Olive Films helps fill the COVID-19 sized void as to live theater by releasing the clear-and-crisp Blu-ray of "Nelson Algren Live" (2106) on December 15, 2021., "Algren" is a re-enactment of an interview with the titular author and readings of his works at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the tough guy best known for "The Man With the Golden Arm." The commentary in the words of Algren as to director Otto Preminger grossly distorting that novel for the big screen is a perfect example of the gritty blunt wit and wisdom of Algren.
Although "Algren" seemingly is robbed as to any festival love, it EARNS an exceptional 9.0 IMDb rating.
The opening voice-over narration by writer/actor Russell Banks provides a solid summary of how the working-class background of Algren influences his candid but respectful tone when writing about the underbelly of American society. The apt comparison to better known social commentator Studs Turkel fails to mention that Turkel is a kinder gentler version of Algren.
One of the better tales in "Algren" PERFETLY captures the life and the style of Algren. This story revolves around hooker with a heart of gold/junkie Rose, who probably would owe you change if you paid her two bits to drop to her scabby knees in a puddle of rotted vegetables in a dark alley. Hearing the effort to make Rose the kind of girl that you could bring home to Mother if Mom had paid her own dues in the meat-packing district is fascinating,
The initial search for the dealer of Rose, this man not meeting expectations, and the subsequent "home remedy" rehab effort fully round out this tale of The Windy City.
Willem DaFoe contributes the brightest star power in "Live," in which he figuratively wears several fedoras. He shines brightest in stepping in the boxing boots of pugilist Blackie Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh is in the center ring of the unpublished Algren short-story "The Lightless Room," which first sees the light of day during "Algren." This one evokes more thoughts of Hemingway, rather than Terkel. Not that there remotely is anything wrong with that.
Olive maintains its high standards as to physical-media extras by including a booklet with a photo essay on Algren and an article on this forgotten urban historian. An essay about the performance of "Algren" is an apt end to this fitting tribute.
The recent news reports of The Galactic Federation makes the Icarus Films Dec. 1, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "Space Dogs" especially apt. It make one Siriusly wonder both if those brothers from another planet are natives of the dog star and if they offer the astromutts treats and walkies. The only criticism of "Dogs" is that it is not titled "Far Out Space Mutts" as an homage to the Krofft '70s-era Saturday morning series "Far Out Space Nuts."
A warning as to the latter is that you never will be able to resist saying "I said lunch, not launch!" when referring to your midday meal after watching the show.
One also must wonder if the seven festival awards for the documentary equal 49 trophies from the perspective of a dog. These accolades include two wins at the 2019 Locarno International Film Festival and an especially well-deserved cinematography award at the 2020 Diagonale Austria event.
The following trailer easily achieves its objective of creating interest in the film while keeping spoilers to a minimum. The inclusion of the opening exposition of "Dogs" on the fate of the fate of pioneer astromutt a street dog named Laika provides a good sense of the bittersweet tone of this sad-but-true tale.
A primary context in this film that documents the activities of the stray canines that freely roam throughout Moscow is the legend that Laika, who makes the ultimate sacrifice in the name in science, haunts those streets and joins her peers in their adventures. Watching these semi-feral cuties engage in friendly and not-so-friendly activity alone would make a good film. A tragic spoiler is that at least one kitty is killed in the making of the film.
Filmmakers Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter use the story of Laika as the starting point for the history of the expanded use of street dogs in the Russian space program. The black-and-white archival footage of the tortures that these victims endure provides an intentional stark contrast to the color scenes of their peers on the outside. The inhumane experiments evoke thoughts of the Borg of "Trek" lore transforming formerly free-thinking pure organic beings into cyborg drones. This is not to mention the lab dogs involuntarily being strapped into centrifuges and other training equipment that their human counterparts willingly use to prepare for their space travel.
Kremser and Peter additionally document the story of the monkey, who comes to be only known as "Number 65," who is the first primate to go into space. The ensuing reasonable PTSD is just as heartbreaking as the experience of the titular captives.
