Two great documentaries, available for the first time on DVD, get co-opted into the advertising campaigns for big cinema releases Valkyrie and Milk (reviewed on pages 42 and 43 respectively) this fortnight. Rob Epstein’s excellent Oscar winning 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk (Drakes Avenue Pictures) •••• tells you all you need to know the gay politician who became a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and, along with Mayor George Moscone, was assassinated by Supervisor Dan White in 1978. It also contains some remarkable testimonies, news items and extensive film archives, many of which Gus Van Sant ransacked for his biopic. Jean-Pierre Isbouts’ Operation Valkyrie (Anchor Bay) •••• is an interesting dissection of the Stauffenberg plot to kill Hitler which culminated in a failed assassination attempt on 20 July 1944 which utilises rare colour footage, recreated dramatisations, detailed CG reconstructions and exclusive interviews with leading historians. This DVD also contains a ton of extras including some newly re-mastered colour home movies shot by Hitler’s mistress.
Dominik Dunne: After the Party (Joiningthedots.tv) ••• is a hagiograph of the renowned US journalist best known for his coverage of high profile celebrity trials including Claus von Bulow and OJ Simpson. Irvine Welsh’s intermittently amusing directorial debut Good Arrows (ITV DVD) •••, a mockumentary about a Welsh darts superstar sneaks out on DVD, and if you want to know where Baz Luhrmann stole all his best ideas for Australia from you should spend an afternoon with Henry Watt’s 1946 western The Overlanders (Optimum) ••••.
Finally you can prepare yourself for Valentine’s Day in one of two ways. Dan Zeff’s Consuming Passions: 100 Years of Mills and Boon (2nd Entertainment) •• intertwines three stories from the Mills and Boon vaults to tell the history of this remarkable publishing house. It’s conceptually dumb but quite fun. Your second option is to spend some time in a darkened room with Swedish Erotica Collection 2 (Revelation) •••• , the release of the first collection totally passed me by so it must now be time to spend time with these cult 1970s Swedish arthouse skin flicks starring Christina Lindberg with titles like More About the Language of Love and Love Play: That’s How We Do It. Mamma Mia indeed.