Video Reviews, September 1, 2012

starred review starThe Calling. color. 77+ min. David A. Ranghelli, Pleasant Avenue Pictures & Charterhouse Films, 2012. DVD UPC 884501114318. $22.95; public performance $74.95; acad. libs. $245. REL

Diocesan priest Philip Scott felt a call from God to minister to the people of his native Peru. In this moving documentary he is joined by Mother Mary-Elizabeth, a widowed mother, and Orlando Castillo, a young man recently out of college, both of whom struggle with the meaning of the call and the tensions that arise as they prepare to leave their families, who themselves are trying to understand. There are many sensitively presented intimate moments between Fr. Scott and the others, and between Orlando and his parents and Mother Mary-Elizabeth and her daughters. After much introspection, Orlando completes novitiate and makes his vows; Mother Mary-Elizabeth takes a leave of absence to spend time with her daughters and decides not to return. The viewer comes to know and care for these three as they try to discern God’s will for them. VERDICT A compelling portrait of people recognizing God’s call. Never sinking to the level of voyeurism, this film will appeal to all who wonder about how we determine God’s will in our lives.—­Augustine J. Curley, Newark Abbey, NJ

starred review starCarol Channing: Larger Than Life. color & b/w. 89+ min. Dori Berinstein, Dramatic Forces, dist. by Entertainment One, 2012. DVD ISBN 9781417236091. $24.98. SDH subtitles. Rated: PG. THEATER/BIOG

Still larger than life at 90, Carol Channing is peerless in the world of theater and entertainment. It is high time she gets the royal treatment she deserves and does so in this delightful and surprisingly surprising documentary. Her recently deceased and adoring husband, Harry Kullijan, along with Broadway luminaries Chita Rivera, Tyne Daly, Jerry Herman, Tommy Tune, Debbie Reynolds, fellow legends Marge Champion and the late Betty Garrett, and many others reminisce and pay homage to one who only needs to open her false-eyelashed peepers and gravel-voiced mouth to be instantly recognized. What the film reveals is a dazzling yet humble and genuine woman who created a persona worn like a mask to entertain the world in performances of such icons as the original musical Dolly and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ Lorelei Lee. When stripped of the lashes, red lips, and outrageous wigs, Channing is still “larger than life,” campaigning for the arts to return to schools and kicking up her heels for charity fundraisers. VERDICT A theater documentary that won’t sit long on any shelf.—Gerald A. Notaro, formerly with Univ. of South Florida Lib., St. Petersburg

starred review starMy Perestroika. color & b/w. 87+ min. Robin Hessman, Red Square Prods., dist. by New Day Films, 888-367-9154; 2011. DVD ISBN 9780615409658. $150; acad. libs. $325. Public performance. INT AFFAIRS/HIST

Director Hessman gives us an inside look into how the end of the Soviet Union and the rise of the new Russia affected the lives of the average person. A group of three men and one woman were classmates at a Moscow elementary school and grew up under the communist system. They express considerable nostalgia for those days in which they had a level of material comfort and sense of security, while still acknowledging that life then also operated dysfunctionally. All that changed in 1991. In the new Russia, Andrei is the successful owner of a number of clothing stores. Olga, a single mother; Ruslan, a musician and former member of a punk rock band; and husband-and-wife teachers Borya and Lyuba have found the going rougher, with all professing uncertainty over the present political and economic climate. They also wonder what type of world their children will face. Along with interviews, Hessman uses period films, television programs, and home movies provided by her subjects to present the story of people living through the constant changes occurring in their country. VERDICT This personal, honest, and humorous film is highly recommended to all viewers interested in Russia.—Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Parkersburg Lib.

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



Birdsong. color. 165+ min. Philip Martin, Working Title TV & Masterpiece, dist. by PBS, 2012. DVD ISBN 9781608836611. $24.99; Blu-ray ISBN 9781608836628. $29.99. SDH subtitles. F

Golf in the Kingdom. color. 87+ min. Susan Streitfeld, Mindy Affrime Prod., dist. by Flatiron c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781422980378. $24.95. Rated: PG. F

Man in a Suitcase: Set 2. 4 discs. color. 780+ min. Charles Crichton & others, ITC Prod., dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598287301. $59.99. SDH subtitles. F

Shades. 2 discs. color. 296 min. Christopher King & others, ITV Studios, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598285901. $39.99. SDH subtitles. F


Bearden Plays Bearden. 2 discs. color. 2½+ hrs. 2012. Nelson E. Breen, Third World Cinema Prod.,; after 10/15/12 order at: 2012. DVD UPC 798304219371. $29.95 + s/h. ART-GENERAL/african american history

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey. color. 76+ min. Constance Marks, Submarine Deluxe & Constance Marks Prods., dist. by Docurama c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781422996096. $26.95. Closed-captioned. Rated: PG. PERFORMING ARTS


Garbo, the Spy. 93+ min. In English, Spanish, & German w/English subtitles. Edmon Roch, Colosé Prods. Centuria Films. DVD UPC 720229915045.

The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby. 104+ min. Carl Colby, Act 4 Entertainment in assoc. with Jedburgh Films. DVD UPC 720229914901. ea. vol: color & b/w. dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2012.DVD $27.95. HIST/POLITICS

The Naked Option: A Last Resort. color. 64 min. Candace Schermerhorn, Candace Schermerhorn Prods., 2011. DVD $29.95 + $6 s/h; public performance $195 + $9.95 s/h. INT AFFAIRS

War Is Not a Game.color. 52 min. Lode Desmet, Simple Prod. & Lieurac Prods.,dist. by Natl. Film Bd. of Canada, 800-542-2164; 2012. DVD UPC 698193262796. $250. Public performance. MILITARY STUDIES

The Future Is Now! color. 90 min. Gary Burns & Jim Brown, Burns Film Ltd. & Natl. Film Bd. of Canada, 800-542-2164; 2011. DVD UPC 717101602100.$195.
Public performance. Rated: PG. SOC SCI

General Orders No. 9. color. 72 min. Robert Persons, New Rose Window, dist. by Passion River, 732-321-0711; 2012. DVD UPC 884501661393. $24.95; Blu-ray UPC 884501663328. $34.95. SOC SCI


El Bulli: Cooking in Progress. color. 108+ min. In Catalan w/English subtitles. Gereon Wetzel, Alive Mind Cinema, dist. by Kino Lorber,; 2012. DVD UPC 738329077020. $29.95; public performance $189. COOKING/TRAV

starred review starSemper Fi: Always Faithful. color. 76 min. Rachel Libert & Tony Hardmon, Wider Film Projects in assoc. with Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tied to the Track Film, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781937772093. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance. SDH subtitles; home version. Passion River, Oct. 2012. $29.99. 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"