The Virgil Films DVD release of the 2017 documentary "Maynard" joins the ranks of the numerous documentaries on prominent individuals in the Virgil catalog. Reviews of many of these can be found in the Virgil Films section of this site.
Watching the film shows the political star power of the talking heads and the incredible accomplishments of the subject. The notables who sing the praises of this guy who truly made a difference include Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson.
The story of Maynard arguably begins with grandfather John Wesley Dobbs, who was a high-ranking Mason. It also seems that his father, whose profession as a minister increases the impact of a traumatic event, is a strong influence on this first black mayor of Atlanta. This career politician literally being a boy genius who enrolls in college at 14 further helps set him on the road to success.
A common theme among family, friends, colleagues, and admirers is that Maynard does not hesitate to strive for greatness. This includes beginning his political career with a 1968 failed long-shot bid for Senate. We also hear how this goes over at home at a time early in his marriage.
Our story continues with Maynard becoming the Number 1 of the Atlanta mayor but not being a good company man. A subsequent challenge to the boss for the corner office does not do anything to endear our young lion to his employer.
The tenure of Maynard as mayor alone warrants a documentary if not a Hollywood biopic. We learn of the handling of a personality clash with the mayor and a related cheating scandal regarding a police exam. This is not to mention Maynard serving during the mass disappearances and killings of young black boys in his city.
On a more positive note, we see how Maynard leads the effort to expand the airport that now bears his name. Clinton and others discuss how this man uses his trademark tenacity to make this happen.
One of the more amusing stories relates to the means by which Maynard persuades banks to place black people on their boards of directors. This issue truly proves the golden rule within a couple of meanings of that phrase.
Of course, the surface message of "Maynard" is that the subject is a trailblazer. This includes successors discussing the challenges that any Atlanta mayor who cares faces. The deeper lessons are that everyone should be judged based on his or her merits and that JFK is right in extolling folks to do the right thing because it is hard.
Virgil Films contributes to its growing impressive non-fiction catalog (see "Virgil Films" section of this site) with the DVD release of the 2015 film "The Uncondemned." This documentary about three young Americans who are adequately woke to get involved in prosecuting a rape case in Rwanda adheres to the good documentary model of putting a human face on a larger story to teach viewers much more than we learn in news accounts.
The accolades for "Uncondemned" include a Social Justice award and a separate "Film of Conflict and Resolution" honor at the 2015 Hamptons International Film Festival.
The following YouTube clip of an "Uncondemned" trailer compellingly introduces both the human faces and the larger events.
Primary subject American attorney Pierre-Richard Propser promptly provides proper perspective. He recalls being aware of the genocide and the other atrocities in Rwanda in 1994 but seeing nothing but O.J. coverage on American newscasts. This compels this prosecutor to do a form of Peace Corps service by offering his services to the overwhelmed judicial system that is seeking to put the accuseds on trial for their charged offenses.
We similarly see recent law-school graduate Lisa Pruitt offer her services as an investigator, Her rude awakening in the form of an indication that no good deed goes unpunished fortunately is not the end of the story.
The human faces of the story also include the numerous women who very bravely volunteer to testify at the trial of a mayor who is facing war crime charges for his role in a series of rapes. Witness JJ steals the show for many reasons in addition to beer apparently being the only beverage that she drinks.
The O.J. element re-enters the film in the form of copious footage of the trial of the mayor. We see the same adversarial legal tactics and reversals for both sides that make "The Trial of the Century" so fascinating,
All of this ends with the verdict. The courtroom drama this time is that any outcome is noteworthy. A conviction clearly shows that the new sheriff in town will not let the sins of the recent past go unpunished. A finding of not guilty will show that justice massively has not prevailed.
The Virgil Films June 9, 2020 DVD release of the 2020 documentary "Code Blue: Redefining the Practice of Medicine" truly could not come at a better time. This propaganda for lifestyle medicine offers a way to avoid falling into the clutches of shamelessly greedy medical corporations (I'm talkin' to you Lifespan of Rhode Island) with laughable non-profit status at a time that every measure of national health is collapsing. The film also promotes going vegan at a time that meat-processing plants are disease ridden and the one package of steak that we are allowed to buy costs $15/pound,
The highly personal nature of the topic to narrator/activist Dr. Saray Stancic justifies a brief detour into Blogland to share previously private relevance. Your not-so-humble reviewer has a hereditary disease with a fairly definite expiration date. My highly significant other telling me soon after the diagnosis that only eating vegetables would be beneficial and my replying "yeah, like I'm gonna do that" alone directly speaks to "Code." Coincidentally then eating a bowl of magically delicious Lucky Charms speaks even more directly to the film. On a better note, I have maintained a long-standing habit of using my elliptical machine at full force for one hour a day every other day.
The big picture is that I am adhering to Agnostic Science in that I recognize the possibility that the disease will go away on its own.
Before returning to our regularly scheduled programming, I will add that the aforementioned avarice of Lifespan and its ilk is preventing getting monitoring and related treatment. Lifespan disregarding the coding of a blood test with a roughly $50 out-of-pocket price and conducting a $6,000 test for which it wanted (but did not get) $2,900 out-of-pocket is consistent with my experience with that company. Sadly my insurance company, which gets roughly $550/month directly from me, and my doctor repeatedly have stated that there are no means to prevent Lifespan from doing the same in the future. Sadly, that behemoth corporation essentially is the only game in town in The Ocean State.
Stancic expresses similar outrage by clearly expressing anger regarding the very valid point that doctors are not expected to live in poverty but are obliged to not pursue outrageous fortune at the expense of the quality of care that they provide patients.
The strong advocacy of Stancic for lifestyle medicine stems from an out-of-the-blue (no pun intended) MS diagnosis during the third year of her residency. The not-so-great prognosis begat investigating lifestyle medicine, which begat her activism, which begat "Code."
The early research of Stancic includes reading "The China Study" of T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. Campbell appears in "Code" to discuss his analysis of the dietary habits of the people in several Chinese communities. His discussing the average lifespan of the studied population is akin to a '70s-era commercial that attributes the longevity of people in a Russian village to consuming large quantities of yogurt.
Another medical practitioner amusingly tells of a hospital gift shop selling cigarettes and of the heavy consumption of that product by the doctors on staff. Another general hospital tale is of the highly lucrative practice of performing bypass surgery. This relates to the not-so-hidden secret that doctors and hospitals alike amass large fortunes from operating (no pun intended) pill mills and performing assembly-line level medical procedures.
Stancic wraps up "Code" with a charming portrayal of the current crop of medical students that are embracing lifestyle medicine. This includes some future physicians taking a course in healthy cooking and a youthfully exuberant student sharing plans to pursue a career of teaching lifestyle medicine. Time will tell if all this idealism survives the burden of long hours in internships and residencies, as well as the lure of the numerous shiny toys that having M.D. after your name provides a chance to buy.
The bottom line this time is that Stancic shows how placing the wants of the few over the needs of the many are putting many of us in premature graves. She seriously is invited to reach out to me if she thinks that she can help.
Expert purveyors of thought-provoking documentaries Icarus Films and Bullfrog Films continue their long-standing beautiful friendship with the April 21, 2020 DVD release of the 2018 non-fiction movie "The Sequel." This one is a study of the life of futurist David Fleming. The Fleming opus "Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It" is sadly relevant in this era in which it seems that COVID-19 ain't ever goin' nowhere.
The message of "Sequel" is similar to (reviewed) fellow recent Icraus Film "System Error." "Error" both studies capitalism and provides reason to think that the good run for that model is reaching its end.
