Brick and Mortar and Love. 69 min. Scott Shuffitt, Trust Gang Films. DVD UPC 760137569794. $16.95.
Last Shop Standing. 50+ min. Pip Piper, Blue Hippo Media/Proper Music/Convexe Entertainment. DVD UPC 680889031069. $19.95. ea. vol: color. dist. by MVDvisual, 800-888-0486; www.mvdb2b.com. 2013. MUSIC/BUS
Record stores have been dealt a devastating one-two punch from the digital revolution. Not only have digital media usurped their physical wares, the proliferation of online retailers and online music sources reduces visits to their brick-and-mortar locations, where knowledgeable staffers can welcome, guide, and educate music fans, creating communities alongside commerce. These two admirably spartan documentaries celebrate record stores as cultural hubs and bastions of individuality while remaining realistic about the uphill battle they must fight in order to survive. Brick takes an American perspective and focuses on one of the casualties: ear X-tacy Records of Louisville, KY. The store’s final years are documented, with owner John Timmons and staff soldiering on through dropping sales, fundraisers, public appeals, and a location change before closing in 2011. Commentary is provided by American store owners and customers, some of whom argue that these stores are doomed by an obsolete business model. There are no bonus features.
Last Shop, based on on-screen interviewer Graham Jones’s titular 2009 book, reckons that the record industry’s shortsighted shift from vinyl to compact discs was the beginning of its decline and looks at how UK record shops are weathering the storm. In addition to showing how some stores have carved out niches for themselves—Southsea’s Pie & Vinyl café sells exactly what its name declares—Last Shop provides an oral history of UK record stores, highlighted by the insights of such musical luminaries as Johnny Marr and Paul Weller. Extras include a trailer, additional scenes, and extended and new interviews. VERDICT Brick and Last Shop hold out hope in the form of diversification and emphasis on the sale of music-related merchandise and vinyl records, especially the latter, abetted by the creation of Record Store Day, first held in 2008. Both documentaries effectively communicate their commendable messages in favor of locally owned business, culture, and community; their simplicity and entry-level production values are virtues rather than drawbacks. Some profanity but suitable for most audiences. Both films are highly recommended for general viewers and essential for those with any interest in music.
People of a Feather: A Film About Surviving in a Changing Canadian Arctic. color. 52/90+ min. In English & Inuktitut w/English subtitles. Joel Heath, Sanikiluaq Running Pictures, dist. by Video Project, www.videoproject.com. 2013. DVD $89; acad. libs. $295. Public performance; closed-captioned. ENVIRONMENT
The Inuit people of Canada’s Belcher Islands have coexisted with an eider duck colony for centuries. Biologist and filmmaker Heath spent seven winters on these Arctic islands researching the decline of the hardy ducks. In this award-winning film, he reports that the local ocean currents have been disrupted by intermittent river outflows from distant hydroelectric dams. This process is leaving less open water in the sea ice where the ducks must dive for food. The recently increased dam discharge threatens to alter the ecosystem of Hudson Bay and possibly change the massive Labrador Current to the North Atlantic. Bonus features offer more background on various aspects of the film. VERDICT People of a Feather is a brilliant visual production, enhanced by an imaginative sound track; it also carries a warning. Heath’s stunning photography will impress viewers with the toughness and vulnerability of wildlife and Inuit alike.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. 3 discs. color. 366+ min. Tina Wakerell & others, STV Prod. & Robert Stigwood Organisation, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; www.acornonline.com. 2013. DVD ISBN 9781598289107. $49.99. SDH subtitles. F
This seven-part series, based on the 1961 Muriel Spark novel and previously shown on PBS, stars Geraldine McEwan as the egocentric and inspiring teacher in the role previously defined by Maggie Smith in the 1969 feature film. This version of the story concentrates on 1930, Miss Brodie’s first year as a teacher at Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is also the year Miss Brodie turns 40 and enters what she considers her “prime.” Unorthodox in her teaching methods, she stresses philosophy and the arts over math and science and peppers her classroom lectures with her personal experiences and opinions, including a passion for Italy and admiration for Benito Mussolini. Her “little girls,” just entering puberty, find her fascinating and occasionally humorous. A teacher “first, last and always,” she nurtures them, cultivating her pets and antagonizing her more conventional colleagues. VERDICT This production has the look and feel of the period and includes a strong supporting cast. McEwan has made this role her own. Recommended for public libraries.
