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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Nature > TV Mini-Series > Ocean Life > Sea > British > Filmmaking > Surrealism > Music > Copyr > Blue Planet II (2017/BBC 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Set)/Clouzot's Inferno (1964/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Copyright Criminals: The Funky Drummer Edition (2009/IndiePix DVD)/The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt (1983/Fl

Blue Planet II (2017/BBC 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Set)/Clouzot's Inferno (1964/MVD/Arrow Blu-ray)/Copyright Criminals: The Funky Drummer Edition (2009/IndiePix DVD)/The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt (1983/Flicker Alley)/Mauruzio Cattelan: Be Right Back (2017/Film Movement DVD)/Trumping Democracy (2017/Cinema Libre DVD)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: X/B+/B-/C+/C+/C+ Sound: B/B/B-/B-/C+/C+ Extras: C+/B/B/C/D/D Main Programs: B+/B/B/B-/C-/B

Here's a new round of documentary releases you should really know about...

David Attenborough is back with Blue Planet II (2017) the latest BBC Earth release, but this time, in true, pure 2160p 4K Ultra HD video with another one of BBC Video's early 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases, a three-4K set with bonus regular Blu-ray. It is the first one of theirs we are getting to cover, but also only the second of about 150 4K titles to date where the 4K title is NOT accompanied by duplicates on regular 1080p Blu-ray.

Worthy of the previous and many entries in the BBC Earth series, the seven-episode series ups the ante as the exploration is now not only being done with HD cameras that are at least four times sharper than the early HD productions, but they are using new state of the art diving equipment that is very silent and produces no bubbles, so they are so quiet, they do not get noticed much or scare the many remarkable, amazing, beautiful and priceless sea creatures captured throughout this great series. I'll save the specifics a a surprise for fans and those who will find this another must-see series, but it is the next step in a true achievement for all involved and do not hesitate to see it, especially in 4K.

In speaking of that, the 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image looks fine throughout, with plenty of demo shots and proves once again when you let the HD cameras at any definition represent the color, detail and depth naturally without tampering with the color or integrity of the image, you get great results as we have seen in what we can call a cycle of HD-produced travelogue programs. Nice!

Though some may have been expecting a 12-channel format like DTS: X or Dolby Atmos, this is still a documentary series, so the fact we (only?) get a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix for each episode is not shocking, yet also sounds very good throughout in keeping with all the BBC installments in this series.

The only extra is a nearly hour long Making Of featurette entitled Into The Blue on the bonus, regular Blu-ray. That's more than enough, though other might have wanted more extras, the series speaks for itself. Look elsewhere on this site for more of our coverage of thee great programs.

Acclaimed filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot (Les Diabolique and Wages of Fear, both issued on Criterion Blu-ray, with the out-of-print Wages going for serious cash these days), directed this 1964 French film that was never finished called Inferno, which was a beautifully photographed and very colorful piece of cinema from what you will gather. This documentary from Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea explores the film that could have been, with some insightful archival and modern interviews that tries to piece together what would have Clouzot's most ambitious work. Some of the imagery in Inferno, such as a nude woman tied to train tracks with a train fast approaching, is interestingly shot and constructed indeed.

Presented in 1080p high definition with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and an original 5.1 French DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 2.0 Stereo track with English subtitles. The presentation is beautiful with the mix of modern HD footage archival stuff seamlessly intertwined. Arrow always does a top notch job and this is no exception.

Special Features include...

Lucy Mazdon on Henri-Georges Clouzot, the French cinema expert and academic talks at length about the films of Clouzot and the troubled production of Inferno

They Saw Inferno, a featurette including unseen material, providing further insight into the production of Inferno

Filmed Introduction by Serge Bromberg

Interview with Serge Bromberg

Stills gallery

Original trailer

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Twins of Evil

and FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Ginette Vincendeau.

If you're a fan of French cinema, I would suggest checking this doc now. It's not only about the film but the people behind it as well, including a great director not to be forgotten.

This interesting documentary, Copyright Criminals: The Funky Drummer Edition (2009) centers around the subject of the fine line between music sampling and copyright infringement. So where is the line drawn in the age of DJs and hip hop music where many modern musicians are remixing and pulling from various musical sources.

Can you own a sound? In this documentary film, the history and influence of musical sampling is highlighted in detail, with the debate of compensation and creativity in the age of intellectual property. The film features Public Enemy, De La Soul and Digital Underground, as well as emerging artists such as audiovisual remixers Eclectic Method. It also provides first-person interviews with artists who have been sampled, such as Clyde Stubblefield - James Brown's drummer and the world's most sampled musician - and commentary by another highly sampled musician, funk legend George Clinton.

The film is presented on standard definition DVD with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a 2.0 lossy Dolby Digital Stereo track, both of which are up to standards with expectations of the format. There are some compression issues but the editing and filmmaking is strong and for a documentary, the look is passable.

