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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Filmmaking > WWII > Film Industry > Charity > Politics > Depression > Countercul > Audrey (2020/Bohemio Blu-ray)/Beautiful Darling (2010/Corinth DVD)/Deep In Vogue (2019*)/Queen Of Hearts: Audrey Flack (**)/Six By Sondheim (2013/HBO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The State Of Texas Vs. Mel

Audrey (2020/Bohemio Blu-ray)/Beautiful Darling (2010/Corinth DVD)/Deep In Vogue (2019*)/Queen Of Hearts: Audrey Flack (**)/Six By Sondheim (2013/HBO/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/The State Of Texas Vs. Melissa (2020/FilmRise/*both MVD Blu-rays)/2020 World Series Champions Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB/Shout! Factory Blu-ray Set)/White Riot (**both 2020/Film Movement DVDs)

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

PLEASE NOTE: The Six By Sondheim Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.

As it is awards season, here are a very interesting slew of documentaries...

Helena Coan's Audrey (2020, with the subtitle More Than An Icon) is a remarkable biography of the great actress Audrey Hepburn, a worldwide movie star and one of the last from the original Hollywood Studio System. With a wealth of rare film, photos, video and movie clips, this starts as a serious biography and how as a child, she barely survived WWII, then she wanted to be a dancer, but it was not working out as she hoped for. Then she tried the movies in the U.K. and things started to happen.

The second section kicks in and tells of her amazing rise as a movie star and how she becomes one of the most important stars of the post-WWII era, yet also exceeds her film work by also becoming an international fashion icon. It becomes amazing times in a whole new way and she changes the world of glamour and entertainment for the better forever.

Then comes the third part of her life where she is still not finding the personal happiness she wants, starts to move away from filmmaking and her star status,then becomes a huge representative for UNICEF and starts raising tens of millions of dollars for them to help the poorest children in the world. It is an amazing period she never discussed much, but achieved more than most people realize, but then that is the story of her whole, amazing life, why people still love her so much, long after she left us too soon. Audrey is one of the best biography documentaries of its kind and an amazing must-see you need to catch!

There are no extras, but you get plenty just the same.

James Rasin's Beautiful Darling (2010) is the oldest entry here, though as timely as ever in dealing with sexual identity. In a time where that was barely discussed openly in the 1960s, Andy Warhol was making all kinds of experimental films, many now classics and one of its focuses was Classical Hollywood in the pre-WWII era, especially when it came to the star system and art deco fantasies. As Hollywood was in transition and some decline, he would build a stable of acting regulars and one named himself Candy Darling.

Thus, this also means an emphasis on recreating, subverting and still trying to emulate a world of glamour that was long gone. Darling (real name James Slattery) would become a gay icon of his own and the influence of his stage identity and the Warhol revival of this Old Hollywood would resonate into the Disco era before the 1980s changed everything for the worst. The underrated actress Chloe Sevigny does the voice of Darling from archival writings, while interviewees include Julie Newmar, John Waters, Holly Woodland, Fran Lebowitz, Paul Morrissey, Michael J. Pollard and others, it is a sometimes sad-but-important story to tell.

If nothing else, most people still know Candy from Lou Reed's biggest solo hit song, his masterpiece (one of many) ''Walk On The Wild Side'' so now, you can see the whole story.

Trailers and a mini-poster are the only extras.

Amy Watson & Dennis Keighron-Foster's Deep In Vogue (2019) takes place in the U.K and tells the story of the culture of Vogueing in the gay community (transgendered, et al) and how that came to be, including the history and growth of this unique style of dancing. Much more complicated and advanced than you would think from the great music video for the his Madonna record ''Vogue'' while still wanting to emulate that glamour, this will show and tell you everything you need to know about it to date.

Running a very short 62 minutes, this is the one on this list that I really would have liked to see run longer and get more into the dancing aspects, but you also get to learn the personal and private stories of the people we meet and it is nice to see them get the respect and attention they deserve.

Extras include Additional Scenes and a Director's Feature-length Audio Commentary.

Deborah Shaffer's Queen Of Hearts: Audrey Flack (2020) tells the amazing story of one of the most underrated artists of the 20th Century and beyond, another great Audrey for us to discuss. Originally one of the few, remarkable painter and artists who could draw pictures so realistic they looked like photo-chemical pictures, she was the only female in the first wave of what we know as Photorealists and her sense of detail is only matched by her superior grasp of color and shadow. This is also a biography of a woman who had to fight against many odd to be a survivor and get respect for her work, which eventually led to sculpting, music and much more.

With rare photos, film and video footage, Flack is able to tell us all kinds of details, personal thoughts, observations and secrets about herself, the world at large, the arts and much more. Running a very rich 75 minutes, I wished this one was longer, but it is an amazing record giving an amazing genius long overdue credit and respect. The world has still not caught up with Audrey Flack, but its trying. A great lady and an amazing survivor, I definitely recommend this release.

Extras include a filmmakers Q&A at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and Deleted Scenes.

