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DVD takes

Having spent too much time and uttered too many curses battling some connectivity issues, I figured it was time for a soothing installment of recently viewed DVDs ranked on a 5 star scale:

Ballad of a Soldier (1959) ****

An engrossing Russian film about a front line soldier in World War II who gets a six-day pass to return home after single handedly destroying two enemy tanks. The bulk of the film focuses on his efforts to get back home and the people he meets. Although it has occasional elements of an homage to Russian soldiers and the stoicism of the Russian people, this is at bottom a wonderful film both in terms of story and film style.

Born Into Brothels (2004) ***1/2

This documentary won the 2005 Oscar and the Audience Award at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, to name just a few. It tells the story of eight children age 10 to 14 born and living in brothels in Calcutta’s red light district and the photographer who opens a new world to them through photography. It also tells of her efforts to obtain a formal education for the children and find them an escape from a life crushing existence.

The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons (2005) ****

This 3-DVD set is a slice of both television and rock history. It contains episodes of Dick Cavett’s talk show featuring such artists as Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon. It also includes a lengthy interview show with George Harrison. My favorite of the three discs is one featuring Joplin’s performances — and I’m not a huge Joplin fan. The set might rank five stars were it not for the fact it basically includes the entirety of the episodes, meaning you get Cavett’s monologus and interviews with people like Debbie Reynolds, Raquel Welch and Chet Huntley. I’ve got a more in-depth review here.

Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion (2003) ***1/2

A visually stunning and generally well done documentary look at Tibet’s recent history. While it focuses largely on the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet, you do get a look at Tibetan culture and religion. Making the DVD especially worthwhile is bonus material that includes footage appearing in the documentary but left unnarrated in the bonus sections, allowing the video and its original audio to truly show and speak volumes for the beauty of this country and its people.

As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it.

Dick Cavett, Playboy, March 1971

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