McQueen: The Man & Le Mans
The Edge Of The Sky
She Said: The Art Of Pauline Kael
(2020/Juno/*all MVD DVDs)/You
C+/C/B-/C+/B- Sound: C+/C+/B-/C+/B- Extras: D/C-/D/C/D
following documentaries deal with some serious subject matter, as
well as art, filmmaking and its politics...
start with Gabriel Clarke & John McKenna's Steve
McQueen: The Man & Le Mans
(2015) about how an actor now known as 'the king of cool' took his
red hot box office status, star power and fought to make the ultimate
racing car film. Many B-movies had been made (and still are, even
now with overblown budgets) and sometimes, with a brain, such as one
McQueen almost made, John Frankenheimer's big 70mm epic Grand
(1966, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site and due for a 4K
edition) but conflict with the makers led to McQueen stepping down.
James Garner took over.
MGM and big large frame film cameras, he landed up landing his big
dream project with the then-new ambitious production company Cinema
Center and they gave him a then huge $6 Million to make the film that
would be known as Le
(a good film despite its issues), but they had no script, though they
did have veteran actor John Sturges, who helped put McQueen on the
film goes into how out of the way McQueen wanted to go with the film
to recreate the experience of racing even beyond what Frankenheimer
did achieve and by using 35mm cameras with the latest color negative
film and the film would be printed in real three-strip Technicolor
had MetroColor, which is almost as good, but not quite) and this
documentary shows the highs, lows, twists and turns on how the film
was made, went over-budget and was finally finished after a very,
very long shoot.
everyone's credit, it was a ton of hard work outside of the
then-declining studio system and by some of the best talents
available at the time. It also tells us about McQueen, those around
him and how great his desire was to break old Hollywood conventions
and formulas so his car film would be the best yet. Since then, few
good car films have been made (Two
the original Vanishing
and the recent Ford
being rare exceptions) and especially considering the glut of
(usually awful) digital effects, Le
looks better than ever.
is a rare chance to see the real Hollywood, real filmmaking, behind
the scenes of thew industry at its best and more reasons McQueen is
rightly an icon. Especially if you like anyone involved, this is a
great documentary to catch.
are no extras here, but another DVD version may have some and this
needs a Blu-ray release.
(2020) tells the still-painful tale of how the U.S. Government (in
the middle of the Ronald Reagan presidency) helped to bomb a big
section of housing in Western Philadelphia because it was the home of
the new MOVE organization, a left-wing group trying to fight for the
rights of and help disenfranchised African Americans. The result was
11 people killed, including 3 children and a real mess as a result.
not really dealt with to this day, this 56 minutes long piece
discusses it, shows multiple clips of it and related events, items
and people, then works its way up to now in the possible reelection
of Trump, the most blatantly racist president in a century. The
makers have done their work and research, even including (to their
credit) footnotes as if this were a college term paper. I did not
always agree with what I heard and though many of the factual
statements were overgeneral or just off, but I would say this has
roughly 55% accuracy in what it is siting, talking about and
explaining. An interesting piece, I would like to see an update in a
trailer and director's intro are the only extras.
The Edge Of The Sky
a powerful documentary about four families who fight the FDA in an
attempt to get access to a drug to treat Ducheene Muscular Dystrophy,
which is a deadly disease their sons suffer from. The touching film
follows each family and educates the audience about the disease and
the hideous side effects of it.
film is directed by Jedd and Todd Wider and is from the Producers of
the Academy Award Winning Taxi
to the Dark Side.
emotional film is a must see if you or a loved one suffers from his
disease or if you are researching it. From a documentary filmmaking
standpoint, the film is well done and interesting.
She Said: The Art Of Pauline Kael
(2020) I s a documentary biography of the first important female
movie critic in the U.S., how she got a slow, choppy start (sexism)
and how sticking to her sometimes unpopular and non-conformist
opinions kept her from finding an audience at first. We she how she
was not able to deal with post-WWII writerly European films in her
panning of classics from Aiain Resnais (Hiroshima
Year At Marienbad),
Michelangelo Antonioni (La
et al) and others and a surprisingly negative review of still
overrated megahit musical The
Sound Of Music
(1965) got her fired from a major venue.
the American New Wave of films hits and her review of Arthur Penn's
(1967) saves the film Warner Bros. and Warren Beatty expected to be a
hit to begin with. Suddenly, Kael was the hottest new critic and
until the early 1980s (when she lost her way on odd reviews for the
nine-hour Holocaust documentary Shoah
and Ridley Scott's Blade
(no matter what cut she saw), she was backing films that went over
many critics' heads and putting them on the map, including Scorsese's
and Bertolucci's Last
Tango In Paris
and many others.
are many other great moments here, but I do not want to ruin them, or
get into who gets interviewed (Quentin Tarantino and Paul Schrader
among them) and she is insightful in video, film and audio clips,
while other works of hers are read anew. This includes quotes from
several of her books. Needless to say this is a must-see for any
serious film fan and I highly recommend it. I just wish it were
include Deleted Scenes pieces on Lynch's Blue
Kael's Youth, more interview footage of Tarantino and Schrader and
never-before-heard conversation of Kael and Alfred Hitchcock.
we have Jeffrey McHale's You
(2019), a look back at the big budget bomb that was and still is Paul
(1995) 25 years later already. At the time, he was one of the most
successful and bold filmmakers in Hollywood, even if some critics
could not handle his
cynicism, violence or sex, ticking off people all over the political
spectrum as well. His friend, writer Joe Eszterhas was the highest
paid writer in Hollywood at the time with high concept, sex-laced
hits like Flashdance,
and others. The film was either going to be groundbreaking on sex
and sexuality or be a disaster. It was a big disaster.
already explained at the time all the reasons I felt the film was a
mega trainwreck, which y9ou can read more about at the link at the
ned of this coverage, then I will add onto it to update my thoughts.
