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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Music > Artist > Rock > Pop > Blues > Money > Greed > Politics > Ice Skating > Awards > Clarence Clemens: Who Do You Think I Am? (2019/Virgil/MVD Blu-ray)/Generation Wealth (2018/Lionsgate DVD)/Ice King (2019/Film Movement DVD)/Maiden (2018/Sony Blu-ray)/Power Of Grayskull: The Definitiv

Clarence Clemens: Who Do You Think I Am? (2019/Virgil/MVD Blu-ray)/Generation Wealth (2018/Lionsgate DVD)/Ice King (2019/Film Movement DVD)/Maiden (2018/Sony Blu-ray)/Power Of Grayskull: The Definitive History Of He-Man and The Masters of the Universe (2016/High Octane DVD)

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

Now for more documentaries worth hearing, knowing about and even seeing....

After Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's break up in 2003 what happened to Clarence Clemons? To answer that perhaps the first question should be who was Clarence Clemons? Clarence packed his sax and took to the road, traveling and playing where ever his journey took him, but regardless where he went the people could not deny his love of music and life. This documentary is not just from historians and writers, but the stories of those who personally knew him and how he changed their lives in Clarence Clemens: Who Do You Think I Am? (2019).

Clarence Clemons was a man who was larger than life, he was an artist, a black musician who impacted the world with his saxophone alone. All those who played with him call him the heart and soul of the band. Born in the time of U.S. segregation, Clarence broke down racial barriers with his music. His sax and music was welcomed where ever he played. But even after breaking up with Springsteen, that Clarence Clemons was not effected by the fame, wealth or power. Unlike so many famous musicians, Clarence loved playing music with everyone and everyone loved him for playing with them, his music and his larger than life attitude brought the band together instead tearing them apart, including former President Bill Clinton.

This documentary was unlike all the music documentary, this documentary was from the first person interviews who actually knew Clarence Clemons. Unlike historians who talk about achievements, facts and records, the various interviewees talk about how they knew the man and not the more the music. You can record a person's music, but you can only know the soul of a man by those who actually knew him.

There are no extras.

Lauren Greenfield's Generation Wealth (2018) is a fine sequel of sorts to her underrated look at a rich family in decline, The Queen of Versailles, which we reviewed a few years ago at this link...


This time, she is interested in seeing the idea of being rich become a sick, ugly, distorted spoof of itself, a joke, a disease, late capitalism gone mad and how it is ruing the lives of more people than it seems on all levels of socio-economic class, how it allows for the worst things to happen and the soulless, grotesque results that too often throw the obvious differences between right and wrong out the window in a production more prophetic than she likely realized she was making.

Even worse, the people who think they are successful and happy, especially when they have so much, seem angrier, more shallow, more miserable and more disconnected form the real politic of actual reality than they would have been say, prior to the 1980s. Even the American Dream has become a spoof of itself and those shown in the clouds of delusion truly are not aware of where they are and what is really going on in the world around them. This will shock some, but not surprise others, though since its release, some of the delusion has started to crumble a bit, but mostly not.

The result is a warning of worse things to come for the U.S. and beyond, some of which is happening as you read this, so much of this is unsustainable, how willing the people here are willing to talk about their lives without realizing what they are confessing and shows a side of things that for all intents and purposes, media of all kinds have been ignoring and even hiding. This is a must-see work that should have been longer and will soon need a sequel.

A photo gallery by Greenfield is the only extra, but it is interesting.

James Erskine's The Ice King (2019) is a portrait of the highly successful and groundbreaking British skater John Curry, an Olympic champ in 1976 who was never impressed with his Soviet competition and thought they were overrated, continued to be a success and when he won, his homosexuality was revealed by accident, or the like. He continued to impress and we hear about his private life, discovering his art, himself, sexuality and some of his relationships for better and worst.

It is brutally honest at times and so is he, even when he gets HIV and eventually, AIDS. It is a key untold story of the time and a pretty good biography, but I also thought more people should have been talked to and it could have been longer. Cheers to the makers for getting all the video and film footage they were able to get and capturing how hard at the time it was for Curry to deal with some of the darker things he had to juggle. I knew a little bit about him, but this is a long overdue portrait of the man and definitely worth a good look.

A Q&A with the director and featurette on the music are the extras.,

Alex Holmes' Maiden (2018) tells the real life story on how a group of women took on a grueling around the world boat race with an all-female team and eventually broke the all-boys club by actually winning the event after so much pandering, sexism and much, much more. Tracy Edwards lands up spearheading the attempt at age 26 and after so many starts and stops, finally gets things going to the shock of many and still, many thought they would fail.

