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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Health > Environment > Poison > Cancer > Sports > Women > Soccer > Counterculture > Urban > Gent > Into The Weeds (2022/Film Movement DVD)/Las Leonas (2022/Distrib/Icarus DVD)/Mondo New York (1988/MVD Blu-ray w/CD)/There Goes The Neighborhood (2022/IndiePix DVD)

Into The Weeds (2022/Film Movement DVD)/Las Leonas (2022/Distrib/Icarus DVD)/Mondo New York (1988/MVD Blu-ray w/CD)/There Goes The Neighborhood (2022/IndiePix DVD)

Picture: C+/C/B-/C+ Sound: C+/C/B-/C+ Extras: C+/C-/B/C- Films: B/B-/C+/B-

Now for the latest documentary releases....

Jennifer Baichwal and Dewayne ''Lee'' Johnson's Into The Weeds (2022) is yet another look at how bad the weed killer commercially known as 'Roundup' is, made by plastics and genetically engineered food maker Monsanto (now part of Bayer) and how they lied to sell it when they apparently knew it caused cancer. That included seeds with the substance in them so growing whatever the seed was would make for less weeds in advance, but instead, made growing areas even more cancerous.

Johnson had used a professional-grade version of the substance under the 'Ranger Pro' name and when he landed up getting the specific cancer known as Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and the weed killer was first identified as being a carcinogen, he sued the makers. The documentary combines interviews, facts, courtroom footage, the ugly effects on the body, news footage and much more to make a permanent record of how bad this was, is and could still be considering how much of it is in the ground worldwide. Going further than most news broadcasts, the results are comprehensible, priceless, archival and will only grow in importance as this disaster continues to ruin lives, poison land, poison food and kill people. Definitely recommended, especially if you have not heard enough about this to understand the situation.

Extras include a music video for the song 'Monster' and two featurettes: Into The Weeds Epilogue Call and Bees, Guts and Glyphosate.

Isabel Achaval and Chiara Bondi's Las Leonas (2022) is part of a fine cycle of behind the scenes sports documentaries, this time covering women from other countries coming to Italy to join one of six soccer leagues there and what it takes and took them to make it in, sometimes just not too easily. Though even fictional sports movies show struggle, this documentary has some unique situations and features the real gals doing what they can to make it and make their mark.

Sure, there is overlap, with this one even reminding me of some documentaries on ballet dancers of all things, but that also gives you an idea of the hard work that goes into the kind of unique performance you need in one of the most popular sports around. Of course, there is still some sexism towards female soccer leagues (known simply as football overseas, as you might know, despite the U.S. version that is a totally different game) and we get that, so these women, no matter where they are from, are breaking ground and glass ceilings every day. This documentary does a decent, honest job of capturing that.

Trailers are the only extras.

Harvey Keith's Mondo New York (1988) is part of a cycle of unrelated films with the word 'mondo' in them that promises a raw, uncensored, even graphic, ugly and disgusting look at life at its worst and grossest. That also means such films are exploitation films, but by accident, this one becomes a portrait of a dirty New York City of the past with XXX theaters, junkies, burnouts, mentally ill people and before corporations moved into Times Square and 'cleaned things up' relatively speaking.

Singer/performer Lydia Lunch shows up here, as well as performance artist Ann Magnuson, Joey Arias and Joe Coleman among the names of the time. Some footage is sexually and physically graphic enough that this unrated film could get an NC-17 today, but it is not quite as bad as some of the more ridiculous 'mondo' films that are just absolute junk. The legendary club CBGBs is also here, along with the streets of a highly urban New York in general, which helps offset some of the wackiness of the city that helped give us disco, punk and rap/hip hop music, the latter of which was just getting into full gear at the time.

This is not a film for everyone, but even if it does not sound like your cup of tea, those who love New York, the arts or history will want to give it a look. That is even if some of it is hard to watch.

Extras (per the press release) include:

  • Interview with Joe Coleman (HD, 49:33)

  • Interview with Joey Arias (HD, 49:48)

  • Interview with Shannah Laumeister (HD, 36:16)

  • Interview with producer Stuart Shapiro (HD, 27:20)

  • Photo Gallery

  • Soundtrack CD in decent stereo

  • High quality, well-illustrated 18-Page Booklet

  • Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:28)

  • Reversible Artwork

  • and a Collectible 2-Sided Mini-Poster

Ian Phillips' There Goes The Neighborhood (2022) is another documentary on the once unthinkable phenomenon of rich people and wealthy interests moving into older neighborhoods once given up for dead or for the poor, then spending millions to rebuild key parts of it so they can live there. This process, known (a term originating in the 1960s!) as gentrification, usually results in property values skyrocketing, the poor and vulnerable being forced to move and long-established communities being watered down or eliminated. Save a few who might own their homes and might want to cash in, though others are build into it or made to uncomfortably choose, as changes can include tax hikes, this often happens without most people there being able to stop it or have a say about it.

Director Phillips thinks things are so bad in their particular case of giant skyscrapers being built nearby his neighborhood, that he has called it 'hyper-gentrification' and does a series of interviews and pieces showing the people fighting it, the effects of strangers with much money coming it and not even talking directly with anyone and just how bad the cold way things are being handled happens.

Without any illicit appeals to pity, you can understand why lifetime residents who have only had so much in life feel challenged, uprooted, disturbed and even offended in all this. This is not to say that any time a big building or set of upscale new homes are built, it is destructive in itself, you have to have more construction, but these particular cases could be dealt with better and short-but-rich 72 minutes here show the way the builders and real estate people probably should not go about things. Though there are no easy answer, hard questions like the ones asked here need to be asked and the film does a solid job of asking them and showing the human beings affected.

Trailers are the only extras.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Mondo can show the age of the materials used, but color is good and the 2K scan (from either 16mm or 35mm color negative that was only so good, who knows what stocks they chose, not knowing how they would hold up) captures the look of the film. It is grainer than you might expect, but there are plenty of nighttime sequences or indoor sequences, so film stocks were only so clear then, especially when you have little budget and are on location. Even when some of the performances are by performers who know they are being filmed.

Originally in theatrical mono sound, the PCM 2.0 Stereo sound is a nice upgrade, but is simple at best and shows its age, something not quite as bad on the PCM 16bit/44.1kHz bonus music CD also included, but even that shows its age. The combination is as good as can be expected.

All three DVD are here in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image that all look good, but Las Leonas is a little softer (along with its limited sound being the poorest here) throughout for whatever reason, though its color is not bad. All DVDs offer lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, save Weeds, which adds a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 option. The resulting combination is as good as they can play in this format, though I wonder how much better they could be on Blu-ray. Hmmmm.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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