It is imagined that the two turtles that also go into space do not fare much better than Number 65 and the dogs. Aside from those heroes on the half shell not being as well equipped as the others to communicate their pain and distress, the mythological aspect of choosing that species for that research is interesting.
Icarus augments this with a "behind-the-scenes" video.
The IndiePix Films November 10, 2020 DVD release of the 2010 documentary "You're Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don't" is the first film entirely shot in an Alzheimer's ward. Personal relatability is imagining myself ultimately as the grumpy old man who regularly makes a gesture that could indicate that this fellow patients are number one.
Documentarian Scott Kirschenbaum shows us a few days in the life of Lee Gorewitz, who fully illustrates the antics and mood swings that prompt calling old age a second childhood. This evokes thoughts of a quote that is believed to be from Mr. Rogers. This oft-disregarded wisdom is that adults feel good and bad things alike just as deeply as children, but we have learned how to not express those emotions.
Amusing "Live" moments include Lee having a sly look on her face regarding implausible deniability as to dirty dishes on a table. Her grumpy side comes out in a confrontation with the aforementioned alta cocker and similar encounters with others on the far end of the baby boomers scale. Her joy in dancing shows another side of this feisty old broad.
We also get glimpses of the sorrow as to a sense of being alone when you feel sad as well as the realization that the persons from your past are jumbled in your memory. A friend expresses this well by stating that modern medicine has extended the quantity of life but not the quality of it.
The impact of "Live" extends well beyond feeling the pain of Lee. As many of us have (or will) experienced as to parents and/or grandparents, Alzheimer's seems inevitable. "Shady Pines, Ma" is less funny when we must face putting a loved one in the west wing.
Indiepix supplements "Live" with the Kirschenbaum documentary "Jumor" that depicts the role of Jewish humor in nursing homes across the United States. A time constraint (and a related push to fully study Disney Channel humor before losing free Disney Plus access) requires saving "Jumor" for another day.
Bullfrog Films does both the general and the educational markets that it serves a real solid by releasing the fair and balanced 2016 documentary "Rule of Law" on DVD. This tale of disabled defendant George Lane learning the relationship between justice being delayed and denied both educates and provides ample food for thought.
The following extended Bullfrog promo. for "Rule" provides a good primer on the players and the legal and moral issues around which the film is centered,
Our story begins with newly wheelchair-bound Lane, who has a moderate criminal record, once more being summoned to defend himself against charges in his rural Tennessee community. He arrives to learn that the lack of an elevator requires a humiliating trip up the stairs to a second-floor courtroom. The insult that is added to his dual insult and injury is to learn that he must appear again at a later date.
The piled-on insult is telling Lane that his least humiliating option for appearing at the second proceeding is to have court officials carry him up the stairs. That prompts Lane to call former prosecutor/current private-practice attorney Bill Brown for legal advocacy. The reasoning of Lane includes that Brown always treated him fairly while arguing that his misdeeds warrant making him a guest of the state.
In providing his perspective, Brown notes that being less sympathetic than other individuals does not justify denying Lane his literal day in court. Subsequently discovering a woman who has had a hard-luck life and faces the same challenge as Lane shows that he is not alone.
The State of Tennessee proves that our legal system is an adversarial one by asserting the legal concept of sovereign immunity; the basic idea is that the "sovereign" status of the government in this country that affirmatively rejected the concept of a monarchy-based form of rule more than 200 years ago greatly limits the types of legal claims that an individual can assert against a state.
This leads to Brown following the robber baron principle of reshaping his legal argument into one that the courts will hear. He is not initially on tap to appear before Team Roberts when the dispute makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Brown does end up traveling to Washington to state his case. The copious DVD bonus features includes audio recordings of that proceeding.
The film concludes with the outcome of the case, which provides some evidence as to the extent to which an ordinary person who wisely chooses his or her legal counsel can fight city hall.
The aforementioned extras include 2.5 hours of extended interview footage and .pdfs of court documents,
Time Life awesomely follows up its recent (reviewed) epic DVD release of concerts, television shows, documentaries, etc. of Cher with the even more phenomenal "Dolly: The Ultimate Collection" celebrating the 50-year career of Dolly Parton. This perfect gift for any of the numerous demographics to which the modern queen of country appeals is only available by visiting the Time Life website. Being able to get away with just sticking a bow on the sturdy decorative box is a nice feature.
