Cut Sleeves (1993*)/David
Susskind: Interview with Nikita Khrushchev
(1960*)/Heimat Is A Space
In Time (2019/Icarus
DVD*)/Lost City Of Cecil
(2020/Weinerworld/*all MVD DVDs)/What's
My Name: Muhammad Ali
C/C/C+/C+/C+/B- Sound: C/C+/C+/C+/C+/B- Extras: C-/D/C/C/C/D
Main Programs: C+/B+/B-/B-/C+/B
a very interesting group of documentaries, including a few must-see
releases and all with something to offer...
actually wanted to start with Rita Fecher's Flyin'
(1993) about her life and how she grew up around gang culture of the
time in early 1970s Brooklyn. In a piece that only lasts an hour,
she goes around and videotapes friends and associates from back in
the day, reflecting on their lives, then is able to flash back to
footage of them when they were younger and in various gangs. It is
remarkable that anyone interviewed any gang members, let alone filmed
them. Some footage is in black and white, some in color, while some
color holds up, other film was already fading a few decades later.
makes for a key companion piece to what we usually see of New York
City of the time, from money to crime and lately, how punk, disco and
rap/hip hop were partly or totally born there (depending on whom you
ask) at the same time. This is so interesting, it would be nice to
see someone give Fecher (or someone she approves) the time and money
to go around and interview anyone who would still be willing to talk
and update the situation with more insight. Maybe someone could even
restore the old film footage, do 2K or 4K transfers on it and find
new footage unseen.
this one is worth a look.
as another crisis sweeps the globe, David
Susskind: Interview with Nikita Khrushchev
(1960) is a 3.5 hour record of the legendary visit of the infamous
'we will bury you' Soviet Premiere arriving at the U.N. during the
fall in the U.S. just before John F. Kennedy would succeed Dwight
Eisenhower as President of the United States. He agreed to do a long
interview with a solid translator and the exchanges were interesting
then, and more so in context as within a few years, we would have the
Bay of Pigs incident and its follow-up, which almost destroyed the
planet with a nuclear war: the Cuban Missile Crisis.
can see how smug Khrushchev is here, how manipulating, as he jokes
and brags about being 'peace loving' and takes subtle cheap shots at
the U.S. throughout the program, knowing his country (the USSR) would
be secretly sending in nuclear missiles to Cuba if they had to,
decided Kennedy was much weaker than Eisenhower (they were very
wrong) and how he thought l all around. In a few years after this
display, he was removed from power when kennedy triumphed, but not
before Kennedy was assassinated. (Jackie Kennedy sent him a message
informing him she kew he had nothing to do with it, and she was
to Susskind, who handles the exchanges with intelligence, grace and
class, more than holding his own against a master manipulator who
almost got us all killed. Its shows like these that gave Susskind
his reputation and we already covered the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
show on DVD, we hope to see more soon. This is a must-see release.
Is A Space In Time
(2019) cleverly covers three generations of the director's family
starting with the years before WWI, then winding to the present day,
dealing with the ups and downs of Germany, Nazis, the world and with
its current footage of places of the past, reminds us why we
sometimes forget important things, things we should never forget, too
easily. It is very long at 218 minutes, but I have to admit that he
does keep it visually interesting and with a limited budget.
starting point is an anti-war essay his grandfather wrote in 1912 and
it goes from there very smoothly, with all kinds of private, vintage
pictures, documents and any other personal footage he could find to
share. I've seen many a phony attempt to do such family biographies
by just stringing things along with shallow chronology and not saying
much, but Heise does the opposite and that is why if you have the
time and patience, you'll want to see this one.
L. Brosnan's Lost
City Of Cecil B. DeMille
(2016) tells the winding tale of how the director (no relation to the
actor who played James Bond in a few films) spent a rollercoaster
ride of more valleys than peaks to uncover the massive, legendary set
Producer/Director Cecil B. DeMille built for his original 1923 silent
epic feature film version of The
The second film to ever use Technicolor (it was two strips at the
time, expensive and did not have a full range of color) albeit in
small segments, the film was a hit. So what happened to the set?
theorizes it was buried, finds out where the film was shot and goes
there. What follows are endless obstacles, limited funding, usually
no support, a shocking lack of pride in Hollywood on its filmmaking
past, people shamelessly trying to stop him and all kinds of other
twists and turns. The 90 minutes here starts out a little rough, but
eventually picks up and tells a parallel tale of the filmmaking
career of DeMille, which is when it really kicks in and gives context
to why any dig is so important and even historically priceless.
we wait for the 1923 film to be restored for today (and both it and
the 1956 VistaVision, full Technicolor version with Charlton Heston
to arrive on disc in the 4K format), this is worth seeing despite
some rough spots just for its history lessons and just how ambitious
Hollywood could be at its best.
(2020) tells us about a worldwide movement where CDs have become
played out and the sonics on most (especially old ones, obviously)
are dated and might as well be worn out cassette tapes. With shaky
streaming and download options, usually with compression issues to
boot, plus two formats that failed to replace CDs (DVD-Audio (with a
capital 'A' and menus worthy of a Commodore 64) and Super Audio CD
(the one that still survives for audiophiles)) that were both knocked
out by Napster to some extent, vinyl has made a seemingly unlikely
truth is, vinyl never really went away, this shows how the
independent shop movement for such titles grew in the U.K. in
particular, set up new communities for loving music and how music
fans helped save the music business from some of its neglect and even
ignorance in parts (some vinyl was pressed to break and even ruin
needles as CDs first arrived so people would get mad and switch) as
we interview fans, shop owners, experts and musicians. I wished this
one were longer and it should have been, but it is worth a look
because it is that interesting. It is certain it is not the last
chapter on the subject either.
HBO Sports presents the definitive documentary on the famous boxer
Muhammad Ali in this two part film, What's My Name - Muhammad Ali
(2019), that sports fans won't want to miss. Directed by Antoine
Fuqua (Training Day), the film explores the many facets of
Ali's life including being a champion boxer, a social activist, his
personal life, and ultimately an important cultural figure.
course, the subject has been covered in many documentaries by now,
but this one is still not bad, though it cannot help but offer
overlap versus all that has come before and will only be fresher to
those who did not see much else on the subject. It also reminded us
that Michael Mann's feature film Ali with Will Smith has yet
to be announced on 4K disc.
for playback performance. Sleeves
(newer footage is in color with older black and white and color film)
(all black and white video, with some old video dropouts!) are here
in 1.33 X 1 and can be rough in places, but look about as good as
they can. Heimat,
are all here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image presentations
that are just fine for the format, with Heimat
have the best clarity throughout.
DVDs but Ali
offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, though some of it is Mono
in parts, while Sleeves
(actually PCM 2.0 Mono) and Nikita
(with some expected rough patches) are entirely so. Location audio
issues also turn up in all release.
My Name is presented in anamorphically enhanced standard
definition with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio and a lossy 5.1
English Dolby Digital mix. The film is a mix of interviews and
archival footage, all of which comes across fine here for the format.
An HD presentation would deal with some of the compression issues,
however, looks fine.
releases can have analog
or low-def digital videotape flaws from their older footage including
video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross
color, faded color (including some film footage) and tape damage.
with Original Theatrical Trailers and Vinyl
comes with a nice booklet, while Heimat
comes with a booklet and a 15 minutes Q&A from NYFF with Director
Nicholas Sheffo and James