Like all good documentaries, "Sequel" stars strong; crystal-clear images of earth from space soon lead to a group of students in an Ewok-caliber forest (sans redwoods) getting an awesome ecology lesson. A measuring tape is used to represent the history of the earth from its beginnings to the present; major events get a 25-words-or-less explanation, and our highly industrialized society is seen at the end of the tape (i.e., rope).
We next hear from friends, colleagues, and devotees of textbook academic Fleming. The Great Man himself also enlightens us about the entertaining story that leads to the writing of "Logic." There is no doubt that Fleming pours his heart into that tome.
The basic idea is that we need a sea change in an effort to stop the polar ice caps from flooding us and/or to prevent another plague-level disaster from making humans either extinct or an endangered species. Another way of stating this is it is the end of the world as we know it, and it is up to us as to whether we feel fine.
A segment on the failure of Greece to rebound from its massive economic downfall is a particularly impactful example. The images of modern-day poverty and the dismal statistics as to the lack of wealth of the nature seem to be what will soon be the case in America.
The bottom line is that modern events show that the guy who literally wrote the book on the subject is right; whether we heed is message may well be a matter of life or death.
'Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band' Blu-ray, DVD, Digital: One More Waltz for Epitome of Folk Rockers
The star power in front of and behind the camera as to the 2019 documentary "Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band" is enough to make the Magnolia Pictures May 26, 2020 Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital releases of this tribute to that quintet must-see for the broad demographic to which it appeals. The underlying blockbuster-worthy tale seals the deal.
The aforementioned behind-the-scenes talent includes executive producers Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and long-time Howard production partner Brian Grazer. Director Daniel Roher gives PBS darling Ken Burns ample reason to look over his shoulder.
The titular frontman is the tip of the iceberg as to the Hall of Fame musicians who make up the talking heads (sans David Byrne) in the film. We hear quite a bit from former "Band" member Eric Clapton, former frontman for the titular band of brothers Bob Dylan, and devoted fans Bruce Springsteen and Peter Gabriel.
The festival love that verifies that "Robertson" gets its material down pat includes a 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival Best of the Fest award for Roher. The 2019 Whistler Film Festival expresses its regard via a World Documentary Award win.
The following compelling trailer for "Robertson" highlights the charm and insight of Robertson, who narrates the film. We also get plenty of PG stories of sex, and drugs, and rock-and-roll that are de rigueur for any group of musicians.
Robertson awesomely starts his tale as a Toronto teen in the '50s; this early tales remind us that the adolescents of the Great White North are just the same as the kids living south of their border.
The "When It Began" (apologies to disgruntled father-in-law Dylan) tale continues with Robertson sharing how he and future fellow "Band" mate Levon Helm come to join the Hawkmen of Canadian idol Ronnie Hawkins. The admiration that Hawkins expresses for Robertson in the documentary is one of many examples of a mutual admiration society in this feel-good film in an pandemic era.
The "its complicated" nature of the relationship between Robertson and Helm drives much of the film; Team Scorsese chooses wisely in initially depicting Helm as an infectiously enthusiastic lad and going on to show how he succumbs to the Bieber Syndrome that seemingly infects every Disney Channel star.
The Dylan connection also makes for good entertainment; we see how domestic and foreign audiences react to that rock god putting Team Robertson on the payroll; the course of that relationship is another aspect that screams for Howard to make a big-budget biopic about Robertson.
We further learn of the history behind Scorsese adopting this project; a segment in "Robertson" focuses on the "Band" 1976 concert film "The Last Waltz," which turns out to be a swan song for that group, that Scorsese films. A memory of Clapton as to that event further proves that Robertson is a guy with whom one would enjoy sharing a Molson.
The big picture this time is that films like "Robertson" strive for the same goal as this site; namely, to keep American pop culture alive for as long as possible. We are very lucky to be able to hear from this guitar hero. He was there at the beginning, successfully kept up with the times as they were a changin', and is still around to coherently tell his tale. This sadly literally makes him part of a rapidly dying breed.
The Icarus Films April 28, 2020 DVD release of the 2018 Florian Optiz documentary "System Error" provides an inadvertently timely look at the limits of capitalism at a time that a majority of Americans either have massive income insecurity or are on the verge of doing so. The most inadvertently amusing segment features massively failed White House Director of Communications Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci. One of the best things about the movie is that achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
This film, which features numerous intertitles of quotes from Karl Marx, has talking heads from several countries weigh on whether the growth potential for capitalism is infinite. One of the most effective topics is the wide-scale development of the Rain Forest; a soybean producer who is doing more than his share to force monkeys out of their habitats is the ideal face for this.
One spoiler is that the film shows us that nothing is unlimited; a good example of this is the Flash Crash and the markets since that time.
The bottom line this time is that bad times traditionally do lead to good times, but all parties must end.
Film Movement fully demonstrates its art-house cred. regarding the DVD release of the documentary "Narcissister Organ Player." This documentary about the titular performance artist reflects the spirit of this genre by provoking a strong or negative reaction.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Narcissister" highlights every element of the film. You get both a glimpse of the freakish theme of the performances and of the psychological bases for those works.
Love her or hate her, one must give Narcissister her due for her creativity and performance ability. The opening scenes demonstrate how she uses her trademark plastic mannequin masks and phenomenal agility to put on what even her biggest fans must admit is a freakish show, These displays are sure to provoke nightmares in small children, who are too young to watch an often topless woman pull items out of her vagina.
The extensive narrative by Narcissister puts her art in perfect context. The starting point is that she is the mixed-race daughter of a Sephardic Jewish mother from Morocco and a black father from Los Angeles, who is a certified physics genius. Growing up brown-skinned among beautiful blonde-haired and blue-eyed people in Southern California also helps make our subject the woman she is today.
A particular manner in which Narcissister makes her use of plastic masks a statement is her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. An element of this is the artist adoring the movie star during the youth of the former and having her parents inform her of the falseness of the idolized beauty,
A rather vivid piece in which Narcissister relives her birth is one of the most symbolic scenes in the film; we also see her live out her fantasy of being a lady who lunches; the bizarre twist at the end is pure performance art. On top of this, we witness a freaky scene in which Narcissister portrays a grunge teen boy only to have things once again go in an even weirder direction,
The strongest behind-the-scenes theme of "Narcissister" is the relationship between the woman of the hour-and-31-minutes and her mother. We extensively see and hear from the elder woman, who shows that the apple does not fall far from the tree. It is clear that Narcissister owes her maternal parent as much thanks for her fame as Christina Crawford owes Mommie Dearest for hers.
Mom also is the center of a childhood memory that will gross out anyone who has ever had a mother. Suffice it to say that the scene that a young Narcissister inadvertently witnesses should be far more traumatic than walking in on parents having sex. This ties with a piece (no pun intended) that is an actual depiction of a piece of excrement as the most disgusting moment in this inarguably provocative documentary.
The bonus features provide the litmus test regarding this particular fandom. Folks whom Narcissister leaves wanting more will delight in the extended and deleted scenes of her performances. Viewers whom she does not enchant will decide that they have had enough.
The Indiepix Films DVD of the 2014 documentary "Is Anybody Listening" sadly has become highly relevant in our dystopian times that being under house arrest has greatly exasperated. The film discusses the non-profit Listen to a Veteran that "Anybody" writer/narrator Paula J. Caplan operates to give veterans a listening post in the form of open pair of ears and a shut mouth. The overall concept is that veterans know that even civilians with the best intentions in the world cannot understand serving in combat or even being a member of the armed forces.