The only disappointing aspect of the below well-produced and comprehensive Time Life promo. for "Dolly" is that it does not follow the company tradition of having the titles scroll across the screen over scenes of the American Idol of the hour belting out her hits and appearing in clips from the series and other productions featuring her that comprise this 19-DVD, 35-hour set.
The preaching to the choir aspects of this set are numerous episodes of the '70s daytime series "Dolly" and the '80s primetime variety show of the same name, the two '80s Christmas specials, and the concerts. This not to mention "Tonight Show" appearances and the seven episodes of "The Porter Wagoner Show" that provided Parton a big break.
Highlights of the '70s series include Parton peers/friends Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt appearing in one episode and the parents and 12 siblings of Parton providing the entertainment in another outing. A terrifically bizarre duet of the Tony Orlando and Dawn hit "Knock Three Times on the Ceiling" with Kenny Rogers in another episode is must-see.
The regular primetime "Date With Dolly" segment having Patrick Duffy and Parton co-star Burt Reynolds playing two of the gentlemen callers is just as much fun. This is not to mention the cold opens featuring the star in a bubble bath. Parton fully channels Carol Burnett with a twist by ending each episode with a witty Q&A session. The quick wit that Parton displays here fully reflect the spirit of her song "Dumb Blonde" in which this master of all media shows that she ain't no stereotype.
All of this (and the rest) is great fun for those of us who are more familiar with the mainstream hits, film roles, and big and busty persona of Parton. Seeing the wide variety of her work, learning that she wrote the Whitney Houston hit "I Will Always Love You," discovering that "Islands in the Stream" apparently is a gay anthem, shows that she once was the hardest working woman in show business is enlightening.
The bonus disc that includes the BBC documentary "Dolly Parton: Here I Am" is a personal favorite in this enormous set (truly, no pun intended). It fills in many gaps as to the tale of growing up poor with 12 siblings, being a child country-music star, and moving to Nashville at 18 to fully become a star.
An awesome "behind-the-scenes" segment tells the tale as old of time as to Wagoner getting jealous when Parton begins to eclipse him. The response of Parton makes it clear that she knows how to make her point without biting the hand that currently is feeding her.
The segment on the film debut of Parton in "9 to 5" is one of the most interesting in "Here." We learn how producer/star Jane Fonda gets the idea to recruit Parton for the film and also get the perspective of co-star Lily Tomlin. This is not to mention the extent to which Parton nails the titular theme.
The big picture this time is that watching even roughly one-third of "Collection" clearly demonstrates the perfection combination of charm, talent, shrewdness, and ambition that earns Parton the respect and admiration of even us damn Yankees.
The recent Icarus Films DVD release of the 2019 Distrib Films documentary "Maguy Marin: Time to Act" wonderfully honors the Icarus roots of a catalog limited to thought-provoking documentaries. This one achieves the genre ideal of being equally entertaining and educational.
The "its personal" aspect this time is that the titular avant-garde choreographer is the mother of writer/director David Mambaugh. His numerous talking heads include Mom, who offers charming insight into her several decades' worth of work that ain't your granddaddy's ballet.
The following "Marin" trailer highlights the wit and wisdom of both the woman and her art.
Much of the documentary focuses on the Marin 1981 opus "May B." This artistically bizarre piece proves that not everything is beautiful at the ballet. It also shows that "Dance 10, Looks 3" does not always result in still being on unemployment and dancing for your own enjoyment. This work purposefully portraying the ugly truth being inspired by Samuel Beckett (the playwright, rather than the time-traveling physicist) awesomely leads to an amusing "Waiting for Beckett" story by Marin.
Vintage footage from the personal and the professional lives of Marin provides a portrait of the artist as a young woman and mother. The latter aspect includes home movies of David and younger sister Louise.
"May B' and the other featured works (as well as the words straight from la bouche de la cheval) shows how Marin consistently incorporates her political views into her work. As indicated above, the bigger picture as to this is that Marin is committed to art reflecting the real world.
