yet
highly-elevated intellectual level that if the murderers of his
friends saw them as a threat ands had to kill them, Baldwin is more
dangerous because he is the most consistent, in the know and actually
loves the world around him. I was always impressed by him any time
he showed up, but he never got his due and (for the political
convenience of more than a few, I'd gather) this amazing work finally
brings him to life for everyone to see and hear again. Most amazing,
he sounds like he could have wrote much of this in the past year, so
observant and on-the-money are his ways of seeing the oppression.
There are no stereotypes or illicit appeals to pity, no cliches, so
it is an amazing work and recent footage is added to ask us to think,
juxtapose what is going on with routes certain people in power would
be better off not taking as hate is unsustainable.
runs 94 strong minutes and includes Baldwin on camera talking about
all kinds of pertinent issues. When its over, you'll see why it got
a Best Documentary Academy Award nomination.
we have Colin M. Day's Saving
(2017) which not only talks about the importance and greatness to the
title artist, the fragility of his art, how its messages could not be
more timely than what we are witnessing as awful behavior by powerful
people trying to destroy the vulnerable and the buyers and dealers
making millions of dollars on Banksy art they are getting through
what we can call shaky means on moral and ethical grounds. Our host
is recording how he is saving one of the artworks to save it, but
instead eventually gets people trying to buy it from him.
idea of art and artists are discussed, as well as what is best for
the public space and why can't people have healthy, quality living
space at least outdoors. There is more in the engaging 69 minutes we
have here, but there is so much more to say. I hope we get a sequel
1.33 X 1 image on Hollywood
was shot on 16mm film and this is a bit of an older video master, so
it is a bit hazy soft throughout. However, this is at least clean
and watchable, but it needs and deserves an HD update.
1080p 1.33 X 1 mostly black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on Dime
can obviously show the age of the materials used, but this is far
superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and some of
the footage is in remarkable shape. Some scenes will even shock you
with their clarity.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Spock
improves on the DVD in most shots and some of the vintage footage
benefits the most. I like the materials and how well they are
brought together. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image
transfer on Negro
can also show the age of the materials used, but between the stills,
film and video, looks really good and holds together remarkably well.
leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Banksy
can be soft and have its motion blur, but other shots look good,
while the art often steals the scene. For all five releases, you can
get some digital and analog videotape flaws including video noise,
video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded
color and tape damage, but it is minimal where it shows up.
lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Hollywood
is also down a generation or two, so be careful of high playback
levels or volume-switching, but know that I could hear most of it
clearly. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Spock
is a nice upgrade from the DVD's lossy Dolby Digital and further
delivers the program more strongly, which can also be said for the
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Negro
down to how exceptionally well-recorded Samuel L. Jackson's reading
of James Baldwin's writings
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on Dime
is about as fine as this film will ever sound, capturing as best as
possible the original optical theatrical monophonic sound from its
first release. However, the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Banksy
has some unavoidable location audio issues and a few mixing issues,
so only expect so much good audio from this one.
on Dime include a solid hour of impressive Pathe Newsreels
that go with the film nicely, while Banksy, Spock and
Negro has bonus interview segments that are must-sees after
watching their respective main programs, Banksy adds great
Behind The Scenes, Spock repeats the great number of extras
from the DVD we recently reviewed (no new extras, then) and Negro
also adds a Video Photo Gallery to its three interview pieces (two of
which are Q&As with Jackson and Peck respectively).