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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Politics > Authoritarianism > Censorship > Ethnic Cleansing > Genocide > Murder > Crime > Or > Destruction Of Memory (2016/Icarus DVD)/David Susskind: I Was A Hitman For The Mafia (1973/DVD*)/James Cameron's Story Of Science Fiction (2018/AMC/RLJ Blu-ray Set)/Street Survivors (2020/Lynyrd Skyny

Destruction Of Memory (2016/Icarus DVD)/David Susskind: I Was A Hitman For The Mafia (1973/DVD*)/James Cameron's Story Of Science Fiction (2018/AMC/RLJ Blu-ray Set)/Street Survivors (2020/Lynyrd Skynyrd/Cleopatra Blu-ray w/DVD and CD/*both MVD)

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

Now, a new selection of special interest, documentary and docudrama releases...

There are many kinds of censorship, but the most severe between nation states has been destroying the culture of others nations, races, cultures, religions, and more. This has happened in colonialism and war throughout history, but has taken on a dark new turn in recent decades (spurred by the Axis Powers and Hitler saying he was trying to preserve 'Old Europe' before he and his allies bombed it all to hell). In an age of terrorism and desperation, Tim Slade's The Destruction OF Memory (2016) gets more specific about this and how bad this has become.

Ironically, it has been a tactic by some corporations in the U.S. and a particular administration in the past few years, so this 85-minutes was ahead of its time. Capitulation to such fascist/authoritarian has been going on for the last 40 years, but has become so obvious and blatant so quickly of late that it is worse than ever. Glad to see these examples for the record and the delusion that destroying artifacts, whether of recent history or of hundreds or thousands of years of history, will make the truth, history or even people disappear is as ugly as it is pathetic.

But many people know what they are getting into when they play these sick, sad games against the truth, history and trying to manipulate the future in shallow ways (especially in the internet age!) so there is much blame and guilt to go around. As usual, U.S. media has done a terrible job of covering this and the lack of honest, strong, smart, important journalism in most cases has taken a backseat to ratings and money, a far cry from the 1970s. Glad to see this one.

The only extra is an update clip by Director Slade, where he covers some progress and regress, et al.

David Susskind: I Was A Hitman For The Mafia (1973) is the latest episode of the great talk show host/producer's catalog, a show originally broadcast between the release of Coppola's two Godfather films and so popular, it was rebroadcast (pre-VHS & Beta) and a high ratings winner for the show. Essentially, an unidentified man in disguise (though the attempt to hide his voice is extremely primitive, especially by today's standards) going by the name of ''Joey'' has just written a book about his like as a killer.

How he started as an early teen killing people for what seemed like a big amount of money at the time (in fairness to him, amounts like $5,000 were more money then than now, of course) and he is very casual about al the people he killed (38 by his count) seems believable and in light of everything we now know about all such criminal organizations (especially in the face of Martin Scorsese's output and The Sopranos), more likely then when this was first shown.

Running a mere 53 minutes, he has plenty to say and I love both Susskind's reactions and questions, this is worth seeing just for the interactions and then less familiar situation, even if the subject matter is not your cup of tea. I am really enjoying seeing these shows, some of which (like this one) I did see before a long time ago.

There are no extras.

I was glad to finally catch up to James Cameron's Story Of Science Fiction (2018) documentary mini-series about the rise of one of the most important genres ever. It has some great clips, interviews with key people who love and care about this and best of all, we see Cameron personally interviewing filmmakers of his commercial and critical calibre: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Christopher Nolan and Ridley Scott, really all for the first time on camera for the public to see.

You can see these men are all good friends, love film and have plenty to discuss and share with each other and the audience. It has a certain charm to it that is even greater than the weight it carries, though I was particularly happy to see Scott (Alien) and Cameron (Aliens) finally talk about their classic films together. Some archival interview clips are here of some legends and new interviewees on their own include Will Smith, Paul Verhoeven, Ed Neumeier, Douglas Trumbull and Sigourney Weaver. There are many more, but I will not spoil that.

Cameron could have done a chronological history, but the six episodes (over 40 minutes each) break it all down by six subjects: "Alien Life", "Space Exploration", "Monsters", "Dark Futures", "Intelligent Machines, and "Time Travel". That worked and is a good approach, but there are still plenty of films not discussed, a few TV shows missed and some other films noted are not as relevant as the best. However, ti is a great show, worth the wait and highly recommended just the same.

The only extra is six brief interview clips of Cameron with Lucas, Spielberg, del Toro, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and Schwarzenegger.

Finally, in 1977, the last flight of Lynyrd Skynyrd came crashing down from the sky, the survivors fell into the Louisiana swamp. After escaping the wreckage, drummer Artimus Pyle walked through the swamp to find and bring back help for the survivors in Street Survivors: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash (2020).

It's all fun, games, sex, drugs and rocking & roll until the plane comes crashing down. Lynyrd Skynyrd was considered a Southern rock legend, but after chartering a fateful flight, him, his band members and their groupies was hardly knowing that this was going to be their last flight. Due to faulty gauges, partying and alcohol, things kept going from bad to worse as the pilot didn't realize they were low on gas and 'accidentally' dumped the remaining fuel. Told through the eyes of a surviving drummer Artimus Pyle he tells how they met their ends and then how he bravely walked through the swamp to find help for the survivors. Afterwards, Artimus had to deal with the fallout with media and the label company who denied their responsibility in chartering an out-of-date plane and then completely denied medical coverage for the survivors and then proceeded to steal millions from them.

This was based off a true story of how a legend died, Lynyrd Skynyrd was considered the King of American Southern rock n' roll, they thought the party would never end. Through the eyes and story of one of the few surviving members, he tells of how his band, his friends all died and while the survivors did get help, the rest of society, law enforcement, and managers did nothing. Years later they even still tried to silence Artimus from telling his version of the story. Extras include actually documentary, interviews, trailers and much more.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Memory can be a little soft in fine detail, but looks good for the format otherwise, though I wish this were a Blu-ray. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has a few mono moments, but is fine otherwise.

The 1.33 X 1 image transfer on Susskind can show the age of the materials used and this seems to be a copy of the original 1973 show as Susskind shows up saying it is a rebroadcast by popular demand. Color is not bad, but the image is soft and we get analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross color, faded color and tape damage. The PCM 2.0 Mono fares a bit better.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on the six Cameron episodes looks fine and it is a top rate production, so no flaws there, while the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix is good for such a mini-series, though some of these films are in 12-track sound, so know there are obvious sonic limits. Interview audio is recorded very clearly.

The 1080i 2.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Street is competent and looks as good as it can for what it is, while the anamorphically enhanced DVD is much weaker and softer, especially by being so oddly overly widescreen. The PCM 2.0 Stereo CD is fine for what it is. Both video versions sadly have lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, a problem for Cleopatra on their Blu-rays. They have a bizarre aversion to lossy sound. It is passable at best.

- Nicholas Sheffo and Ricky Chiang (Street)


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