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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Filmmaking > Arts > Stage > Performance > Design > Furniture > Cinematographer (2020/MVD/Lightyear Blu-ray)/Invisible Imprints (2022/IndiePix DVD)/Monobloc (2021/Icarus DVD)

Cinematographer (2020/MVD/Lightyear Blu-ray)/Invisible Imprints (2022/IndiePix DVD)/Monobloc (2021/Icarus DVD)

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

Some more documentaries on arts and craft follow...

Dan Asma's Cinematographer (2020) is a solid look at the art of what cameramen and especially Directors of Photography do to bring motion pictures, television, TV commercials, music videos and much more to life. Specifically, it focuses on a key section of talents that launched in the 1970s, but even more so, on the hard work, innovations, organizational powers and great thinking of Donald M. Morgan, whose DP work includes Miss Evers' Boys, Santee, early films by Robert Zemeckis, several 1980s John Carpenter films and many classic TV commercials.

Early on, he is blunt about having to deal with alcoholism, how he made a big break from it and became a cinematographer in its place and all the personal struggles he has had, plus how he made it a point since going dry to help as many people in similar trouble as possible. His outreach went beyond that with fellow cameramen and so many people in the industry over the decades. It gives us a great look behind the scenes as well (he is also well-known for his aerial photography) and how the industry was back the and can still be now.

It is also another one of those key untold stories that were long overdue to be revealed and the result is a very pleasant surprise that all serious film fans really need to catch up with. It also gives credit to so many others we rarely hear about from a time when Hollywood rebuilt itself. These creative individuals cannot be paid or thanked enough for that!

There are sadly no extras.

Jay Paris' Invisible Imprints (2022) is yet another backstage arts documentary showing a group of young talents getting into action on stage and as noted with similar such recent releases, part of a sort of unrecognized cycle of such releases. I have noted that part of the mini-boom is because the worst of COVID lockdowns are behind us, but also because of the times we live in, a reiteration of the arts and its importance.

Unfortunately, though these are talented, hard working individuals with dreams and the talent to possibly make them come true, so maybe this will become a curio like those other releases if at least one of them makes it big, but the approach is too similar to the many others we have seen before. It is still worth a look now if interested, but points for it dealing with racism and at least another point for it being in the great city of Chicago.

Extras include a feature-length audio commentary by the director, trailer and Together - 6 Feet Apart featurette.

Hauke Wendler's Monobloc (2021) takes a subject that you might think would not offer enough for a TV special, let alone feature-length documentary, but how a chair that became a massive international bestseller made from one big molded unit of plastic with many variants manages to deliver a much longer and more interesting story than expected. Invented in France in the 1970s, it became their biggest export since the Eclair motion picture camera.

Can he find its origins, its inventor, its influences and the story that is barely out there about the chair? Well, this one runs 91 minutes and will surprise you if you give it a chance. It also adds other things to say, but it makes sense and is in context to the subject.

A 15-minutes long interview with Director Hauke Wendler is the only extra.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Cinematographer is easily the best-looking release here and not just because it is the only Blu-ray, but because the new HD footage is solid, the classic film clips and stills are great and they all meld together well. The sound includes two options in lossless DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM 2.0 Stereo, with my preference being the DTS, but much of this is dialogue-based. Thus, you can only expect so much from the sound, but it is well recorded, edited and mixed.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the two DVDs have good color, but Bloc can be a little softer throughout than expected and that is not just because of older film or video clips. Both DVDs also offer only one soundtrack, lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, but Imprints suffers more because of location audio issues and slight volume issues during interviews.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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