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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Music > Politics > Art > Biography > Rock > Internet > Family > Racism > Sexism > Animals > Circus > Act and Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials (2015/MVD Visual DVD)/#artoffline (2015/IndiePix DVD)/Quest: Portrait Of An American Family (2017/First Run DVD)/Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer (2018/Cinema Libr

Act and Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials (2015/MVD Visual DVD)/#artoffline (2015/IndiePix DVD)/Quest: Portrait Of An American Family (2017/First Run DVD)/Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer (2018/Cinema Libre DVD)/Shadowman (2017/Film Movement DVD)



Picture: B-/B/C/C+/B Sound: B-/B/B/C+/B Extras: C-/C-/D/C/C+ Documentaries: B/C/B+/B-/B



Here's the latest set of documentaries for you to know about...



Act and Punishment: The Pussy Riot Trials (2015) is an interesting documentary sheds some light on the Pussy Riot Trials and the strong themes of the Russian protests. The work here continues to look at members of the Russian activist group Pussy Riot and their three female musicians Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, so often shown in the media, political and otherwise.


The three girls are very talented and opinionated, and created quite a stir in Russia in 2011 with public protests in Russia and against Vladimir Putin, whose had violence used on them and probably will again. The film is directed by Yevgeni Mitta.


Special Features are minimal and include...


Slideshow


Trailer


Hard hitting and relevant, this political doc should satisfy those with interest.



While everyone has their own interpretation of art and what it is, this documentary, #artoffline (2015) directed by Manuel Correa, explores the waging battles between contemporary art and information technology. While the film has some interesting ideas and explores them, it doesn't quite feel its statement has been made as clear as it aims. His biggest issue is that museums incorporate too much technology now as opposed to the way things were years prior. So does that take away from the art and is technology itself art?


The only extra is a Trailer.


The film is a bit brief at 60 minutes and will appeal most likely to art aficionados more than others.



Filmmakers & cameramen follow the Rainey family and neighborhood for nearly a decade during the Obama Presidency. Raising a family in North Philadelphia, it's a tough neighborhood with high crime and mortality rates. While they struggle to create a safe home for their children, they come to terms that life doesn't always goes what they want in Jonathan Olshefski's Quest: Portrait Of An American Family (2017).


Quest takes a look into the American Dream in the ghetto neighborhoods and of African Americans still living in the 'hood'. Not everyone who lives in the ghetto are into drugs, guns and violence, but they STILL must live there trying to find jobs, fight cancer, raise a family, and keeping their kids safe. To the Rainey family and their neighbors, everyday is about survival they must worry about on top of feeling safe in America. Stepping outside each day to them it is no new news if they hear someone they knew got shot or died each day ...to them this is their norm.


This documentary gives a little insight to the lower class African American neighborhoods and what they had to grow up with. It shows that they are like everyone else, dreaming, working for a future, but they are stuck in a world with a lot more things to worry about, crime in the neighborhood and growing up afraid if they will make it or not. However, the point of the film isn't about getting out of the hood or if they manage to lead a successful life, but this how some people survive everyday ...and these are only the lucky ones that we hear about.


There are sadly no extras.



Leslie Zemeckis' Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer (2018) is the latest documentary by the lady with the familiar last name (yes, she is Mrs. Robert Zemeckis) and this time, it is a look at the ups and downs of the life of Mabel Stark, who came from an awful childhood and ugly circumstances to become one of the few tiger tamers, trainers and human performers with them back in the day when it was considered entertainment and not the animal abuse & captivity is is now seen as. So how in a 'man's world' this happened.


Well, some of it is because she hit it off with them all of the sudden, plus a series of circumstances that led her to said opportunity, but it is also because she was so isolated by the ugly past she had to deal with. This is a full life biography of the woman and to Zemeckis' credit, she once again digs deep to find out about what happened, interviews a bunch of people and finds as many stills, film and video clips as possible and it is remarkable the results in total.


Miss Stark definitely dealt with more ugliness than needed and that she survived alone is amazing, let alone what her calling became. It is very sad at times, the footage can be depressing at times and some of this might be too graphic for some viewers, but it is worth a look and gives us a rare look into the darkness of living in the time period covered. Zemeckis (Bound By Flesh, Beyond The Burly Q) is building an interesting series of such works and we'll see what she picks next to take on.


Extras include three Behind The Scenes clips and a fourth Behind The Scenes featurette with Zemeckis herself.



And finally we have Shadowman (2017), directed by Oren Jacoby (Constantine's Sword), is an interesting biopic/documentary about accomplished artist named Richard Hambleton that was a popular figure in the art scene in Manhattan, New York in the 1980s.


Richard's journey is chronicled here using archival footage and a modern day retrospective interview that takes us on a true life rags to riches to rags again story. Wanting to paint realism and inspired by real life violence, Hamilton's work reminds me a little bit of Banksy (to whom also has a great documentary about his art career). However, Richard's work is very unique, as is the filmmaking in this doc, which paints the portrait of an obscure (but characteristically flawed) modern artist.


What began as a career in public art that was shrouded in mystery and shadowy silhouettes, Richard soon became a worldwide recognized artist. In the 1980s, these shadow figures became a hot art piece for collectors and soon articles about him in Life Magazine and others started to materialize.


In a time when the art market, drug culture, and Wall Street were all bigger than ever, the film talks about street artists and the popular of contemporary art in the 1980s. As Richard tries to change it up and try different things with his art, he soon finds that not everything becomes a success and spirals into a world of sex and drug addiction. Despite living in poverty in often tragic circumstances, Richard continues to create beautiful pieces of art thanks to friends that he makes along the way.


Special Features...

30 minutes of bonus material

Trailers for other Film Movement releases


A nice documentary that artists will definitely be interested in seeing.



All five DVDs have anamorphically enhanced presentations and their combinations of stills from various sources, rough digital video and analog video (including from videotape) can show flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage.


Presented in standard definition with an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and optional English subtitles, the Riot film features a standard lossy Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio track. Nothing too remarkable in terms of presentation, the doc could of course look better on Blu-ray but not terrible here.


#artoffline is presented on standard definition DVD and an anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 widescreen aspect ratio with a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, both of which are fine for a documentary such as this but nothing breathtaking.


Also presented in standard definition with an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix on the disc as well, the Shadowman presentation is up to par with the format. The film is shot and edited nicely and would have course be improved upon in HD with a lack of detail in some paintings and art pieces that would be more intensive on Blu-ray. There's a few recognizable songs on the soundtrack including the infamous 'Psycho Killer' by the Talking Heads.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Quest can be really rough, but that can be expected under the circumstances, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is surprisingly much better, so that helps save it when watching it.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Mabel also has some rough footage, but this is because of age (note the staircasing, digititis and the like in some shots) including kinescopes, so you know it will be 'diverse' to watch. As for sound, we get both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mixes, but the 5.1 has a slight edge.


Also presented in standard definition with an anamorphically enhanced 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix on the disc as well, the Shadowman presentation is up to par with the format. The film is shot and edited nicely and would have course be improved upon in HD with a lack of detail in some paintings and art pieces that would be more intensive on Blu-ray. There's a few recognizable songs on the soundtrack including the infamous 'Psycho Killer' by the Talking Heads.



- Nicholas Sheffo (Mabel), Ricky Chiang (Quest) and James Lockhart

https://www.facebook.com/jamesharlandlockhartv/


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