Video Reviews | February 1, 2014

redstarThe Empire State Building: The World’s Greatest Skyscraper. color. 60 min. Tom Ashley, My Little Show, 2013. DVD ISBN 9780578126081. $10. ARCH

With work beginning on March 17, 1930, the Empire State Building eventually surpassed in height the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street to become the tallest office building in the world. Through archival photographs and vintage film as well as animation, the construction of the 102-story edifice is re-created here. The story of this iconic, landmark skyscraper is also the story of the invention of industrial steel, the competition among industrial barons, and the history of modern New York. The builders, the Starrett brothers, introduced many innovations to the project, such as the use of rail cars and food services at the site; their concern for their workers was unique in the history of labor. Lewis Hine, a well-known social photographer, documented the laborers and craftspeople at work. Unfortunately, the great triumph of erecting this building in fewer than 14 months was overshadowed by the Depression, as less than a third of the space was initially rented. The Empire State Building reigned as the tallest building in the world for more than 41 years and still holds a place in our imaginations as the world’s greatest skyscraper. VERDICT This production is highly recommended for general library and academic collections, especially those serving students interested in architectural history and the history of the great Depression.—Herbert E. Shapiro, Lifelong Learning Soc., Florida Atlantic Univ., Boca Raton

redstarIn Heaven There Is No Beer: The Kiss or Kill Music Scene; Saving Los Angeles from Itself One Tuesday at a Time. color. 88+ min. Dave Palamaro, No-Money Enterprises, dist. by MVDvisual, 800-888-0486; 2013. DVD UPC 760137593294. $14.95. MUSIC

inheaventhereisnobeer021314The Kiss or Kill music scene was not your average Tuesday night music club. Formed as a reaction to more commercial Los Angeles musical goings-on, Kiss or Kill flourished from 2002 to 2007 in small venues around L.A. until it imploded through jealousy, rivalries, a move to larger venues, and offers of record deals. In fact, it became co-opted by the very things against which it had rebelled. Director Palamaro was a member of the Kiss or Kill club band the O.A.T.S., and his insider knowledge combines with wonderful archival footage of the bands and venues that defined the scene. The film relies heavily on interviews with key figures and leaves the viewer with an excellent picture of a time and place where loud music, cheap drinks, a friendly and supportive music community, and a $5 cover were the rule. VERDICT A raucous blast from an all-too-short-lived episode, this production is an indie-rock treat and a refreshing alternative for anyone tired of overproduced, overhyped corporate rock.—Bill Baars, Lake Oswego P.L., OR

Chasing_Sarasota021314redstarChasing Sarasota. color. 92+ min. Matt Mastrantuono, Blurred Lens Prods., dist. by Seventh Art Releasing, 2013. DVD $79; acad. libs. $250. Public performance; home version $15. SPORTS

On the Kickstarter page that enabled the making of this film, director Mastrantuono described this project as a means to pursue two of his passions: filmmaking and ­Ultimate Frisbee (UF). The result is a documentary on the Portland, OR, Rhino elite men’s ultimate team in pursuit of the 2011 national championship being held that year in Sarasota, FL. Those unfamiliar with UF will find it to be an extremely physical disc team sport that looks something like a blend of lacrosse and football but played at nearly the speed of ice hockey. Ultimate is popular in recreational leagues and as a college and independent club sport. At the elite level, players mirror ­Mastrantuono’s passion for the game and adopt training regimens worthy of professional athletes. VERDICT This fine film debut is highly recommended for adult sports video collections as a great introduction to a rising sport.—Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH

redstarRadio Unnameable. color & b/w. 87+ min. Paul Lovelace & Jessica Wolfson, Twelve O’Clock Films, Lost Footage Films, dist. by Kino Lorber, 2013. DVD UPC 738329109523. $149; public performance $249; DSL $499; DSL & public performance $599; home version $29.95. COMMradiounnameable021314

Beginning in 1963 and continuing through some of the most turbulent periods of recent history, Bob Fass shaped FM radio as a medium. Broadcasting on commercial-free WBAI in New York City, Fass (b. 1933) added telephone conversations with listeners and live performances to traditional radio fare of recorded music. This documentary traces Fass’s 50-year career, including how his overnight program, Radio Unnameable, became the venue for antiwar protestors such as Abbie Hoffman. Long before social media fueled movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, Fass and WBAI were playing integral roles in the Grand Central Station Yip-In and Chicago’s 1968 Democratic National Convention. The film features interviews with Fass and many of his contemporaries, but it derives much of its richness from Fass’s extensive personal archive. The documentary ends with efforts currently under way to preserve this huge collection of rare and valuable material. Bonus features include deleted scenes and an animated short film. VERDICT An essential production for anyone wanting to understand the music and the movements of the 1960s and 1970s.—Rosemary Arneson, Univ. of Mary Washington Lib., Fredericksburg, VA

