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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > History > Politics > Nazis > Genocide > Hate > Publishing > Propaganda > Business > Biography > Plastic Parade: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014/Bullfrog DVD)/The UnAmerican Struggle (2017/Cinema Libre DVDs)

Ascent Of Evil: The Story Of Mein Kampf (2018/MVD)/Food Coop (aka Food Co-op/2015*)/Henry Miller: Asleep & Awake (2007/IndiePix)/Paying The Price For Peace: The Story Of S. Brian Wilson (2016**)/Plastic Parade: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014/*both Bullfrog)/The UnAmerican Struggle (2017/**both Cinema Libre/all DVDs)

Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: D/D/C/C/D/D Main Programs: B-/B/B-/B-/B-/B-

The news and time is moving faster than ever, so the following documentaries might not always be up to date, but they have important moments and serious substance that make them all worth your time...

We start with Frederic Montell's Ascent Of Evil: The Story Of Mein Kampf (2018) looking at the infamous work by Adolf Hitler that became the model for his Third Reich and continues to inspire radicals to kill and try other insane things. At a healthy 62 minutes, we see how the book has been banned, idiotically celebrated in some countries and is now particularly unbound in the cyber-era, but it also shows its origins by showing Hitler's life early on and his prison stay where he got to write it.

Though it has been addressed often, it was time of ran update about the books effects, afterlife and sadly, new life, especially since this was just released. Cheers to the accurate research, key stills and key film footage. It is a book more people need to know about and more about, so this is a good place to start. The interviews are a plus and they shoot new location footage...

For more, try the 1961 film called Mein Kampf we reviewed at this link...


Tom Boothe's Food Coop (2015) is not about a coop but co-ops, businesses owned by the employees and those who buy memberships into it (not like Cosco or Sam's Club either) that were very popular in the 1960s ands 1970s before they sadly dissipated. Fortunately, they still have existed somewhere or another since, if not in the big numbers they used to have, but that may be changing a bit.

The Park Slope Co-op in Brooklyn, New York has 16,000 members and was originally established in 1973, so it is one of the big survivors of the earlier era and we see the whole place, interview all kinds of people and get a fine look at how all this works. I really enjoyed what I saw here, it brought back childhood memories and yet, is not nostalgia. Especially with the ways the economy and employment are so unstable these days, everyone should catch this fun documentary.

Tom Schiller's Henry Miller: Asleep & Awake (2007) is a short 35mm film where the director (the son of a major figure on the hit I Love Lucy TV series, et al) visits the writing legend and they land up in his bathroom that is plastered with all kinds of photos and he tells us all about events in his life just from that collection. Needless to say for him, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

It is also a rare chance to see the legend discuss his life and fans familiar with his work in particular might find more here than most. I like how this was shot too.

Bo Boudart's Paying The Price For Peace: The Story Of S. Brian Wilson (2016) is the story of a one-time soldier who became a protester and peace advocate after serving in the disastrous Vietnam conflict, who in 1987 in the face of years of Reaganism) laid his body on train tracks to stop an arms shipment and was run over, losing both of his legs instead. Did anyone care? Yes.

These were arms meant for the U.S. Government-sponsored 'Contra' fighters in Latin America (specifically Nicaragua) which many were protesting at the time. The man sure lived his convictions and we are re-reminded of that fiasco to, narrated by actor Peter Coyote, who is great at this. Alice Walker, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, Daniel Ellsberg, Ron Kovic and Joan Baez also show up, some for interviews and it is an important story worth telling as much now as ever with a new suppression of protests going on worldwide as a new surge in protests occur.

Angela Sun's Plastic Parade: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014) has the director's investigation of the origins of plastic, how there is way too much of it around, way too much still being produced, how it is ruing our world & lives when it is out of control and what we can do to change all that. Not that she gets any help from the oil companies behind its production and makes the always-vital point it never degrades or goes away.

She goes through great trouble to interview people and great trouble to travel to places that show how bad the situation is, and mind you this was made a few years ago, so the problem still continues. When we look back, this will be one of the most important records on the subject and no one will be able to say no one knew or recorded the facts.

Finally we have Ric Osuna's The UnAmerican Struggle (2017) which is a work about the early assault by The Trump Administration on immigrants, especially of color, but this was sadly just the very beginning and the provocative cover with a Muslim woman wrapped in a U.S. Flag is interesting but a bit misleading as it is not just 106 minutes of one religion being attacked, though they are included among the many who were already under attack before the highly underreported southern internment camps at the Mexican Border started popping up quietly, hideously and disastrously.

Osuna is proudly happy to be autobiographic when talking about his family and it is a really honest moment that makes its points about hatred of immigrants (especially about a country of immigrants) that is echoed before and after in the other lives he shows and discusses. I bet he's happy he made this before things got worse (they continue to do so as of this posting) and I was glads to see this.

I expect he'll be working on a sequel or major supplement update now, but see this if you're interested because it is as good as any release on the subject.

The 1.33 X 1 image transfer on Miller can show the age of the materials used, but its 16mm origin (likely shot on Eastman Color/Kodak film) is a somewhat older video master, but looks good for the format. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the remaining five DVDs are all equally fine (again for the format) and play well, though they also all feature older analog videotape with the usual flaws that include video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. Otherwise they play just fine and as expected.

As for sound, all feature lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound with some older monophonic audio some sometimes, location audio issues, but Miller is lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, yet nicely recorded.

Extras rarely exist on any of these fine releases, but Miller has a brief 10 minutes piece by Director Schiller and Price has the title subject visiting Nicaragua in 2014.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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