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October 30, 2012

Chinatown (blu-ray)

A private detective finds himself in over his head when he takes on a case involving the richest and most powerful people in Chinatown. Bonus features include commentary, featurettes, a trailer, and more.
Special features: Commentary by screenwriter Robert Towne with David Fincher; Other, Water and power HD, Chinatown, an appreciation, The begining and the end, Filming, The legacy; Theatrical trailer HD.

One of my favorite films: It's just so uncomfortable all the way to the end, where it could possibly change your life. Everything about this film reaches the finest levels of the film craft.
I am reviewing the blu-ray due to the outstanding special features, not only the long, out in the field interview with Robert Towne but also the unbelievable documentary of the historical building of the aqueducts. Water and power HD is an important urban planning documentary and should stand on its own. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58241-B 113 minutes 1974
The documentary is very recent and I did not get the date of production.

Posted by mcmike at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

Meredith Monk

It's almost impossible to pin her down. Singer, dancer, filmmaker, composer, choreographer, Meredith Monk's talents include about as many artistic fields as you can imagine. Celebrates a multidisciplinary career that draws from a wellspring of Zen Buddhist beliefs and spans a period of 40 years. Based on a wealth of materials including personal archives, film clips of performances, and interviews with her collaborators, as well as conversations with the artist herself.
Special features include: live performance of Dolmen music; Tricycle magazine interview with Babeth M. Vanloo (PDF); filmmaker biography.

Another well done documentary, this time by the subjects neighbor and friend. The "mulit-artist" Meredith Monk seems to have been everywhere from the late 1960s to present day. Her craft is amazing, very free and liberating.
If she "represents" anything it is the grace she brings to to her craft. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58449-D 82 minutes 2010

Posted by mcmike at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

David Hockney (a Bigger Picture)

Filmed over three years, this documentary is an unprecedented record of a major artist at work. It captures David Hockney's return from California to paint his native Yorkshire, outside, through the seasons, and in all weathers. It tells the story of a homecoming and gives a revealing portrait of what inspires and motivates today's greatest living British-born artist.
Special features: Hockney at work on Late November tunnel; leading art figures on Bigger trees near Warter; Hockney reflects on art and life; the making of the documentary.

This is a very well done documentary. It touches on a time of life that involves change for Mr. Hockney. Mr. Hockney is an outstanding and inspirational artist. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58443-D 60 minutes 2009

Posted by mcmike at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2012


A group of residents of Meredith, NY discover the impacts that a 400-foot high windmill could bring to their community, but become divided over how they see wind power affecting the future of the community.

This documentary offers insight into the repercussions of having a wind turbine on or near your property. The machines produce a constant hum, a vibration in the ground and the strobe effect may drive you and your neighbors to a nervous breakdown. Each blade of the propeller weighs about 7,000 pounds. While trying to do their part to produce efficient, renewable energy the local populations are finding wind turbines are not necessarily a viable alternative. I can't imagine how these might affect the sea life if they are placed along the shore or out in deep water. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 57792-D 83 minutes 2012

Posted by mcmike at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2012

The Art of Filmmaking

A collection of five documentaries that share directors, producers, writers, actors, and other production crews' stories of filmmaking.

Tales from the script: Screenwriters ranging from newcomers to living legends share their triumphs and hardships in this odyssey through the world of movie storytelling.

Directors: life behind the camera: 33 legendary directors reveal intimate and in-depth knowledge about the art of filmmaking and their own careers.

Light keeps me company: Documentary on Sven Nykvist, one of the foremost conematographers of all time, lovingly directed by his son.

Capturing reality: the art of documentary: An exploration of the complex creative process that goes into making documentary films. Features interviews with 38 directors and 163 clips of scenes from classic films.

Lavender limelight: Behind the scenes with America's most successful lesbian directors.

Tales from the script (disc 1 103 minutes 2009), Directors; life behind the camera (disc 2 and 3: 108 minutes 2006), Light keeps me company (disc 4 76 minutes 2000), Capturing reality: the art of documentary (disc 5 97 minutes 2008), Lavender limelight: Lesbians in film (disc 6 56 minutes).