Mambough saves the best for last by documenting how a dancer taking the expression "break a leg" a little too close to heart results in a production of "May B" becoming a family affair, This also confirms that Mambough is a triple threat.
Bullfrog Films, which provides documentary DVDs for the general and educational markets, offers an excellent example of the genre ideal as to the release of "Beatrix Farrand's American Landscape" (2019). This genuinely loving tribute to the titular groundbreaking (pun intended) garden designer entertains just as much as it educates. Getting to see numerous bright and sunny gardens at a time that most of us are locked in our cages except for limited periods in the yard is a much-needed bonus.
The following trailer for "Farrand" expertly conveys both the tone of the film and the admiration of host/acclaimed garden designer Lynden B. Miller. This promo. also includes a spoiler that is film highlight.
This literal cradle-to-grave video biography begins with the 1870s birth of Farrand. We soon learn of the childhood life-changing experiences that would be era-specific noteworthy even without hearing that Edith Wharton was her aunt.
The same newsworthy element applies to the career of Farrand. Her being born into 19th-century society makes pursuing any profession newsworthy; working in the relatively rare area of garden design is another selling point for a documentary. Taking the lead as to projects that include the White House, transforming a portion of the Maine wilderness into Acadia National Park, and being the creative force behind the locally well-known Washington, DC garden at the Dunbarton Oaks historic property helps explain why Miller and her peers so greatly admire Farrand.
The interesting elements of this aspect of "Farrand" include the overall design philosophies of the subject. We see examples of her technique of having a garden start formal near the house and get increasingly wild as it moves from that dwelling; we further get to see how she enjoys surprising garden visitors.
Meeting a group of teens whose interest in horticulture has nothing to do with tending to a particular type of plant under a gro-light further contributes to the fun and inspiration of "Farrand." A highlight there is a future Farrand receiving praise for his design instinct.
Learning near the end of the film that the kindness of not-so-strangers allows Farrand to live out her golden years in just the right spot for her and that the legacy as to that special spot lives on provides our indie film a true Hollywood ending.
The 8.9 IMDb rating for the 2019 Lithuanian documentary "Delta Zoo," which IndiePix Films has released on DVD in North America, reflects the interesting and creative manner that this film tells the real-life tale of the titular Lithuanian commando squad that contributes to the effort by their country to leave the Soviet Union. The melange of world politics, '90s action movies, low-tech video games, and the macho pride of wannabe super soldiers supports the theory that truth is stranger than fiction.
The following trailer aptly highlights both the retro style of the film and the aspects of the essential militia around whom the film is centered.
Our story begins with Lithuania being a trend setter in that it is the first country to declare independence from the Soviet Union; this leads to recruiting a Cobra Kai (COBRA KAI) style martial-arts expert to recruit and train our post-adolescent squad. Archival footage shows their rigorous and violent training.
Our talking heads who were there share their perspective of this band of brothers bonding over viewings of bootleg VHS copies of films such as "Rambo" and that largely consist of the Kung Fu fighting of Bruce Lee that the boys find so exciting; this portion of the film also demonstrates that our Karate Kids are fast as lightning,
This orientation to the group provides some of the most fun in the film in that heavily pixelated animation accompanies profiles, including the apt animal code names of each fighting boy. Individual ratings on attributes that include craziness and fighting skills are the icing on the cake.
The human perspective continues with the tale of these toy soldiers sharing a rural farmhouse ala a rock band holed up to produce its latest album. A cool aspect of this is mutual willful ignorance as to a group of Russian soldier who are the neighbors of the "Zoo" animals.
Anecdotes from this boot camp include an evening in town that leads to an inevitable bar brawl and accounts of machismo that include essentially walking off a broken leg. Of course, there also is the local woman who essentially becomes a team mascot/den mother.
The video game element continues with the boys going out into the field. The footage of exploring a government building evokes strong feelings of video games. This includes the discovery of secret rooms and the officials and the guests of the state who are left behind.
The message this time is the difference between men and boys is the killing power of their toys.
