Saturday, November 17, 2012

Film Review: The Heart Of The Peloton (3 DVD set)

Charles A. Smith

The Heart Of The Peloton is a riveting 3 DVD set from First Run Features that goes behind the scenes of professional bike racing. It's one big shot adrenaline from beginning to end, and biking fans are sure to enjoy these immensely.

Blood Sweat and Gears
Blood Sweat and Gears is about a the forming of the professional bicycle racing team Team Slipstream, product of the vision of  Johnathan ( JV) Vaughters, former racer and now manager of Team Slipstream, a collection of riders who race competitively all around the world in hopes of getting a invite to the Tour De France and  sponsorship. The sport suffered from rampart drug use to enhance performance and he was determined to change that, so he created a dope free team. With frequent testing, he and his athletes remain drug free and very competitive. Realizing his dream, he recruited riders like David Miller, Christain Vende Velde, Mike Freidman, Magnus Backstedt, and the rest of Team Slipstream. See what it takes to form a team, get a sponsor, and get the invitation to the biggest  race of the sport. There is only one way to do that and that is what this very uplifting documentary is about. Can they win their way into sponsorship and the race? The dedication to the sport by these athletes is really something that will impress and inspire you  along with the vision of Jonathan Vaughters who is the one making it happen in the U.S. first. He's a real innovator and believer of fair play. Highly informative, viewers sett what happens in the struggle for real improvement in, a sport that needs to be drug free! I applaud Team SlipSream, and was fascinated by this DVD.

Hell On Wheels
The 2003 T-Mobile bike racing team from Germany shows us the inside world of the Tour De France, which is easily the biggest biking event in the world. Follow the team as they reveal the heartbreak and triumph of this dangerous and glorious event. Witness the pain and sacrifice they and the other riders must endure just to make it to the end, let alone compete for the yellow jersey and the green. This documentary is in German with subtitles, and is well made, taking you right along with the riders. You actually feel like you're on the bikes and a part of the team and race. With stunning footage from past and present events, and with France as the background, this DVD is great for any viewer, especially those into biking on any level. The dedication that these riders and the greats of the sport have is unbelievable, as they push their bodies to the very limits of human ability during the most grueling race on earth. You will develop a sincere appreciation for the sport and its athletes.The race from start to finish is covered with greats like Rolf, Petacchi, Armstrong, Ullrich, and many others. This documentary is very up close and personal, taking you not only into the race but into the minds of the racers. 

Yell For Cadel
Yell for Cadel is the third DVD of the trilogy in this great box set. In every sport, there's a super star. Cycling is no different, and that what this documentary is all about. In Yell For Cadel, we are allowed inside the camp of Australian world class cyclist and recent winner of the World Championship, Cadel Evans. Following him and team Silence Lotto in their attempt to win over his rivals in this Tour De France 2008 Menchev, Sastre, and Valverde, the other real contenders in the race according to the experts. It's a very different kind of ride when you are one of the top cyclists in the world, and a class above most other riders. The ride is grueling, but they handle it differently. See what makes that difference as you follow the Aussie superstar and his bodyguard Evans as they push through the competition, reporters, and fans in France. Funny, lively, educational, and very entertaining, it's almost like watching a movie. Characters worthy of Hollywood come to life in the everyday activities of a winning team with a leader in the race. This is a well made documentary and will give you a whole different perspective on the Tour De France. For this superstar this seems like a ride in the park...almost. But we know this race is the race.. How he does it is what makes him great. This is an amazing watch! Not arrogant, just gifted, he could be a actor after the racing is over along with others in his camp. You will smile the whole time while enjoying Yell for Cadel. I highly recommend this DVD!! And the box set will be a perfect treat for anyone, especially cyclists!! The Tour De France is a three week race where every day the cyclists must do the equivalent of running a marathon. That is simply incredible, and so is this 3 disc set: The Heart Of The Peloton!!    

Film Review: Modern Con Man Collection

Charles A. Smith

Imagine being dropped off in a major city with absolutely no money to your name, no contacts, and no credit cards either. How do you think you'd fare for 7 days? You might be a smooth talker, but something tells me (at least I can speak for myself) that it would be a nightmare. But not for Todd Robbins, who is a master is manipulation. At the end of his 7 days, Robbins was staying in a nice hotel and had $500 in his pocket. 

The Modern Con Man Collection Boasts 3 DVDs: 
- How To Scam Your Way Into Free Beer (And Other Bar Bets) 
- Poker Night Games (And Other Card Playing Tricks) 
- Workplace Pranks (And Other Ways To Con Your Co-Workers) 

Brought to us courtesy of First Run Features, the DVDs are hilarious and great for anytime you want to have a few friends over and have a laugh, or just enjoy the craziness all alone. I can tell you now that Robbins is not the guy you want to buy your next used (or new) car from. Slicker than a frog's back, on Disk 1, Robbins shows you how to drink your way through the night for free on How To Scam Your Way To Free Beer by giving you some of his tricks that will prank drinkers at the party or bar. Smoothly, like a uncle who's come into your life that you didn't know about and your parents didn't want you to know about, he shares his secrets of the bar con game with many brilliant manipulations that will confound your victims like he does his. He really makes it look so simple on this very entertaining and enlightening DVD . It's very funny at times and will make you wonder if you could really pull it off, and after watching, I think I could. Con after rib chuckling fun, this is a must for the party guy or girl. 

