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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documetary > Biography > Fashion Industry > Music > Art > Homosexuality > Drama > Holocaust > Homophobia > W > Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco (2018 DVD*)/Bent (1997 Blu-ray*)/Frantz Faison: Black Skin White Mask (1995 Blu-ray/*all Film Movement )/Green Book 4K (2018/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Bl

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco (2018 DVD*)/Bent (1997 Blu-ray*)/Frantz Faison: Black Skin White Mask (1995 Blu-ray/*all Film Movement )/Green Book 4K (2018/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Merger (2018/Umbrella Blu-ray)



4K Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: C+/B/B-/B/B+ Sound: C+/B-/B/B+/B+ Extras: C/C+/B-/C/C Films: B/B-/C+/B-/B+



PLEASE NOTE: The Merger Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all 4K and standard Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.



The following releases deal with oppression, how both individuals and groups deal with it, plus what all that says about the world ewe live in, then and now...



James Crump's Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion & Disco (2018) is a biographic documentary about the fashion illustrator who helped make the 1970s what they were, became and continue to stand for. Openly gay, he discovered icons like Jessica Lange, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and his style become highly influential. Innovative and groundbreaking, he brought a fresh new life to the fashion world and the result is that his work and group of people were the equal of every other artists (like Warhol and Hockney) as well as actual fashion designer (karl Laugerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent) in his time. So how could he be forgotten?


Fortunately, this great documentary reveals his vitality, love of art, of music, of people and even himself as he built a discourse that was of several minority groups, yet became a major force that affected everyone. Homophobia and racism are two of the reasons he is forgotten, especially by revisionists still trying to erase anything prior to 1980. His work is priceless and his achievements shockingly ignored except by those in the know. There is plenty of footage here of him, so we get a great idea of who he was when added to his friends telling us the many stories.


Even that does not totally do justice to how good this one is, so catch this one as soon as you can.


Extras include Archival Footage (including Silent Super 8 film), Bill Cunningham Interview excerpts and Marie-Elsa Sgualdo's short film You Can't Do Everything At Once, But You Can Leave Everything At Once.



Sean Mathias' Bent (1997) is based on the stage play about the Nazis when they decided to turn on their gay flowers, resulting in the Night of the Long Knives. Despite an entire military outfit of gay men devoted to Hitler, those in power decided having more power in the long term meant betrayal and homophobia, so thousands of gay men were murdered, but this film is about how two of them who were just part of an openly gay society that had been thriving since the 1920s are forced to run for their lives and escape for a time.


Two years later, Rudy (Brian Webber) and Max (Clive Owen) are captured and sent to the now-established Dachau concentration camp where the worst possible things happen and more twists and turns result. Based on a stage play, this film still received and NC-17 rating and does not shy away from the sex or violence. Ian McKellan, Lothaire Bluteau and Mick Jagger round out the supporting cast in an honest film definitely worth a look. It has aged well too.


Extras include an illustrated booklet on the film including informative text, Director's statement and an essay by Steven Alan Carr, while the Blu-ray adds Behind The Scenes footage, Cast/Crew Interviews and a Music Video for Mick Jagger's song he performs in the film: ''Streets Of Berlin''.



Isaac Julien and Mark Nash's Frantz Faison: Black Skin White Mask (1995) has Colin Salmon as the real life anti-colonialist thinker, dealing with racism, lookism, the third world, homosexuality and a Marxist view of the world that was groundbreaking in his time. Sartre was smart enough to recognize what was happening here and the film wants to explore the man and situation in every subtext possible, including the collision of words and images and cinema that intellectuals have been experimenting with since the avant-garde in early cinema, but in the case of this film, especially since Jean-Luc Godard arrived on the scene.


As a result, we get a film that has some intriguing images, but also more than a few that are too static and fall into the same passive trap many of Godard's Maoist post-Auteur films fell into in the late 1960s when he stopped being Godard and wanted to let the 'revolution' happen. Turns out Faison did not live a long life, making him a martyr for those who agree in his beliefs strongly, at least being a tragic loss for those who think his discourse deserves more of a chance or at least parts of it. The acting is not bad here and this runs a shot 72 minutes, but I would have been happy for this to be longer if more of it worked and we found out even more about the real man. Since this is not an outright documentary and is trying to find something else to show about the man, this is the risk they took. I give it points for ambition, though.


Extras include a illustrated booklet on the film including informative text and essays by the filmmakers.



Peter Farrelly's Green Book (2018) is the tale of a classical recording artist (Mahershala Ali) who not only performs often in concert, but wants to tour the South prior to the Civil Rights Movement and have a driver/helper who can get him through his challenging tour. He settles for a potentially useful bouncer as his driver (Viggo Mortensen) who is not the most worldly or together guy, but is a married man with a child and needs the money. After a rough start, off they go.