The following Indiepix trailer for "Listening" expertly conveys the solid theme and tone of the film.
Listen is the result of Caplan realizing after several retellings over many years that she merely was hearing her father tell the story of his experience as the leader of an all-black group of soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. Her valid reasoning is that picturing her father going through that is highly traumatic. One of those soldiers participating in "Anybody" adds a great deal to the film.
Caplan, who is a psychologist, also understands that veterans are unfairly stigmatized. She states that the conventional false wisdom is that anyone who wants to join the military does so out of a desire to kill. The rest of this inaccurate story is that having to kill and experience the other negative aspects of military life creates a mental illness. The stable and articulate veterans who participate in "Anybody" show that both perceptions are false.
One especially likable veteran discussing the impact of military life hits a highly personal note that is relatable to most of us. A friend has kindly stated as to my concerns regarding the perception of my behavior during a long period of torment that I was reasonably acting in response to an unreasonable situation, The epilogue to this is choosing my current home because it on a corner lot facing away from other houses; I drive into the attached garage and have nothing to do with the neighbors.
The bigger picture as to all this is that many of us avoiding "listening" to what we do not want to hear and that all of us need a caring judgmental person to take that hit.
Virgil Films awesomely breaks out of its comfort zone by deviating from its pattern of mostly releasing family-friendly fare on home-video to bring a DVD of "Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street" (2020) to small screen everywhere on March 3, 2020. This aptly camptastic documentary on the 1985 horror film "Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" can be considered Mark's revenge.
This film chronicles the campaign of (still studly) then-closeted "2" star Mark Patton to get screenwriter David Chaskin to acknowledge that the material, rather than the leading man, is the basis for identifying "2" as the "gayest horror movie ever made." The comma between "Scream" and "Queen" in the documentary title reinforces the related observation that Patton is a member of the same sorority as Jamie Lee Curtis.
A "Queen" scene in which Chaskin states that he directed Patton to scream but never instructed him to do it like a girl provides a good sense of the dynamic between the two. "Queen" filmmakers Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen repeatedly inserting "distracting" "2" clips of an S&M shower scene that "aptly" likely is a favorite of Bryan Singer and footage of Patton separately in his well-packed tightie-whities and doing an awesome bump and jerk dance proves that those documentarians know their target audience very well.
Sadly, "Queen" omits a "Revenge" scene in which Patton get pantsed while wearing a jock strap. This memorable moment proves that he works his ass off to take one for the team.
The following trailer for "Queen" goes beyond highlighting the aforementioned style of both "Revenge" and "Queen" to address the accompanying substantial substance of the latter. Namely, the price that Patton pays for playing such a gay character in the not-so-enlightened '80s. This is on top of his having to sacrifice being fully true to himself by taking walks of shame in WeHo in pursuit of a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
"Queen" does an excellent job making Patton both the poster boy for closeted actors in the '80s and the comeback kid beginning with a 2010 "Never Sleep Again" event celebrating the "Nightmare" franchise.
Anyone with a heart will have it break on hearing Patton discuss literally and figuratively being kept out of the picture regarding a profile of his live-in partner "Dallas" stud Timothy Patrick Murphy. The "your little dog too" element of this shows that Mark is a good friend of Dorothy. "Distracting" clips of Murphy remind viewers of the extent to which Lucy Ewing love interest Mickey was so fine and blew our minds. Oh, Mickey.
The better news is that we also see Little Markie, happy at last in the present. His loving relationship is only the tip of the iceberg as to his happy life south of the border. He also is an icon among gay horror fans and is gracious as to returning their love.
The bottom (no pun intended) line as to all this is that "Queen" shows both that gay boys can deliver as well as breeders of both genders and that irrational fears and prejudices ruin careers and deprive folks all along the art versus commerce scale regarding entertainment. That is the real nightmare in this case.
The Icarus Films March 10, 2020 DVD of the 2018 documentary "Time Thieves" (not to be confused with the 1981 Terry Gilliam film "Time Bandits") aptly is a good investment of 85 minutes and will leave you wanting more.
Writer/director Cosima Dannoritzer shows a mastery of her subject in the manner in which she presents her theme on the role of time in the context of business. Each segment is the perfect length, and the overall pace is brick but far from overwhelming.
An early topic in "Thieves" inarguably is the most entertaining in a film full of highlights and lacking a single dull moment. The viewers are introduced to a Amsterdam restaurant in which the diners do all the work to put the food on their tables. The true payoff is the statement of the method behind that madness.
Another highly amusing segment centers around a married couple that were efficiency expert pioneers. Those parents manipulating their unwitting offspring into doing their literal and figurative dirty work is hilarious.
We also learn early on that rail fatalities play a big role in America fully going on the clock in the 1880s; Dannoritzer deserves minute (pun intended) criticism for not addressing how the proliferation of digital clocks and watches in the 1970s escalates the general American obsession with time.
A large focus is on the well-known Japanese work ethic. Learning about the negative economic impact of Japanese people not using all of their vacation time is amusing; the tale of employees at a Japanese electronics firm playing cat-and-mouse with their employer in order to double-down on overtime is bittersweet; learning about the karoshi, which describes overworking being a primary factor in a death is tragic.
Dannoritzer introduces us to the highly sympathetic widow of a chef/karoshi victim. We also learn of the extensive support system for folks who are in imminent danger of the same fate as the chef.
The timely lesson of all this is that the per-unit labor cost often is the most controllable expense in producing a good or service; naming the department that oversees this human RESOURCES fully reflects that.
The secondary lesson is that the general public being agreeable to (and even enjoying) self-check-out at the grocery store or checking themselves in for a flight or a hotel stay proves that there is a sucker born every minute. Anyone in the Boston area who would like a free aerobic workout is invited to do the seasonal clean-up and preparation of a 6,000 square-foot yard.
The Breaking Glass Pictures January 21, 2020 DVD of the 2018 documentary "Church & State" provides a look at an early days of the campaign for marriage equality. It also reminds us that the religion of the Osmonds and Katherine Heigel is evil.
The below trailer for "State" reveals the flaws that prevent loving it. Two of the biggest issues are that it does not break (pun intended) new ground and does address a (for now) moot point. A related observation is that the fight for marriage equality is so recent that the 10-percent have not forgotten the prelude to going to the chapel where they're gonna get married.
Further, as the film points out, marriage advocate Mark Lawrence is not a very appealing spokesperson. He acknowledges this in the context of the literal poster boys whom he chooses as the face of the campaign.
Additionally, directors Holly Tuckett and Kendall Wilcox provide PLENTY of talking heads and archival footage but no entertaining graphics or amusing clips from films and television shows. This does keep things dry.
On a broad level, "State" focuses almost exclusively on the passage of an anti-marriage-equality law in Utah and the subsequent legal battles to overturn it. Some mention is made of Hawaii legalizing same-sex marriage, but nothing is said of the lawsuits in Massachusetts and other states. Further, Team Tuckett does not touch on the numerous valid reasons that civil unions are not an acceptable option to marriage.
"State" deserves more props for addressing the need for a rush to the altar (or city hall) on the Utah court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. A related issue is legitimate concern as to having those marriages declared illegal either pending the outcome of an appeal of the decision or a reversal of it.
Personal experience is being on alert in Massachusetts to attend a wedding within minutes of a favorable judgment in the state in that case.
Discussing the principle of states' rights is another positive aspect of "State."
