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DVD Recommendations from the Wexner Center Store

Wed, Dec 31, 2008
Here are some recommendations for DVD purchases from our Chris Stults, Assistant Curator in our Film/Video department.

A Trip Down Market Street 1905/2005

What do you get someone who already has everything? Here's a disc you probably won't find elsewhere in town that's perfect for someone who loves film, history, or San Francisco. It features a short film from 1905 that documents, as the title indicates, a trip down San Francisco's Market Street six months before earthquake and fire devastated the city. 

For the 100th anniversary of that film, a remake was staged showing the Market Street of 2005. The disc is also bursting with related vintage films (including Market Street After the Fire 1906 and color footage from 1945 documenting the spontaneous celebrations that broke out on Market Street on the day WWII ended) and newly commissioned films (of these new films I've only seen Tomonari Nishikawa's Market Street, a masterpiece of single frame filmmaking and in-camera editing). The only thing missing is esteemed filmmaker Ernie Gehr's great 1974 found footage Market Street film, Eureka. ($19.99)

Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1894-1941

For those lucky few who have larger budgets this year, this seven disc box set offers such a dense and varied amount of films that it will keep the recipient busy for months. The New York Times predicts that the set will "undoubtedly stand as one of the major monuments of the DVD medium." The set offers films ranging from the avant garde to home movies, but all the films are experimenting with the possibilities of moving pictures.

These are rarely seen works helped to create and expand the medium and still hold up as captivating artworks today. Among the filmmakers included are Busby Berkeley, G.W. "Billy" Bitzer, Rudy Burckhardt, Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Walker Evans, Douglas Fairbanks, Robert Flaherty, Springfield, Ohio's Dwinell Grant, Norman McClaren, Edwin S. Porter, Man Ray, Paul Strand, Orson Welles, and countless others. ($99.99)

As documentaries continue to maintain their unprecedented level of visibility within the film community, it's worth revisiting this 1969 landmark of the genre. One of the key films of the "direct cinema" movement, Salesman remains one of the most finely crafted documentaries ever made. It's a portrait of a group of door-to-door bible salesmen that contains all the narrative trajectory and control of tone of the greatest fictional films. The film remains one of the greatest portraits of mid-century life and the despair behind the American dream. Essential viewing for any fans of documentary filmmaking. (39.95)
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