Video Reviews, June 15, 2012

starred review starA Woman of Substance Trilogy: Three Complete Miniseries. 4 discs. color. 667+ min. Don Sharp & Tony Wharmby, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598287660. $39.99. SDH subtitles. F

Acorn continues to bring splendid 20th-century British video dramas to North American audiences with this offering of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s trilogy: A Woman of Substance (1979), Hold the Dream (1985),and To Be the Best (1988), produced between 1984 and 1991. Featuring an all-star cast led by Jenny Seagrove, Liam Neeson, and Deborah Kerr, the story opens on the eve of successful retailer Emma Harte’s 80th birthday. Her assistant overhears her children plotting to depose her as leader of their international empire, which prompts Emma to name her granddaughter, Paula, as her successor. Woman then flashes back to Emma’s youth, following her rise from lowly maid to successful businesswoman. Dream traces Paula’s career and private life, both destined to mirror those of her grandmother. Best, which includes a young Anthony Hopkins, brings the fascinating tale to a satisfying conclusion. All three stories are beautifully filmed and filled with characters brought to life by outstanding performances. VERDICT This set provides a lot of viewing for a very small price. Highly recommended for viewers who can’t get enough of miniseries.—Sheila S. Intner, Prof. Emerita, Simmons GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke Coll., So. Hadley, MA

starred review star!WAR! Women Art Revolution. color & b/w. 83+ min. Lynn Hershman Leeson, dist. by Zeitgeist Films, 2012. DVD UPC 795975113939. $29.99. ART-GENERAL

In the 1960s and 1970s, the feminist movement and the art world collided and merged, spinning off new ideas and techniques. Here we meet some of the pioneers‚ Judy Chicago, Marina Abramovic, Hannah Wilke, Cindy Sherman, Marcia Tucker, B. Ruby Rich, The Guerrilla Girls, and more‚ and hear their stories of discrimination, frustration, and ridicule in the white man’s elitist art world. The strange new experience of performance art, unashamed sexuality, romanticism, sadness, humor, and rage were their weapons of expression as these women fought to be included in museum and gallery showings. Filmmaker Leeson (Conceiving Ada; Strange Culture) uses archival footage along with contemporary interviews and a fantastic amount of the art itself to create this inspirational documentary. VERDICT This powerful film will ignite even the tiniest spark of feminism in any woman’s heart. Not only art lovers will come away with a deeper understanding of the movement and an appreciation for those who stood up and paved the way.—Ellen Druda, Half Hollow Hills Community Lib., Dix Hills, NY

starred review starWar Horses of WWI. color & b/w. 52 min. George Pagliero, Testimony Films, dist. by BFS Entertainment, 2012. DVD UPC 066805311130. $19.98. HIST

While the popularity of Steven Spielberg’s film War Horse and the Lincoln Center production, both based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 children’s novel, have brought a great deal of exposure to this little-known facet of World War I, myths and inaccuracies still abound. British Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener’s call for volunteers was met not only by multitudes of Britain’s youth but throughout the war by more than one million of its horses; only around 60,000 of which would ever make it back home. Throughout the duration of the war, the horses played a significant role in logistical support by running the gauntlet, pulling wagons through mud and artillery fire to deliver much-needed supplies to the troops in the trenches. VERDICT A few remaining personal accounts that include the story of Gen. Jack Seely (Galloper Jack) and his brave horse Warrior and a wealth of archival footage add an exquisitely personal touch to what is a solidly edited, well-told chronicle. A remarkable and touching documentary that stands as a tribute to the animals’ sacrifice and suffering, War Horses of WWI is required viewing for fans of Spielberg’s film, World War I history buffs, and horse lovers in general.—Brian Odom, Pelham P.L., AL

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


The Human Centipede 2 [Full Sequence]: Unrated Director’s Cut. color & b/w. 91+ min. Tom Six, Six Entertainment Co., dist. by IFC c/o MPI Media, 2012. DVD ISBN 9780788614637. $24.98; Blu-ray ISBN 9780788614664. $29.98. SDH subtitles. HORROR