Ironweed. color. 143 min. Hector Babenco, dist. by Olive Films, www.olivefilms.com. 2013. DVD UPC 887090057103. $24.99; Blu-ray UPC 887090057202. $29.99. Rated: R. F
ARTS & HUMANITIES
André Gregory: Before and After Dinner. color & b/w. 108 min. Cindy Kleine, dist. by Cinema Guild, 212-685-6242; www.cinemaguild.com. 2013. DVD ISBN 9780781514408. $99.95; acad. libs. $350. Public performance; home version. 108+ min. $29.95. FILM/THEATER
Welcome to the Machine. color. 90 min. In English & German w/English subtitles. Andreas Steinkogler, Eastwest Films, dist. by MVDvisual, 800-888-0486; www.mvdb2b.com. 2013. DVD UPC 760137577690. $16.95. MUSIC
Eugene Onegin. color. 150 min. Tiziano Mancini, Unitel Classica & Palau de les Arts, dist. by Kultur, www.kultur.com. 2013. DVD ISBN 9780769791951. $29.99; Blu-ray ISBN 9780769791944. $39.99. OPERA
The Sacrament of Baptism: A Guide to This Celebration of New Life. color. 64 min. w/tchr’s. guide. Charity Spatzeck-Olsen, Paraclete, 800-451-5006; www.paracletepress.com. 2013. DVD ISBN 9781612613116. $59.95. Public performance. REL
Letters from Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson. color & b/w. 45 min. Major League Baseball Prods. & A&E Television Networks, dist. by Lionsgate, www.lionsgatedvd.com. 2013. DVD UPC 031398173915. $9.98. Closed-captioned. SPORTS/BIOG
Shadows of Liberty. color. 53/93 min. Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Docfactory, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; www.bullfrogfilms.com. 2013. DVD ISBN 9781937772574. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance; SDH subtitles. COMM
Last Summer Won’t Happen. color & b/w. 58 min. Peter Gessner & Tom Hurwitz, Tundra Films & Regents of the Univ. of California, dist. by Icarus Films, www.icarusfilms.com. 2013. DVD UPC 854565001558. $290. Public performance. HIST
The Gatekeepers. color & b/w. 101+ min. In English & Hebrew w/English subtitles. Dror Moreh, Dror Moreh Prods., Les Films du Poisson, & Cinephil, dist. by Sony Pictures Classics c/o Amazon.com. 2013. DVD UPC 043396423213. $30.99; Blu-Ray UPC 043396423183. $35.99. Rated: PG-13. INT AFFAIRS
Ripped from Life: Orbs, Ghosts, the Civil War, and Beyond. color. 80 min. Dane McCarthy, ITN, dist. by MVDvisual, 800-888-0486; www.mvdb2b.com. 2013. DVD 760137574590. $99.95. Public performance. PARAPSYCH
Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives. color. 93 min. Sara Lamm & Mary Wigmore, Filmakers Library, 800-889-5937; www.filmakers.com. 2013. DVD ISBN 9781463117344. $325. Public performance.
Call the Midwife: Season Two. 3 discs. color. 555+ min. Hugh Warren, Neal Street Prods. for BBC, www.bbcamerica.com. 2013. DVD UPC 883929330454. $39.98; Blu-ray UPC 883929329649. $44.98. SDH subtitles. WOMEN’S STUDIES/F
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Somm. color. 93+ min. Jason Wise, Forgotten Man Films, Samuel Goldwyn Films, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; www.firstrunfeatures.com. 2013. DVD UPC 720229915663. $24.95. BEVERAGES
Bidder 70. color. 72 min. Beth & George Gage, Bullfrog Films, 800 543-3764; www.bullfrogfilms.com. 2013. DVD ISBN 9781937772475. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance; SDH subtitles; home version. 73+ min. First Run Features, 800-229-8575; www.firstrunfeatures.com. DVD UPC 720229915601. $24.95. Closed-captioned. ENVIRONMENT/LAW
The New Great Game: The Decline of the West & the Struggle for Middle Eastern Oil. color. 54 min. Alexandre Trudeau, Juju Films, dist. by Media Education Fdn., www.mediaed.org. 2013. DVD ISBN 9781932869651. $34.95; acad. libs. $250. Public performance; SDH subtitles. ENVIRONMENT
Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelets. color. 60+ min. WQED-Pittsburgh, dist. by PBS, shoppbs.org. 2013. DVD ISBN 9781608837830. $24.99. HEALTH/COOKING