Virgil Films does a great man justice regarding the DVD release of "Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey." We get a truly intimate portrait of Rev. Graham by those who knew and loved him best.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Graham" provides a sense of the oratory power of this evangelist and the fact that he had friends in high places on both Heaven and earth.
Son of a preacher man Franklin Graham hosts this tribute to his father and joins the seemingly countless talking heads who share the importance of that man to them personally and to the world at large. It seems fair to say that Billy holds the world record for having the greatest positive impact on modern society.
One of the more interesting tales of Billy relates to his early years; this everykid is not a member of the Junior God Squad. His life-changing experience comes on hearing an evangelist speak essentially on a whim and deciding to devote his life to religion. His extensive travel while a member of a youth ministry truly is mind-boggling and does not let up for several decades.
Easily the most amusing story involves Billy being guilty of a wholesome youthful indiscretion during his first of many trips to the White House. This visit during the Truman administration provides Billy with a personal sense of the expression "Give 'em Hell, Harry." Another way of stating this is that Hell hath no fury like a president scorned.
We later see Billy criticized for travelling to Russia,
"Citizen Kane" fans particularly should enjoy the story that elevates Billy to his star status. This minister coming on the radar of William Randolph Hearst inspires the latter to put the power of his press behind the former.
We also see how a mourning nation and areas in distress turn to Billy for comfort; these tragedies include 911 and massive earthquakes in San Francisco and Guatemala. A personally interesting aspect of this is Billy meaning it when he states that he will go anywhere to preach and Billy wannabe/former child star Kirk Cameron alleging that he will speak to anyone yet completely ignoring several requests over a few years by your not-so-humble-reviewer.
The timing of this review also is interesting regarding the documentary ending with the 2018 funeral of Billy. This begins with an uncharacteristically civil Trump speaking at a U.S. Capitol service in which he notes that Billy is one of three private citizens ever to be honored with laying in state in the rotunda. This is in contrast with news reports of Trump being angry about not being thanked for his role in the funeral of John McCain.
One can argue that Billy can be lauded for being among an elite group capable of bringing out the best in Trump; it is inarguable that Billy was such a godsend (if not Godsend) that he brought out the best in virtually everyone.
The numerous DVD features in this true labor of love include a complete video of the funeral of Billy, his "God Loves You" sermon, and two other tributes to this guy who was unique for giving televangelists a good name.
Bullfrog Films, which services both the general and educational home-video markets, once more shines a spotlight on racial injustice in the Windy City by releasing "'63 Boycott" (2017) on DVD as a companion to the reviewed "Cooked: Survival By Zip Code" documentary on the 1995 Chicago heatwave. The titular civil disobedience is a protest against the blatant segregation of public schools by school superintendent Ben Willis to a degree that REQUIRES commenting "whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?!"
The impact of both "Cooked" and "Boycott" includes their topics sadly being highly relevant in this COVID-19 era that is exasperating the wealth gap in America. One comment in "Boycott" that hits this former prep-school boy particularly close to home is that white parents in Chicago escape the ills of public education by sending their kids to parochial or private schools.
"Boycott" mostly consists of modern-day interviews with the students and the activists that were there and of archival footage and interviews from the period of the titular demonstration. One of the most impactful interviews is with a black woman who was in high school at the time who received a harsh response to expressing her aspiration to be a research scientist.
"Boycott" furthers depicts an insult to the injury that black students of the day endure as to their schools being separate but not equal. The term "Willis Wagons" refers to students being assigned to classrooms in trailers in overcrowded schools despite better-funded white schools having excess capacity. A cute animated graphic clearly shows how schools even just across the street from each other can illustrate that contrast.
The plethora of DVD bonuses greatly enhance the "Boycott" experience. One feature is on students who stage a play and host the "old school" crowd in response to a screening of the documentary. Another notable extra is of the Chicago world premiere of "Boycott," which gives viewers a chance to ask the talking heads and the filmmakers about their experiences.
The big picture this time (as is the case regarding "Cooked" and many other Bullfrog releases) is that the powers-that-be continue to show callous disregard for the folks who have the greatest need for their support.
