Of The European Working Class
(2020/*both Icarus DVDs)/Solo
C/B-/C+/C+ Sound: C/B-/C+/C+ Extras: D Main Programs:
for a new set of documentaries for your consideration...
Tze Woon's Blue Island (2022) is the latest of a series of
very important, very disturbing stories about how Chinese Citizens
are being censored, mistreated and far worse by their government,
which has become increasingly intolerant of any political activity
(as if they tolerated much of it to begin with) and the people who
love their country there trying to stand up, make changes and just
not being able to tolerate the oppression and far worse, hoping to
make a change that will make a better future there.
mix of some reenactments and actual footage, remarkable in that it
got made and survived, instead of being destroyed and being featured
in this release literally at the possible cost of human lives. The
crackdown here in particular is in Hong Kong, a relatively freer
place for lucky Chinese citizens to go at one point, having been
given back to the People's Republic of China a few decades ago by the
British. Part of this was because it was a big financial hub, but
mainland Chinese officials (among other placers) are just cracking
down on everyone left and right, not to mention 'COVID lockdowns' as
we post that may have more to them than just viruses.
four young people and their fates, this took five years to make and
they managed to bring this in at 97 minutes, though I bet there is
plenty still to see. Still, these documentary releases are of vital
importance because these stories are hardly being told and we cannot
hear enough of them. Glad this priceless record is complete.
Smith's Can't Be Stopped (2022) is about the rise of graffiti
artists on the West Coast in the 1980s and early 1990s, specifically
in Los Angeles and how despite many groups of artists forming crews,
the one of the title (or C.B.S. for short, which likely still drives
CBS/Paramount/Viacom up the wall) became the predominant, innovative
and most groundbreaking of them, all. They land up expanding
graffiti into more that 'just vandalism' and shows the roots of where
graffiti landed up today.
dozens of people interviewed who were part of the history in action
(plus actor David Arquette, who happened to also be there back in the
day,) the program uses its short 74 minutes to tell the story with
tons of rare stills, video clips and much more. Graffiti films have
yet to become a cycle, but the best ones like this deal with it as an
artform and the people who led for real lives as the reason it is art
to begin with. Also, these individuals are more talented than they
ever get credit for and now in a digital age where graphics are too
easy to make, their work not only stands the test of time, it has
become more important and holds up better than anyone could have
more releases on graffiti and its culture, try these links:
Wars (1983) Blu-ray
Fresh (2005) DVD
The Nasty Terrible T-Kid: Julius Cavero (2014) DVD
Neumann's A History Of The European Working Class (2020) is a
remarkable documentary TV series (French produced, but in English
here) about how mom and pop workers who produced their own goods and
worked for no one else where suddenly blindsided by the rise of the
Industrial Age and forced out of business by machines and mass labour
(or labor) and had to either find something else to do (rare) or
unwillingly, reluctantly become part of a larger industrial company
where they had little pay, no rights and no benefits.
gist of the four nearly-hour-long episodes is that even in the U.S.,
where unionization and higher rewards and benefits still did not
negate one iota that workers are always being used and dumped, no
matter how well they can make out. That has some validity, but
corporations have been waging war on unions, which peaked in about
1950 and how their decline shows the original issues the program
displays in the first place.
its credit, it is extremely well researched and even shows (in the
analog era?) all the peaks of (often temporary) victory consolidated,
unionized labor had made for itself. It also argues in our new era
of robots and digital information age, it could be the end of workers
of any world uniting as so much has changed and many workers do not
even understand or have asked how they have what they have. Since
this show was made, the globalization it constantly brings up has
suddenly collapsed to a great extent and people are asking more
questions than ever after the rise of fascism, hate and
authoritarianism in democracies that would have been unthinkable up
until the 1970s.
you land up liking, agreeing or disagreeing with here, this is very
smart, gets you to think and touches upon almost everything you could
imagine on the subject. For being so left of center itself, it shows
how communism was doomed to fail in ways you may not have thought of
and leaves hardly no stone unturned. My only issue is its use of
animation as a teaching tool, which has its moments, but might almost
become unintentionally satirical, something they do not intent.
Otherwise, this is a smart, must-see series more than worth your time
and if you only know so much about European History of any kind, is a
real plus for you to check out.
conclude with Ola Pankratova's Solo (2021) about a group of
young dancers, artists, et al, trying to deal with personal and
actual physical pain though dance and much more. The art forms
include pole dancing (!), hip hop experimenting, ballet, vogueing and
something out of Russia called krump that might have become popular
had the genocidal invasion of Ukraine had not happened.
so many dance documentaries we have seen lately in what has been a
big cycle of them, this one follows its subjects for long periods of
time and then cuts it all back and forth for best impact and this one
has been as interesting as any we've seen lately. Instead of the
usual 'future artists' or 'can they become artists and succeed?'
story, this gets more personal as their added problems add weight to
the real life tales told.
this one stayed with me a little more than other such releases and
offered some new scenes and ideas throughout. At 86 minutes, it
could have gone on for a few more minutes, but works well enough to
for playback performance. The
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on Stopped
may be a mix of old and new video, including stills and very dated
NTSC analog video, but it still manages to be the best-looking of the
presentations, partly by default. It has DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes, but much of the
video is stereo at best with the occasional music insert, while the
oldest audio really shows its age.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the three DVD releases are
as good as they can get for the format, though Blue Island has
much rougher footage under the circumstances (whomever is recoding
audio and video is trying not to get arrested, tortured or executed
for subversion, et al) so it is the way it is for a reason. In all
cases, low def digital and/or analog videotape/chip/hard drive flaws
can include video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape
scratching, cross color, faded color, dropouts and tape damage.
the DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, save Working Class
with only lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on its episodes, but it is
surprisingly clean and clear. It is Blue Island that again
has a much rougher presentation for the same reasons noted above, but
it has subtitles, so that helps.
sadly, as well as surprisingly, none of these discs have any extras