Call the Midwife: Season One. 2 discs. color. 360 min. Philippa Lowthorpe & Jamie Payne, Neal Street Prods., dist. by BBC Home Entertainment, www.bbcamericashop.com. 2012. DVD UPC 883929269815. $34.98; Blu-ray UPC 883929270446. $39.98. F/TV
East London in the early 1950s was far from glamorous. When Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) arrives to take up her midwifery career with the nursing nuns at Nonnatus House, she’s definitely not prepared for the conditions under which her patients live, give birth, and raise their often numerous children. But Jenny soon becomes a part of this vibrant, though poverty-stricken, community, as well as the community of nuns, both saintly and worldly, who serve it. Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth (1935–2011), this program is imbued with the gritty reality of the East End, which helps Jenny recover from an unhappy love affair with a married man and embrace the priorities of what is surely a calling, not just a job. A wonderful ensemble cast includes veteran actresses Pam Ferris (Rosemary and Thyme), Judy Parfitt, and Miranda Hart. VERDICT First-rate drama, with an absorbing story line and a real feel for the period and the people. Thankfully, a second season will be available in 2013.—Joan Greenberg, Warminster, PA
The Tempest. color. 131+ min. Des McAnuff, Bravo! & Entertainment One, www.eonehomevideo.com. 2012. DVD ISBN 9781417237029. $24.99. Closed-captioned. DRAMA
Filmed at Canada’s 2010 Stratford Shakespeare Festival, director McAnuff’s haunting take on The Tempestemploys ten cameras to capture both the dark undertones of this revenge tale and the outstanding individual performances of Christopher Plummer as Prospero and Julyana Soelistyo as his servant and muse Ariel. Plummer dominates the stage, embodying a character bent on vengeance but wise enough to forgive his adversaries once his plan to link his daughter, Miranda, to Ferdinand, the prince of Naples, progresses successfully. Most compelling about McAnuff’s version are the lighting and costumes: Ariel appears as an androgynous blue, nearly translucent, purveyor of Prospero’s machinations, commanding Prospero’s enemies in massive feathered wings. Caliban, who seeks to undercut Prospero’s power, is costumed as a scaled, bicolored lizard that slinks across the stage. Shot in the round, the production is enhanced by lightning strikes that reveal the players to be encircled by the audience, an eerie effect that leaves the film viewer feeling paradoxically part of and detached from the transpirations. Bonus features include a postproduction interview with McAnuff and Plummer. VERDICT Recommended as a supplement to Shakespeare courses and for the casual as well as the avid Shakespeare fan.—Christopher Rager, Irvine, CA
Shut Up and Play the Hits: The Very Loud Ending of LCD Soundsystem. 3 discs. color. 105+ min. Dylan Southern & Will Lovelace, Pulse Films, dist. by Oscilloscope Laboratories, www.oscilloscope.net. 2012. DVD UPC 896602002456. $34.99; Blu-ray UPC 896602002760. $39.99. MUSIC
In this obvious nod to The Last Waltz, the iconic film celebrating The Band’s final show, Southern and Lovelace (the well-received Blur documentary No Direction Left To Run) get help from Oscar-nominee Spike Jonze to immortalize danceable indie-rock band LCD Soundsystem’s farewell concert, a sprawling, cameo-studded marathon set at Madison Square Garden in April 2011. Yet as with The Last Waltz, this is much more than just a rousing concert film featuring outstanding visuals and sound. The movie also follows band leader James Murphy through the two days surrounding the career-ending performance. These nonchronological scenes capture the musician adjusting to life outside the spotlight, grappling with his decision to shut down his popular band at its peak, and discussing his doubts in a fascinating interview by author Chuck Klosterman (Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural Nörth Daköta). Bonus features include extended interviews and two easily skipped featurettes. But the DVD and Blu-ray packages generously include a bonus worthy of its own release—the entire three-hour-plus final concert, spread across two discs and padded with backstage footage. VERDICT This exquisitely produced combination of exhilarating live film and poignant story line is a must-see for both fans of concert films and admirers of thoughtful, emotionally charged music documentaries.—Douglas King, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
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The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet. 3 discs. color. 365+ min. Matthew Saville, Screentime Prod., dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; www.acornonline.com. 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598288483. $49.99. SDH subtitles. F
ARTS & HUMANITIES
A Man’s Story: Ozwald Boateng. color. 98+ min. Varon Bonicos, Trinity Filmed Entertainment, dist. by Virgil Films, www.virgilfilmsent.com. 2012. DVD UPC 829567084229. $19.99. FASHION/BIOG
Bob Dylan and The Band: Down in the Flood. color. 114 min. Sexy Intellectual/Chrome Dreams, dist. by MVD Visual, 800-888-0486; www.mvdb2b.com. 2012. DVD UPC 823564529097. $19.95. MUSIC
Calypso Rose: The Lioness of the Jungle. color. 85 min. Pascale Obolo, Maturity Prod., Women Make Movies, 212-925-0606; www.wmm.com. 2012. DVD $89; acad. libs. $295 (Rental: $90). Public performance.MUSIC/BIOG
Strong! color. 75 min. Julie Wyman, Sarafina Prods., Independent Lens, dist. by Transit Media, 800-343-5540; www.transitmedia.net. 2012. DVD $125; acad. libs. $275. Public performance; home version $24.95. SPORTS/WOMEN’S STUDIES
Give Up Tomorrow. color. 95+ min. In English, Spanish, & Filipino w/English subtitles. Michael Collins, Thoughtful Robot, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; www.firstrunfeatures.com. 2012. DVD UPC 702022915267. $24.95. CRIMINOLOGY/law
Personal Finance Essentials: Financial Literacy for Young Learners. 5 vols. color. 190 min. Meridian Education, 800-322-8755; www.meridianeducation.com. 2012. DVD ISBN 9781617339486. $499.75; ea. vol: $99.95. Includes: Budgeting and Financial Decision-Making; Checking Accounts and Everyday Banking; Credit, Borrowing, and Debt; Saving and Investing; Taxes and Tax Benefits. ECON
Game Change. color. 129+ min. Jay Roach, HBO Home Entertainment, www.hbo.com. 2013. DVD UPC 883929251872. $19.97; Blu-ray/DVD UPC 883929251865. $24.99. Closed-captioned. Rated: TV-MA.POLITICS/BIOPIC
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Zane Lamprey’s Drinking Made Easy: Season 2. 4 discs. color. 614+ min. Magnolia Home Entertainment, www.magpictures.com. 2012. DVD UPC 876964004916. $29.98. Closed-captioned. BEVERAGES