All posts by alanwp

A Trio of Must-See NOVA Programs, Now on DVD

Three new Nova programs, now on DVD, from PBS Distribution, all must-see viewing.

Nova: Thai Cave Rescue
In this program viewers will follow the dramatic rescue of the 12 boys and their soccer coach from the Tham Luang Cave in Thailand, where they had been trapped for 18 days. This program  features interviews with key people that were involved in the search and rescue and explains how the team became trapped in the cave.

After multiple failed attempts to find the boys and their coach, an international team of rescuers was called upon to find them and ultimately bring them to safety. Nova: Thai Cave Rescue is a stunning example of innovation, teamwork and human endurance in one of the most hostile environments on earth–a flooded cave.

Nova: Last B-24
Seventy-four years ago, an American B-24 Liberator bomber known as the Tulsamerican fell from the sky and disappeared beneath the waves of the Adriatic Sea. Seven crew members survived the crash and were rescued, three men were never found.

Seven decades later, the bomber was discovered by amateur divers, nearly 135 feet beneath the water’s surface at the bottom of the Adriatic Sea. A specialized group within the Pentagon, The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) was alerted and quickly formed a specialized expedition team. Viewers join the Croatian Navy and some of the world’s leading underwater archaeologists as they investigate the wreckage and try to find remains of the lost crew members. Later the team of archaeologists joins a team of forensics experts as they work to identify the remains that are recovered from the wreck.

Nova: Operation Bridge Rescue
The Blenheim Covered Bridge in New York State is an icon of 19th century American engineering. Built in 1855, it was the longest single span covered bridge in the world, but in 2011 the bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Irene. The program follows a team of elite bridge builders and engineers as they faithfully reproduce the intricate timber structure under immense pressure—spring floods are coming and threaten to destroy the worksite.

Viewers then travel to China to witness traditional craftsmen restoring thousand-year-old covered bridges, all based on their ingenious frameworks of woven timber beams. These ancient bridges are the heart of their communities and allow for trade and worship in other villages, but typhoons are destroying these bridges as well. Viewers discover how Chinese artisans are keeping traditional skills alive to ensure the bridges survival.

Having “Tea With the Dames” is a Wonderful Adventure, times four

There is nothing like a dame. Make that four dames.

What happens when four legends of British stage and screen get together? Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Eileen Atkins and Dame Joan Plowright are among the most celebrated actresses of our time, with scores of iconic performances, decades of wisdom, and innumerable Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and BAFTAs between them. They are also longtime friends who here invite you to join them for a weekend in the country as they catch up with one another, reminisce, and share their candid, delightfully irreverent thoughts on everything from art to aging to love to a life lived in the spotlight.

Bursting with devilish wit and whip-smart insights, Tea With the Dames is a remarkable opportunity to spend time in the company of four all-time greats, up close and unfiltered. The IFC Films theatrical release was directed by BAFTA award winner Roger Michell. We aren’t the only one who loves the flick; Matt Fagerholm, writing at RogerEbert.com, gushes that  said the film “delivers more laughs than any mainstream comedy I’ve seen in 2018.”

Tim Daly, Natalia Dyer and Kyra Sedgwick highlight the sci-fi thriller “After Darkness”

What happens when it turns dark?

Hope begins at the end of the world in After Darkness, available on DVD, Digital, and On Demand January 15 from Lionsgate.

Natalia Dyer and Kyra Sedgwick highlight this sci-fi thriller about a family’s fight to survive a solar disaster. As skies darken and hopes grow dim, the Beatys try to stay sane in a lavish home with every possible comfort . . .  except sunshine.

Raymond (portrayed by Tim Daly) plans to have his family transported to a secure underground bunker. But as he makes a gruesome discovery, the greatest threat to the Beatys’ survival may be near—or inside—their home.

PBS Distribution new DVD, “Nature: Super Cats”, is the cat’s meow!

Everyone is intrigued by big cats, but how much do we really know about them? In Nature: Super Cats (PBS Distribution), viewers get a never before seen glimpse into the lives of these wild creatures. Presented in three parts, this series uncovers the secret lives of wild cats with groundbreaking technology, never used before to film our feline friends.

Filmed over a span of 600 days in 14 different countries, this program features 31 cat species, including the Iberian Lynx, the Margay from Central and South America, and the deadliest cat of them all, Africa’s Black-Footed Cat.

Super Cats also reveals the social sides…their complex communication, devoted parental care, courtship rituals, hunting patterns and more. Remote cameras and low-light technology help capture rare moments in the lives of wildcats including a swamp tiger taking a bath in the sea, never before revealed on screen.

The three episodes included in the program are: Extreme Lives, where we meet the planet’s ultimate cats, including the Cheetah, the Snow Leopard, the Canada Lynx, and the African Leopard.  Using the latest scientific research, we are exposed to the inner life of these cats like never before. In episode two, Cats in Every Corner, we discover how cats thrive in almost every landscape on earth from the wetlands of Asia to the world’s oldest desert in Africa to the forest of Central America and in the secluded beaches of California. Episode three, Science and Secretsreveals how new approaches and technologies are helping to uncover some of cats most intimate secrets including the cheetah’s remarkable gymnastic abilities and why lions are able to hunt so cooperatively.

