Video Reviews | September 1, 2013

redstarDiana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel. color & b/w. 86+ min. Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Mago Media Prod., dist. by Entertainment One, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781417239368. $24.98. SDH subtitles. Rated: PG-13. FASHION/BIOG

Diana Vreeland (1903–89) ruled the world of fashion for 50 years, and in this marvelous documentary, she reigns again. Vreeland provides much of the narrative in this entertaining and informative film, culled from numerous interviews. Her life is covered from her childhood and the highs of her years as a fashion editor to the low of being fired from Vogue. She was the first to showcase such trends as bikinis and denim and discovered models (Twiggy) and designers (Diane von Furstenberg) alike. This program captures all the senses, much in the same way Vreeland believed fashion should. Her imprint on the fashion world is clear; she is a vibrant presence on the screen. The interview footage and fashion photographs wonderfully showcase her exuberance. ­VERDICT This documentary is almost as high voltage and fascinating as the woman herself. Suitable for any library with a fashion history collection but entertaining for all viewers.—Catherine Gilmore, MLS, Portland, OR

redstarFrench Masterworks: Russian Émigrés in Paris 1923–1928. 5 discs. b/w tinted. 664 min. French titles w/ English subtitles. Five Icon Films Albatros Prods., dist. by Flicker Alley, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781893967656. $59.95. FILM

Featuring beautiful restorations of five rarely seen films and including options such as a choice of two colors of subtitles (yellow and white), French Masterworks is a cinephile’s dream come true. The five-disc set highlights the output of Films Albatros, a French movie studio founded by Russian expatriates Ivan Mosjoukine, Alexandre Volkoff, Marcel L’Herbier, and Jacques Feyder, who were fleeing the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Although historically important, that background information is unknown to the casual moviegoer. The films themselves are stylistically accomplished as well as adventurous and serve as a testament to the inventiveness and sophistication of the best directors of the silent era. The major revelation is Mosjoukine, regarded as one of the finest actors in the world in his day, who stars in three of these films and directs one. He demonstrates incredible range, evoking Rudolph Valentino at one moment, Buster Keaton the next. VERDICT An essential resource for film scholars and movie fans.—Andrew Horbal, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park

Brothers on the Line. color & b/w. 80 min. Sasha Reuther, Porter Street Pictures, dist. by Cinema Guild, 2012. DVD ISBN 9780781514248. $99.95; acad. libs. $295. Public performance. HIST

The 20th- and 21st-century history of the U.S. labor movement parallels the history of the United Auto Workers (UAW). The UAW was very much the product of the leadership of Walter, Roy, and Victor ­Reuther in protecting workers’ economic and civil rights through collective bargaining from the 1930s through the 1970s. Filmmaker Reuther, grandson of Victor, has done an excellent job of providing here a concise overview of modern American labor and political history, mostly ignored and largely forgotten, through the lives of the Reuther brothers. Labor organizing was tough and dangerous work: Walter was beaten several times, and both Walter and Victor survived assassination attempts. Easily overlooked was the Reuthers’ and the UAW’s support of the civil rights movement, the United Farm Workers, and both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; the brothers came late to the protest of the Vietnam War. VERDICT This video is very highly recommended for adult collections concerned with U.S. and labor history.—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


The Legend of Neil: The Complete Series. 2 discs. color. 154+ min. Sandeep Parikh, EffinFunny LLC, dist. by Flatiron Film c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781422922804. $19.95. F/COMEDY

Spy: Series 1. 2 discs. color. 138 min. Ben Taylor, Hat Trick/British Sky Broadcasting, dist. by BFS Entertainment, 2013. DVD UPC 066805311499. $29.98. TV/HUMOR


Photographic Memory. color & b/w. 87+ min. Ross McElwee, St. Quay Films with French Connection Films in assoc. with Arte France, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915335. $27.95. ART/MEMOIR

Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder. color & b/w. 79+ min. Christopher Felver, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915489. $24.95. LIT

Il Barbiere di Siviglia. 2 DVDs. 170 min. Daniela Vismara. DVD ISBN 9780769791913; 1-disc Blu-ray ISBN 9780769791906.