James Lapin's well-made Six By Sondheim (2013) is one of the best documentaries about music and stage performance in the last few decades and tells the great story of one of the premiere musical and music creators, one audiences still have not totally caught up with. This new Blu-ray upgrade has been issued by Warner Archive, who issued a DVD a few years ago that we reviewed at this link:


The upgrade was worth it, making everything clearer and even warmer, especially the music and since then, more of Stephen Sondheim's work has arrived on Blu-ray, et al (The Original Cast Album for A Little Night Music was even issued in an excellent Super Audio CD edition (hybrid with great CD tracks too) reviewed elsewhere on this site that renders all previous versions obsolete (save collectible original vinyl) and more of his wo0rk is being caught up with thanks to the awful pandemic still raging as this posts.

For all his success, most people still may know his various songs, but do not know who he is or that he created them. That's why people keep watching this special and recommending it. Add me to that list, again.

I hoped some extras would be added with the Blu-ray upgrade, maybe even some kind of update, but there are no extras.

Sabrina Van Tassel's The State Of Texas Vs. Melissa (2020) tells a terrible story of a woman being accused of killing her daughter, with limited facts presented in court, then being sent to death row! A little less surprising considering what has happened the last few years and that it is in Texas, Melissa is poor, Hispanic and possibly innocent Melissa Lucio, caught in a crossfire of more corruption than you can imagine including a politician who is also Hispanic and could care less what happens to her.

Now we could argue she was still responsible for her two-year-old child falling down the steps simply by not keeping an eye on her, but the charges are that she purposely pushed her to her death and the more one watches this, the more you start to question if it was that blatant. Of course, none of us were there, but she is not given the chance to have a proper, honest representation and it is appalling. Needless to say the story was not resolved by the end of the documentary and we did not look up any updates because we felt it more important to focus on the negligence of the system because Melissa cannot be the only one being railroaded like this.

Extras include an on-camera director's interview, Deleted Scenes and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Once again, Major League Baseball has followed up their annual World Series documentary with a much larger Blu-ray set that shows the entire game and more. The 2020 World Series Champions Los Angeles Dodgers mini-box set continues a series of larger releases that started with DVDs back when the games were primarily being shot on NTSC analog videotape. You can read more about the game in our coverage of the previous documentary here:


The new set takes 8 Blu-ray discs to show everything, plus bonus materials, but does its usual, thorough job that fans and completists will want to own. That makes it the most successful non feature film or TV series Blu-ray box set series in home video, well done as usual since A&E started the series many years ago.

Extras include stats on the sleeve insert, two of the NLCS games (3 & 7) before the big series here, multiple audio choices to watch the game by (see below) and an illustrated booklet with extensive game details.

Finally, we have Rubika Shaw's amusingly entitle White Riot (2020) about how some unbelievably ugly, overt and even violent racism in the U.K. was so bad, it had to be addressed immediately and musicians there decided to do something about it. Too bad we don't see enough of this in the U.S., et al.

Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart apparently said some things they should not have as anti-immigrant ideology was growing in the late 1970s, so photographer Red Saunders and a group of musicians created Rock Against Racism and started to fight back against that wave. Punk band Sham 69 got involved and were eventually joined by reggae legends Steel Pulse, staring a counter movement, then things get more interesting from there.

This runs 84 minutes and tells some amazing stories, gives amazing details and permanently captures one of the most important moments of truth in U.K. history (even as Thatcher was about to take the country over and send it in a bad direction it has yet to recover from) and it has become as relevant again. Highly recommended!

Trailers and previews are the only extras.

Now for playback performance, save the White Riot DVD at 1.85 X 1, all these releases have a 1.78 X 1 aspect ratio, though some older footage can be wider and even in the 1.33 X 1 frame. Footage can naturally be rough in spots, but all look about as good as can be expected and sometimes even great. Analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL cross color, NTSC decoding errors , faded color and tape damage. Film clips can either be great, or faded, scratched and a little dirty.

Of the five Blu-rays, the 1080p digital High Definition image on Audrey just outdoes the other four 1080p releases, with more consistent color, detail, depth and stability. The other four also look good and the Sondheim Blu-ray is definitely nicer to watch than the previously reviewed DVD, but you get a little more motion blur and detail issues. The Dodgers set cannot help this since so much is on each disc. Other location video can be rougher here and there too and all discs have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless sound, with Audrey (which also has decent PCM 2.0 Stereo) and Sondheim in 5.1, the rest in 2.0 Stereo. Sometimes, older audio and location audio are monophonic or barely stereo, but most everything in all cases is clear enough to hear and in rare cases, the makers have added unremovable subtitles. Dodgers has its alternate radio play-by-play and Spanish play-by-play tracks in lossy Dolby Digital 2,0 Stereo that is not as strong, but not awful either.

The anamorphically enhanced image on the three DVDs are equally good, including the same flaws as the HD releases above, but softer and sometimes one wishes you were watching a Blu-ray. Still, they look fine for the format. As for sound, all have both lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, save lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo only on Riot that can be a little weak and rough at times, so be careful of volume switching and high playback levels.

To order the Six By Sondheim Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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