This documentary tries to make sense of the film and finds hardly any
a quarter century later and even the faint praise seems sarcastic or
desperate, so we get a montage of film clips and points of view of
what the film might be about or like, but the same can be said of so
many other films.
straight-to-video sequel is ignored, but the crude, campy stage
musical remake is covered, several discussions of gay context is
discussed (one tries to make it part of an unofficial trilogy that
Of The Dolls
but they at least succeeded as bad melodramas to some extent, where
this does not) and other ideas including that is it a masterwork of
crap is unconvincing. Still, it is the long-term fallout (Verhoeven
smartly accepting the Razzie Awards for the film, but not saying
enough) and Verhoeven trying to say it was meant to be comical when
he originally did not intend it as so and even Elizabeth Berkeley
saying the same. I'm sure she went through a private hell over ti
all, but in clips towards the end, I give her huge credit for owning
it, not apologizing about it (she has nothing to be sorry for0 and
embracing it in a personal triumph we were expecting her character to
have on the big screen.
point is, sometimes bad is just plain bad and this is one of those
films, more apparent after you watch the 92 minutes of this
documentary. So many greater films deserve more attention, but it is
a reminde4r that Hollywood since the 1980s has made more awful,
hideous big budget bombs than they want to admit and as long as they
are not about much and meant to sell toys and junk, that is somehow
was not selling hardly any tie-ins, so it should have taken all kinds
of risks and it might have paid off. Eszterhas was obviously bored
writing the script, it often feels like pages from a bunch of other
scripts he forgot to throw out and just threw in anything that seems
unchallenging, stupid or unwise and was ultimately the victim of his
own success. At least Verhoeven continued to make good films.
are sadly no extras, but you can read about my thoughts on Showgirls
years ago at this link:
new thoughts include how it was pretty arrogant for two heterosexual
males to think they could write a telling film about non-white and
non-male characters in a white-male world, but the film even fails to
portray Las Vegas as a separate character like most great films that
are set their (Scorsese's Casino
(now in a great 4K disc), Elvis on Viva
Nicolas Cage in Leaving
the James Bond film Diamonds
and even the great TV movie The
with Darren McGavin all knew better) so this could have taken place
in Reno, Atlantic City or Miami and would it have mattered?
all the nudity, no one is very sexy and seems even desexed, like a
bunch of robots, even before any bad acting. The dumb moments or
dumb dialogue (or the rape scene which really pops out of nowhere and
seems very desperate when and where it is placed in the film) is
never honest, realistic or convincing. Berkeley did have the energy
to her credit to do what she did here, something I dare say most
actors or actresses would have had the energy or physical ability to
do, even if it was way more wasted than it should have been.
MTV style (what there is of it) was in decline and especially in the
Rap/Hip Hop era with its angrier and more urban style, the dancing
looks dated, but also not like you would have seen in mostly Vegas
productions not that time, leaving the choreography we see here in
some surreal world that we have never seen much before and definitely
(and thankfully!) since. I forgot to site the Jamie Lee Curtis/John
Travolta dud Perfect
as an influence on this film, but it is also great that no major film
or music video I can name has tried to emulate it.
the film had been groundbreaking and honest and actually had a
storyline or even simple plot that worked, we would be talking maybe
a disappointment from Verhoeven, but that he avoided director's jail
for it being a bomb is rare, even if he left Hollywood after Starship
was smarter than its audience (and some misguided critics) caught
onto. It could have been a step forward for women in cinema, but
when you get a film that fails in the ways this one did, it hurts all
of cinema and when things go bad and get rolled back like they
recently have (sometimes in the worst ways as this posts) you can
fell the failure all the more. The missed opportunities are many and
as tragic as the film's awfulness itself.
for playback performance. To
The Edge of the Sky
is presented in standard definition on DVD with an anamorphically
enhanced, widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and a lossy English 5.1
Dolby Digital mix. The film is low budget but shot digitally and
edited nicely, although as norm with the format there are some
compression issues evident. The image quality varies with some
arrival footage chosen, however, it doesn't detract too much from the
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Nomi
is the only Blu-ray on the list and best performer by default, but
despite the high quality of a few dozen movie clips, but older analog
video of the time and some amateur video really show their age.
Still, it is well edited and watchable enough. The
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is not bad, but often
dialogue and interview based, so only expect so much, and older clips
are barely stereo.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on McQueen
look decent too and also have high quality film clips, but there are
more markings on the behind the scenes film of making Le
than expected and some of the Kael footage is as old as anything on
the list. They still look good, are very watchable and should be on
Blu-ray. Both have lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound and are
fine, though many films here (including Le
are multi-channel stereo.
1.33 X 1 image on Target
can be really rough, even considering that some if it is that way to
start. All the documentaries have some rough footage including
analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine
flicker, tape scratching, digititis, cross color, faded color and
tape damage. Its just that Target
is rougher more often, but makes its points. Still its lossy Dolby
Digital 2.0 Stereo sound is monophonic or rough, so be careful of
volume switching and high playback levels.
Nicholas Sheffo and James