Video Reviews, March 1, 2012

starred review star Aaron Copland: Music in the 20’s. 3 discs. b/w. 348 min. David M. Davis, WGBH, dist. by Kultur, 2011. DVD ISBN 9780769791418. $69.99. MUSIC

These 12 half-hour TV programs produced in Boston in the mid-1960s offer conversational talks on music by the best-known American composer of his day, coupled with performances by leading musicians in their prime (the Juilliard String Quartet, Paul Jacobs, Donald Gramm, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, often conducted by Copland himself). Copland’s own 20s were in the 1920s, thus, his commentary illuminates the music he heard (many world premieres) and the people he knew. Copland (1900‚ 90) and superb producer-director Davis (who played trumpet and held a degree in music education) valued musical integrity enough to showcase 14 full-length works (from 11 composers), including Paul Hindemith’s hilariously strange 12-minute chamber opera Hin und zurück, starring Beverly Sills, a performance never before released on video. Additionally, there are 28 complete excerpts (from a dozen more composers), entire movements of instrumental works or selected arias and songs from operas or collections. A teacher could structure a complete course around Copland’s lectures, inviting students to challenge his assumptions (Copland says much of the music of the 20s still sounds fresh 40 years later‚ what about 90 years later?), dig further into his presentations (Why does that harpsichord sound so different from the ones we hear at original-instrument baroque concerts?), argue for and against his interpretations and emphases, or find music by composers he mentions in passing. VERDICT The Aaron Copland Fund for Music can be proud of sponsoring the release of this priceless series in technically restored digital format. Anyone with an interest in classical music of the 20th century and after will treasure this fully packed production.‚ Bonnie Jo Dopp, Libn. Emerita, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

starred review star Downton Abbey: Season 2. 3 discs. 556+ min. Ashley Pearce & others, Carnival Film & Televison, dist. by PBS, 2012. DVD ISBN 9781608836055. $44.99; Blu-ray ISBN 9781608836062. $49.99. SDH subtitles. F

When last we left Masterpiece Classic‘s Downton Abbey at the close of Season 1, England had just joined World War I and a number of plot lines were left hanging (Best Video 2011, LJ 1/12, p. 44‚ 45). Viewers of Season 2 will not be disappointed. The crisis of the Great War and its aftermath dominate the action. Downton provides manpower on the fighting field from both upstairs and down, with the rest of the family rising to the occasion. They turn their sumptuous mansion into a convalescent home, although Carson, the butler, still fusses over serving dinner with no footmen! What makes this series so enthralling is the evolving characters, their relationships with one another, and their responses to the inevitable societal changes brought about by the war. As well, it is never predictable. PBS has tackled this period in English history before, but never better than in this Emmy Award‚ winning series. Bonus features include a close-up on the fashion and uniforms used in the program. VERDICT An excellent cast, which includes the wise and witty Maggie Smith, and a first-rate production make this a series for every public library patron. Downton Abbey is about as perfect as television drama gets.‚ Joan Greenberg, Warminster, PA

starred review star 4th & Goal. color. 91+ min. Nina Gilden Seavey, in assoc. with Documentary Ctr. at George Washington Univ., dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2011. DVD UPC 720229914833. $19.95. Closed-captioned. SPORTS

This is the story of six talented young men with dreams of playing in the National Football League. DeQawn Mobley, Albert Toeaina, Gibril Wilson, Tim Brown, Randy Sims, and Bret Jones all found their way to City College of San Francisco (CCSF) to play football for Coach George Rush Sr. The six played for the CCSF Rams, a team that went 24 and 0 from 2002 to 2003, winning the 2003 junior college championship. Each went on to play for an NCAA Division 1 school with his NFL dreams intact. This sometimes inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking story contrasts the sport of football with the business of football at the highest competitive levels. What viewers learn is that fewer than one percent of high school football players join the 1700 who play in the NFL, and it takes more than talent and dedication to make it. VERDICT This film is highly recommended to all football fans and essential for players and families with NFL hopes.‚ Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

starred review star The First Movie. color. 76 min. In English, Kurdish, & Farsi w/ English subtitles. Mark Cousins, dist. by Seventh Art Releasing, 323-259-8259; 2011. DVD $79; acad. libs. $299. Public performance. INT AFFAIRS

To the outside world, the name Iraq has become synonymous with violence and iniquity, the themes that dominate the images representing it in Western media. Sensing that an important part of the story remained untold, director Cousins (The New Ten Commandments) decided to visit the Kurdish village of Goptapa in 2009. Drawing on his experience as a boy growing up in Northern Ireland amid the sectarian conflict known as the Troubles, he attempts to redescribe daily life in Iraq as seen through the eyes of its children. He employs his own camera as an empathy machine and hands out Flip cameras to the children so that they can make their own movies. VERDICT The result of his efforts is a beautiful and original film full of surprising revelations about imagination, war, and what draws us all to the cinema in the first place that also doubles as a blueprint for an entirely new way of relating to conflicts in foreign lands. Highly recommended for all viewers.Andrew Horbal, McDaniel Coll. Lib., Westminster, MD

starred review star WikiSecrets: Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and WikiLeaks. color. 60 min. Frontline with Rain Media, dist. by PBS, 2011. DVD ISBN 9781608834990. $24.99. SDH subtitles. POLITICS