On a more narrow level, it is difficult to imagine anyone being surprised to hear either that the Mormon church is ant-gay or that it is controls the Utah legislature. This is reprehensible but is no different than any other "largest employer" in a state dictating the policy in that jurisdiction.
A clip of the Mormon pope does nicely illustrate a main point of "Church," This latter day saint has a huge smile on his face and is laughing while telling the tale of a Mormon elder who is physically beaten for propositioning his partner during their missionary position.
The mouth of the Mormon says no no regarding this punishment for the guy attempting to get into the magic underwear of his friend; conversely, the eyes of that chosen one say yes yes. A very sad aspect of this is that the Mormon faith holds that that guy will go to Heaven. For the record, your not-so-humble reviewer wants his next existence either to be in Dog Heaven or to be a vengeful spirit.
The bottom line is "so far, so good" regarding the Trump Administration not trying to undo marriage equality; as such, "State" is not so timely in any regard.
'The Miracle of the Little Prince' DVD: Classic Children's Book Gives Dying Cultures Royal Treatment
The Film Movement December 3, 2019 DVD release of the 2018 documentary "The Miracle of the Littlel Prince" serves the noble purpose of reminding us that so many world cultures have been lost as more dominate entities have moved in and taken over, The bonus is a multi-lingual reading of a WWII-era classic.
A benign relatable example in the United States is the massive numbers of children, especially from Asia, who come here with their families and speak their native tongues at home only to struggle with having to speak English at school even in this age of ESL and overall greater cultural sensitivity. Of course, a big difference is that the US powers that be are not trying to kill off any other cultures.
The following Movement trailer for "Miracle" expertly conveys the theme and the tone of the film. We see that the translations are as much of a labor of love as the movie itself.
Movement does just as well describing "Miracle" in writing as it does in the trailer. A passage from the text on DVD back cover states: "There are now versions of the beloved children' story in over 300 different languages. In this emotionally rich, globetrotting documentary director Marjoleine Boonstra travels to Morocco, Scandinavia, El Salvador, and Tibet to find people from diverse backgrounds and linguistic regions who have all chosen this cherished book to help keep their endangered languages and cultures alive."
The above also reflects the meta element of "Miracle." Making a film that highlights all but dead languages and their cultures helps prevent those things from entirely dying out.
Although every segment in "Miracle" is strong and unique, the El Salvador story is the most interesting in that it centers around a ground of older woman helping keep the translation in in their traditional language as accurate as possible. An example of that it that language being able to describe a red flower but lacking a word for rose. The horticulture history lesson as to that is that the Spanish explorers introduce roses to the Americas.
The engaging man who is heading up the effort to translate "Prince" in Tibet also achieves the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. We also get a strong sense of the level of oppression in that country.
The true legacy of these efforts go back to when man first adequately evolved to communicate in a manner that helps keep early culture alive, We may have come a long way, Baby, but the folks featured in "Miracle" show the value of going old school.
The TLA Releasing January 28, 2020 DVD of "Leave it to Levi" fully embraces the modern tradition of gay-themed documentaries that fully show the naked truth. The titular model/porn star is Levi Karter; "Levi" is a production of Karter boss/CockyBoys co-owner Jake Jaxson that builds on amateur video by Karter that depicts his life.
The highly explicit opening scenes of Karter engaged in vigorous phone sex is misleading in that much of the film relates to more respectable aspects of the life of Levi. The latter, which is not the most "blue" content in "Leave," reflects the common theme of many films of this genre; the (usually young) pretty boys that we get to know largely are like everyone else with the exception that they use their good looks and sex skills for fun and profit.
Karter largely is a momma's boy, who loses Momma on her learning how her boy pays the rent; these developments are told in a highly amusing manner that has shades of the conspiracy theories regarding the JFK assassination. This dynamic further sets the stage for Momma to deliver arguably the most memorable line in the film; she states that she cannot imagine any parent wanting his or her child to grow up to be a porn star.
Aside from the incredibly adorable dog of Karter, the scene stealer of "Leave" is Karter roommate/colleague Liam Riley. This guy who personifies youthful exuberance adds incredible energy to the film. His most memorable moment revolves around discussing outdoor sex.
Things take an unexpected turn halfway through "Leave" when we meet Karter drag-queen alter-ego Sassy Frass. This reflects the gay-lesbian dynamic that is akin to cats and dogs. The basic conflict is that dressing in drag generally is consider the polar opposite of the dominant masculine theme of gay porn. This element of the life of Karter already strains the tolerance of Momma before Sassy has a sort of a homecoming; a scene in which Momma and son bra shop for the latter does lighten the mood.
The parental relationship and the fact that the Karter can be considered the Hannnah Montana of gay porn is a compelling angle that sets "Leave" apart from the more typical fare that shows that the guys go make a career out of going Full Monty truly are the boys next door. We also see how those distinguishing characteristics impact the "day job" of Karter.
The copious DVD bonuses include behind-the-scenes footage at the "Leave" premiere that shows that Karter also is a Daddy's boy who likely enjoys a good spanking.
Reasonable expectations regarding both the 2004 documentary "Super Size Me" and its auteur make the November 2019 DVD of "Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!" a major disappointment. One should be able to expect more of a guy who has proven that he so much better than this on EVERY level.
The solid asserted (but almost certainly pretextual) concept of "2" commences with a fast-food chain contacting Spurlock to appear in ads due to his documented "Super Size" attempt to only eat McDonald's food for a month.
This allegedly is what motivates Spurlock to start a new chicken restaurant from scratch (pun intended) and to document this effort. In other words, he profits from both the film itself and the publicity that it generates for new business venture Holy Chicken.
One not so-surprising spoiler is that the film prompts investors to approach Spurlock about creating a chain of Holy Chicken restaurants. Another spoiler is that your not-so-humble reviewer has adequate integrity to pledge to NEVER eat at any location regardless of how peckish (pun intended) he becomes.
Spurlock commences this venture with the effort that is the primary focus of "2.." The search for a source for chickens and a place to raise them sets the stage for an "expose" of "Big Chicken" that does not reveal any information that has not been relatively well known for decades. These include that the big boys, such as Tyson and Perdue, use their strong grip on the industry to harm both competitors and chicken farmers who end up on their bad side. We also hear the same (but still highly distressing) stories about inhumane conditions at the big chicken facilities.
Spurlock does deserve credit for some new information. We learn about the laughably low government standards for making assertions about chickens. For example, claiming that your birds are "free-range" essentially only requires giving the flock the option of going out on the front porch. A scene in which Spurlock fails to convince his fine-feathered friends to poke their beaks out the door is a "2" highlight.
The parallel effort of Spurlock to develop a theme and a menu for his restaurant is more interesting and insightful. His product development consultants introduce us to terms such as "health halo." We also hear the "awful truth" about grill marks on fast-food chicken and learn why crunchy replaces the industry "f-word."
Subjectively, a scene in which checking out the competition shows the Burger King "crunchy" chicken sandwich is hollow is a "2" highlight. Having the perspective of having had the college roommate from Hell, whose many sins include watching while I gulped a large glass from a water container that he had filled with vodka, makes that scene even better. That former student is now a Greek tycoon that inherited every Burger King franchise in Rhode Island from his father. No, those places (and the other Janco locations) do not get my business.
The bigger picture is the sloppy manner in which our veteran documentarian makes "2." This begins with repetition in the form of "sandwiching" the beginning and the end of the film with the same footage of local news promoting the new restaurant.
Spurlock further slides to the bottom by borrowing the old ambush the industry guy trick that fellow sadly diminished colleague Michael Moore puts in all his films.