A group of new interviews are mixed with a huge helping of analog videotape (mostly PAL and/or NTSC, to the luck of this documentary) and the result is a well-rounded 97 minutes that are as much a portrait of the people as of the era, the time and sports then and now. I had heard a little about this, but not anywhere to this extent, so this was a film also worth making.

Two interview featurettes are the extras.

Finally, we have Randall Lobb & Robert McCallum's Power Of Grayskull: The Definitive History Of He-Man and The Masters of the Universe (2016) telling the tale of how a toy line became a TV and film franchise, making a ton of money and still surviving despite some big missteps that would have killed other properties. We've reviewed many of the seasons of several of the hit shows that toy giant Mattel (who created the character) got into the film production business to stop missing opportunities to sell fun and toys to young buyers.

Though some of the DVD sets we've covered (Blu-ray releases of the TV shows are long overdue in the U.S., but apparently have started to show up elsewhere) had good extras about the characters and TV shows, but this is a nice update and for fans, continuation. The interviewees have much to say and contribute, we see Mattel create the line, then turn to the sadly now defunct Filmation Animation Studio to create a series for the toys, but with one twist that most thought were doomed: a new series with new episodes five days a week. At the time, that was unheard of, but one of the last of many great innovations Filmation delivered before they were forced to fold by a later owner who did not know what they were doing.

In addition to rare art, amusing TV commercials and print advertising that shows how the whole thing took off, the 95 minutes we get here also land up offering a look at the toy business that we do not get to see enough. Here, it starts in 1973 when Kenner (now Hasbro) launches their brilliant action figure line for The Six Million Dollar Man and it is a huge hit as well as a shift for action figures for young men who previously only had military characters to enjoy.

To add to the program for the record, Superheroes were starting to surface in the late 1960s (via Captain Action kits) and also by 1973, the (just recently revived after after 36 years out of business) Mego Toy Company introduced 8-inch action figures of DC Comic Superheroes Superman, Batman, Robin and Aquaman (an unspoken tie-in to TV megahit SuperFriends!, so the whole industry was expanding. The Bionic TV shows were a huge boon too.

This made all the toy companies of the time try to capitalize and adapt, but when George Lucas went to several companies for a new film no one understood initially (Star Wars, of course), the head of Mego was out of town and head of Mattel blew it, so Kenner got it, came up with ways to get toys sold before they were made early on and the rest is history. All this helped lead to He-man and that expanding world.

Toys for the 1981 MGM Clash Of The Titans feature film and licensing for the upcoming Conan The Barbarian film (an early Schwarzenegger hit) played into this. Mattel made toys for the former, but not the latter since that film would be rated R for violence and some nudity. I'll let the program explain the rest, though it should be noted a key part the documentary missed.

Because he was in hit comic books for both Marvel and DC, Conan was already selling comics and novels with and without pictures, so Mego actually licensed him early on in a great action figure for the superhero line launched in 1973 as noted above. Eventually, he was discontinued, though Tarzan (also part of that line) disappeared earlier and Mattel did a nice-but-brief (and now very valuable line built on their Big Jim action figures, also launched around 1973) so you can see why Conan's owners would think of Mattel after leaving Mego. Obviously, this film suggests a separate production.

I also liked that both Dolph Lundgren and Frank Langella give great interviews on their feature film version and how it does and does not hold up. In the end, the documentary brings it all together with a He-Man future up in the air, but to update it, two new TV series are about to launch (one involving Kevin Smith) and Sony (via Columbia or TriStar) has been developing a new feature film for a long time, so that may finally happen too. All the more reason to catch this release ASAP.

There are sadly no extras, but maybe a Blu-ray could add updates down the line?

Because the stock footage and older analog video (whether NTSC or PAL) shows its age, the picture quality on these discs have their limits. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Clarence should have still looked a bit better overall, but is a bit rougher than expected, so the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Maiden lands up being the visual winner by default, though you'll feel like you've been on an analog video time warp in all cases.

That includes the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Wealth and Ice), plus the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Grayskull. Its just the nature of what was in the vaults and personal collections that made these all possible.

Fortunately, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the two Blu-rays are solid, with Clarence offering great music at its best and Maiden just edges out the DVDs, though all five have analog audio that can sport age, location audio issues and expected wear. All three DVDs offer passable, lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, with King and Grayskull also offering simpler, weaker, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. They have the same audio issues on older materials, but are all worth suffering through those limits to enjoy the stories revealed.

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Clarence)


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