Video Reviews | January 2014

Arcadia. color. 91+ min. Olivia Silver, Poisson Rouge Pictures/Duvant Film in assoc. with Madrose Prods., dist. by Film Movement c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2013. DVD UPC 616892186366. $24.95. F

arcadia013114This independent drama was expanded from the short film Little Canyon, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, a project of director Silver. Silver then took it to feature length with a mostly new cast. Tom (John Hawkes) is taking his three children on a 3,000-mile journey from New England to Arcadia, in California, to start a new life. Tom is a complicated character, a conflicted father, immature, angry, and easily offended. His three children are upset because their mother isn’t going with them “yet,” although Tom keeps promising she will join them later. Viewers are then left to wonder: Is Tom kidnapping the kids? What’s the real story? Twelve-year-old Greta is the most troubled over these sudden changes, and viewers make the trip through her eyes. An excellent cast (especially Hawkes, who as Tom is hard to like) make this a very believable story. VERDICT A compelling adult drama that deserves a place in public library collections and film school libraries.—Joan Greenberg, Warminster, PA

redstarThe Greatest Ears in Town: The Arif Mardin Story. color & b/w. 103+ min. Joe Mardin & Doug Biro, Deniz Prods. & Hudson River Films, dist. by Shelter Island, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781939517074. $24.98. Music

thegreatestears013114Nominated for a Grammy in 2010, Mardin and Biro’s documentary is a loving tribute to Mardin’s father, producer and arranger Arif Mardin, one of the virtuoso figures in popular music. The elder Mardin (1932–2006) was responsible for hit tunes from artists as diverse as the Young Rascals, the Bee Gees, Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, and Norah Jones. All of them are featured in this film, which focuses on the production of Mardin’s last work, his All My Friends Are Here CD. Aretha Franklin, with whom Mardin worked closely on her seminal Atlantic recordings, says it best: “Amazing is an understatement. He was brilliant.” The film is a blend of Mardin at work as he coaxes great performances from his artists and biography as we follow the career of this revered Turkish immigrant. Included are interviews with peers such as Quincy Jones, Ahmet Ertegun, and Sir George Martin. Bonus features include additional performances. VERDICT A quality production and fitting tribute to one of the legendary music producers of our time. Recommended for fans of popular music.—Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR

Citizen Hearst. color & b/w. 84+ min. Leslie Iwerks, Leslie Iwerks Prods., dist. by Lionsgate, 2013. DVD UPC 031398168485. $19.98; acad. libs. $295. Public performance. BIOG/COMM

Citizen_Hearst013114Originally broadcast on the Biography channel, this film documents the life and influence of William Randolph Hearst (1863–1951), founder of the Hearst media empire. Beginning with the San Francisco Examiner and the New York Journal, Hearst shaped the character of journalism in the United States. Filmmaker Iwerks (The Pixar Story; Dirty Oil) explores Hearst’s life and shows how he transitioned from newspapers into magazines, radio, and motion pictures. The Hearst Corporation has built many of the media pillars of American culture; Good Housekeeping was one of Hearst’s first magazines, followed by Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Harper’s Bazaar. The company also owns A&E Television Networks, of which Biography is a part. Narrated by William H. Macy, the film includes interviews with Dan Rather, Oprah Winfrey, Leonard Maltin, Heidi Klum, and many others who have worked at some part of the Hearst empire. Bonus features include a look inside Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA. VERDICT This documentary celebrates William Randolph Hearst and the business he created, and viewers should not expect a critical examination of his life and influence. It will be of interest to students of journalism and to those interested in media history.—Rosemary Arneson, Univ. of Mary Washington Lib., Fredericksburg, VA

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Upstream Color. 2 discs. color. 90+ min. Shane Carruth, ERBP Film, dist. by Cinedigm c/o New Video, 800-314-8822; 2013. DVD UPC 767685291047. $24.95; Blu-Ray/DVD combo UPC 767685291054. $29.95. SF


Song of the South: Duane Allman & the Rise of the Allman Brothers Band. color & b/w. 131+ min. Tom O’Dell, Sexy Intellectual, dist. by MVDvisual, 800-888-0486; 2013. DVD UPC 823564532998. $19.95. MUSIC

Legend of a Warrior. color. 78 min. Corey Lee, Corkscrew Media & Natl. Film Bd. of Canada, 800-542-2164; DVD UPC 698193282633. $195. Public performance. SPORTS/MEMOIR

Shepard and Dark. color & b/w. 89+ min. Treva Wurmfeld, Vile Bohea Prod., dist. by Music Box Films, 2013. DVD UPC 741360538344. $29.95. THEATER/BIOG


The Revisionaries. color. 83 min. Scott Thurman, Kino Lorber, Silver Lining Pictures, & Magic Hour Entertainment, dist. by Kino Lorber, 2013. DVD UPC 738329104924. $26.95; public performance $349; w/DSL & public performance $599. ED

Mr. Cao Goes to Washington. color. 56/72 min. S. Leo Chiang, dist. by New Day Films, 2013. DVD ISBN 9781574481198. $95; acad. libs. $295. Public performance; home version $24.95; streaming available. POLITICS


Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad. 3½ hrs. Ross Conrad, Mad River Media. DVD ISBN 9781603583275. $24.95.