This excellent Frontline report examines the tension between openness and secrecy in post‚ 9/11 America. The 9/11 attacks could have been prevented, some say, if government and military entities had done a better job of coordinating and sharing intelligence. The solution, it was thought, was to liberate information from divisional stovepipes and push it further down the chain of command. But the risks of going too far in that direction can be seen in the case of Bradley Manning, a disaffected low-level army intelligence analyst who was easily able to leak hundreds of thousands of sensitive, sometimes embarrassing, classified documents to the website WikiLeaks. The investigation, led by correspondent Martin Smith, digs deep into Manning’s personal story, probing the troubled young man’s motivations for betraying his country. We also meet Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder and a runner-up to Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year, who may be seen as a brave crusader against government secrecy or an ideological purist and megalomaniac or a bit of both. VERDICT A fascinating human story of two very different men as well as a thought-provoking examination of the challenges of intelligence management in the digital age.‚ David Gibbs, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, DC

The following titles are reviewed in the March 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Elvira’s Movie Macabre: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die; The Manster. DVD ISBN 9781417235124.

Elvira’s Movie Macabre: The Terror; Eegah!DVD ISBN 9781417235117. ea. vol: color. 184+ min. 340 Prods., dist. by Entertainment One; 2011. DVD $14.98. SDH subtitles. HORROR

Fresh Fields: Set 2. 2 discs. color. 342 min. Peter Frazer-Jones, Thames Television Ltd., dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; DVD ISBN 9781598285932. $49.99. SDH subtitles. F

Island of Lost Souls. b/w. 70+ min. Erle C. Kenton, Criterion Collection, 2011. DVD ISBN 9781604654943. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604654936. $39.95. SDH subtitles. HORROR


Extraordinary Minds: Jared Diamond. 52 min. DVD ISBN 9780769791104.

Extraordinary Minds: Noam Chomsky.49 min. DVD ISBN 9780769790930.

Extraordinary Minds: Yo-Yo Ma.52 min. DVD ISBN 9780769790923.

Extraordinary Minds: Zainab Salbi.52 min. DVD 9780769791142.

ea. vol: color. Robert Massey, Ambassador Entertainment & Shout Factory, dist. by Kultur, 2011. $19.99. BIOG

Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian.color & b/w. 88+ min. Neil Diamond, Rezolution Pictures, dist. by Lorber Films, 2011. DVD UPC 705105266916. $29.95. FILM

Boys of Summer. color. 95+ min. In English & Papiamento w/English subtitles. Keith Aumont, Tribeca Film, Putty Division in assoc. with Reno Prods., dist. by New Video, 800-314-8822; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781422974971. $26.95. Closed-captioned. SPORTS/INT AFFAIRS


Out Late. color. 64+ min. Beatrice Alda & Jennifer Brooke, Forever Films, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2011. DVD UPC 720229914864. $24.95. GENDER STUDIES

Filling the Gap: Forgotten Chapter of American History. color. 83 min. Tyrone Young, Essence of History, 407-403-6560;; 2011. DVD $29.99. HIST

Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the Dream. color. 96+ min. Esaú Meléndez, Clandestino Films, dist. by New Day Films, 888-367-9154; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781574880764. $150; acad. libs. $285 (Rental: $75). Public performance. SOC SCI

England: Wainwright Walks; Lake District. 3 discs. color. 5 hrs. Owen Rodd & Lizzie Wingham, Skyworks for BBC, dist. by BFS Entertainment, 2011. DVD UPC 066805310829. $34.98. TRAV


The Greenest Building. color. 60 min. Jane Turville, Wagging Tale Prods., 503-557-3524; 2011. $29.95; transcript, $19.95; set $44.95. ENVIRONMENT

Private Tutor: Your Complete SAT Math Prep Course with Amy Lucas. 5 DVDs. color. 10 hrs. with book. Private Tutor SAT, 818-508-1296; 2011. DVD ea. vol: $29.95; Vol. 1: UPC 677070251061; Vol. 2: UPC 677070252068; Vol. 3: UPC 677070253065; Vol. 4: UPC 677070254062; Vol. 5: UPC 677070255069; 5-vol series UPC 677070264061. $129.95; book ISBN 9781463672997. $29.95; DVDs/book UPC 677070260063. $149.95. MATH

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox ( is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"