Titanic. 3 discs. color. 187+ min. Jon Jones, Titan Films & Titanic Prods., dist. by Entertainment One Home Video, 2012. DVD $29.98; 2-disc Blu-ray ISBN ISBN 9781417237289. $34.98; 3-disc DVD/Blu-ray combo $39.98. F


Blank City. color & b/w. 95+ min. Celine Danhier, Insurgent Media/Pure Fragment Films, dist. by Kino Lorber, 2012. DVD UPC 738329088828. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329088927. $34.95; public performance $189. FILM

Kafka’s Last Story. color & b/w. 55 min. In Hebrew w/English subtitles. Sagi Bornstein, dist. by Ruth Diskin Ltd., 2011. DVD $115; acad. libs. $300. Public performance; home version $29. LIT

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium: As Viewed by Eva Gabrielsson, His Partner. color. 28 min. Georg Larsen & Stig Bilde, dist. by Filmakers Library, 2012. DVD ISBN 9781463112578. $250. Public performance. LIT

Strange Fruit: The Beatles’ Apple Records. color. 162 min. Tom O’Dell, Sexy Intellectual Prod., dist. by MVD Visual, 800-888-0486; 2012. DVD UPC 823564529998. $19.95. MUSIC

The Women and the Waves: A Female Surfing Experience. color. 48+ min. Heather Hudson, Graciegirl & Swell Pictures, dist. by FilmWorks Entertainment, 800-399-9251; 2011. DVD UPC 897067000193. $19.98. SPORTS


Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life. color. 107+ min. Werner Herzog, More 4, Spring Films, Sundance Selects, dist. by IFC c/o MPI Media, 2012. DVD ISBN 9780788614699. $24.98; Blu-ray ISBN 9780788614798. $29.98. SDH subtitles. Rated: PG-13. CRIME

Brooklyn Boheme. color & b/w. 84 min. Diane Paragas & Nelson George, dist. by Cinema Guild, 212-685-6242; 2012. DVD ISBN 9780781513999. $99.95; acad. libs. $295. Public performance; home version $24.95. SOC SCI/ARTS

The Second Day. color. 37 min. Brook Peters, dist. by Video Project, 800-4-PLANET; 2012. DVD UPC 609132424885. $29.95; acad. libs. $89. Public performance. SOC SCI/ED

Superheroes. color. 82+ min. Michael Barnett, Theodore James Prod. in assoc. with Freestyle Filmworks & O’Malley Creadon Prods., dist. by Docurama c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781422974926. $29.95. SOC SCI

Miss Representation. color. 88+ min. Jennifer Siebel Newsom, dist. by Virgil Films & Entertainment, 2012. DVD UPC 829567078723. $19.99. WOMEN’S STUDIES/PSYCH


The Spill. color. 60 min. Marcela Gaviria & Martin Smith, Frontline with Rain Media, dist. by PBS, 2011. DVD ISBN 9781608833443. $24.99. SDH subtitles.

White Water, Black Gold. color. 64+ min. David Lavallee, dist. by Video Project, 800-4-PLANET; DVD $89; acad. libs. $195. Public performance; closed-captioned. ENVIRONMENT

One Lucky Elephant. color. 81+ min. Lisa Leeman, dist. by Virgil Films & Entertainment, 2012. DVD UPC 829567078921. $19.99. NAT HIST

MORE GAPS Filling the Gap: Forgotten Chapter of American History (LJ 3/1/12) has had some updated since our original review, where the phone number was incorrect; the correct phone number is 407-293-4209. The 2011 NAACP Image Award-Nominated DVD is $150 w/ study guide for public libraries and $250 w/ study guide for academic institutions.

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Michael Rogers ( is Media Editor, Library Journal and Managing Editor of LJ Reviews.