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DVDiva says, 'DVDs make great gifts!'
by Gregg Shapiro
2003-12-10

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Pictured: #1 and #2 Two totally different takes on womanhood, now on DVD. #3 and #4 Sabastiane and Eddie Izzard.

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Music DVDs are the ideal gift for the visually oriented music lover on your holiday gift list. Concerts are the most popular formats for the DVD and there are several from which to choose.

Live In Barcelona (Columbia Music Video) by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, was filmed during The Rising tour in October of 2002 on location at Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain. The two-disc DVD set includes two dozen career-spanning songs along with the bonus documentary 'Drop The Needle and Pray: The Rising On Tour.' The Isle Of View (Warner Reprise Video/Rhino Home Video) expands on the 1995 Pretenders CD of the same name with two additional tracks. Recorded live at Jacob Street Studios in London, The Isle of View features acoustic renditions of some of the Pretenders' biggest songs, including 'Sense of Purpose,' 'Back On The Chain Gang,' 'Private Life,' 'Brass In Pocket,' 'Night In My Veins,' and '2000 Miles,' to mention a few. 'A film by D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hedges, David Dawkins,' the double DVD set Depeche Mode 101 (Mute/Reprise) contains the 101 documentary as well as performance footage 'from the legendary Rose Bowl Concert,' new band interviews and other bonus features. Chicago: A&E Network (Rhino Home Video) is the one-time only concert by Chicago as part of the popular A&E cable series. A 2001 concert by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, as well as a documentary and some videos, can be found on the DVD God Is In The House (Mute).

Addicted To Music (Radikal/Kontor) is the DVD companion to ATB's CD of the same name and consists of the complete video collection, interviews, a U.S. tour documentary and much more. Both New Order 316 and New Order 511 (Rhino Home Video) contain concert footage of the band that rose from the ashes of Joy Division to become trendsetters in the realm of rock and electronic music. On the combined DVDs, viewers have the opportunity to view footage covering a period of more than 20 years. Openly gay singer/songwriter Arnold McCuller was one of The Seriousettes, Phil Collins's back-up singers on Serious Hits … Live! In Berlin (Warner Music Vision). Consisting of two discs in one package, this concert DVD was filmed during Collins's 1990 Serious Tour, and, as the title suggests, contains many of his hits.

Music video compilations on DVD are excellent gift concepts. Erasure Hits!: The Video (Sire/Mute) improves on the CD version of the anthology in a couple of ways. First, compared to the CD's 20 or so tracks, the video compilation includes 35 song selections, including all four songs from the Abba-esque EP. Instead of a waste of time remix disc (can we please call a moratorium on remixing?), the second DVD in the set has five live performances, various non-album vids (including 'Too Darn Hot' from Red Hot + Blue) and six 'promotional documentaries,' used to promote a particular disc.

Greatest: The DVD (EMI) compiles 21 Duran Duran videos, plus a few hidden ones, including the censored versions of 'Girls On Film' and 'Come Undone.' But let's be honest here, you didn't buy this Duran Duran DVD compilation as a gift for someone so they could watch the censored versions of 'Girls On Film.' No, the uncensored version, featuring some very serious female-on-female action is the right choice for the new wave lesbian in your life. Boasting 'The best videos of 2003!,' the single disc DVD, Now That's What I Call Music! (Columbia Music Video) contains 15 recent videos, by artists such as Lisa Marie Presley, Coldplay, Jane's Addiction, Ginuwine, Snoop Dogg and Mya, to name a few.

Music also figures into three non-concert DVDs. In My Life With Morrissey (Eclectic), mild-mannered and mousey Jackie is transformed by her Morrissey obsession. She goes from being a devoted, but dysfunctional, employee at a TV studio to a femme fatale to a bruising bride-to-be in this goofy comedy written and directed by Sponge Bob Squarepants animation director Andrew Overtoom. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is the marvelous black-and-white documentary, directed by Sam Jones, about the trials and tribulations of critically acclaimed Chicago-based band Wilco as they went through the difficult process of recording their 2002 album Yankee Foxtrot Hotel. Blues giant Howlin' Wolf is the subject of the documentary The Howlin' Wolf Story: The Authorized Story of Chester Burnett—The Howlin' Wolf (Bluebird/Arista Associated Labels/The Reel Factory), directed by Don McGlynn.

Some live theatrical events are more enjoyable in the intimacy of one's own home. No one is crinkling candy wrappers next to you and there aren't cell phones ringing in the balcony. Circle (Anti-) is the DVD concert film of cross-dressing comedian Eddie Izzard's 2000 stage show. There is also a companion CD of Circle available for the DVD challenged. The DVD for The Puppetry Of The Penis (WIN Media), which is subtitled 'the ancient art of genital origami,' comes with a 'D.I.Y. Dicktricks Handbook.'