For anyone interested in the how, what and why films get made this might be the series for you. I found it very insightful and worth the time. With something as technical and abstract as film production the more information you have is always better. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 57966-D
Documentaries originally released separately.
6 videodiscs 574 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

Fear of a Black Hat (NWH)

A filmmaker infiltrates rap band NWH in this mock-documentary comedy.

This film is a lot of fun, however there is suggested violence, drug use, a little nudity and profanity (okay a lot of profanity). The concept is a "homage" to Rob Reiner's gem This is Spinal Tap. Everyone in this film is a stereotype, representing the worst or at least the less than good of their particular group. It is very humorous and made with a sense of fun. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 38874-D 88 minutes 1992

Posted by mcmike at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

Dog day afternoon

The story of a botched bank robbery that occurred August 22, 1972 in Brooklyn, New York and turned into a bizarre hostage situation lasting all day.

This is a fine representation of the early 1970's in the United States; confusion, violence and a little bit of anarchy. This film covers some hot topic social issues of the time. Al Pacino plays Sunny, a man who through the frustration of those around him, hopes to solve their problems with a poorly planned bank robbery. The robbery quickly spirals out of control leaving Sunny (John Cazale) and his partner Sal in too deep. While the media and the public develop a love/hate relationship with Sunny the police and FBI make their plans to end the situation. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 44205-D (DVD) and 58238-B (Blu-ray)
124 minutes 1975

Posted by mcmike at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2012

Another Earth

Rhoda and John are two people whose worlds collide after a tragic accident. Their intimate drama plays out against the astounding discovery of Earth 2, a parallel world that poses provocative and fascinating possibilities. Does a new Earth mean a chance at another life? Another destiny? Another self? With a mind-bending surprise ending that you will never forget.

This is a very well done film. It does have its share of surprises. The overall plot seems to be about reconciliation. However in this case reconciliation did not work out as planned. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58244-D (Both DVD and Blu-ray) 93 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

The black book (Reign of terror)

In the aftermath of Revolutionary leader Robespierre's ruthless and brutal rise to dictator of France, true patriot Charles D'Aubigny assumes the disguise of his country's most feared torturer, 'The Butcher of Strasbourg', in the hopes of infiltrating Robespierre's circle. Political moderates have tasked D'Aubigny with locating a black book, a personal diary of the Terror, containing information that can inspire the overthrow of Robespierre.

When the film opens you cannot help but notice the outstanding lighting and camera technique. The camera placement pulls the viewer into the drama. It is one of the most compelling and technically perfect films I have seen. The story's not bad either. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58339-D 89 minutes 1949

Posted by mcmike at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

Asian Corridor in Heaven (Ch'ama Kodo)

Part of the Insight Asia series, "Asian corridor in heaven" is a six-episode HD documentary series co-produced by KBS and NHK about the world's oldest trade route, the "Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road". Pre-dating the Silk Road by 200 years, the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road crossed from the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of Southwest China over mountainous terrain into Tibet, Nepal, and India. The Caravan Road was not only an important route for the trade of tea and horses, but also a corridor connecting Chinese and Tibetan languages, people, religion, and cultures.

I watched the first episode of this series. It promises to be an amazing look into the ancient trade route. I found it somewhat hair rising watching the horses, men and women negotiate the trail. The visual story is beautiful. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58257-D 2 discs 360 minutes 2008

Posted by mcmike at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)


Fascinating look at debt as a mental construct and traces how it influences relationships, societies and governing structures.

This documentary/discussion offers a striking look at debts that cannot be paid with money. Interviews with prisoners, unwilling participants in blood feuds, people involved with the cleanup of the BP oil leak in the gulf and others discuss the frustration of the inability to pay back a "psychic debt". A robbery victim afraid to go home, a quick fix to clean up an oil leak leading to the destruction of the environment, a blood feud over a shooting are debts that cannot be cleared away with money they are psychic debts. These are injustices where not only the victims suffer but also the perpetrators. Reconciliation may be the only way to relieve the psyche debt but it seems that all involved will have to reach reconciliation together. This documentary is a great place to start and to learn to understand the other. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58326-D 86 minutes 2012

Posted by mcmike at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2012

Safe house

Mace Sowell, an ex-intelligence operative, has kept a dark secret that could destroy the life of a certain up-and-coming presidential candidate. It's a secret that has already killed many, and Mace's name is next on the list.