Top-Bar Beekeeping with Les Crowder and Heather Harrell. 50 min. Bjarni Thor Haraldsson, Binary Studios. DVD ISBN 9781603584807. $14.95.

ea. vol: color. dist. by Chelsea Green, 2013. AGRI

A Community of Gardeners. color. 60 min. Cintia Cabib, 2013. DVD UPC 793573053077. $89; acad. libs. $195 + $5 s/h. Public performance. GARDENING

Living Downstream. color. 85+ min. Chanda Chevannes, People’s Picture Co.,dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915632. $27.95. SDH subtitles. HEALTH/MEMOIR

redstarLost in Living. color. 110 min. Mary Trunk, Ma and Pa Films, 2013. DVD UPC 884501869386. $24.95; educational ed. 2 discs. $250. Public performance. Parenting/ART


The Golden Age of British Railways. 2 discs. 223+ min. Andrew Smooker & others. DVD UPC 066805311710.

London Life in the 1930s, 50s & 60s. 3 discs. 345+ min. Andrew Gray. DVD UPC 066805311697.

London’s East End: 1900s–1970s. 2 discs. 237+ min. Andrew Smooker & Andrew Gray. DVD UPC 066805311703.

London’s War: During WWII. 2 discs. 244+ min. Andrew Gray. DVD UPC 066805311727. ea. vol: color & b/w. Timereel Studios, dist. by Beckkmann International c/o BFS Entertainment, 2013. $24.98. HIST

English history in the 20th century is presented here in a blend of archival news films, a few reenactments, and interviews with eyewitnesses. The DVDs are even introduced with a disclosure that there will be “occasional flaws” owing to the age of much of the footage. The research by British company Timereel Studios is extensive. London’s East End: 1900–1970, narrated by actors Stephen Bray and Don ­McCorkindale, with accents common to the East End area, is the most interesting of the collections. The accents are a clever and thoughtful touch, as they bring authenticity to the story of the neighborhoods and their history. The East End’s background begins on the docks, a place of arrival for goods and also immigrants who join the Cockneys on the friendly cobbled streets, streets that would be destroyed by the Luftwaffe and rebuilt, only to fall again to progress. London’s War covers more than the blitz, with capacious footage of the Kindertransport and evacuations of British children to the countryside. The set also makes good use of interviews with survivors of World War II. London Life in the 1930s, 50s & 60s seems spotty, with only three discs of material to present the paradox that is modern London. It includes footage only from the 1930s, 1950s, and 1960s, as if World War II were the only thing that occurred in that intervening decade. Apparently, the 1940s ended in 1945, with the prosperous 1950s beginning a time of recovery and change. A different view of the history of Great Britain is offered in The Golden Age of British Railways, which employs equally excellent footage, but, unfortunately, features a deadpan narration that sounds disinterested. This set is perfect for collectors, trainspotters, and general followers of the history of transportation. VERDICT These four programs are recommended for general history collections and will be of particular interest to novice historians and anglophiles. For libraries with very limited budgets, London’s East End: 1900–1970 is the singular choice.—Lisa Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA

London: The Modern Babylon. color. 125+ min. Julien Temple, Nitrate Film, Julien Temple Film, dist. by BBC Films & Docurama, 2013. DVD UPC 767685291870. $29.95. HIST

Temple, a documentarian of rock and popular culture (e.g., Sexual Healing; Kinkdom Come: Dave Davies), has created a montage of images of London that captures the vitality and energy as well as the humanity and “inhumanity” of the city that was once considered the capital of the world. Cutting back and forth from archival films and photos of the city in the early part of the 20th century until London prepared to host the summer Olympics in 2012, Temple doesn’t shy away from controversy. London riots and street battles as well as class racism are as important to this impressionistic view of modern London as royalty and pomp and circumstance. The Cable Street Battle, the suffering during the blitz of World War II, and the 21st-century arrival of immigrants comprise the city portrayed in this assemblage of images. More than 300 languages are spoken in present-day London, and the cacophony of humanity and the clashes of culture and politics are important themes here. VERDICT This film will be of interest to specialized library collections particularly those with patrons interested in modern London history and labor and immigrant history. Very well recommended.—Herbert E. Shapiro, Lifelong Learning Soc., Florida Atlantic Univ., Boca Raton

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