Narrated by Oscar winning actor F. Murray Abraham, (“Amadeus”) “NATURE: SUPER CATS” unveils the various lives these creatures lead from the solitary bachelor snow leopard in the Himalayas to the elusive swamp tiger of South Asia. It follows exquisite predators such as one exceptional Californian bobcat, blind in one eye yet able to capture airborne prey.

Haven’t heard of Tanguy Viel? You will, when his book “Article 353” debuts in March.

We loved when we come across a book by an author when haven’t met. Yet. Equal parts courtroom drama and psychological thriller, Article 353 (Other Press, $15.99), by internationally bestselling author Tanguy Viel, employs subtle, enthralling prose to raise questions about the pursuit of “justice” within the confines of the law.

We aren’t the only who were caught up with the book: Publishers Weekly raves about the book in a recent review calling it a “beguiling noir” and an “elegant effort” sure to win new fans in the U.S.

With echoes of Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Scott Turow’s LimitationsArticle 353 is a noir novel retracing the steps that led to a murder off the coast of Brittany. A bestseller in France, winning the Grand Prix RTL-Lire and Prix François Mauriac, the book has sold in 10 territories to date, including Germany, Italy, Spain, and China.

In a depressed town on France’s northern coast, a man named Martial Ker­meur has been arrested for the murder of real estate developer Antoine La­zenec after throwing him overboard. Kermeur has long led an upstanding life, raising his son as a single father and humbly working as a groundskeeper after he’s laid off from the shipyard. Running counter to his signature ethically driven and measured demeanor, Kermeur finds himself swept up in the glit­tering promises of Lazenec, who entices Kermeur into investing the entirety of his savings. Called before a judge, Kermeur goes back to the beginning to explain what brought him to this desperate point: his divorce, his son’s acting out, layoffs at his job, and, above all, Lazenec’s dazzling project for a seaside resort.

 Kremeur’s story, told in retrospect, takes on an eerie prophetic tenor, acting as a parable shedding light on a timeless undercurrent of societal ills that still resound in today’s climate of financial and judicial turmoil. Here, Viel, a born storyteller, examines not only the psychology of a crime, but also the larger social maladies that may offer its justification.

We tell no more except buy it and read it. It hits shelves March 12.

PBS Distribution releases two exceptional “Nature” programs

When Nature comes a-calling, we go a-watching. PBS Distribution has released two new programs on DVD and digital from Nature. Both are must-sees!

Nature: A Squirrel’s Guide to Success
The squirrel family is one of the most widespread on Earth. There are almost 300 species of squirrel, those that can glide through the air, outwit rattlesnakes, and survive the coldest temperatures of any mammal. In this new eye-opening program viewers learn about the extraordinary abilities and secrets to success of these nut lovers. Some of the species featured include: the fox squirrel which can remember the location of 9,000 nuts, the gray squirrel whose jumps are the basis for new designs in robotics, and the Arctic ground squirrel, who, to survive the frigid winters of Alaska, hibernates by dropping its heart rate, breathing and body temperature.

Every two to three weeks the squirrel will shiver to warm itself. Viewers also see the world through the eyes of an orphaned red squirrel named Billy, as he grows up and develops all the skills he needs to be released back into the wild.

Nature: Dogs in the Land of Lions
Filmed over two-years, this program takes viewers into the heart of an African wild dog family, led by a mother called Puzzles. When her mate, Jigsaw is suddenly killed by lions, (the wild dogs’ ultimate enemy) she is suddenly left to raise two generations of pups on her own and without the help of a pack. In this deeply intimate portrayal of motherhood, viewers witness the loyalty and selflessness that sets wild dogs apart from other large, social carnivores.

Wild dogs have a willingness to sacrifice almost anything for their pack, a behavior wired into their DNA. As Puzzles’s young litter grows up, the pups provide some light-hearted moments while discovering the world around them, including new creatures, such as elephants, giraffes, and impala. Hopefully they will have the chance to encounter a hyena, their favorite form of entertainment – hounding and hazing hyenas whenever they get the chance. A year after Jigsaw’s passing, Puzzles and her young crew get a chance for revenge on the lions. Deciding to steal a fresh carcass that a few lions are feasting on, the pack stands their ground and enjoy a rare victory against their greatest enemy.

“Bent” is a harrowing, riveting look at gay love during the decadence and terror of pre-war Germany

We saw Bent when it made its Broadway debut in 1979. Richard Gere and David Dukes were brilliant, as was the harrowing drama.  Forty years later, Bent returns. As a film. Thank you Film Movement Classics.
Set amidst the decadence and terror of pre-war Germany, Bent is a harrowing yet inspirational tale of struggle against oppression, based on the landmark play by Martin Sherman. A chance encounter at a Berlin nightclub exposes Max (portrayed by Clive Owen) and his partner Rudy (Brian Webber) as homosexuals during the “Night of the Long Knives” purge. After two years on the run, they are captured and put on a train to Dachau, where Rudy is savagely beaten to death. Inside the camp, Max finds the will to survive through the help of a fellow prisoner, Horst (Lothaire Bluteau), and the two men develop an unbreakable bond.
Winner of the Prix de la jeunesse (Award of the Youth) at Cannes Critics’ Week in 1997, Bent, which has been digitally restored for optimal home entertainment viewing, was also nominated “Outstanding Film” at the GLAAD Media Awards, and captured the Best Feature Award at the Torino International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
 
What a cast! There are also memorable performances by Clive Owen, Ian McKellen, Mick Jagger, Brian Webber, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Paul Bettany.
A truly remarkable film not to be missed.

