Hundred-word Reviews: DVDs

Reviewing DVDs takes more time than albums, since when previewing them, I can’t do much else than sit there and watch. So it takes me awhile to get to DVDs. Thanks to the recent snowpocalypse/snowmageddon/your choice of silly weather epithet, I’ve had some time to curl up in front of the TV with a nice scotch and a critical mindset. So here you go.

Lou Reed Tribute (3DVD)
This is actually a repackaging of three titles already available. The Sacred Triangle: Bowie, Iggy & Lou is reviewed here. The Velvet Underground Under Review is a very good overview of both the band’s career arc and its influence. It is marred only by dreadfully monotone narration, quite unusual for a title from the usually reliable Sexy Intellectual. And Punk Revolution: NYC Part One is also lively and informative. It fails only in its deceptive characterization of Debbie Harry as a newcomer to music; one guesses her stint in art-folk band Wind in the Willows didn’t fit the punk narrative.

Song of the South: Duane Allman & the Rise of The Allman Brothers Band
Though unfortunately named after a controversial Disney film – one guesses the British producers are unaware of this – it is nonetheless an excellent look at Duane Allman and his music. Remarkably, it includes music clips form his early project that are not found on the sprawling, essential Skydog CD compilation. The film – via commentaries from authorities including the always-sharp Mark Segal-Kemp – points out how The Allmans effectively beat The Grateful Dead at their own game for awhile there. This DVD is one of the best of its kind, from an outfit that gets better with each release.

Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection (4DVD)
This is a real gem, viewed from several viewpoints. It showcases the talents of an all-around female entertainer, hosting her own TV show, at a time when such a thing was unusual, to say the least. But for me, its greatest value is as a video time capsule of American mass popular culture on the eve of The Beatles‘ conquest of our shores. An early skit with Dick Shawn pokes fun at hip culture in a way that makes you embarrassed for both of them, but it accurately reflects how things were. The included commercials only heighten the entertainment value.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
While not a perfect film – a few areas of the band’s history are left curiously unexamined, and the Ken Burns video effect is a tired visual device – this documentary film remains essential viewing. Dubbed “the definitive story of the greatest band that never made it,” from where I’m standing that’s no hyperbole. Paired with an excellent soundtrack, this film tells the story better than one might expect, owing to the fact that there’s surprisingly little documentation on the band. I cried several times when I first saw this film; the music is moving, and so is this DVD.

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