Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Jennifer Esposito Is Your Newest NCIS Agent in Season 1...
Critics Are Split on Ghostbusters Reboot ...
'Respect is key': The Game, Snoop Dogg lead march to LA...
Kristen Stewart's Sheer Dress At 'Equals' Premiere -- S...
"A Slow Slipping Away"-- Kris Kristofferson's Long-Undi...
Fox News' Roger Ailes Sued for Sexual Harassment by Ous...
Garrison Keillor Retires from 'Prairie Home Companion' ...
Jennifer Aniston is Pregnant: Star Steps Out in Loose D...
Hiddleswift Is One Big Song Promotion -- A Theory...
Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley files for ...

Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Docurama presents
The First Amendment Project: What's Left of Our Rights? (2004)

"In America, satire is protected speech, even if the object of the satire doesn't get it."
- Al Franken

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: July 07, 2005

Stars: Al Franken, Carolle Baron, Floyd Abrams, Susan Sallany, Denny Chin, Mitch Hoffman, Liam Rector, Jeremy Glick, Sheryl McCarty, Hans Haacke, Kenneth Jacobsen, Lem Coley, Deborah Jacobs, Mark Goldwert, Stanley Crouch, Michael Meyers, Cass Sunstein, Nancy Parish, Alex Vitale, Katha Pollit
Director: John Walter, Mario Van Peebles, Chris Hegedus, Nick Doob

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild language)
Run Time: 01h:08m:00s
Release Date: June 14, 2005
UPC: 767685970331
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

In case you've forgotten, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Seems simple enough, and one would think that over a couple of hundred years our nation would be following the Constitution rather closely, but the reality isn't always the same as the vision. In 2004, The Sundance Channel commissioned a number of independent filmmakers to tackle some of those thorny issues (thorny depending on where you stand) as part of The First Amendment Project, and Docurama has seen fit to issue three of these roughly 24-minute films on one disc under the subheading of What's Left of Our Rights?

The subject matter varies by film, whether it be freedom of speech (Franken vs. Fox), state-sponsored art (Poetic License) or organized assembly/protest (Some Assembly Required), but the underlying theme by the filmmakers is that the real meaning of the First Amendment is blurred, as a rule, by conservatives. So it is with some Michael Moore-friendly Bush/Republican bashing and a decidedly liberal bias, that some glaring constitutional infractions get bandied about, and depending on where your allegiances lie you will either scream in anger or roll your eyes at the troublemakers.

The lunacy of the strong arm lawsuit by Fox against Al Franken and his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them represents the funny here, in Franken vs. Fox, a film by Chris Hegedus and Phil Noob. Franken hammers hard against Bill O'Reilly, who comes across as foolishly bullheaded, especially when he attempts to discredit the judge who ruled against the case. Of the three films, this one is the lightest in tone, but still paints a bitch slap at constitutional freedom.

But it's not all fun and games, for the other two films on this disc are far more serious (or least, not funny). Mario Van Peebles used Poetic License to tell the controversial story of one-time New Jersey Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka and his volatile post-9/11 poem, Somebody Blew Up America, which points a long finger at who the poet perceives as the real villains. Somebody Blew Up America is intentionally incendiary—that seems obvious—and even my liberal mind found some of Baraka's comparisons somewhat misleading and simplistic. But that's not really the point. The issue is not so much what Baraka said, but that he was to receive government money as Poet Laureate. Van Peebles relies very little on direct comments from Baraka for his film, which is really who I wanted to hear more from, and because his poem is so unwincingly vitriolic that I would have preferred to hear the poet address the critics directly.

Some Assembly Required, from director John Walter, is set in New York City during the most recent Republican National Convention, and looks at the sea of protesters who were corralled by police and prevented from freely expressing themselves, or so says the film. Again, your mileage may vary depending on where you stand. Organized protests can be a sticky lot, with well-meaning crowds easily morphing into chaos, so I can understand some small part of the police tactics, but the methods seem harsh. Walter follows a diverse group of anti-Republican types, all of whom eventually find themselves penned in by a phalanx of New York City police.

