Seen on DVD: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Battle of Algiers, Freedom Riders

  • Ralph De Lauro   
  • Film program director, Central Library and Cinema Under the Stars

Napoleon, by Abel Gance. All sparks and pinwheels. Gance’s silent thrill ride is long, sentimental, and simplistic, yet it’s bursting at the seams with raging enthusiasm for the language of film. Visual fireworks topped off by a brilliant triptych finale.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, by Edgar Wright, is my guilty pleasure pick.  Destined for cultdom. Clever, creative, snarky, peeper-popper fun. The most viscerally alive, juiced-up joyride of the past several years. I love this film.

  • Napoleon
  • (France) 1927, Total Content
  • List price: (out of print, only available used)
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (USA) 2010, Universal
  • List price: $19.98

  • Marc Chery
  • B-movie fan and librarian, San Diego Public Library

The first truly adult film I ever saw is Gillo Pontecorvo’s masterpiece The Battle of Algiers, about Algeria’s bloody war of liberation against French colonial occupation.  Former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld supposedly ordered mandatory viewings to get soldiers familiar with urban warfare.  A well-deserved reputation as one of the best films ever made.

This British sci-fi film Devil Girl from Mars inspired late sci-fi writing superstar Octavia Butler to begin writing at 12 because she found it so bad and decided she could do better.  A leather-clad femme fatale from Mars arrives on Earth to conscript Earthmen to use as breeding stock in a scheme to repopulate the red planet.  Do the women of Earth put up a fight or use this opportunity to get rid of their male oppressors?

  • Battle of Algiers (France) 1966, Criterion Collection
  • List price: $49.95
  • Devil Girl from Mars
  • (England) 1954, Image Entertainment
  • List price: $9.98

  • Alan Bugg
  • Library assistant, San Diego Public Library

If you weren’t able to see the special preview screening of Freedom Riders at the Central Library or missed the KPBS broadcast, you’ve really got to find the DVD!  Although I’m not particularly a history buff, this nearly two-hour film about a cadre of civil rights activists — or “outside agitators” — and their resolve to challenge segregation in the deep South with direct, non-violent action had me riveted the whole time.

In honor of LGBTQ Pride, I’ve got to make mention of the short-lived series Noah’s Arc that offered an alternative to East Coast predecessor Queer as Folk.  My friends were energized after the debut screening of the pilot in New York but years later I laugh, wonder, or scoff in disbelief every time I see an episode.  In addition to extras, like the pilot, the first season featured a great music soundtrack.

  • Freedom Riders (USA) 2010, PBS
  • List price: $24.99
  • Noah’s Arc
  • (USA) 2004, MTV
  • List price: $39.98 (three discs)

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