An early scene has Spurlock "outed" as a guy with an agenda; this leads to a "leaked" memo much later in the film. This correspondence is from an executive with the chicken lobby warning chicken farmers (ranchers?) that the effort of Spurlock to acquire a flock as part of a nefarious scheme.
Subsequently, Spurlock arrives unannounced at the office of the "suit" to delver an invitation to the grand opening of Holy Chicken!. Of course, he is left waiting in the hall for several hours and ultimately is politely asked to leave. An inadvertently amusing aspect of this is baseless speculation early on that the prey is in the restroom.
The relatable aspect of this is that very few of us even let unexpected visitors who lack any adversarial intent into our homes.
Of course, the ultimate irony as to "2" is that it follows the Spurlock film "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" about product placement and similar forms of advertising. I literally am not buying it this time, Spurlock.
Icarus Films provides a sadly timeless lesson in survival as to its double-feature DVD release of the Anne Georget documentaries "Imaginary Feasts" and "Mina's Recipe Book, Terezin 1944." This message is that mentally escaping a harsh reality is an effective tool for surviving seemingly fatal horrific hardship.
"Feasts" provides a truly in-depth look at prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, Soviet Gulags, and Japanese prison camps discussing their favorite meals in order to survive near starvation and other atrocities as to their confinement. These include an American soldier and a woman who pays a heavy price for her unwarranted reliance on the principle of diplomatic immunity.
The main focus is on female prisoners in a concentration camp who take thinking about their favorite foods to the next level; they risk heavy retribution to steal scraps of papers to write down the recipes for those treats. This extends to the contribution of each woman representing the cuisine of her region of her country. It is highly predictable that the French woman are the stars of this project.
A survivor, the ancestors of survivors. a historian, and a chef are among the talking heads who put everything in perspective. In addition to learning about these books, it is surprising to hear even more general information about concentration camps than many of us have known for decades. The relationship between the foods and their native regions is equally interesting.
"Book" tells about the pre-war life and the imprisonment of the author of that tome; we also learn of the post-war path of the book and the importance of it to the persons into whose hands it travels.
As indicated above, the larger impact of these films is how the prisoners used the books to survive when most of us would have chosen a run for the barbed wire as a relatively easy out as to a seemingly unsurvivable situation. It also provides perspective the next time that we endure an hour or so of hunger until our next meal, which likely will be exactly what we are craving at the moment. Even more importantly, fussing because a promised 30-minute wait at Olive Garden is at the 45-minute mark should be shame inducing,
The Film Movement recent DVD release of the 2018 Freddie Fox-narrated documentary "The Ice King" is an awesome follow-up to the Movement DVD of the (reviewed) more docudrama-style non-fiction film "Over the Limit." Both films expertly tell the tales of the lives and loves (and associated thrill of victory and agony of defeat) of nice young kids who train hard in pursuit of Olympic gold. These releases reflect the same principle of the NPR show "Only A Game" that being a "high brow" and a sports fan are not mutually exclusive.
In the case of "King," our hero is 1976 Olympics star John Curry. His stating that one does not train for decades simply to end up skating in a Bugs Bunny costume perfectly captures his edgy wit and wisdom that makes "King" an engrossing story even for folks with no interest in ice sports,
The following Movement trailer for "King" confirms that the story of the subject proves that truth is more compelling than most fiction; there also will be be no doubt that John will curry your favor. This is an addition to evoking envy as to seeing that this guy is blessed with equally strong talent, good looks, and a natural charm. You must watch the film to see his "Black Swan" side.
The strongest aspect of the convergence of truth and fiction relates to a strong "Billy Elliot" vibe that is triggered near the beginning of "King" and that lasts throughout the film. This includes a sense of the tragic trajectory that might have befallen fictional aspiring ballet star Elliot had he been born twenty years earlier.
Fox tells us of Curry, who is born in 1949, developing an early love of ballet and wanting to learn that art. Although the father of Curry is better educated and higher up on the economic latter than the father of Elliot, he still refuses to let his son study ballet.
The good news for the world is that the elder Mr. Curry agrees to the comprise of his son taking skating lessons. Although not explicitly stated, the clear message is that skating is acceptable to Curry Senior because it is less faggy.
The story of the first skating lesson of a five-year old (?) Curry is a "KIng" highlight. It truly is a portent of things to come on and off the ice.
We soon meet Heinz Wirz, who has the dual roles of being the principal talking head and the probable soulmate of Curry. The personal recollections of Wirz and segments of letters from Curry to that man fully show how their relationship is complicated. We also are reminded of the consequences of choosing Mr. Right Now over Mr. Right.
We also hear from the daughter of an early patron of Curry; she tells of Curry confiding in her while living with her family in NYC in the mid '70s. This surrogate sister also is a recipient of correspondence from Curry throughout his life.
Ice skater Johnny Weir directly provides a more modern perspective as an openly gay Olympic skater who has followed in the blade marks of Curry; indirectly, the friendship of Weir and fellow skater Tara Lipinski is reminiscent of the bond between Curry and fellow '76 Olympics star Dorothy Hamill.
AIDS provides the morality tale aspect of "King." We truly see how that epidemic ends the party for handsome, charming (bit with a major edge), talented young gay men such as Curry. Regardless of our placement on the Kinsey Scale, not many of us can relate to being as desired as Curry.
Most of us can relate to his excitement on someone who is out of his league making him the object of his affection. We can also relate to a limited degree when the honeymoon is over; only folks without a soul can consider a horribly lingering illness followed by a premature death an equitable price for the highly tempting availability of constant sex without any known consequences other than easily curable physical and emotional harm. One can only imagine how much better 2020 would be if we did not lose so many creative and caring people in the '80s.
The separate DVD extras include "On the Beautiful Blue Danube: Creating the Music of 'The Ice King'" and a Q&A with "King" director James Erskine.
The Blu-ray quality Film Movement DVD of the 2018 drama "Styx" proves that some do make 'em like they used to; aspects of this are showing that art and commerce are not mutually exclusive and that even a simple low-budget concept can be exceptional in the right hands, such as those of writer/director Wolfgang Fischer.
The well-deserved 29 wins and 18 additional nominations for "Styx" circumventing the globe shows apt love for this film about a solo sailing trip turned horrific ethical and moral dilemma. These accolades include Fischer getting the "New Auteurs" honor at the 2018 AFI Fest and several wins at the 2019 German Film Awards.
The following Movement trailer for "Styx" offers a strong sense of the multi-award-wininng perfect performance by Susanne Wolff in this essentially one-woman show, the aforementioned cinematography, and the compelling dilemma around which much of the action is centered.
The opening on-the-job scenes establish emergency-room doctor Rike (Wolff) as a compassionate and fierce medical professional; subsequently embarking on the aforementioned journey to what can be considered a Charles in charge natural paradise shows that her strong will and independence are not limited to her work.
The first real obstacle on this trip is the most physically daunting; a warning of an impending storm does not deter Rike from literally and figuratively changing course. The ensuing tempest may not be perfect but does throw very rough weather at this fearless crew of one. Her tiny ship is tossed but not lost; nor does she run aground.
The calm after the storm is disrupted when Rike encounters a ship in distress that is filled with people who do have to live like refugees. Rike wisely initially follows maritime protocol in alerting the authorities; conflict arises when the powers-that-be express less-than-hoped-for concern while strongly directing Rike to not come to the rescue. Part of this relates to not attempting a rescue that endangers the rescuer.