These three shorts should do what they set out to, which is to generate some thought on your part, no matter where fall on the scale.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyesyes

Image Transfer Review: For this release, Franken vs. Fox and Poetic License are presented in 1.33:1, while Some Assembly Required has been issued in nonanamorphic 1.85:1. All three films are constructed with footage from a variety of sources, locations and shot under varying conditions, so image quality naturally fluctuates somewhat. Colors are what I refer to as "documentary-ish", meaning they aren't overly brilliant, but rather consistently average. No major print blemishes to be found, but the director lead in segments seem a bit grainy.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio isn't gaudy, presented as it is in a modest 2.0 stereo track that delivers understandable interview segments and narration. Clean, simple and more than adequate.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back, Brother's Keeper, Go Tigers!, The Legend of Ron Jeremy, Nine Good Teeth, , The Weather Underground
1 Deleted Scenes
4 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Comic strip
  2. Amiri Baraka Official Statement
  3. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Extras aren't as plentiful as most Docurama releases, and given the brevity of the main material it seems even more noticeable. Each of the three films feature text-based director bios, but that's where the similarities end. Fox vs Franken highlights a PDF version of an Aaron Hughes comic strip about the incident, Poetic License contains a Mario Van Peebles interview outtake (04m:56s), as well as a set of three Amiri Baraka outtakes (17m:12s), including 12 minutes of the controversial poem Somebody Blew Up America. Baraka's official statement, entitled I Will Not Apologize, I Will Not Resign! is available as a PDF. Some Assembly Required houses one deleted scene (03m:05s), profiling one of the protestors, and a photo gallery of 12 images.

The disc is cut into a total of 15 chapters, or five per film.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Those who don't think freedoms are trampled regularly in the United States should take a look at this trio of short films about various First Amendment violations. You may not always agree with the subjects, but don't try to tell me that they don't have the right to be heard.

Highly recommended.


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90


Microsoft Store


television, jennifer esposito, blue bloods, ncis, mark harmon. duane henry, wilmer valderrama, michael weatherly, bull, movie, ghostbusters, comedy, chris helmsworth, melissa mcarthy, kristen wiig, celebrity, rap, game, shoop dogg, jayceon terrell taylor, alton sterling, kristen stewart, equals, jonathan simkhal, nicholas hoult, music, kris kristofferson, country music hall of fame, alzheimers, lyme disease, fox news, gretchen carlson, fox and friends, steve doocy, roger ailes, the real story with gretchen carlson, radio, garrison keillor, a prairie home companion, jennifer anniston, baby bump, justin theroux, taylor swift, tom hiddleston, calvin harris, lisa marie presley, michael lockwood, riley and benjamin keough, danny keough, michael jackson, nicolas cage, tom affleck, boston fan, bill simmons, hbo show, any given wednesday, tom brady, deflategate, hamilton, lin-manuel mianda, periscope, heart tweet machine, hamilton mixtape, cable, hbo, curb your enthusiasm, larry david, bernie sanders, saturday night live, maya and marty, christina grimmie, murdered, plaza live, before you exit, marcus grimmie, nashville, cmt, president brian phillips, the tonight show, jimmy fallon, president obama, the roots, hillary clinton, tim mcgraw, faith hill, maggie mcgraw, humble and kind, ellen degeneres show, titi pierce, coldwell banker robbins & free realty, hairspray live!, tracy turnblad, york theatre company, john waters, jennifer hudson, harvey fierstein, martin short, derek hough, j.k. rowling, harry potter and the cursed child, noma dumezweni, emma watson, judd apatow, paul freig, melissa mccarthy, romance, history channel, roots, remake, anika noni rose, t.i., malachi kirby, josh duhamel, transformers, fergie, black eyed peas, axl, double dutchess, abc, music city, grand ole opry, chip esten, lennon stella, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked

On Facebook!
Promote Your Page Too



Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store