“The Elephant in the Room” is a searing and candid exploration of what it’s like to live as a fat man

The skinny on The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America (Simon & Schuster, $27)? The book is a searing, honest, and candid exploration of what it’s like to live as a fat man.

book cover

When he was almost 50 years old, Tommy Tomlinson weighed an astonishing—and dangerous—460 pounds. He was at risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke, unable to climb a flight of stairs without having to catch his breath, or travel on an airplane without buying two seats. Raised in a family that loved food, he had been aware of the problem for years, seeing doctors and trying diets from the time he was a preteen.

But nothing worked, and every time he tried to make a change, it didn’t go the way he planned—in fact, he wasn’t sure that he really wanted to change. He was only one of millions of Americans struggling with weight, body image, and a relationship with food that puts them at major risk. Intimate and insightful, The Elephant in the Room is Tomlinson’s chronicle of meeting those people, taking the first steps towards health, and trying to understand how, as a nation, we got to this point.

From buying a FitBit and setting an exercise goal to contemplating the Heart Attack Grill, America’s “capital of food porn,” and modifying his own diet, Tomlinson brings us along on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery that is a candid and sometimes brutal look at the everyday experience of being constantly aware of your size. Over the course of the book, he confronts these issues head on and chronicles the practical steps he has to take—big and small—to lose weight by the end. 

Jean Case’s new book “Be Fearless” reminds us that fearlessness is not lack of fear but the courage to overcome it 

Take five. In Be Fearless:  5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose (Simon & Schuster, $25), philanthropist, investor and technology pioneer Jean Case brings to life the five principles common to the people and organizations that change the world. She argues that we all have the tools and role models at our disposal to make an impact.

Weaving together memorable stories, practical tips and the message that fearlessness is not lack of fear but the courage to overcome it, Be Fearless provides a clear road map to anyone seeking transformational breakthroughs in life or work. The book features compelling stories of ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things, as well as stories and insights from leaders and innovators like Bill and Melinda Gates, chef and humanitarian José Andrés, global foundation chief Darren Walker, CEO Sara Blakely, humanitarian Eunice Shriver, and many more.

And the book could not be more timely, as Jane Goodall writes in her foreword, “There is no point in history when it has been more important to Be Fearless, overcome our acceptance of the status quo, and step up to make a difference…roll up your sleeves, take action and Be Fearless.”

book cover

Jean’s extensive career in the private sector (including her leadership role at America Online Inc.), as a philanthropist, and as an impact investing pioneer, makes her an ideal advocate for the importance of embracing a more fearless approach to innovation and bringing about transformational breakthroughs—it has always been a core tenet of her work. We all face deep divisions, significant global challenges, and problems that can seem too big and complex even to attempt to solve, and with this book Jean Case issues a clarion call that there has never been a better time to engage.

Stephen King on James Lee Burke’s latest book: He’s “as good as he ever was.”

Don’t take our word how great James Lee Burke’s latest novel, The New Iberia Blues (Simon & Schuster, $27.99), is.  Stephen King hails him “as good as he ever was.” Michael Connelly gushes that Burke proves that he “remains the heavyweight champ, a great American novelist whose work, taken individually or as a whole, is unsurpassed”.

Wow. Times two.

In his new tome, Burke  takes his beloved protagonist, Detective Dave Robicheaux, from the dark corners of Hollywood to the backwoods of Louisiana after the shocking death of a young woman. Robicheaux’s world isn’t filled with too many happy stories, but Desmond Cormier’s rags-to-riches tale is certainly one of them. Robicheaux first met Cormier on the streets of New Orleans, when the young, undersized boy had foolish dreams of becoming a Hollywood director.

book cover

Twenty-five years later, when Robicheaux knocks on Cormier’s door, it isn’t to congratulate him on his Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. Robicheaux has discovered the body of a young woman who’s been crucified, wearing only a small chain on her ankle. She disappeared near Cormier’s Cyrpemort Point estate, and Robicheaux, along with young deputy, Sean McClain, are looking for answers. Neither Cormier nor his enigmatic actor friend Antoine Butterworth are saying much, but Robicheaux knows better. As always, Clete Purcel and Davie’s daughter, Alafair, have Robicheaux’s back. Clete witnesses the escape of Texas inmate, Hugo Tillinger, who may hold the key to Robicheaux’s case.

As they wade further into the investigation, they end up in the crosshairs of the mob, the deranged Chester Wimple, and the dark ghosts Robicheaux has been running from for years. Ultimately, it’s up to Robicheaux to stop them all, but he’ll have to summon a light he’s never seen or felt to save himself, and those he loves.