July 1, 2014 in Documentary | Permalink


July 17, 2012 in Documentary | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections

Uncounted Anyone who doubts that the Republican Party, using systematic methods that were supported by an irresponsible media, stole the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections should be prepared to have their eyes opened. Here is an important and essential account of the treachery that cost America its democracy in two bloodless coups that portend yet another such rape in 2008 if something isn’t done to annihilate rampant voter fraud being committed by neocon fascists. Documentarian David Earnhardt utilizes in-depth conversations with such political figures as columnist Robert Koehler, Representative John Conyers, data analyst Bruce O’Dell, investigative journalist Brad Friedman, and voting rights activist Antonio Sanford to give voice to the terrible acts that put an illegitimate president in office. If you only see one documentary this year, find a way to see "Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections." Special features include extended interviews & speeches and deleted scenes.

(Movie – Five Stars, DVD features – Four Stars) Not Rated, 80 mins.

November 16, 2007 in Documentary | Permalink

Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea


Without a doubt the Salton Sea is one of the weirdest places in America. Documentarians Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer lovingly examine the creation, history and abysmal state of a land developer’s ecological disaster that directed water from the Colorado river to California’s sea-level Imperial Valley. John Waters narrates between interviews with Salton Sea locals describing their hopes for the forsaken area. Millions of fish die annually and regenerate in the 35 mile-long, 15 mile-wide salty pond around which communities of impoverished people congregate. The film serves as a clarion call for some type of government assistance to address the terrible plight of a place in desperate need of help. Funny, tragic, and informative "Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea" is an unforgettable portrait of a desert town turned into a sewer. DVD features include six short films and an alternate environmental version. (Movie – Four Stars, DVD features – Three Stars) Not Rated, 73 mins.

November 14, 2007 in Documentary | Permalink

Harlan County U.S.A.

334 Considered one of the finest documentaries ever made, Barbara Kopple’s "Harlan County U.S.A." is a brilliant exposé about the embattled history of coal miners in American as seen through the very personal prism of striking coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1972. With elegant use of archival footage, Appalachian coal mining songs, and intimate footage from the picket lines and union meeting rooms Kopple gives voice to the impoverished but steadfast miners and their wives who stood up for their family’s rights against the greedy coal mine owners and violent scabs. Indeed, the film takes on an incidental feminist tone as union rabble-rouser Lois Scott galvanizes the women around her to picket against the gun toting "company thugs" that threaten their lives on a daily basis. The film is even more poignant today, considering how much exponentially worse conditions have gotten for today’s coal miners. This essential DVD comes with fascinating commentary by Barbara Kopple and editor Nancy Baker, and includes a spunky panel discussion from the 2005 Sundance Film Festival with Kopple and film critic Roger Ebert.


August 6, 2006 in Documentary | Permalink

Winter Soldier

Ws_dvdcover_final_lowres_copy In early 1971, eighteen documentary filmmakers joined together at a Detroit Howard Johnson’s hotel, as part of the "Winterfilm Collective," to record the testimony of more than 125 Vietnam veterans. Over the course of three days, the vets gave personal voice to the atrocities and war crimes that they witnessed and committed in Vietnam. This public record speaks volumes about the American military’s continued disregard for the Geneva convention and stands as a brutally honest caution against any country ever engaging in war. However, to diminish the film as simply an anti-war documentary is to ignore the terrible human cost that is so eloquently weighed in the articulate and gut-wrenching stories of the brave soldiers who came forward to tell their sad stories in 1971. The film has rarely been seen since its 1972 Cannes Film Festival premiere, and is an essential and necessary piece of American history. Special features include French and German subtitles, a conversation with the filmmakers, "Seasoned Veteran: The Journey of a Winter Soldier" (about Vietnam vet Scott Camil turned anti-war activist), documentary shorts "Americal Division" and "First Marine Division," an audio presentation of Graham Nash's 1973 protest song "Oh Camil!" (dedicated to Scott Camil), a trailer for the film's 2005 release, and stills gallery, as well as DVD-ROM testimony documents. Aspect ratio is 1:37 full frame, with sound quality processed in mono. (Movie – Five Stars, DVD Features – Five Stars). Not Rated, 96 mins. (New Yorker Video/ Milliarium Zero)

June 7, 2006 in Documentary | Permalink

Mad Hot Ballroom

Madhot2_1 "Mad Hot Ballroom" is a testament to the urban public school system of New York's five boroughs, to its kids and to the dance teachers of the American Ballroom Institute. Teams of fourth and fifth grade girls and boys from Brooklyn, Tribeca and Washington Heights train to compete in a citywide finals dance contest as director Marilyn Agrelo reveals the personalities of the students whose lives are enriched by their contact with each other and their teachers through dance. The narrative builds toward its built-in trophy award climax with teams performing five dances, the Fox Trot, Swing, Rumba, Tango and Meringue. Charming, poignant and festive "Mad Hot Ballroom" is an inspirational documentary that shows the power of dance to invigorate self-esteem and ambition in young hearts. There are no special features. Aspect ratio is 1.78:1 Full Frame. Sound quality is processed in Dolby Digital 5.1. (Movie - Four Stars, DVD features - Zero Stars) Rated PG, 110 mins. (Paramount)

February 1, 2006 in Documentary | Permalink

Ring Of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story

Emile Griffith became infamous for a 1962 boxing match in which he brutally beat his welterweight opponent Benny "Kid" Paret into a coma from which Paret died a week later. The film perfectly captures the social climate of the time and delves into the circumstances surrounding the fighters, not the least of which was Paret’s public homosexual slur against Griffith before the fight. Director/producers Dan Klores and Ron Berger do an outstanding job of putting together interviews and rare archival footage to tell Griffith’s personal struggle for love and redemption. "Ring Of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story" is a touching and memorable film not to be missed. Special features include a detailed commentary track by directors Dan Klores and Ron Berger, along with deleted scenes and outtakes. Aspect ratio is 1.85:1, with sound quality processed in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. (Movie – Five Stars, DVD Features – Three Stars) Not Rated, 90 mins. (Anchor Bay)

October 6, 2005 in Documentary | Permalink