Video Reviews, July 2012

starred review star Secrets of the Manor House: Inside British Country Homes in the Early 1900’s. color. 60 min. Susannah Ward, Pioneer Film & Television, dist. by PBS, 2012. DVD ISBN 9781608836550. $24.99. SDH subtitles. HIST

In Great Britain at the beginning of the 20th century, the rich and aristocratic lived an enviable life. Their grand homes were designed to impress, but while the ladies and gentlemen enjoyed the good life, their servants, within their own hierarchy, toiled to make that life effortless for them. By 1912, there were 1.5 million servants in Britain. This well-done documentary takes viewers on a tour of conditions both upstairs and downstairs at a grand mansion and through the use of interviews, reenactments, and photos provides a glimpse into what was really going on there. VERDICT An entertaining and informative look at a time when life was good, at least for the lucky ones who lived on the upper floors. Viewers who love Downton Abbey and similar series are sure to enjoy it.‚ Joan Greenberg, Warminster, PA

starred review star Battle for Brooklyn. color. 93 min. Michael Galinsky & Suki Hawley, dist. by Rumur, Inc., 2012. $295. Public performance. SOC SCI/POLITICS

In 2004, the New York‚ based Forest City Ratner (FCR) development company proposed a multibillion-dollar plan to build a sports arena and business and housing complex in downtown Brooklyn. The firm wished to use laws of eminent domain to condemn and seize private property for the endeavor. This powerful chronicle by filmmakers Galinsky and Hawley (Miami Manhunt; Code 33; Horns and Halos) documents the seven-year effort of members of the community to stop the project. At the film’s center are the efforts to counter the plan of activist and property owner Daniel Goldstein, which came at great personal expense. FCR spent considerable private and public money to combat the protests, while local and state officials supported the development and at times refused to meet with members of the opposition. In 2009, the New York Supreme Court ruled that use of eminent domain for private gain was legal as it could be deemed blight removal, but the recession of 2008 had by then forced a scaling back of the scope of the enterprise. The arena officially opens in fall 2012. VERDICT A powerful warning against the collusion between private enterprise and government that can harm a community while benefiting the wealthy and influential; an eye-opener for most viewers.‚ Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Parkersburg Lib.

starred review star Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention: The Complete 6-Part Series. color. 174+ min. Aardman Animations/BBC TV, dist. by Lionsgate, DVD UPC 031398150367; Blu-ray UPC 031398150633. $14.99. SCI

Everyone’s favorite British inventor-and-dog team take time out from their shenanigans to host this appealing BBC TV miniseries, which looks at inventors and their inventions, past and present. These six brisk, half-hour episodes are themed (e.g., inventions inspired by nature, flight, the five senses), featuring segments presented by correspondent Jem Stansfield and voice-over guest Ashley Jensen (TV’s Ugly Betty), a Contraption Countdown of novel devices, and more. Archival and newly shot footage blend with wittily chosen music clips and the quality claymation we expect from Aardman Animations, in which Wallace plays the raconteur and shows off his own handiwork, to Gromit’s chagrin. Includes six tutorials on how to build gadgets like a spy camera and an air rocket (adult super vision recommended). VERDICT Viewers of all ages will treasure the ingenuity on display here and the entertaining manner in which it is conveyed. Just the thing to spark further interest in science and technology.‚ J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

The following titles are reviewed in the July print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


starred review star Chinatown. 130+ min. Roman Polanski. Blu-ray ISBN 9781415763391. $26.98.

starred review star To Catch a Thief. 106+ min. Alfred Hitchcock. Blu-ray ISBN 9781415762974. $22.98. ea. vol: color. Paramount. 2012. F

Doc Martin: Series 5. 2 discs. color. 368+ min. Ben Bolt & Paul Seed, Buffalo Pictures, dist. by Acorn Media Group, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598287752. $39.99. SDH subtitles. F

Without Motive. 4 discs. color. 600 min. Tristram Powell & others, HTV, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047;
2012. DVD ISBN 9781598285802. $59.99. SDH subtitles. F


Pink Smoke over the Vatican. color. 58 min. Jules Hart, Eye Goddess Films, 2012. DVD UPC 858714003004. $19.99. Closed-captioned. REL

Ladies of the Gridiron. color. 35 min. Briana Young, Third World Newsreel, 212-947-9277, 2012. DVD $175. Public performance. SPORTS/WOMEN’S STUDIES


Your Complete SAT Writing Prep Course with Amy Lucas. 2 discs. color. 4 hrs. with book. Private Tutor, 2012. DVD 1 UPC 677070256066; DVD 2 67707020257063. ea. vol: $29.95; book ISBN 9781463673017. $29.95. ED

Destination America: The Great European Emigration. color & b/w. 80 min. w/bilingual booklet. Edition Temmen, dist. by Columbia Univ. 2011. DVD ISBN 9783837860023. $15.95. HIST


starred review star Surviving Progress. color. 87+ min. Mathieu Roy & Harold Crooks, Big Picture Media Corp. & Natl. Film Bd. of Canada, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; Sept. 2012. DVD UPC 720229914994. $27.95; public performance $89; acad. libs. $250. ENVIRONMENT

The Fat Body (In)Visible. color. 24 min. Margitte Kristjansson, dist. by Women Make Movies, 212-925-0606; 2012. DVD $89; acad. libs. $195 (Rental: $60). Public performance. HEALTH

MyPlate: Understanding the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. color. 28 min. w/tchr’s. guide. Meridian/Motion Masters, dist. by Films Media Group, 800-727-5507; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781617339547. $99.95. Public performance; closed-captioned. HOME EC

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"