Video Reviews | November 1, 2012

starred review star Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. color. 119 min. Matthew Bourne, Leopard Films & New Adventures, dist. by Kultur, 732-229-2343; 2012. DVD ISBN 9780769792279. $29.99; Blu-ray ISBN 9780769792262. $39.99. DANCE/PERFORMING ARTS

Bourne’s Swan Lake has been mistakenly referred to as the “all-male Swan Lake,” which it is not, or the gay Swan Lake, which it also is not (OK, maybe a little). What it is is the most controversial and successful ballet production of the 21st century and deservedly so. Bourne keeps the gorgeous Tchaikovsky score that is known worldwide, but as director and choreographer he reimagines the story to an immediately relevant and contemporary setting. At the same time, he employs iconic cues, lighting, movement, and even humor to launch this flight into artistic heights. To Bourne’s creative credit, viewers will quickly cease comparing the new tale to the classic and ride the story’s both familiar and edgy wave. This is a new production, and the transfer to DVD and Blu-ray is exquisite. The filming of stage productions is always tricky, sometimes leaving the video viewers cold. Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake should be the template for connecting both live and home audiences with emotional involvement. VERDICT A new classic, both artistically and technically.—Gerald A. Notaro, Libn. Emeritus, Univ. of South Florida, St. Petersburg

The City Dark. color. 83 min. Ian Cheney, Wicked Delicate Films, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781937772079. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance; SDH subtitles. environment/sCI

The dark of night (or, more specifically, the dark of the night sky) is something we think we know. But do we? As a result of nighttime light pollution, especially in major urban centers, the night sky we see is increasingly a shadow of its true nature, a notion expertly explored in this documentary. Losing our awareness of the night sky’s inherent character has wide-ranging implications on everything from the search for killer asteroids to the migratory habits of birds to possibly even human health. There’s also the increasing disconnection from our spiritual and cultural roots, which often include creation myths and beliefs involving the lights in the sky that we’re ever less able to see. Yet solutions to this growing problem are possible if we are willing to implement them, for example, using outdoor lighting in different ways. VERDICT This film offers a clear, concise, well-documented exploration of a seldom-considered issue while simultaneously proposing answers to help offset it. Those concerned about the environment, wildlife, human health, and our vanishing cultural heritage will find The City Dark an enlightening view.—Brent Marchant, Chicago

starred review star Too Big To Fail. color. 98 min. Chris Hanson, dist. by HBO Films, 2012. DVD ISBN 9780780683020. $19.99; Blu-ray ISBN 9780780683013. $24.99. ECON/f

Based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s 2009 book of the same name, this HBO production skirts the line between documentary and drama. Peppered with news clips, it re-creates the events surrounding the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and resulting freeze of the global credit markets. The central figure is Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, powerfully played by William Hurt. It is Paulson’s decision not to bail out Lehman that brings down the markets. The film shows Paulson, his team, and others grasping at solutions that seem to evaporate before their eyes. At one point Paulson tells Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke to scare Congress into action, to which Bernanke responds, “I’m scared shitless myself.” The best line, though, is Paulson’s contrite answer to being asked why there wasn’t better regulation: “No one wanted to. We were making too much money.” In an unsettling postscript, the film explains that by 2010 the ten biggest banks held 77 percent of U.S. banking assets, making them too big to fail. VERDICT The viewer is dropped into the middle of the growing crisis, which then careens out of control only to reach an uncertain resolution. With the crisis still reverberating today, this film, with its taut performances and sensory barrage, underscores even better than the book does how close the world came to the evisceration of the entire banking system.—Lawrence Maxted, Gannon Coll. Lib., Erie, PA

The following titles are reviewed in the November 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Body and Soul. 106 min. Robert Rossen. DVD UPC 887090045100; Blu-ray UPC 887090045209.

Force of Evil. 78 min. Abraham Polonsky. DVD UPC 887090045308; Blu-ray 887090045409.
ea vol: b/w. Olive Films, 2012. DVD $19.95; Blu-ray $29.95. F

The Crimson Petal and the White. 2 discs. color. 244+ min. Marc Munden, Origin Pictures & BBC, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598287721. $39.99.
SDH subtitles. F

Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate. 3 discs. color. 405 min. Donald McWhinnie, Fremantle Media Enterprises, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598288018. $59.99. SDH subtitles. F


Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston. color & b/w. 94+ min. Whitney Sudler-Smith, Vainglorious Pictures, dist. by Tribeca Film c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781422918609. $26.95. Closed-captioned. FASHION/BIOG

The Woman with the Five Elephants. color. 93+ min. In German & Russian w/English subtitles. Vadim Jendreyko, dist. by Cinema Guild Home Video, 800-723-5522; 2012. DVD ISBN 9780781513623. $29.95; public performance $99.95; acad. libs. $295 (Rental: $95). LIT

Bill Moyers: Amazing Grace. color. 80+ min. Elena Mannes, Public Affairs Television, dist. by Athena Learning, 888-870-8047; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781598285642. $29.99. SDH subtitles. REL/MUSIC

Fast Women. color. 97 min. George Delalis & Eve Drinis, 26Two Prods.,; 2012. DVD UPC 886470052042. $19.99; download $12.99. SPORTS/WOMEN’S STUDIES


Step-by-Step Screenwriting with Irv Bauer. 4 discs. color. 5½ hrs. w/workbook on CD-ROM. Irv Bauer, Irv Bauer Prods., 2012. DVD UPC 186850000503. $125. Public performance. COMM/CAREERS

An Inconvenient Tax. color. 74 min. Christopher P. Marshall, Observer Prods., dist. by Seventh Art Releasing, 2012. DVD UPC 804879172390. $59;
acad. libs. $279. Public performance. ECON

Rothstein’s First Assignment. b/w. 72 min. Richard Knox Robinson, dist. by Cinema Guild, 2011. DVD ISBN 9780781513869. $99.95; acad. libs. $295. Public performance. HIST/PHOTOG

From Arusha to Arusha/D’Arusha a Arusha. color. 114 min. Christophe Gargot, dist. by Natl. Film Bd. of Canada, 2012. DVD UPC 698193239927. $250. Public performance. INT AFFAIRS

Paul Goodman Changed My Life. color & b/w. 89+ min. Jonathan Lee, JSL Films, dist. by Zeitgeist Films, 2012. DVD 795985114035. $29.99. SOC SCI/PHIL


Beyond Horse Massage. color. 80 min. Jim Masterson, High Horse Video Prods., dist. by Trafalgar Square, 2012. DVD ISBN 9781570765360. $34.95. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Eine Kleine Käserei (A Little Cheese Factory). color. 48 min. Video Art Prods., dist. by AV Café, 2012. DVD UPC 884501543064. $30. home econ

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"