VIDEOSCAN. A selection of new releases for sale or rental
THE COLTRANE LEGACY (Produced by David Chertok and Burrill Crohn; Video Arts International Inc.) - In-depth look at the work of groundbreaker John Coltrane, tracing the saxophonist's development with extensive musical footage (including clips of Miles Davis, Eric Dolphy, and McCoy Tyner), and interviews with former sidemen, bassist Reggie Workman, drummer Elvin Jones, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. A ``must'' for collectors and Coltrane fans, with fascinating reminiscences and touching comments by Workman (``John Coltrane was my grits and gravy'') and Jones (``He was like an angel on earth''). -Amy Duncan BILLY JOEL FROM LENINGRAD, USSR (CBS Music Video Enterprises Production) - Billy Joel is caught live on stage at Leningrad's gigantic Lenin Sports and Concert Complex in what's billed as the first fully staged rock show presented by an American in the Soviet Union. The video opens with time-lapse scenes of busy Leningrad streets, then proceeds to the concert itself, with a somewhat nervous Joel singing quite flat until he finally relaxes and warms up. Best moment: Joel performing flat on his back, held aloft by his Russian fans. Joel sings many of his hits, as well as the Beatles' ``Back in the USSR.'' (This video will air on HBO on Oct. 30, Nov. 4, 8, and 14.) -A.D. STATIONS (1982 film. Directed by Robert Wilson. Pacific Arts Video) - Seeing this hour-long work is like spinning the channel selector on a TV set tuned into Wilson's dreams. No story links the string of visual firecrackers he sets off, but there's a strange logic to its many sections, which have titles like ``Fire'' and ``Metal'' and ``Wind'' and so on. The hero is a boy with a mysterious Timex watch on his wrist. When he looks at it, and sometimes when he doesn't, bizarre things occur. Some are frightening, as when flames enwrap his parents. Some are funny, as when armored knights invade the family kitchen. And some have an uncanny mixture of moods, as when a giant frog presides over a solemn tea party in the shadow of a pyramid on a suburban lawn. Wilson is best known as an experimental stage director, but he has also mastered video, and this is his most vivid piece for the medium. Note: contains a few seconds of nudity.
-David Sterritt THE UNFORGIVEN (1960 film. Directed by John Huston. MGM/UA Home Video) - This ambitious western focuses on a young woman who was adopted and raised by a frontier family. Her life is disrupted when a half-crazy old man says she's an Indian who was taken from her tribe as a baby. This traps her between two cultures and two men, one white and one red, who both claim to be her brother. The screenplay makes a game attempt to tackle the subject of racism, showing the irrational hatred that erupts when everyday people get the idea their neighbor might not be as white as they are. Unfortunately, the climax is a war between the white and red ``families,'' and the filmmakers clearly see the whites as the only good guys. It's all right for the heroine to be Indian, the movie tells us, as long as she thinks like a white person and properly despises the tribesmen who want to ``rescue'' her. Audrey Hepburn and Burt Lancaster are persuasive as the main characters, and Lillian Gish is strong as an old mother who's capable of murder. The plot takes enough sour turns to justify Huston's reputation as a habitual pessimist, but his storytelling skill is evident in every scene. -D.S.