Beyond the mystery, this film deals with aging and how the elderly are treated. ~Mike
Outstanding performances by Patrick Stewart, Kimberly Williams, Joy Kilpatrick, Craig Shoemaker, James Harlow, Hector Elizondo.

Askwith Media Library 58124-D 115 minutes 1997

Posted by mcmike at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

Questions for Crazy Horse

A penetrating look at how the Lakota (Sioux) of South Dakota have been impacted by the life of Crazy Horse. Tribal members comment on how Crazy Horse might feel about the current issues facing the Lakota today, including the U.S. government's confiscation of the Black Hills. The film also examines the Crazy Horse Memorial, the largest rock sculpture in the world.

Watch the DVD you might be surprised. This documentary takes a look into the life of a man who truly lived in his time, who understood the world around him. This provides more insight about the historical man Crazy Horse and a view of the myth that has built up around him. Those interviewed are very respectful and honest. The American Natives must be considered and invited to participate in the future of this country. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58134-D 81 minutes 2011

Posted by mcmike at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

Man on a mission (Richard Garriott's road to the stars)

Firmly ensconced in the geeky pantheon of computer legends since high school, Richard Garriott can afford to pursue his dreams, even the wildly improbable ones. For instance, following in his astronaut father's footsteps. So, if NASA won't take him because of bad eyes, he will pioneer his own private space industry and buy a $30 million seat on a Russian Soyuz. Tag along with Richard on his years-long quest to be the second Garriott into space. And maybe come back.
Special features: Apogee of fear; After touchdown; Richard's 30-year space plan; Magic time; Post-game wrap-up, Ride the Boran, Conservation laws in zero G.

Outstanding! This is a wonderfully informative documentary of an independent and private journey into space. Richard did very well designing computer games and investing in space transport and development projects. This documentary demonstrates how one man led the curve to provide access to space by private citizens. ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 57833-D 83 minutes 2012

Posted by mcmike at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)


Examines the abundance of trans fatty acids and partially hydrogenated oil in today's foods and the negative effects of these substances upon human health. Argues collusion between the food industry and the government in this state of affairs.

After watching this and other documentaries on the quality of our food, among other concerns, we must stop using partially hydrogenated oil. I am amazed that cancer rates have not been directly linked to partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Since these products have been introduced into our diets the cancer rates in humans have sky-rocketed. Unfortunately consumers are not being informed and it takes more research than we have time for to find this information. We must (re)realize that we are indeed what we eat.~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58162-D 64 minutes 2009

Posted by mcmike at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

Are you being served?

There's plenty of laughter when an unbelievably quirky contingent of sales clerks makes shopping at Grace Brothers the comic experience of a lifetime.
Special features: "Funny turns: John Inman"; "Funny women: Mollie Sugden"; "A life on the box: Wendy Richard"; "Are you being confused?"; "The best of Are you being served?"; "Celebrating Mollie Sugden"; special episode "Are you being served? Again!"; Who's who; trivia; trailers.

If you are a fan, I need not type another word. If you are not this is one of the funniest and absurd television series dealing with interdepartmental relations and customer service. Every character is "over-the-top" in their way. Whether customer or employee we can all relate to the humorous daily operations of Grace Brothers Department Store. The series ran on PBS, in Michigan from the late 1970's to the mid 1980's, from 11:00pm to 11:30 leading the way to the Benny Hill Show and Monty Python. Yes it set up a nice late night BBC experience. "without commercials" ~Mike

Askwith Media Library 58203-D
Originally broadcast as episodes of the television series on BBC1 between 1972 to 1985.

Posted by mcmike at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)