The Corinth Films August 25, 2020 DVD/BD combo release of the 1979 BBC/PBS documentary "Einstein's Universe" fully is in the spirit of remote-learning during this Covid-19 era. This documentary based on the Nigel Calder book of the same name can be considered Einstein for Relative Dummies. The crystal-clear restoration further enhances this experience.
Host Peter Ustinov puts his charming quirkiness to good use as a dream team of physicists gather at the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas to teach him (and the audience) everything that he ever wanted to ask about the theories of Einstein but was afraid to ask. The overall look at this film that equally entertains and educates is that of science-fiction of the era down to the futuristic-looking motorcycles.
The segment that resonates most with those of use who have ever been pulled over for speeding (sometimes right across from our own houses) is the one that shows how cops use the Einstein principle as to the sound that an engine make changes as a vehicle approaches Smokey to clock how fast it is traveling, The aforementioned motorcycles are an integral part of that demonstration that will provoke many variations of "thanks, Einstein."
Another portion of the film shows how Einstein is the father of weapons of mass destruction. The message, which includes the correspondence that starts all of it, once again is that even the best intentions can have unintended negative consequences,.
Ustinov seems to take the most glee in a demonstration on the slower rate of aging in space that utilizes him and his "twin." This also includes a brief tour of time and space,
Much of the focus is on gravity. A table-top model illustrates the pull of a black hole, and we learn of the potential for our moon to go off the leash.
The bottom line is that "Universe" teaches its lessons without insulting the intelligence of the viewer. The photos of Einstein at an age before it seems that he is too busy for a trip to Super Cuts provides additional entertainment.
Bullfrog Films, which services both the general and educational home-video markets, provides substantial food for thought as to the DVD release of the 2017 documentary "Like Any Other Kid." The underlying theme of the "Kid" is the debate almost as old as time regarding the extent to which prisons should punish in contrast to rehabilitate the folks who are guests of the state.
"Kid" studies young offenders who commit a variety of offenses; the focus is on "The Missouri Method," which believes that sparing the rod does not spoil the delinquent.
The film visits several juvenile facilities that take the talking cure to heart; through this, we met both the troubled youth and the guards who are highly dedicated to finding out how they can reach their kids so that they do not embark on a life of crime.
One of the most entertaining scenes has two teen boys act out a "use your words, not your fists" improv that is as amusing to them and their peers as it is to those of us at home. Despite the flawed delivery, the message that asking for money owed rather than coming to blows (or worse) over the dispute is highly valid.
One excitable boy gets more screen time than most; he is distinguishable both for essentially "going over the wall" during a trust-based furlough and for subsequently breaking down in a discussion with guards and therapists. One of the guards previously having his time in the spotlight adds a good perspective.
The bigger picture, which is highly relevant at a time that COVID-19 has amped hostility among "us" and "them," is that "we" always respond better when "they" are reasonable and compassionate. A more basic way of understanding this is that one dog simply barking at an already agitated dog only will lead to both dogs increasing their volume and enhancing the possibility that one or both of them is going to walk away with a chunk missing out of his or her body.
Film Movement division Omnibus Entertainment reminds folks who realize we've come a long way, Baby where it all begin; this herstory lesson comes in the form of the DVD release of the 2018 documentary "Holly Near: Singing for Our Lives" by 4-time Emmy winner Jim Brown.
Readers to whom this release seems to be a case of herstory repeating herself may recall that "Near" has run on the PBS series "American Masters."
The following Movement trailer for "Near" provides a glimpse of both the star-power of the talking heads and the life, the music, and activism of the subject.
At the root (pun intended) of the matter, the Near style is a blend of country, folk, and gospel with a strong feminist message. The feature music includes a song about the love that Near feel for a woman decades before Katy Perry sings about kissing a girl and liking it.
"Hanoi" Jane Fonda discusses meeting Near when the later joins the former for a Vietnam-era anti-war traveling show that intentionally is the polar opposite of the Bob Hope USO tours. Clips of the Fonda revue shows the designing women who put them on had as much fun as the audience.
