Video Reviews | November 1, 2013

Koch. color & b/w. 95+ min. Neil Barsky, How Am I Doing Films, dist. by Zeitgeist Films, www.; 2013. DVD UPC 795975115339. $29.99. POL SCI

Director Barsky here presents a lively and favorable portrait of former New York City mayor Ed Koch (1924–2013). The film covers the rise of this son of poor Jewish workers from an unknown New York congressman to his underdog election as mayor and his three tumultuous terms in that office (1978–89). During this time, Koch reconstructed the city’s finances, led a massive and controversial redevelopment of Manhattan, and became an important player in national and international politics. In the process, he also alienated African Americans, suffered through a serious corruption scandal, was defeated in a New York gubernatorial race, and received harsh criticism from the gay community, which perceived that he was indifferent to the AIDS epidemic. This last point was fueled by the widespread belief that Koch was a closeted gay man. When asked about this in the film, Koch replies that it’s no one’s business. The strongest aspect of the film is its portrayal of Koch’s larger-than-life personality. Bonus features include Barsky’s short film Witness NYC, which presents interviews with people who experienced life in New York during Koch’s mayoral term, and Koch’s final public appearance, at the 2013 New York Jewish Film Festival. VERDICT This informative and entertaining film is highly recommended to all viewers interested in big-city politics.—Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Parkersburg Lib.

redstar Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home. color. 75+ min. Thomas Q. Napper, Agi Orsi Prod. in assoc. with Krasnoff/Foster, dist. by Cinema Libre Studio, 2013. DVD UPC 881394117020. $24.95. SOC SCI

Skid Row is one of those places many of us probably think we know simply by its reputation. But as this excellent documentary reveals, it’s far more diverse than meets the eye. While this 50 square block area of downtown Los Angeles is home to its share of gang members, drug addicts, the homeless, and the mentally ill, it also encompasses many residents compassionately committed to others’ welfare, some of whom are rebounding from their own personal challenges. Efforts aimed at providing much-needed recovery support, protecting civil liberties, and even feeding the neighborhood’s feral cats are all skillfully profiled here. Through the film’s tautly edited, well-structured narrative and insightful interviews with longtime residents and caregivers from religious, government, and social service organizations, viewers glimpse a misunderstood segment of society far richer than most of us realize. VERDICT A polished, candid, and revealing look at a community that’s well worth the viewing time.—Brent Marchant, Chicago

redstar Girls: The Complete Second Season. 2 discs. color. 300+ min. Lena Dunham & others, Apatow Prods., dist. by HBO Entertainment, 2013 DVD UPC 883929319305; 3-disc Blu-ray UPC 883929319299. $49.99. SDH subtitles. Rated: TV-MA. F/tv

In the second season of Dunham’s series about the lives and loves of four young women in Brooklyn, the girls are all in different stages of their various relationships, though their professional lives are equally dismal. Hannah (Dunham) is dating a new guy (played by Community’s Donald Glover) but is still attached to Adam (Adam Driver). Marnie (Allison Williams) is floundering after her breakup. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) soon has cause to remember the old adage about marrying in haste. And Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) is trying to make her first real relationship work, despite her concerns about her and Ray’s compatibility. Guest stars include Rita Wilson, Carol Kane, and Patrick Wilson. The show continues to be a rollicking good time, with just as many moments where viewers will be laughing with or cheering for the characters as ones where they’ll be watching through their fingers in dismay at the situations the girls both cause and in which they become unwittingly entangled. VERDICT Sure to be popular; highly recommended. [See Trailers, LJ 6/1/13.]—Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

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


Jubal. color. 101 min. DVD ISBN 9781604657258. $19.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604657265. $29.95.

3:10 to Yuma. b/w. 92+ min. DVD ISBN 9781604657234. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604657241. $39.95.

ea. vol: Delmer Daves, Columbia Pictures, dist. by Criterion Collection, 2013. F/WESTERN

The Man Who Lived at the Ritz. 2 discs. color. 200 min. Desmond Davis, Harmony Gold Prods., dist. by BFS Entertainment, 2013. DVD UPC 066805311482. $32.98. F


Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s. color & b/w. 93+ min. Matthew Miele, Quixotic Endeavors & Berney Films, dist. by Entertainment One, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781417239818. $24.98. SDH subtitles. Rated: PG-13. FASHION/SOC SCI

Nova Rex: Ain’t Easy Being Cheesy; A Hair-Metal Rockumentary. color & b/w. 70 min. Dean Robinson, Quantum Records, dist. by Passion River, 2013. DVD UPC 091037580153. $19.99. MUSIC

Race, Power & American Sports. color. 45 min. Media Education Fdn., 800-897-0089; 2013. DVD ISBN 9781932869767. $34.95; acad. libs. $125. Public performance; SDH subtitles. SPORTS/SOC SCI


Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War. 4 discs. color & b/w. 702 min. Time-Life/StarVista Entertainment, 2013. DVD UPC 610583443998. $39.95. HIST

A Lot Like You. 2 discs. color. 53/80 min. Eliaichi Kimaro, 9Elephants Prods. in assoc. with Byrd Prods., dist. by Collective Eye, 2013. DVD $39.99; public performance $99; acad. libs. $250. INT AFFAIRS

Grieving the Sudden Death of a Loved One: Guidance for When the Unthinkable Occurs. color. 60 min. Charity Spatzeck-Olsen, dist. by Paraclete Pr., 800-451-5006; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781612612416. $59.95. PSYCH

A Girl and a Gun. color. 76+ min. Cathryne Czubek, Salted Prod., dist. by Collective Eye Films, 2013. DVD $69.99; public performance, $200; acad. libs. $350. Closed-captioned; home version. 76+ min. First Run Features, 800-229-8575; DVD UPC 720229915687. $24.95. SOC SCI


redstar A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet. color. 101 min. Mark Kitchell, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2013. DVD ISBN 9781937772413. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance; SDH subtitles; home version. 101+ min. First Run Features. DVD UPC 720229915526. $24.95. ENVIRONMENT

Nurses: If Florence Could See Us Now. color. 52/92 min. Kathy Douglas, On Nursing Excellence, dist. by Video Project, 800-4-PLANET; DVD $39.95; acad. libs. $295. Public performance; closed-captioned; home version. First Run Features. DVD UPC 720229915533. $24.95. MED