Documentary makers Patrick Farrelly and Kate O’Callaghan followed the creation of the liberal Air America Radio, a deliberate attempt to create an alternative to the all-encompassing right wing dominance of the talk radio airwaves. The making of the film took an unexpected turn when the newly born network suddenly fell into serious financial difficulty, and all sorts of stories of impropriety involving its founder circulated.
The story is therefore quite dramatic, and the filmmaker… were on the scene for some of the revelations (some surreptitious filming was involved in once sequence), and we see the stricken reactions of both staff and talent (in particular, Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo and Randi Rhodes). Some of the nature of what went wrong is, quite frankly, a bit arcane for those, such as myself, not versed in business language, but the overall arc of the story is compelling.
Once again, I find myself in the strange position of having to evaluate sound in a documentary, something which often seems rather silly. When there is a music score, it sounds good, and on those occasions where there are some sound FX called for, they make effective use of the 2.0 surround. The dialogue is rather prone to distortion, though it is worth recalling that the sound was hardly recorded in perfect circumstances.
As with the audio, so with the video. Expectations of a picture quality on par with a standard theatrical presentation are futile. There is some grain and other limitations associated with the fact that the movie is shot on video. The colours are strong, though, with nice contrasts, and the image is generally sharp. There is some minor aliasing going on, and some strange green outlines appearing around some edges.
There are two commentaries here. The first is by on-air talent Randi Rhodes and Marc Maron. It gets pretty silly, but there is also plenty of fascinating behind-the-scenes stuff to be gleaned here. The second track is by the two directors, and is more serious and focussed on the film itself. There’s also a Q&A session with the crew following a screening of the film, and nine deleted scenes. The menu is basic.
An interest in the subject is pretty much a prerequisite for getting the most out of this documentary, but it is a solid piece of work.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Q&A Session with Crew
- Deleted Scenes