The next round of ensuing chaos relates to the passengers on the sinking ship seeing the sailboat of Rike as a sanctuary that prompts a literal swim for the figurative border. However, Rike does bring one of these passengers on board; the ensuing events epically proves that no good deed goes unpunished.
Fischer and Wolff expertly convey the mounting tension as the situation on the other ship becomes increasingly dire, the still-absent authorities amp up the intensity of their insistence that Rike not jump ship, and the now unwelcome passenger exerts strong pressure to come to the aid of his group.
It is predictable that everything comes to a head (no pun intended) near the end of the film as all act according to his or her nature; the surprising manner in which this occurs reflects the 29 wins for the film.
Movement supplements this with the food-for-thought short film "Ashmina." The excellent pairing of this movella with "Styx" relates to the young girl at the center of it is like Rike in that she is caught between two clashing worlds and faces intense pressure to be a good girl and do as she is told. This is not to mention the girl having a similar third-world existence and aspirations as the refugees on the the "Styx" ship.
Esteemed indie-flick company Virgil Films shows excellent instincts as to releasing the documentary "Dear Walmart" on November 19, 2019 ahead of Black Friday. This movie tells the tale of righteously disgruntled wage slaves of the titular grandddady of big box stores forming an informal union.
The following "Walmart" trailer nicely introduces the concept of the film and puts very human faces on the effort to earn an arguably reasonable wage for an honest day's work.
The "Our Walmart" stems from an arguably reasonable "we're mad as Hell, and we're not going to take it anymore" attitude. This relates to the typical pay-rate, wealth-gap, and corporate-policy issues that plague most workplaces. A comparison between the starting pay at Target and at Walmart is a prime (no pun intended) example of this.
We hear the horror stories of employees across the county; these include empty promises and the especially egregious experience of a woman who is denied relied-on leave for the most flimsy of reasons. A separate sad story of a woman whose properly documented physical work restriction is aggressively disregarded shows the need to level the playing field as to labor relations at the largest retailer in America.
The rest of the story is the need of Walmart employees to act somewhat like the World War II era French underground regarding carefully identifying themselves to each other and covertly communicating at work. The predictable reports of retaliation support the theory that just because you are paranoid does not mean that no one is watching.
We also see the obstacles that organized labor encounters when it tries to get involved. Work stoppages at Walmart reflect that influence on Our Walmart.
The bigger picture is that America becoming a nation of "behemoth corporations" with callous cut-throat CEOs (I'm talkin' to you Corie Barry of Best Buy and Robert Iger of Disney) is resulting in abusing their "captive audience" of employees and customers; the sad truth is that both groups have little choice other than to bend over and take it like a man.
UPS, rather than ET, is behind this post on the Lionsgate S11 V2 DVD of the History Channel series "Ancient Aliens" coming after a review of the S12 V1 DVD set; the first S11 V2 DVD set got lost in transit.
The primary concept of the "Ancient" documentary series is that brothers from other planets visited Earth during the dawns of numerous civilizations. More recent incidents, such as the Roswell crash, supplement the speculation as the events from the era of pyramids and cave drawings.
The S11 V2 set starts out strong with a "very special" 90-minute episode titled "Earth Station Egypt." Excitable manchild/"Ancient" co-executive producer/believer Giergio Tsoukalos avidly goes where very few modern men have gone before to share evidence that the Egyptian gods and pharaohs either are aliens or are the result of visitors from other planets who score while visiting here. This, along with theories regarding the building and the purpose of the pyramids. closely parallels the lore of the cult classic "Stargate" sci-fi television franchise.
Egypt even more closely channels "Stargate" in specifically arguing that the aliens from that era used wormholes (aka stargates) for their commute.
S11 V2 E2 "Island of the Giants" (aka Sardinia) is a crossover; Marty Lagina of the (reviewed) History series "The Curse of Oak Island" takes a break from his years' long Canadian treasure hunt to join Tsoukalos for a European vacation. The common elements of their series extend beyond sharing a network; Emmy-winner Kevin Burns is an executive producer for both programs.
Tsoukalos and Lagina visit enormous tombs, discuss why no one has found the bones of behemoths, and otherwise offer proof as to Cyclopi once inhabiting the island for the benefits of the human inhabitants.
S11 V2 E6 "They Came From the Sky" focuses on terrestrials and extra-terrestrials using asteroids to transport tech. and organic manner. An aspect of this is terra-forming and the possibility that man evolves from Uncle Martin, rather than from Bonzo.
The next episode "The Artificial Human" more fully brings us back to "Stargate" themes. This study of artificial intelligence includes speculation as to the existence of self-replicating robots that are capable of duplicating at will. Speaking of Will, "Artificial" includes several clips of the current Netflix remake of the '60s sci-fi classic series "Lost in Space."
Things are taken further as to theorizing that humans are very life-like robots.
Other notable episodes in the S11 V2 set include one on alien abductions and one "Stargate" themed one that speculates as to the US and Russia colluding regarding preparing for first contact; that one looks like a job for the Space Force.
As the handful of posts on "Ancient" sets state, the credibility of this series includes the odds being against Earth being the only advanced planet in the universe. Believing that ancient structures and images are closely connected to aliens and that octipi are aquamen from another planet requires even more faith.
The Film Movement DVD release of the documentary "Coby" provides teen girls who are at any stage of transitioning to male a good guide for what to expect. This film also offers a helpful perspective for parents who are having trouble accepting this desire.
The title refers to the name by which rural Ohio teen Suzanna wants to be known during the period in which she is transitioning from female to male. She later becomes early-20s paramedic Jacob.
The starting point regarding this film is that it serves the documentary purpose of enhancing the knowledge of the general population about a topic of interest. As mentioned above, "Coby" also presents a relatable story to folks dealing with the issue at the heart of the movie.
French filmmaker Christian Sonderegger alternates the focus of "Coby" between the transition period and the present in which Coby and life-in girlfriend Sara share their home with a couple of dogs and a flock of chickens. This footage consists of both interviews for the film and YouTube posts by Coby and Jacob.
Our story begins with Coby chronicling the early days of ingesting testosterone. His excitement regarding his voice getting deeper and the first hair appearing on his chin mirrors the glee of most people who are born male on achieving those milestones. The discussion of the impact of testosterone on personality helps everyone with that substance in his body understand personal forms of aggressive tendencies,
We also hear directly from Coby and his mother about her difficulty related to accepting this child changing genders. This includes discussing a conversation when this pair first talks about then-Suzanna being attracted to girls.
The issue of legal identity is an especially interesting topic. Most of us who do not change gender never think about the name on our license or our credit card not reflecting our outward appearance. This is not to mention the issue of having to present a birth certificate as a form of proof.
The only criticism of "Coby" is the larger issue of online fame. A teen transitioning is relatively rare, and the film provides plenty of food for thought on the topic. However, maintaining a vlog on YouTube or other social media is annoyingly narcissistic. Coby admits in one such video to providing TMI; another post on the removal of his breasts is a little gory.
The bottom line this time is that "Coby" shows that even the kid next door may desire to transition and that he or she has the potential for a full and happy life in a body that is more comfortable than the one in which that person is born.
The Lionsgate December 10, 2109 massive DVD set of S1-6 of the History Channel phenom "The Curse of Oak Island." does that series proud. As the promotional materials for this collectible collection state, you will be there from the very beginning. You also will fully understand the concept of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
One spoiler is that the fact that S7 of "Curse" currently is airing on History shows that the saga continues; you can count on Lionsgate releasing a DVD set of that season in 2020.