Special Features are over five hours long and include:

The Art of Sampling with Cee-Lo Green

The funky drummer in the studio with Chuck D

Eclectic Method Uncut Audio-Visual Remixes (15 videos)

All Star Band Funky Drummer Remix Video

Clyde Stubblefield's ultimate breaks and beats

24 Downloadable tracks


Extended interviews with Chuck D, De La Soul, and Clyde Stubblefield

Music Player featuring 15 songs by EL-P and RJD2

Fair Use Explained: 4 Shorts by the center for social media.

Harrison Engle's The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt (1983) is a solid 93 minutes-long documentary/biography narrated by no less than George C. Scott about one of the most important Presidents the United States ever had, has a surprisingly good number of film clips to go with the expected plethora of stills. The timing of its rerelease is uncanny, showing and saying things of priceless value even the makers could not have realized they were establishing.

Thus, everyone should see this Flicker Alley reissue and restoration at least once because it is that good. However, this was finished on old analog video at the time, meaning you'd get old analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, staircasing and tape damage. I always felt in the future, if restored, they could get as many of those clips and stills, then transfer them in a more state of the art way. Well...

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 bookended 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image frame tries to upscale the old analog videomaster, flaws and all, resulting in a disappointing viewing experience, especially since the footage could have been upgraded with digital nonlinear editing. Instead, this new semi/quasi HD (but not real, honest) HD presentation shows the age of the materials used and can be very trying, even looking a bit amateur at times. Well, there's always a future 4K upgrade...

As for sound, we get DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes that update the sound (simple stereo at the time) the best it can and its not bad, but the 'old monotone radio reporter voice' bit (you'll know it when you hear it) was a bit much then and wears thin quickly.

Extras include an interview with Director Engle and Roosevelt's 1905 Inaugural Address.

Maura Axelrod's Mauruzio Cattelan: Be Right Back (2017) is about the controversial artist of the title, a documentary about how his 'art' sells for big money while being shocking. We've seen this story before and in almost all cases where we get such a program, you can see the artist is smart and trying (ala Warhol at least) trying to make a point or two. So what if he makes a ton of money and some of the pieces seem overly simple. Its not like the guy (or gal) is a hack, cynical as hell and just pressing people's buttons to make money and use them for being stupid enough to pay high prices for his work. People with money could not be that stupid after all, could they?

Well, after years of such profiles, I think we've finally found the goof who fits the stereotype, making some of the most cynical, even hateful garbage with the most condescending angles possible, so extremely predictable that you can add boring to his lost list of flaws as a fraud and all time con artist, the only kind of artist he qualifies for in my book. Now we have 95 loooong minutes of proof of what a hack he really is. Yawn!!!!

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the DVD may be standard (or low) definition (this gives low def a new low) and is sadly clear enough to see all the junk and garbage he is producing to fool people with no tastes or investors who should spend their money elsewhere. In the sound department, having a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix would not have been out of the question, but Film Movement has fortunately only supplied a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, so we don't have to see and hear this disaster in any form of surround sound known to man.

There are thankfully no extras and no, we hope the title dunce will not ever 'be back' though he will still be out there to stab other people in the back with his hideous output. Never say we did not warn you.

Speaking of rip-offs, last but not least is Thomas Huchon's documentary Trumping Democracy (2017), which could have been 69 (I'm not making that up) minutes of bashing the Billionaire who somehow got elected President, yet he is hardly actually in this release. So what gives?

Turns out this is an excellent, even outstanding explanation of a story that just broke St. Patrick's Day weekend of how (Russian bots notwithstanding) a company dubbing themselves Cambridge Analytica (who initially wanted to crunch voting data and numbers for moron Ted Cruz to be President until that thankfully collapsed) pretty much hijacked the personal information of millions of people illegally so they could subliminally manipulate vulnerable voters in swing states who were undecided into voting Trump of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for which there are enough laws forbidding this, but they did it anyhow.

Now they're being called on it, investigated for it, sued about it and denying it all the way as expected. Who knows how this will turn out, but this amazing release shows how they did it in full detail the long way and when you finish watching what is soon to become one of the hottest DVD releases in the history of the great Cinema Libre video company, you'll wonder what is going on in this country and with people? Where are the adults? Where's the cyber policy (ignored via the obsession with Mrs. Clinton's e-mails, which resulted in the REAL big nothing)? And who took advantage of this placing money and power over country?

Needless to say this is a must-see release, even more now than when I first viewed it and new items keep coming to light about what Cambridge Analytica really did. Really bad things!!!

There are no extras, but the main program was more than enough in this case.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo present the program as clearly and vividly as it can in the format, though now, I'd love to see this in 2160p 4K!!!

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Inferno, Funky)



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