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vincente Fernandez. color. 99+ min. Elia Petridis, Filmatics Prod., dist. by Indican Pictures c/o 2013. DVD UPC 825284201413. $24.99; Blu-ray UPC 825284100075. $29.99. F

Sweetwater. color. 95+ min. Logan Miller, ARC Entertainment c/o 2014. DVD UPC 796019824316. $20.99; Blu-ray UPC 796019827614. $24.99. Rated: R. F/WESTERN

The Bells of St. Mary’s. b/w. 126+ min. Leo McCarey, dist. by Olive Films, 2013. DVD UPC 887090075107. $19.95; Blu-ray UPC 887090075206. $29.95. F


Ain’t in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm. color. 83+ min. Jacob Hatley, Dirt Farmer Music, dist. by Kino Lorber, 2013. DVD UPC 738329083823. $149; public performance $229; DSL $499; DSL & public performance $599; home version $26.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329118921. $29.95. MUSIC

Good Ol’ Freda: Behind a Great Band There Was a Great Woman. color & b/w. 87+ min. Ryan White, Tripod Media, Magnolia Home Entertainment, dist. by Magnolia, 2013. DVD UPC 876964006194. $26.98; Blu-ray UPC 876964006200. $26.98. Rated: PG. MUSIC

One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das. color. 72+ min. Jeremy Frindel, Substratum Films, dist. by Zeitgeist Films, 2013. DVD UPC 795975115537. $29.99. MUSIC/REL

Becoming Traviata. color. 112 min. In French & Italian w/English subtitles. Philippe Beziat, dist. by Cinema Guild, 2013. DVD ISBN 9780781514422. $99.95; acad. libs. $195. Public performance; home version $24.95. OPERA

Violeta Went to Heaven. color. 110+ min. In Spanish & French w/English subtitles. Andrés Wood, Wood Prods., Maiz Prods., & Bossanova Films, dist. by Kino Lorber, 800-562-3330; 2013. DVD UPC 738329106522. $149; public performance $249; DSL $499; DSL & public performance $599; home version $29.95. PERFORMING ARTS/BIOPIC

Secretariat’s Jockey: Ron Turcotte. color. 75 min. In French w/English subtitles; in English w/French subtitles. Phil Comeau, Natl. Film Bd. of Canada, 800-542-2164; 2013. DVD UPC 698193287386. $195. Public performance. SPORTS/BIOG


Herman’s House. color. 81+ min. Angad Singh Bhalla, Storyline Entertainment & Time of Day Prods., dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915595. $24.95; digital version from Cinedigm, CRIMINOLOGY

Schools That Change Communities. color. 58 min. Bob Gliner, dist. by Video Project, 800-4-PLANET; 2013. $79; acad. libs. $195. Public performance; closed-captioned. ED

A Womb with a View. color. 64 min. Jennifer Miller, dist. by MVDvisual, 2013. DVD UPC 760137574491. $99.95. Public performance. women’s studies

The World Before Her. color. 91+ min. In Hindi w/English subtitles. Nisha Pahuja, Storyline Entertainment, dist. by Cinedigm c/o 2013. DVD UPC 767685291061. $29.95; digital version at Closed-captioned. WOMEN’s STUDIES/INT AFFAIRS


Boom Varietal: The Rise of Argentine Malbec. color. 72+ min. In English & Spanish w/English subtitles. Sky Pinnick, Rage Prods., dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; 2013. DVD UPC 720229915649. $24.95. BEVERAGES

Fish Meat: Choose Your Farm Wisely. color. 29/52 min. Jose Cunningham, Fish Navy Films, dist. by Collective Eye, 2012. DVD ISBN 9780985439804. $39.99; public performance $100; acad. libs. $200; home version $14.99; streaming $9.99.

Vegucated. color. 77+ min. Marisa Miller Wolfson, Filmbuff, Kind Green Planet, dist. by Passion River, 732-440-8100; 2012. DVD UPC 728028164572. $23.99. Closed-captioned. HOME ECON

CORRECTION: The correct name of the codirector of The Greatest Ears in Town: The Arif Mardin Story (LJ 1/14) is Doug Biro. We apologize for the error.