Video Reviews, April 15, 2012

starred review star American Teacher. color. 80+ min. Vanessa Roth, First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2012. DVD UPC 720229914949. $24.95. Closed-captioned; SDH subtitles. ED

As the national debate over education rages, teachers continue to take a beating. No surprise, they are the most visual component of the educational process. This film takes a hard, realistic look at the American teacher and shows what our reluctance to acknowledge their importance has cost in teacher attrition and student achievement. Four teachers are spotlighted here, their lives illustrating the devastating effects of heavy workloads, overcrowded classrooms, poor salaries, and lack of respect and professional treatment. The film’s criticisms are not merely opinions; they are backed by excellent research and some very frightening statistics: 46 percent of teachers leave the profession within the first four years, costing districts across the country $7.34 billion. The film also excellently illustrates the economic impact of good teaching. VERDICT American Teacher fortunately comes just in time to add intelligence, clarity, and some reality to the current conversation. Essential for anyone who is a stakeholder in education, including politicians.‚ Ernest Jaeger, formerly with North Plainfield Schs., NJ

starred review star Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served? color. 86+ min. Susan Saladoff, HBO Documentary Films in assoc. with If Not Now Prods., dist. by Docurama c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781422973196. $29.95; public performance. $350. LAW

Not only does this video set the record straight on the widely misunderstood court case concerning the woman who in 1992 was seriously burned by a cup of McDonald’s coffee, but it also examines several less notorious but no less devastating cases and uses them all as a platform for a discussion of the tort reform movement. The injured parties and family representatives relate their stories, while legal and medical experts discuss the injuries, evidence, and legal procedures. Filmmaker and former attorney Saladoff skillfully incorporates poignant cases that illustrate the often unjust effects of such reform measures as damage caps and mandatory arbitration contract clauses on the rights of victims. She inserts on-the-street interviews with average citizens to reveal common misconceptions about tort reform, while appearances by Sen. Al Franken and author/lawyer John Grisham help to explain the issues and add celebrity power. The film raises questions about the motives and activities of the American Tort Reform Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The graphic footage of the burns in the McDonald’s case is necessary to put to rest the notion that the victim was simply greedy. Bonus features include an insightful look at how the politically charged language of tort reform was crafted to influence opinion. VERDICT This well-made film goes beyond advocacy group sound bites and provides an intelligible analysis of what tort reform means to consumers, victims, and public figures; it will appeal to consumer protection groups, the legal community, and general audiences interested in protecting their legal rights.‚ Joan Pedzich, formerly with Harris Beach PLLC, Pittsford, NY

starred review star Nature: My Life as a Turkey. color. 60 min. Fred Kaufman, Passion Pictures and PBS, 800-531-4727, 2011. DVD ISBN 9781608835690. $19.99; Blu-ray ISBN 9781608835706. $24.99. NATURE

Leave it to PBS to produce a nature documentary as edifying and touching as it is unlikely. My Life as a Turkey features vivid, remarkable re-creations of naturalist/ author/artist Joe Hutto’s experiences raising a group of wild turkey hatchlings, also the basis for his book Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey (LJ 10/1/95) and his narration here. Most of the revelations stem from how well attuned the birds are to their environment from birth, and even viewers habituated to being around animals will be moved by what transpires as Hutto and the birds progress toward the latter’s maturity and inevitably go their separate ways. VERDICT Despite occasional dips into sentimentality, the impressive content wins out, aided by the frequently beautiful videography and a soundtrack that blends original compositions with some well-chosen songs. Highly recommended for any video collection with a nature or biology section.‚ J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

The following titles are reviewed in the April 15 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Northern Lights: The Complete Collection. 4 discs. color. 713+ min. Paul Seed & others, ITV Studios, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598286984. $59.99. SDH subtitles. F

The Open Road. color. 90+ min. Michael Meredith, A Perfect Weekend/AquaFox Prods./Maximon Pictures, dist. by Anchor Bay Films, 2012. DVD UPC 013132423999. $9.98; Blu-ray UPC 013132424095. $19.99. Rated: PG-13. F


Fascination. 81+ min. DVD UPC 738329086428; Blu-ray UPC 738329086527.

Lips of Blood. 87+ min. DVD UPC 738329086121; Blu-ray UPC 738329086220.

The Nude Vampire. 84+ min. DVD UPC 738329086428; Blu-ray UPC 738329086527.

The Shiver of the Vampires. 95+ min. DVD UPC 738329085926; Blu-ray UPC 738329086022. Rated: R. ea. vol: (Cinema of Jean Rollin). color. In French w/English subtitles or dubbed. Jean Rollin, Redemption Films, dist. by Kino Lorber, 800-562-3330; 2012. DVD $19.95; Blu-ray $24.95. FILM

Pianomania. color. 93+ min. In German & English w/English subtitles. Lilian Franck & Robert Cibis, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; www.firstrunfeatures. 2012. DVD UPC 720229914987. $27.95. MUSIC

The Hammer: The Inspirational True Story of UFC Fighter Matt Hamill. color. 109+ min. Oren Kaplan, dist. by ARC Entertainment, c/o Amazon; Midwest Tape. 2012. DVD UPC 796019824446. $22.99. Rated: PG-13. SPORTS/BIOPIC

More Than Famous (Mas Que Famoso). color. 72 min. In English & Spanish w/English subtitles or Spanish subtitles. Graham Rich, Rich/Tint Prods., dist. by Passion River, 2011. DVD UPC 837101060202. $19.95. SPORTS/BIOG


The Dark Side of Chocolate: Child Trafficking and Illegal Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry. color. 47 min. Miki Mistrati & U. Roberto Romano, DRTV, dist. by Films Media Group, 800-257-5126; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781617330360. $169.95. Public performance; closed-captioned. BUS/INT AFFAIRS

They Come for the Gold. color. 68 min. In Spanish w/English subtitles. Cristian Harbaruk & Pablo D’Aló Abbá, dist. by Cinema Guild, 212-685-6242; 2011. DVD ISBN 9780781513715. $99.99; acad. libs. $295 (Rental: $85). Public performance. BUS/INT AFFAIRS

Barbershop Punk: Net Neutrality, Media Consolidation, and You. color. 77 min. Georgia Sugimura Archer & Kristin Armfield, This End Up Films, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781594588075. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance; SDH subtitles. COMM

Black Power Mixtape 1967‚ 1975. color & b/w. 96+ min. Göran Hugo Olsson, Sundance Selects, dist. by IFC Films/MPI Home Video, 2011. DVD ISBN 9780788614439. $24.98. SDH subtitles. HIST

An American Family: Anniversary Edition. color. 2+ hrs. Alan & Susan Raymond, WLIW, dist. by PBS, 2011. DVD ISBN 9781608835096. $24.99. SDH subtitles. SOC SCI

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure. color. 90+ min. Matthew Bate, Closer Prod., dist. by Tribeca Film c/o New Video,
800-314-8822; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781422992548. $26.95. SOC SCI

The Wavy Gravy Movie: Saint Misbehavin’. color. 87 min+. Michelle Esrick, Ripple Effect Films, dist. by Docurama c/o New Video,
800-314-8822; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781422974933. $29.95. SOC SCI


Truck Farm. color. 48 min. Ian Cheney, Wicked Delicate Prod., dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781594588211. $250 (Rental: $85). Public performance; SDH subtitles. ENVIRONMENT

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"