Documentaries with themes and story lines of interest to the LGBTQ community are becoming more and more common all the time. Trembling Before G-d (New Yorker Video), Sandi Simcha Dubowski's acclaimed documentary about the inner conflict of being gay or lesbian and trying to maintain one's faith as an Orthodox or Hasidic Jew, is especially compelling at this time in history with our heightened awareness about religious fanaticism. The double DVD set includes Tomboychik, a short film by Dubowski, more with openly gay orthodox rabbi Steve Greenberg and the Trembling On The Road featurette about the film's impact worldwide. The award-winning doc Silverlake Life: The View From Here (DocuRama) is filmmaker Tom Joslin's groundbreaking 'video diary' of life with AIDS that, 10 years after its release, still has the same impact. The DVD includes Elaine Mayes' previously unseen epilogue footage.

Party Monster (Picture This!/World Of Wonder), Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey's 1998 documentary about killer NYC club kid Michael Alig, upon which they based their 2003 dramatization of the same name, is now available on DVD, and is just the stocking stuffer for your favorite party monster. Looking for something for the lesbians on your list? What about Greta Schiller's 1995 documentary Paris Was A Woman (Zeitgeist), about the lesbian inner circle on living on the Left Bank in the 1920s. Narrated by actress Juliet Stephenson (Food Of Love, Nicholas Nickleby, Mona Lisa Smile), the DVD extras include additional interviews and rare home movies of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Colette and others.

Someone on your list is probably a fan of openly bisexual movie star Angelina Jolie or the late Scott Plank, who both starred in the dramatic feature Without Evidence (Artist Home Video/MTI). Jolie also stars in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider-The Cradle Of Life (Paramount). The widescreen DVD includes special features such as director Jan De Bont's commentary, deleted and alternate scenes, a pair of music videos, and other treats.

Long an icon for the queer community (heck, there was even a lesbian magazine temporarily named for her), Catherine Deneuve made her movie debut in 1957's The Twilight Girls (First Run Features), which is now available in a collector's edition DVD featuring a Catherine Deneuve photo gallery, the original theatrical trailer and more. Lesbian comedian Georgia Ragsdale stars as 'buff lesbian' surfer Sam in the comedy Wave Babes (Wolfe Video).

Other DVDs of lesbian interest include Journey To Kafiristan (Picture This!), the Japanese feature Sugar Sweet (Wolfe Video), and The New Women (Culture Q Connection), a sci-fi comedy starring Mary (Eating Raoul) Woronov, lesbian director Cheryl Dunye, and lesbian fashion model Jenny Shimizu, among others.

When it comes to films with gay subject matter, the European and Asian film communities have Hollywood beat. Among the gay titles of interest for the foreign film fan are the late Derek Jarman's 1976 feature film debut Sebastiane (Kino Video), the German comedy Regular Guys (TLA), the Brazilian romantic comedy Possible Loves (TLA), the Spanish film Amore De Hombre (TLA) and Japanese feature Bastoni: The Stick Handlers (TLA).

Queer actors, writers and directors can be found in some recent DVD releases that would look awfully nice wrapped up in pretty paper, tied with a bow and placed under the holiday tree. Openly gay director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, the man who directed Kissing Jessica Stein, was the man at the helm of the hit Reese Witherspoon comedy Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (MGM Home Entertainment). The pink and totally gay LB2 DVD includes a gag reel, deleted scenes, a music video and more. Out gay actor Sir Ian McKellan reprised his role of Gandalf the White in The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (New Line Home Entertainment), which is available in a widescreen, two-DVD set with some genuinely special features. Gay actors Craig Chester and Alexis Arquette (and honorary queer actress Parker Posey) co-starred in Todd Verow's 1995 film adaptation of gay novelist Dennis Cooper's book Frisk (Strand Releasing).

Javier Bardem, who played the late, gay Cuban writer Renaldo Areinas, and Victoria Abril, who has acted in a handful of Pedro Almodovar's movies, play lovers in the 1999 Spanish film Between Your Legs (Entre Las Piernas) (TLA Releasing).

Cable network Comedy Central has established itself as the source for unique and outrageous comedy. U.S. television viewers got their first introduction to Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley), in the early 1990s when Comedy Central aired the wacky and queer BBC series Absolutely Fabulous. The DVD Absolutely Fabulous Special (Warner Brothers/BBC Video) contains the segments 'Absolutely Fabulous: The Last Shout' and 'Absolutely Fabulous In New York,' which featured guest performers Tom Hollander, Whoopi Goldberg and Marianne Faithfull, among others. The first season of the Comedy Central original series Strangers With Candy (Comedy Central Home Video), starring Amy Sedaris (David's sister) and Stephen Colbert is also out now on DVD.


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