The simple but brilliant concept of "Curse" is that 60-something brothers Rick and Marty Lagina are investing millions of actual equity and gallons of sweat equity (no actual blood or tears as of the first few S3 episodes) in their epic search for the fabled treasures of the titular landmass. Analogous to the efforts of the seven stranded castaways on Gilligan's Island to say aloha to that isle, Team Lagina constantly has defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Their "trash" is "treasure" to viewers akin to something that is tragic to the person who experiences if being "treasure" to every else.
A highly condensed synopsis of the lore of the island right off the Nova Scotia coast is that it begins in 1795 when hardy teen boys discover what still is known as the money pit, which is an apt description as to the two common meanings of that term. Elaborate bobby traps thwart the subsequent excavation of those lads and their successors up to the present day.
The rest of the story is that the fabled riches of the island are stashed away at the bottom of the pit, a nearby swamp that very well be man-made for that purpose, and numerous other "hot spots" on the island. The rumored booty includes traditional buried treasure, the original Shakespeare folios, and religious artifacts that include the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant.
The first aside is that it will be way cool if our central fortune seekers discover the Ark only to have their faces melt off when they open it. The second aside is that it does not seem that anyone is speculating that the body of Jimmy Hoffa is concealed on the island.
The rest of the basic lore story is that the titular curse includes the requirement that (ala sins and castaways) seven men die before the island will give up its loot. The pre-series body count is six, and Team Lagina has not had any fallen brothers as of the early part of S3.
The more specific lore is that a 1965 Reader's Digest article on the island intrigues les freres Lagina. Roughly 50 years later Marty is a semi-retired down-to-earth one-percenter oil-and-gas tycoon, and Rick is a retired mailman. A spoiler is that Rick never goes postal in the early seasons.
It is not a spoiler to share that the series revolves around the physically and fiscally draining battle with the "white whale" for the (pardon the expression) money shot. Small victories, such as finding coins and other tangible evidence of the veracity of the legends, keep our heroes fighting the good fight.
We witness the crew explore tunnels old and new and use the expression "drain the swamp" so frequently that it indicates that the brothers want are Trump supporters; this is not to mention that expression being a valid basis for a drinking game.
We also get frequent "guest-stars," who (ala the almost weekly visitors to Gilligan's Island) show up to frequently contribute their figurative two cents. These include a man who believes that Shakespeare has provided all the necessary clues, a cipher expert whose theory prompts a valid reference to "The DaVinci Code," and a woman whose father and brother are two of the six men who lost their lives in literal pursuit of fame and fortune.
The rest of this story is complex. The Laginas having invested a great deal of time and money in their quest obviously gives them a horse in the race. One also suspects that they make a pretty penny from "Cursed," This warrants skepticism as to the veracity of some finds; part of this is the undetermined probability that someone who concealed a treasure left a coin or other valuable lying around. The analogy this time is that there is a long history of folks salting gold mines to entice investors.
An element of this that Team Lagina discusses is the apparent decision of the folks who concealed the treasure hundreds of years ago to make it virtually impossible to unearthed. A related issue is why the key to accessing the loot apparently has not been passed down to future generations.
The strongest endorsement of the quality of "Curse" is that it is very well-produced by Emmy winner Kevin Burns of fellow (reviewed) History series "Ancient Aliens" to the extent of easily passing the "one more" test. This extends to the rarity of your not-so-humble reviewer staying up past his bedtime to watch one.
Context, which more than justifies adding "Cursed" to your home-video library, discussed below greatly tempers frustrating flaws of "Curse" that relate to a general dislike of reality shows that it behind this site having the secondary title of "Unreal TV." Early episodes avoid flashbacks and maddening repetition such as several principals opining on the same development. One blessing in "Curse" is that (at least through early S3) there are no "coming up on" segments just before commercial breaks,
The bad news is that the repetition seemingly increases as the series progresses; the good news is that an easy workaround shows the benefit of physical media over streaming. One or two scenes each episode has the group discussing an aspect of their endeavor only to have the narrator chime in with "previously on...". This flashback being in a variation of a sepia tone facilitates merely fast-forwarding on.
The solution to the (seemingly increasing) slightly more annoying practice of increasingly "well duh" narration is to laugh at it and/or make that a drinking game. A prime example of this is an S3 E2 scene in which one of many hired experts is presenting evidence of a body at the bottom of one of the many explored holes.
The announcement as to the corpse is old news both to the crew and the viewers. Members of the team discussing that discovery is valid. The narrator IMMEDIATELY repeating that development in an amazed tone is laughable.
The final observation before sharing the promised context is that "Cursed" has a bad habit of including non-issues in some episode, One example of this is a quickly resolved speculative obstacle. Another is Marty sharing with a devastated Rick that Marty must miss one week in their years'-long treasure hunt to do his day job. The reality is that even actual parents always risk being away when baby takes his or her first step or utters his or her first words.
Lionsgate timely released "Ancient Aliens" S12 V1 on November 19, 2019 less than a week after the November 15, 2019 broadcast of the final episode of that season of that still-going-strong History Channel documentary series. This release also is the latest "Aliens" one (including a reviewed epic 10th anniversary set) from Lionsgate.
As prior posts on these releases note, the best broad perspective with which to view these episodes is that no one has proven that aliens capable of visiting Earth do not exist. Narrowing in, an inquiring mind that wants to know should consider that the odds are not in our favor as to our blue marble being the only planet in the universe (or even our galaxy) regarding factors converging in a way that an "advanced" civilization develops.
The final perspective is the importance of remembering that there is your side, the side of the other guy, and the truth.
This set starts out very strong with the season-premiere "Return to Antarctica" episode. The experts and the witnesses who discuss theories as to what lies beneath the thick ice layer that encases the ground of that continent evoke strong thoughts of both the equally intriguing sci-fi television franchise "Stargate" and the cult-classic John Carpenter film "The Thing."
Much of theme of this one is that the brothers from another planet use concealed artificial caverns for ingress and egress to secret bases. A Navy veteran shares his accounts of seeing UFOs and of rescuing a petrified research team ala the chum in "Thing."
One of the more entertaining recounts in "Antarctica" is of a three-way dogfight between Allied, Axis, and alien flying machines. This is part of a segment on Hitler looking to the stars for an edge.
"The Badlands Guardian" centers around the titular Canadian geoglyph and has a similar theme of exploring below the surface as "Antarctica." The idea is that this huge image of a what may be an indigenous person, an alien, or a love child of the two is intended for use by spacecraft. This ties into the regular "Aliens" theme that all humans may be descendants of beings from other planets.
"Element 115" is another strong entry; this one largely focuses on the Roswell crashes. The main expert this time is a scientist who asserts that the titular element is of alien origin and allows for space travel. The rest of the story is that the US is working to adapt that technology. Engaging analysis of footage from the US military supports the theory that such a craft exists.
"The Star Gods of Sirius" focuses on beings from the "B" star making contact in ancient times to help us advance. Once again, artifacts are shared for the purpose of supporting that theory.
Further entertainment comes in the form of exploring under the sea, asserting that there is more to the Mayans than meets the eye, and showing similarities between Druids and Mormons as to the origins of their beliefs. This evolves to episodes that assert that aliens are skilled geneticists.
The good news for believers regarding all this is that it supports their beliefs; the good news for agnostics is that it is acknowledged that somethings are tough to explain; the good news for everyone else is that "Aliens" is highly entertaining and is well-produced.
