Welcome to the new Video Librarian website. Video Librarian print subscribers will have access to all of the free features from the old site, as well as the News Briefs blog. Video Librarian Plus subscribers will be able to access all of the premium content, which now includes downloadable PDFs of the current issue and back issues. Much thanks to the Resources Online team in Seattle (www.ronline.com), who rebuilt the site from scratch and added many new features. Allison Brucker, Spencer Sundell, Dave Ahlers, and Ron Johnson put their digital backs into the project and we are very happy with the results.We look forward to continuing to bring you all of the latest video-related news and reviews.
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PBS Distribution has released Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99). The rich history of America’s “Historically Black Colleges and Universities” (HBCUs) began before slavery ended, flourished during the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the nation’s course for over 150 years—yet this story remains largely unknown. Director Stanley Nelson here explores the powerful tale of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs. A haven for black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries—and a path of promise toward the American dream—HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.
Kino will release The Lion in Winter: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray: $29.95) on March 13. Acting greats Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, and Timothy Dalton star in this epic 1968 masterpiece directed by Anthony Harvey. Behind the great stone walls of an English castle, the world’s most powerful empire is in crisis. Three sons struggle to win their father’s favor, as well as his crown. King Henry II (O’Toole) and his queen, Eleanor (Hepburn), engage in a battle of royal wits that pits elder son Richard (Hopkins) against his brothers John (Nigel Terry) and Geoffrey (John Castle), while the cunning King Philip of France (Dalton) takes advantage of the internal fracturing in his bid to destroy their kingdom. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor (O’Toole), Director (Harvey) and Costume Design (Margaret Furse), and the winner of Oscars for Best Actress (Hepburn), Adapted Screenplay (James Goldman) and Music Score (John Barry), bonus features on this Blu-ray debut made from a 2016 4K restoration include audio commentary by Harvey, and an interview with sound recordist Simon Kaye.
PBS Distribution recently released American Masters: Tyrus (DVD: $24.99). Until his death at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. The quiet beauty of his Eastern-influenced paintings caught the eye of Walt Disney, who made Wong the inspirational sketch artist for Bambi. Filmmaker Pamela Tom corrects a historical wrong by spotlighting this seminal, but heretofore under-credited, figure. Born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, right before the fall of the Chinese Empire, Wong and his father immigrated to America in 1919, never to see their family again, and the film shows how he overcame a life of poverty and racism to become a celebrated painter (who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse), a Hollywood sketch artist, and a “Disney Legend.” Previously unseen art and interviews with Wong, together with movie clips and archival footage, illustrate how his unique style—melding Chinese calligraphic and landscape influences with contemporary Western art—is found in everything from Disney animation (Bambi) and live-action Hollywood studio films (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild Bunch, Sands of Iwo Jima) to Hallmark Christmas cards, kites, hand-painted California dinnerware, and Depression-era WPA paintings.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is celebrating a quarter century of laughter and friendship with The Sandlot: 25th Anniversary Collector Edition (DVD: $9.99, Blu-ray: $11.99), slated for March 27. In this beloved 1993 family favorite, it’s the early 1960s and fifth-grader Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) has just moved into town with his folks (Karen Allen and Denis Leary). Kids call him a dork—he can’t even throw a baseball! But that changes when the leader of the neighborhood gang recruits him to play on the nearby sandlot field, which marks the beginning of a magical summer of baseball, wild adventures, first kisses, and fearsome confrontations with the dreaded beast and its owner (James Earl Jones) who live behind the left field fence. Bonus features include 10 custom Topps baseball cards featuring the characters, a production featurette, and an all-new booklet with behind-the-scenes photos.