We also learn how Near develops a close friendship with legendary feminist Gloria Steinem after being among the first group that Steinem publication Ms. magazine honors as a woman of the year. The comments of Steinem extend to discussing how Near provides the feminist movement its anthems.
The arguably brightest star power in the form of Kevin Bacon inarguably is relative; his DVD bonus interview discusses how his cousin Holly making it big is his first introduction to show business. His segment in the main portion of the film includes a clip in which their family recently performs a show in which they cut loose, footloose. One spoiler is that they do not kick off their Sunday shows.
We get an glimpse of another family that sings together to help stay together ala a few clips of a guest appearance of Near as a pudgy feminist high-school classmate of Laurie Partridge on the '70scom "The Partridge Family." The self-depricating fat jokes that prompt smiles from the cast further show that we have come a long way, Baby, since the era of bell-bottoms and puka-shell necklaces. (Yes, at least one very young boy wore one because Keith Partridge did.)
The copious DVD extras extend beyond 30 minutes of interviews; we get live performances of the Near songs "One Good Song" and "Somebody's Jail."
Bullfrog Films, which makes DVDs available to both the general and educational markets, inadvertently touches on a sadly timely topic as to the DVD release of the 2019 documentary "Cooked: Survival By Zip Code." The income-gap analysis as to the 1995 Chicago heatwave and the 2012 Superstorm Sandy holds just as true as to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A blogland detour before discussing "Cooked" begins with a long-standing comprehension that having enough money to offset the increasing ills of the world give "haves" an unfair edge over "have nots." Having a moderate income that makes an automatic back-up power generator, central air-conditioning, and monthly deliveries of bottled water feasible greatly offsets the impact of deteriorating national conditions. Owning a freezer and a pantry full of food, as well as roughly 150 rolls of toilet paper, in anticipation of the next corornavirus-related lockdown provides further peace of mind. Knowing that a large percentage of Americans cannot afford half of these luxuries is disheartening.
Filmmaker/narrator Judith Helfand framing her study of the heatwave around Sandy evoke thoughts of another recent example of how "haves" fare much better than "have nots." A combination of recent flooding rain that is behind a waterfall of storm water backup in my basement, a related threat of a reoccurrence of that incident, and the callous disregard of the local DPW as to all that is behind spending several thousand dollars to get a back-water valve installed. The insult added to that injury is that the retail value of that work is twice as much as the "insider" price for my project.
All within earshot have heard sincere lamenting as to the folks who cannot afford the valve having to endure flooding every time that storm drains cannot keep pace with a rainstorm.
The following trailer for "Cooked" conveys much of the above, provides a good sense of the non-sensationalist vibe of the film, and gives good reason to believe that this independent film does not provide a Hollywood ending.
The overall message, which COVID-19 validates, of "Cooked" is that Mother Nature keeps throwing one climate-change fueled disaster after another at us. The rest of the story is that the ability of the "haves" to acquire the necessary resources to escape or alleviate the impact of those event can allow them to live while the "have nots" literally die in large numbers. The footage of a fleet of refrigerated trucks storing dead bodies in 1995 Chicago evokes thoughts of similar measures in response to COVID-19.
The '90s-era horror stories include residents of low-income housing cooking-to-death as a result of keeping the windows in their apartments closed in order to avoid someone breaking in. The pictures of some of these small run-down events are worth far more than 1,000 words.
References to wealthy Chicago residents escaping to their vacation homes evokes thoughts of modern-day New Yorkers temporarily relocating to their New England second homes in response to COVID-19. The secondary story is that these callous one-percenters and those that approach that level have no concern about endangering the even one-percenter "haves" in those destination communities.
The "Zip Code" reference in the "Cooked" title shows the same indifference by city officials as my not-so-friendly civil servant blithely explaining as to my flooded basement that the heavy rain that is the culprit being akin to pouring too much water into a glass. The clear communication that the city is leaving residents all along the income scale vulnerable to future floods is behind investing in a private floodgate that is designed to keep my house dry while homes literally across the tracks a few miles away add an a tangible aspect to figuratively always living underwater.
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.