The Icarus Films DVD release of the 2015 documentary within a documentary "A Quest for Meaning" aptly is off a nature that makes writing about it a challenge for unenlightened souls. Fully appreciating the film that is the latest in a strong Icarus collaboration with Bullfrog Films requires abandoning a cynical view of the world that results from the "stinking thinking" that largely is responsible for most of us not being at peace with the real real world.
The following YouTube clip of the Icarus trailer for "Meaning" creates a strong hunger for more of the abundant food for thought in the film.
The aforementioned cynicism quickly enters the picture on learning about the tellers of the tale; the intent of 20-something narrator Nathanael Coste in sharing that he and his partner-in-filmmaking Marc de la Menardiere are wealthy Manhattan party monsters who are seeking deeper knowledge likely resonates with other Millennials. Gen Xers likely will be as turned off regarding this self-indulgent exercise in the same manner that this demographic responds to the college kid who works at Starbucks providing a greeting of Namaste.
Cynicism remaining regarding the messengers soon takes a backseat to the copious insightful messages that the film contains. The inconvenient truth is that many of us will not take those messages to heart.
These hardy boys begin our journey in India before going off to pick the best brains in France and other countries and then literally and figuratively bringing things home. A highly satisfying aspect of this is that the aforementioned more highly evolved individuals shame the "namaste" poseurs for not practicing what they preach.
A personal highlight is a talking head calling out people who meditate or practice yoga every day only to be nasty to his or her fellow man or woman the rest of the day. We also hear from someone who states that shelling out big bucks for yoga and meditation classes is a huge waste of money.
The valid but incredibly challenging concepts that seek to put right what once went wrong center around a few guiding principles. Achieving the ideal of only using what we need (rather than acquiring wants as well) is very tough in this highly consumer-oriented society.
A truth bomb regarding what we consider happiness and other emotions is especially eye-opening. This makes the strongest case for striving to live a life of peace, love, and understanding. At the same time, some people should avoid peeling back layers of the onion.
We additionally learn that true enlightenment requires a strong connection with both the earth and everything else in our macro and micro universe. Hearing a theory about the actual origin of man brings this home. Another aspect of this is taking recycling to the nth degree.
One of the most thought-provoking aspects of "Meaning" relates to an urban farmer who has incredibly cute and friendly goats. This man notes that his farm is now the envy of the neighborhood. There also are many stories of urbanites (ala attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas) growing vegetables in pots. All of these folks put those of us who do not plant gardens in our large yards to shame.
The big picture shows how we got to our present place. Most Americans grew up in households in which we wanted to show up the Joneses and in which we were not even encouraged to literally or figuratively get our hands dirty. It is hard to persuade us to strain our muscles growing our food when we can go online and get it delivered either for free or for a relatively low price.
The DVD extras include "Ego Not Bad," which is an extension of "Meaning." The narrowed focus this time is enhancing self-awareness.
The bottom line regarding all this is "Meaning" shows that fully embracing the concept of namaste when you say it and the other person being receptive to that message are good first steps toward being truly shiny happy people,
Breaking Glass Pictures once more goes where many men fail to measure up as to supplementing its DVD release of the (reviewed) 2017 Gerald McCullouch documentary "All Male All Nude" with the recent DVD release of the "exclusive uncensored version" of the 2019 McCulloch documentary "All Male All Nude Johnsons." One spoiler regarding the sequel is that the Johnsons club in Fort Lauderdale adjacent Wilton Manors is all male but only mostly nude; McCulloch compensates with copious footage from "Nude" and with scenes that show some Johnsons boys completely out of their Levis.
The following aptly named Breaking "teaser trailer" for "Johnsons" offers a glimpse of the nice boys who work hard for the money that dispel the stereotypes of male strippers; we also get several looks at the packages that they deliver. Not much may come between them and their Calvins, but many patrons make their best effort.
The common elements of "Nude" and "Johnsons" extend beyond the general subject matter. Both films center around professional bodybuilder Matt Colunga, who asserts that he requires a knee-high "sock" when required to stop just short of going Full Monty.
We meet male strip-club veteran Colunga in "Nude." This man who has done (and shown) it all at "Nude" subject Swinging Richards in Atlanta now is the owner/manager/public face/mentor of Johnsons. He truly looks out for the boys on the stage and in the audience. The former fully comes through in requiring dancers to pass a breathalyzer before leaving work.
We hear from plenty of the performers as to their financial motivations to put their money makers to work; no one can argue that those who have it would rather make as much flaunting it for a few hours than earn the same amount in one week at a McJob.
The rude awakening as to the aforementioned spectators is that the boys are just doing their job. They only pretend to be interested in our lives in hopes of liberating our bills from our pants; folks who hope to pull something else from their jeans will be disappointed. An amusing aspect of this is a scene in which we see how a boy who looks as if he may have a roll of quarters in his working clothes uses that state as a "seduction" technique.
The real star of "Johnsons" is 26 year-old Alexander, who spends his days entertaining at children's parties dressed as fanboy characters and his nights entertaining the dads at Johnsons. It is highly likely that watching Alexander make superhero-style costume changes in parking lots in broad daylight and do back flips in a skintight Spider-man suit will cause some viewers to shoot a sticky white substance out of their personal web slingers.
A more generally amusing aspect of this is the "Z Rock" pattern of some wannabe American Idols playing toddler events during the day and dive bars at night. Former Del Fuego (and Kitchenette) Dan Zanes now being a kiddie singer is a prime example of having the best of both worlds.
We also get a look at the business end of things that include the bureaucratic battle that Colunga endures just to open his club. We also see that no good deed goes unpunished and that some people can be not-so swinging Richards. It is reasonable to speculate that some naysyaers have left Johnsons blue in a part of their anatomy other than their faces.
"Nude" and "Johnsons" reflect the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational; the nature of the subject makes it difficult for the insights to equal the prurient enjoyment. We do learn that many male strippers are nice guys who reasonably utilize their good looks and other blessings as a shortcut to a better life. The fun that they have along the way is a bonus for both them and their biggest and more average fans.
The DVD bonus features include videos by Corey Tut.
The Icarus Films recent DVD release of the 2017 truly labor of love documentary "The Other Side of Everything" put a very personal face on the decades of turmoil that have plagued Belgrade, Filmmaker Mila Turajlic interviews her mother, who is political activist and retired professor Srbijanka Turajlic.
The accolades for this kinder and gentler version of classic shut-in documentary "Grey Gardens" include a Best Documentary award at the 2017 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival and a Best Director win at the RiverRun International Film Festival.
The strong historical drama vibe of "Side" begins with opening scenes of Srbijanka trying to open a recently rediscovered interior door in her dated and shadowy (but very clean) Belgrade apartment. This lead to Srbijanka discussing being a child living in that space in the building that her parents owned when the Communists took over.
This woman who has seen Belgrade repeatedly experience massive changes during several decades tells of a party official knocking on the door during the adolescence of Srbijanka to announce that the family now must live in very tight quarters. We also hear the tale of an effort to get the bureaucracy to allow the family to retain a slightly larger portion of their own property,
An especially creepy aspect of this is hearing Srbijanka reminisce about hearing but not seeing the other families that are uninvited residents of her family home.
We also get a sense of the aforementioned activism of Srbijanka, which includes her reaction to Sloboban Milosevic. A heart-rending aspect of the national politics is the story of some voters being denied the option of declaring their nationality.
The climax of the film is the highly symbolic opening of the door to the past; we get a literal view of how the other half lives. For her part, Srbijanka is reminded of long forgotten aspects of her life before everything changes.
The bigger picture is that "Side" shows that life does go on and that it often does not matter who is in charge.