October/November 2019 DVD Roundup [Review/Commentary]
DVDs that impressed us in Late October/Early November
China Beach: The Complete Series
China Beach: The Complete Series finally comes together in a complete release from Time Life. While there has been a prior release, there has nothing as complete as what Time Life has done here. I’m not a huge China Beach fan, but I know that we have a significant portion of readers that dig this sort of thing. That being said, everyone that enjoys classic TV will enjoy seeing everything from commentaries to uncut shows and the cast reunion.
The DVD comes uncut with the complete series run and original series music. I swear that classic TV basically went crazy on random music ala a High Schooler making a YouTube video project. Either way it goes, Time Life does amazing work bringing these releases to DVD with a stunning assortment of bonus features.
Harmonia is a film about the Jerusalem Philharmonic. More specifically, it’s about a harpist who is getting to live out the Biblical story of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. What works as a metaphor for living in modern Israel becomes something more, as the film progresses. Truly a wonderful drama and one of the best movies I saw this month.
An Israeli Love Story
An Israeli Love Story is a film set at the birth of modern Israel. A young actress arrives in northern Israel who meets a young soldier. The two fall in love, as Israel’s harsh reality begins to crash in on their lives. Loosely based on real events, the film balances the heavy with the sweet in a palatable way.
Mehsampur is a film that plays as a documentary, music movie and carefully constructed drama. While it’s an interesting Indiepix film, the movie stays so deep into its material that it becomes impenetrable for the average audience. It’s impressive, but at times…confusing.
The Kid’s Table
The Kid’s Table got me thinking about bridge for the first time in forever. It’s fascinating to see a film where young people take over a sport populated by the olds. While the film plays short and was shot rather amazingly in scope, it feels like a Wiki with a narrative attached at times. Not bad or good, it just is.
Pretenders is the latest James Franco movie. It’s a film about an actress helping to recruit impressionable young people into something they can’t understand. Times like this make me wonder how many more NXIVM movies we’re going to get. The DVD comes with a trailer and image slideshow as the special features.
I’ll Never Forget You: The Last 72 Hours of Lynyrd Skynyrd
I’ll Never Forget You is a rather dense documentary about Skynyrd. While a fan of the band, there was nothing here that I didn’t already know. Still, it was fun to see footage that was new to me alongside some killer material from the 40th Anniversary Event. The DVD comes with bonus materials that support that unseen material angle and some of Gene’s Fishing Advice.
Scared of Revolution
Scared of Revolution is a look at Umar Bin Hassan’s work with The Last Poets. Hassan would later set the groundwork for hip-hop on the world stage. Yet, he goes unremembered by so many. The documentary is fascinating, but it tends to follow the self-destruction aspect more than anything else in the last half.
Sisters of the Wilderness
Sisters of the Wilderness follows five Zulu women as they go backpacking for the first time. Show in the middle of South Africa, the film examines the ladies as they come across rhino poaching and the dangers of the wild. The scenery is majestic, but I feel the film didn’t quite hit anything that amazing. Still, I enjoyed the documentary.
Avenging Angelo / Shade Double Feature
Avenging Angelo is a mob movie that dropped in 2002. Anthony Quinn is decent in it, but it’s pretty forgettable. Lesser Stallone.
Shade is one of those movies that I want to love. Stallone plays wells as part of a larger cast including Thandie Newton, Jamie Foxx and Hal Holbrook. Unfortunately, the film runs a smidge too long and plays like dumb Rounders. While enjoyable for a single viewing, repeat visits aren’t in the deck.
Eye See You / Reach Me Double Feature
Eye See You is a Stallone movie that came out between his second and third comeback. I’ve heard people say that the film has a longer cut out there. But, I don’t know if it exists. Still, Charles S. Dutton steals focus throughout the film. Gotta love Roc.
Reach Me is more of a Tom Berenger movie, but Stallone gets to show up as the guy’s editor. Arriving after Stallone started to dig up the bones of Balboa and Rambo, one has to wonder why he chose the film. I guess it’s because he works well with John Herzfeld.
Mike Wallace is Here
Mike Wallace is Here is another killer documentary from Magnolia. The veteran journalist Mike Wallace has always been treated as this weird God of journalism. Which is weird when you consider that many of the worst traits of the 24 Hour News Cycle uniquely began with Wallace’s approach. Hell, we were taught in college about how Wallace’s antagonizing approach to interviewing General William Westmoreland led to CBS being hit with a libel suit.
Still, it’s hard to think any of journalist that better defined TV journalism over the last 60 years. The DVD comes with a single special feature, but I wish we got a commentary. When we do deep historical dives, I always want to go further. Oh well, it’s still worth checking out.