Video Reviews | December 2013

The Horses of McBride. color. 88 min. Anne Wheeler, HOM Prods. & Whizbang Films, dist. by Entertainment One c/o 2013. DVD UPC 741952752097. $14.98. SDH subtitles. F

Early in this film, viewers know where it’s going and how it will end, but those tempted to turn it off at that point will miss a heartwarming movie. Based on the experiences of a family in McBride, near British Columbia, the DVD introduces the fictional Matt Davidson (Aidan Quinn), a cowboy outfitter, and his daughter, Nicki (Mackenzie Porter). Tension arises because Matt is, reluctantly, planning to sell their homestead in hard economic times. When the family finds two starving horses abandoned in the snow of the Rocky Mountains, the next logical step is to put them out of their misery. But stubborn Nicki starts digging. Eventually, rescuing the animals becomes a family and a national passion, with volunteers showing up to make a path through six-feet-deep snow to reach the closest road. It is nearly Christmas, after all. ­Verdict A sweet family movie, deserving of a place in most public libraries.—Joan Greenberg, ­Warminster, PA

David Starkey’s Music & Monarchy. 2 discs. color & b/w. 234+ min. Peter Sweasey & Christopher Walker, Oxford Film & Television Prod. for BBC, RLJ Entertainment, dist. by Athena Learning, 888-870-8047; 2013. DVD ISBN 9781598289954. $49.99. SDH subtitles. music/hist

These four BBC television programs trace the portion of English music history directly connected to England’s royalty, some members of which were themselves composers (Henry VIII, Prince Albert), while others were wise patrons of artists whose music could benefit their reign and make the people proud. Featuring sumptuous interiors (gilt-drenched royal chambers and glorious, venerated chapels), highly skilled musicians (including angelic boys choirs), and a good-natured script written and presented by historian and broadcaster David Starkey, the programs begin with the anonymous 15th-century “Agincourt Carol” and music composed by the king it glorifies (Henry V) and end with music by Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughn Williams commissioned by 20th-century monarchs. Generous excerpts of works by renowned (Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel) and lesser-known (Simon Ives, William Croft) English composers dominate the series, and full performances of nine of them are included as bonus material. The 14-page “Viewers Guide” is not sturdy enough to survive many readers. VERDICT Beautifully filmed and pleasantly listenable, this production is especially appealing to British royal history buffs and for libraries where PBS-style nonfiction DVDs concerning British monarchs are appreciated.—Bonnie Jo Dopp, emerita, Univ. of Maryland Lib., College Park

redstarBAM150. color. 86 min. Michael Sládek, dist. by Cinema Guild, 2013. DVD ISBN 9780781514477. $99.95; acad. libs. $195 (Rental: $125). Public performance; home version $29.95. THEATER

As Brooklyn continues its march to becoming even hipper than its neighboring Manhattan, the nation’s oldest performing arts center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), celebrates its 150th birthday. Documentarian Sládek (Con Artist) had full access to the academy’s archives, including its video collection of recent and historic performances with the guidance of archivist Sharon Lehner. All of its 150-year history is here, along with interviews with many of BAM’s unconventional and devoted fans, such as Laurie Anderson, Alan Rickman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Isabella Rossellini. The film demonstrates BAM’s willingness to present new works from new artists as well as classics from a fresh perspective, both American and international, which pays exciting cultural and sometimes financially rewarding dividends. Backstage and rehearsal footage of an avant-garde production of The Threepenny Opera gives viewers a perfect illustration. Sládek’s shrewd technique of detached observation and interview yields a multifaceted jewel whose sparkle never needs coaxing. BAM is always the real deal. VERDICT BAM’s history and success is Brooklyn’s history and success, here on dazzling display.—Gerald A. Notaro, emeritus, Univ. of South Florida Lib., St. Petersburg

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Hell on Wheels: The Complete Second Season. 3 discs. color. 413+ min. David von Ancken & others, Entertainment One & Nomadic Pictures, c/o 2013. DVD 741952732594. $39.98; Blu-ray UPC 741952732693. $49.98. F/WESTERN


Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters. color. 77+ min. Ben Shapiro, dist. by Zeitgeist Films, 2013. DVD UPC 795975115131. $29.99. ART/PHOTOG

Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film. color. 82 min. In English & French w/English subtitles. Pip Chodorov, dist. by Kino Lorber; 800-562-3330; 2013. DVD UPC 738329105129. $249. Public performance; w/DSL $499; public performance & DSL $599; home version $29.95. FILM

Going Underground: Paul McCartney, the Beatles, and the UK Counter-Culture. color & b/w. 153+ min. Tom O’Dell, Pride Prod., dist. by See of Sound, 2013. DVD UPC 823564535098.

$19.95. MUSIC

You Don’t Need Feet To Dance. color. 81+ min. Alan Govenar, Documentary Arts, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915502. $24.95. MUSIC/BIOG


California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown. color & b/w. 86+ min. with tchr’s. guide. Sascha Rice, Fire of Life Films, dist. by Transit Media, 800-343-5540; 2013. DVD UPC 850075002535. $125; acad. libs. $250. Public performance. BIOG/POLITICS

Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie. color & b/w. 90+ min. Seth Kramer & others, Ironbound Films, dist. by Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2013. DVD UPC 876964005890. $26.98; Blu-ray UPC 876964005906. $29.98. Rated: R. BIOG/MEDIA

War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State. color. 66+ min. Robert Greenwald, Disinformation Co. & Brave New Fdn., DVD ISBN 9781939517067. $19.98. COMM/POLITICS

School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten. color. 36 min. In English & Swiss German w/English subtitles. Lisa Molomot & Rona Richter, Linden Tree Films, dist. by Bullfrog Films, 800-543-3764; 2013. DVD ISBN 9781937772987. $225. Public performance. ED

Gaining Ground: Building Community on Dudley Street. color. 58+ min. Llewellyn Smith, Holding Ground Prods., dist. by New Day Films, 2013. DVD $99; acad. libs. $249 (Rental: $60). Public performance; SDH subtitles. SOC SCI


Brewed in Brooklyn. color. 45 min. John Weber, Delaware Valley Video, dist. by Janson Media, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781568394633. $24.95; public performance $295. BEVERAGES

The Hungry Tide. color. 53 min. Tom Zubrycki, JOTZ Prods., dist. by Video Project, 800-4-PLANET; 2013. DVD $39.95; acad. libs. $195. Public performance; closed-captioned. ENVIRONMENT


Hyphenate Productions has brought two programs originally reviewed on VHS tape back as DVDs: A Slice of Life: Carousels (ISBN 9781885795045; LJ 9/1/95) and The Spirit of 66 (ISBN 9781885795052; LJ 8/95) are each now available for $20 at www.­