The title refers to a book published for three decades that allowed African Americans to find places to eat and sleep that would not reject them and worse all over the country, but the film only uses that as a jumping-off point to tell what is at least loosely base don a true story. Of course, it has been widely criticized for being blind to some realities of life, taking far to much poetic license with others and having some blatant inaccuracies that are even sloppy if we give the film a fair margin of error. The problem is that Farrelly is a director of vulgar comedies and no awards will ever change that, especially going off the deep end with his brother early on being as gross asa possible, so YES, the film is going to have problems and that makes any issues with the comedy even more problematic. When should we take this seriously, is the comedy really always funny and why does he suddenly care about anything in real life that matters after his patchy track record?


Also making this a little off-kilter is that the family of the driver has been the agent of getting the film made and goes overboard with the 'friendly' Italian stereotypes, though they may not be as bad as the likes of Saturday Night Fever, they are regressive versus the realism of something like Scorsese's Mean Streets, so the film has all kind of odd live-action cartoon moments. That is a problem with such serious subject matter at hand. So what does the film have going for it?


For one, it is getting people talking and debating, which is hard for any film to do these days with so many being so safe and so bad, so its got that going be default. Also, it does not shy away from, trivialize or degrade Dr. Shirley's sexuality, which is more authentic than much of the film. It is then odder when we get such serious moments of racism, hate and potential danger to the leads. However, that and the solid performances are at the heart of the film and still make it worth seeing. It is not as good as Spike Lee's BlackKKKlansman either, but its reminder of how so short a time ago as the early 1960s that the hate that has resurfaced in the last few years is gives the film a new relevance.


Yes, it seems a little condescending like another Best Picture winner, Driving Miss Daisy, but that was about an impossible love and this is not. Instead, it is about a friendship that managed to happen against the odds and would have been more likely if not due to racism, classism and other obstacles. This film will also age weird and even some controversies (the first 'fried chicken' sequence seems more like an add placement than a problematic comic moment, but such are the many problems with the script) are not so simple, but the director must be blamed, which is why he did not even get a Directing nomination. Will he grow as a filmmaker? Stay tuned...


Extras include Digital HD Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber-capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds three Making Of featurette promo clips of about five minutes each.



If that was not serious enough for some, Mark Grentel's The Merger (2018) is not a comedy trivializing big business or mocking people losing their livelihood, but an Australian release that balances the serious matters with a down to earth story that shows how to balance such elements. Bodgy Creek is small and dying town since its factories got shut down. Jobs and moral is down, but the only thing keeping the town together and spirits up is the local rugby team and they are just about to be shut down due to the fact they are broke and out of money (and they haven't won a game in years). However, the town's social worker for refugees Angie (Kate Mulvany) has an idea to save the town's beloved team, to recruit the town's former hero Troy (Damian Calliman) to coach for the team and the refugees to play on the team.


Fortunately for all of them, Bodgy Creek is a small town that has a large amount of pride in their rugby team, but unfortunately they seem to be on a losing streak. Troy is an unpopular choice because he was the one who lead the protests in which shutdown the town factory (his is now called the 'Town Killer') and the town doesn't like or even want any of the refugees in their town, but it is because they are all so different that brings them together, they are all outcasts of society. They started out as the town's underdogs, but they soon become the town's new heroes and the town begins unite and change for the better.


This was a your typical sports comedy movie, a group of underdogs working together to overcome prejudices to become a real team. They started out as losers and became the champions. It is a true testament to man's love for sports, that sports is the only real thing that can bring men of different origins together. Good supporting cast too. Extras include a Making of the Merger featurette and theatrical trailer.




The 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced 2.35 X 1 Ultra High Definition image on Green Book is an HD shoot that just manages to be the best presentation here, with authentic-enough color throughout and has some nice shots, but it can also be a little inconsistent. The 1080p Blu-ray with the same aspect ratio lacks the color range and some of the finer detail in better shots, but is passable.


Thus, the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on The Merger falls somewhere in between, not looking like a 4K release, but simply being a sliver more consistent than any regular Blu-ray here, yet the 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Bent and 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Frantz more than hold their own as top rate transfers with hardly any flaws. They are both shot on 35mm film and well enough that they hold up well for their age.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the Lopez DVD comes from a mix of new video, old film (35mm, 16mm and even Super 8mm film (including Agfachrome) and various stills and the like that make for a solid mix that includes some animation. Wish this were in HD of some form. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and slightly lesser, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo are a mix of old often monophonic audio, new stereo and great hit records.


The best sound comes from both versions of Green Book offering Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for older systems) lossless sound that also has some great hit records and offers more than its share of dialogue-based moments. The Merger is second best with its DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that is newly recorded and not bad. Bent and Frantz are here in PCM 2.0 Stereo, but Bent sounds weaker from age and likely from some budget limitations, yet both play well too with Pro Logic-like decoding.



To order The Merger Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases:


http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/



- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Merger)


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