Tosca. 142 min. Andrea Dorigo. DVD ISBN 9780769791937; Blu-ray ISBN 9780769791920.

ea. vol: color. In Italian w/English subtitles. Rai Trade, dist. by Kultur, 732-229-2343; 2012. DVD $29.99; Blu-ray $29.99. OPERA

Venus and Serena. color. 100+ min. Maiken Baird, M+M Films, dist. by Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2013. DVD UPC 876964005654. $26.98; Blu-ray UPC 876964005661. $29.98. Rated: PG-13. SPORTS


Young James Herriot. color. 176+ min. Michael Keillor, BBC Scotland & Shed Media Scotland, dist. by Acorn Media, 888-870-8047; 2013. DVD ISBN 9781598288100. $29.99. SDH subtitles. BIOPIC

Manhunt: Boston Bombers; Technology’s Role in Catching the Marathon Bombing Suspects. color. 60 min. Miles O’Brien, Miles O’Brien Prods. for NOVA/WGBH-Boston, dist. by PBS, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781608839360. $24.99. SDH subtitles. CRIMINOLOGY

Precious Knowledge: Arizona’s Battle over Ethnic Studies. color. 70+ min. Ari Luis Palos, Dos Vatos Prods., 2012. DVD ISBN 9780979410734. $40; acad. libs. $200. Public performance; home version $28. ED

The Abolitionists. color. 3 hrs. Rob Rapley, American Experience, PBS, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781608838332. $24.99. SDH subtitles. HIST

Castaways. color. 17 min. Slawomir Grünberg & Tomasz Wisniewski, dist. by LOGTV, Ltd., 2013. DVD $20 + $6 s/h. English subtitles. HIST


redstarInto the Cold: A Journey of the Soul. color. 87+ min. Sebastian Copeland c/o Shelter Island, dist. by eOne Entertainment, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781934708958. $24.98. ENVIRONMENT

Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1. color. 60/87 min. Adam Horowitz, dist. by Video Project, 2013. DVD $39.95; acad. libs. $295. Public performance; closed-captioned. ENVIRONMENT

Hungry for Change: Your Health Is in Your Hands. 2 discs. color. 89+ min. Carlo Ledesma & others, dist. by Docurama c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781422922323. $29.95. HEALTH


Cloak and Dagger. b/w. 106 min. Fritz Lang, Olive Films, 2013. DVD UPC 887090062107. $19.95; Blu-ray UPC 887090062206. $29.95.

Ministry of Fear. b/w. 87+ min. Fritz Lang, Criterion Collection, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781604657012. $19.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604657005. $29.95. F

Austrian émigré Lang (1890–1976) established his reputation in Germany with classics such as Metropolis and M before making nearly two dozen Hollywood films, including these espionage/spy thrillers. Cloak (1946) features Gary Cooper as an American physicist recruited to track down an atomic scientist held captive by the Nazis. Though the movie was intended as a cautionary story about the A-bomb, its romantic angle involving an attractive resistance fighter (Lilli Palmer) ended up figuring more prominently. Loosely based on a novel by Graham Greene, Ministry (1944) stars Ray Milland as an innocent chap who gets mixed up in the clandestine activity of London-based Nazi agents, finding himself accused of murder with only an Austrian refugee (Marjorie Reynolds) on his side. VERDICT For libraries not owning the ten-year-old Artisan disc, Olive’s Cloak offers much improved if still slightly worn-looking picture quality. Criterion’s carefully restored Ministry (see Trailers, LJ 2/1/13) is nearly pristine—the better to show off the movie’s noirish atmospherics—and also gets the nod for its scholarly examination of Lang’s work. Both titles fairly represent wartime entertainment in their anti-Nazi themes.—Jeff T. Dick, Davenport, IA

Ripper Street. 3 discs. color. 480+ min. Tom Shankland & others, Tiger Aspect & Lookout Point Prod., dist. by BBC Home Entertainment, 2013. DVD UPC 883929289103. $29.98; Blu-ray UPC 883929317691. $34.98. SDH subtitles. F/TV

Ripper Street begins in 1889, months after the last Jack the Ripper murder and features Insp. Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), the detective on the original Ripper cases. He and American surgeon Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) investigate new crimes and criminals, always operating under the fear that the Ripper is at large and ready to strike again. Their work takes them to the factories, brothels, slums, and streets of Whitechapel, a seamy underside of London. Reid uses science and no-holds-barred interrogation techniques to solve each episode’s twisted and grisly crime. Season-long subplots involve the dark secrets of the principals and their relationships with a fascinating array of characters, including a complexly drawn madam (MyAnna Buring) and a pesky and determined newspaper man (David Dawson). The performances are strong, and production values excellent, with lighting that suits the dark plots and textures of the stories. Bonus features include character profiles and a piece on present-day forensics and the Ripper cases. ­VERDICT More police procedural than chatty costume drama, Ripper Street plunks viewers down in crime scenes, police chases, autopsies, and a complex web of relationships. Gritty, graphic, and adult-themed, it will appeal to fans of Prime Suspect, Dexter, and CSI.—Joan Pedzich, formerly with Harris Beach PLLC, Pittsford, NY