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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Homelessness > Movies > Nature > TV Mini-Series > British > Insects > Still Photography > Lo > Advocates (*)/At The Drive-In (MVD Visual DVD)/Dynasties 4K (BBC 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Learning To See (MVD/FilmRise Blu-ray)/Piripkura: The Last Two Survivors (*both Cinema Libre DVDs/all 20

Advocates (*)/At The Drive-In (MVD Visual DVD)/Dynasties 4K (BBC 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Learning To See (MVD/FilmRise Blu-ray)/Piripkura: The Last Two Survivors (*both Cinema Libre DVDs/all 2018)

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

The following documentaries are about nature and people, but also show how they are permanently interlinked...

How many homeless people are there the world? How many in the USA are alone? How about just one city? Remi Kessler's The Advocates (2018) take a look into a growing problem in the population of Los Angles, in an ever increasing population there are shortages of jobs, food and affordable housing. People who are homeless didn't start penniless or all involved with drugs or crime, some are just normal people who have lost their jobs and have nowhere to go and nobody cares about them. What happens to people who slip through the cracks, what happens when the system fails them?

Skid Row: the name of a place with the lowest income housing possible and poorest people live, to be poorer you would be sleeping on the streets and sidewalks. Every city has them, people just choose to turn a blind eye and say "It's not my problem." Homelessness is not a new or modern problem it is an old one, there was a sudden boom in the homeless population after the '50s and '60s when state institutions (for those considered with mental illness and unfit for society) were forced to shut down and created 'clinics' in the city to help people reform and rejoin the population, (but the truth is because it was cheaper). For many who have fallen, it is very hard for them to rejoin society because society does not care or want these people ...would you hire a homeless person? Want a homeless people living in your neighborhood? Advocates are various volunteers and people who donate their time and money to help homeless population, to help change their lives, to help find homes for them and to help keep them from becoming homeless again ...these are their stories.

This was an eye opener documentary on the homelessness in one city in America alone L.A. , the truth is homelessness is a problem everywhere, we just choose to be ignorant about it. While people say we should help those people, there are far few who chooses to do something about it ...and these are only the success stories. Extras include photo gallery, Measure H, Eye Contact, Trust, Call to Action and trailer.

Alexander Monelli's At The Drive-In (2018) focuses on one of the few remaining drive-in theaters in the U.S. And one of the only ones with a single screen, The Mahoning Drive-In in Eastern Pennsylvania north of Philadelphia and a bit to the left. They still have a operational 35mm Simplex sound movie projector, the kind that does not have a platter and actually (not noted in the documentary) protects a film print as it projects it. They are now facing the sad dilemma of maybe having to close as the studios switch from 35mm distribution to inferior digital distribution. Can they afford the obsolete-upon-arrival $60,000 digital projector that downloads units that look like paperback novels to show the movies or should they become an oldies drive-in?

They go the oldies route and get some interesting results, find unexpected support and have to see what are the titles people want to see on a big screen in an age of HD video in the home. This is good and I wish they had more time to ask more about the past of the drive-in and a few other key questions so viewers could really grasp how great seeing films in such a place is. However, this is not bad and is definitely worth a good look.

Extras include feature length audio commentary tracks, Q&A, an Original Theatrical Trailer and Deleted Scenes.

BBC Nature has added yet another mini-series, Dynasties 4K (2018) with David Attenborough returning as narrator and explorer, this time spending the five episodes here looking at a different animal species and how they behave as a group: chimpanzees, emperor penguins, lions, painted wolves and tigers. Each show runs about an hour long and is rich with great footage from likely many, many hours of shooting, but the results are great.

The result is a new mini-series worthy of its praised and highly successful predecessors that fits well in line with what they have achieved. Whether they'll try this approach again or go somewhere else remains to be seen, but something similar would easily work and especially being one of the only productions on 4K disc, one of the first you should consider if your buying a library of these shows.

Extras include a Making Of featurette.

Jake Oelman's Learning To See (2018) is subtitled 'the world of insects' and tells the story of how the director's father Robert photographed insects for 20 tears, going to everywhere from Colombia, to Peru and the Amazonian Jungle. Running under 70 minutes, this is a look at the man and his passion, then we see the results of all his hard work and the kinds of shots he goes out of his way to get. This is not bad and its nice to see someone with a passion of any kind, especially any kind of photography in an age of laziness and tired selfies..

The pictures often impress, are usually digital, so they'll look a little different than photochemical macrophotography, then we also see the various lo0cales and that they are not as easy to get to as the likes of a trip to the mall. It takes determination to do what he did and it was worth the effort.

Extras include a Music Video, Panoramas, Slides, an Original Theatrical Trailer, Extra Scenes and a Making Of featurette.

Piripkura: The Last Two Survivors (2018) has three directors (Mariana Oliva, Retana Terra, Bruno Jorge) deals with the disappearing past that deals with the existence of people. In Brazil, the last two members of the Piripkura tribe, two brothers struggle to survive and keep their culture alive in the modern era where their forests are being destroyed acre by acre by lumber factories and civilization. Pakyi and Tamandua are the indigenous natives to the land and live off the land with only an ax, machete and a torch and nothing else.

How can two naked men survive in the Amazon rainforest with barely any gear, much less without any clothes? As the last surviving practicing members of their tribe, what is more important? The right to live their culture or to protect the lands they live off of? Most the Piripkura people over the years have been either killed off or been assimilated to reservations and disappeared. Every few years the Nation Indian Foundation of Brazil enters the forest and attempts to search and make contact with these two brothers to get video proof they are still alive to renew the protective status of their lands, but unfortunately, it seems like it is only a matter of time before they are gone and then the companies will move in to strip the natural resources from the land.

This film in many ways reminds me of how any civilization more advance from another just moves in and feels like they have the right to take over, to kill off the lesser civilization (kinda of like the ancient European colonists and American Indians). They offer cheap trinkets, in trade of the destruction of culture and in the name of 'modernization' force their ideas and values on others, while pretending to be humanitarians but in reality no better than bloody conquerors of history. Extras includes a trailer.

Now for the technical playback performance. Despite some more common and plain shots, the many nature shots on Dynasties are presented in a 1.78 X 1 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K version of the series and you can just imagine how good it can look based on the great history of the BBC Earth releases. There are shots that even exceed my letter grade, but everyone who has seen any of the previous series would rightly expect that too.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the regular Blu-ray version is good, but misses too much of the color range and detail the 4K has and Learning To See has the same quality presentation, going from regular shots to the great still images captured throughout.

All three DVDs offer anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presentations and look food considering the circumstances, but Advocates can have rougher footage throughout befitting the subject of homelessness. Note that Dark Days was a documentary shot on 16mm black and white film on homelessness we reviewed 15 years ago and it also had it rough spots.

As for sound, both versions of Dynasties offers Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for grandfathered systems) lossless sound that is just fine, if not spectacular, but fitting and just fine, especially for the 4K version.

The rest of the releases only offer lossy Dolby Digital sound, with Learning To See having both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with little difference and the rest being stereo at best. Advocates again has the roughest points, so it has more issues with its location audio than the other releases. Still, its lucky it turned out as well as it did under the circumstances.

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Libre)


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