"On disk 2, Poker Night Games, Todd Robbins, aka Mr. Con Man, shows you tricks that you can use to win with cards. His solutions and gimmicks will make you a semi expert at the card con game. Many interesting cons are displayed and broken down so with a lot (in some cases) or a little practice, you can definitely work the cons. Once again, it's all highly entertaining and full of fun as Robbins carries you right along like you're his protégé. He even shows how to set up the con so the person is a good mark before you even begin, and he's a great teacher because he obviously loves his job and is a natural in front of the camera; he seems to be in another place than the rest of us. The world he thinks in is very different and yet simple when he shows you the brilliant solutions. This DVD is a card players dream. There are very simple patterns and counting systems you can learn quickly.

On Disk 3, Workplace Pranks, the very slick Robbins once again displays his wonderful gift of observation and being able to read and manipulate people, and guides the viewer through the mayhem of office politics with a twist. You will love some of his suggestions for giving a co worker a little payback or just ways to have some good, clean fun to keep the boredom down. He also has jokes and tips for success in the corporate office, as well as office games employees can play to make the day go by a little faster. He is a lot of fun on this one. I bet you didn't know you could put your head though a business card. Well, believe it or not, you can. Trust me, this guy has a very unique way of seeing the world around him, and just taking a walk with him will educate you way beyond your years. He is one step away from the edge, but still comes off as a real nice guy (slow wink). Some of the things he suggests, you might want to do as you are leaving on your way to the next employer, but for the most part, it's all a day of play at the office.He calls it mirth and mayhem, and he's right. I really like this guy and you will absolutely love the riveting "Modern Con Man Collection". This is a great present to yourself or to those you love who need a little more laughter in their lives.

Film Review: The Callers

Charles A. Smith

The art of auctioneering has been brought to DVD via Susan Sfarra's documentary The Callers, and it is interesting to find out there is another way to find treasures and great values at auctions, something most of us don't really think about. Those of you who do yard sales, and go to garage sales and flea markets  might have never considered going to a auction, but you might want to rethink your position.

Everything is auctioned from livestock to buildings and there is serious money to be saved and made. People have made this a business, but the major player here is actually the auctioneer, who is a work of art in human form. In The Callers, you will find out how they become auctioneers and what it takes to become one. It is fascinating to see the amount of things and ways people call upon these craftsmen and women to help them sell -- things they no longer want or need. Said to be the fairest method of doing trade, the auction game is big business. Some of the things people get rid of at auctions are really of great value. These days, some things just aren't made like they use to be, so antiques are worthy of purchase because of the craftsmanship that has gone into them. And the Auctioneer really serves a very useful purpose organizing the auction and all the items to be sold, doing it all in a profession and fast paced way. This documentary made me think about checking for auctions in my area for some of the things I need and just to see what I might find. Great DVD. Happy hunting!!

Film Review: Doubletime

Michele Wilson-Morris

Doubletime, from Producer/Director Stephanie Johnes, is a wonderful documentary about competitive jump roping. The energy, skill, and dedication of  the athletes as they prepare and compete is breathtaking. Astounding acrobatics with amazing precision are all done while skipping rope. Let me clarify things a little. There are two kinds of competitive jump roping. Double dutch is done with two ropes turned in an egg beater fashion with one person jump roping at a time. With many different competitive categories like speed and fusion, a musical and dance oriented type of expression is done while jumping.

This very interesting documentary not only shows and teaches you about the history of the sport, but also tells of the diversity of the teams (The Bouncing Bulldogs of Chapel Hill, NC and The Double Dutch Forces of Columbia, South Carolina) and the two leagues that compete against each other and the world. The two teams are followed as they prepare for a invitational at The Apollo Theater in New York. One team is predominantly inner city blacks (The Double Dutch Forces) and the other is suburban whites (The Bouncing Bulldogs), but both are world and national champions.and viewers get to watch them go up against each other for the first time Meet them and their coaches, see the way they coach and their insightful philosophies about the sport and the world that divides them. This DVD is not only about competitive jump roping, it is also about taking a look at race and the role it plays in American culture. Doubletime is an excellent production and every child and coach who appears in it is a big winner. These star athletes are not well known, but they are setting the foundation for a strong competitive productive activity that all children should partake in because it's fun,  competitive, and rivals any other sport or activity in intensity and physical fitness requirements. These youth have amazing strength and tenacity, and display it beautifully on this amazing DVD. Doubletime also features an excellent soundtrack from Keyshia Cole, Petey Pablo, MIA, Pete Miser, and The Caesars. Highly recommended!