The Handmaid’s Tale: Season One (DVD: 3 discs, $29.98; Blu-ray: 3 discs, $39.99) will bow March 13 from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning 1985 bestselling novel, 2017’s The Handmaid’s Tale chronicles the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly the United States. Facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, Gilead is ruled by a twisted fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state. As one of the few remaining fertile women, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) is a Handmaid in the Commander’s household, part of a female caste forced into sexual servitude as a last desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In this terrifying society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred must navigate between Commanders, their cruel wives, domestic Marthas, and her fellow Handmaids with one goal: to survive and find the daughter who was taken from her. Aired on Hulu, the 10-episode series also features Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, Samira Wiley, and Max Minghella. Winner of eight Emmy awards and two Golden Globes, bonus features will include the behind-the-scenes featurettes “From Script to Screen” and “Hope in Gilead.”
Golden Globe award-winning actress Frances McDormand delivers a stunningly powerful performance in the darkly comic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (DVD: $29.98; Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99; 4K: $39.99), available from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on February 27. Hailed as one of the year’s best films, writer-director Martin McDonagh’s drama follows the story of a murdered girl’s defiant mother (McDormand) who boldly paints three local signs with a controversial message, igniting a furious battle with a volatile cop (Sam Rockwell) and the town’s revered chief of police (Woody Harrelson). Winner of four Golden Globes, and nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, bonus features include a “Crucify ‘Em” making-of featurette and McDonagh’s Oscar-winning 2004 short film “Six Shooter.”
PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of Dolores (DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99), slated for March 27. One of the most important yet least known activists of our time, Dolores Huerta was an equal partner in founding the first farm workers union with César Chávez. Tirelessly leading the fight for racial and labor justice, Huerta evolved into one of the most defiant feminists of the 20th century—and continues the fight to this day, at age 87. With unprecedented access to this intensely private mother of 11, the film chronicles Huerta’s life from her childhood in Stockton, CA, to her early years with the United Farm Workers, her work with the headline-making grape boycott launched in 1965, and her role in the feminist movement of the ‘70s, as well as her ongoing fearless activism. Featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Luis Valdez, Hillary Clinton, and Angela Davis, Dolores serves up an intimate and inspiring portrait of this passionate champion of the oppressed, an indomitable woman willing to accept the personal sacrifices involved in committing one’s life to social change.
Icarus Films has announced a February 13 home video release for Rebels on Pointe (DVD: $29.98). Exploring universal themes of identity, dreams, and family, Bobbi Jo Hart’s documentary celebrates the world-famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The all-male drag ballet company was founded over 40 years ago in New York City on the heels of the Stonewall riots, and it boasts a passionate cult following around the world. Combining intimate behind-the-scenes access, rich archives and history, engaging character-driven stories, and dance performances shot in North America, Europe, and Japan, Rebels on Pointe captures a creative blend of gender-bending artistic expression, diversity, passion, and purpose. Bonus features include more than two hours of bonus footage, including outtakes and interviews.
The Criterion Collection’s April slate kicks off April 10 with the latest entry in the extra-less Eclipse line: Ingrid Bergman’s Swedish Years (DVD: 6 discs, $69.95), a compilation of six of the actress’s earliest performances, including her first speaking role in The Count of the Old Town (1935), Walpurgis Night (1935), Intermezzo (1936), Dollar (1938), A Woman’s Face (1938), and June Night (1940). Making its Blu-ray debut on April 17 is Leo McCarey’s genre-defining Oscar-winning 1937 comedy The Awful Truth (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), starring the irresistible Irene Dunne and Cary Grant as would-be ex-spouses who can’t get enough of each other. Also coming April 17 is Sergei Parajanov’s 1969 masterpiece The Color of Pomegranates (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), a revelatory film-poem built around folklore and metaphor that marked a departure from the realism that dominated the Soviet cinema of its era. Arriving April 24 is Jim Jarmusch’s hypnotic 1995 Western Dead Man (DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95), featuring the poetry of William Blake and the music of Neil Young, starring Johnny Depp as an accountant caught in the middle of a fatal lovers’ quarrel. Also bowing April 24 is Sofia Coppola’s 1999 debut The Virgin Suicides (DVD: 2 discs, $29.95; Blu-ray: $39.95), an ominously dreamy coming-of-age reverie adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides’s celebrated novel, starring Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett.