Category Archives: DVDs

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best DVDs of the Year

She remains my favorite Christmas Carol. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark TV institution, Time Life has released The Best of The Carol Burnett Show, which includes the best of the best, from all 11 seasons, together for the very first time.

The six-discs feature episodes that haven’t been seen since they originally aired, plus some of Burnett’s most beloved classics on 16 fresh-from-the-vaults episodes. Classic shows include the very first episode with Jim Nabors and the emotional, double-length series finale, as well as some of the best-loved, fan-favorite sketches including “Mrs. Wiggins,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Oldest Man,” “The Family,” As the Stomach Turns, as well as a marathon of movie spoofs, along with commercial spoofs and some amazing bloopers. Once again, I’m so glad we had this time together.

 

Sleeping single in a double bed? Join the biggest names of country music with the time-Life gem CMA Awards Life: Greatest Moments 1968-2015, an attractively packaged DVD collector’s set filled with 127 unforgettable performances from five decades of the nationally-televised ceremony.

Across the 10  discs, home audiences will discover a who’s who of country artists, including Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Trisha Yearwood, Dwight Yoakam, Barbara Mandrell and Tammy Wynette, who stands by her man. Music lovers will thrill to the memorable, once-in-a-lifetime performances including Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” and Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” as well as famous country duets and collaborations including “Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” by Brooks & Dunn and Reba McEntire, and “Lady” by Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie. There’s also a nifty  year-by-year guide to 50 years of Award winners.

Universal has released a handful of must-have DVDs and DVD sets that are paramount to ever movie maven. Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Collection features 15 iconic films from the acclaimed director’s illustrious career, including Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest, plus 10 episodes from his groundbreaking TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Featuring more than 15 hours of insightful bonus features plus an exclusive collectible book, each film has been digitally restored from high resolution film elements for the ultimate Hitchcock experience.  A shower anyone?

Screen legends Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing and dance their way into your heart in one of the most timeless holiday classics ever, Holiday Inn.  The film, in which Crosby plays a song-and-dance man who leaves showbiz to run an inn that is open only on holidays,  features the Oscar-winning song, “White Christmas”. Astaire plays his former partner and rival in love. Holiday Inn [Blu-ray]Follow the two talented pals as they find themselves competing for the affections of the same lovely lady (Marjorie Reynolds). ‘Tis the season for one of the most sensational musical comedies of all time! An extra gift: Holiday Inn 75th Anniversary Edition Crosby includes a new bonus disc featuring the all-new full-length Broadway musical.

Discover the true meaning of the holiday season with the live action adaptation of the beloved classic, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer reimagine one of the most enduring holiday stories of all time. Why is the Grinch (Carrey) such a grouch? No one seems to know, until little Cindy Lou Who takes matters into her own hands and turns both Whoville and the Grinch’s world upside down, inside out. . . . and funny side up. Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas [Blu-ray]Filled with dazzling scenery, special effects, makeup and costumes, this is an adventure even Scrooge would love. Grinch Deluxe Edition Combo Pack features collectible fuzzy green packaging.

Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie Collection features 21 of the funniest movies from the legendary comedian. From his early days in vaudeville to his years as a top Hollywood box-office draw and star of radio, TV and live performances, Bob Hope’s innocent charm and lightning-quick wit have delighted millions of fans throughout the world. Bob Hope: The Ultimate Movie CollectionCo-starring some of the Hollywood’s greatest stars (think Lucille Ball, W.C. Fields, Burns & Allen,  Betty Grable, Paulette Goddard, Jane Russell), this gem will entertain longtime fans and introduce a whole new generation to the unforgettable style of one of the most famous comedians of all time.
Hoping for more Bob? Time Life’s

Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials offers the most complete collection of his television specials ever assembled.  The set contains
19 discs, on which fans will find more than 37 hours of specials, including 20 that have not been seen since their original broadcast, as well as an incredible collection of celebrity guest appearances.

Paula Parkins is such a good girl. Make that was a good girl. She is one of those good-girls-gone-bad who leads her degenerate teenage hellcats down a path of gas station hijackings, pajama party orgies and cold-blooded murder Welcome to Ed Wood’s The Violent Years, an essential exposé on crime, gender politics and sweater-stealing; let us not forget the patently deranged dialogue to the scene where the gang performs a “man attack.”

This Blu-ray new 4K print escaped from Alamo Drafthouse’s American Genre Film Archive (the largest non-profit genre film archive in the world, and Something Weird) and we could not be happier. The bonus tracks are numerous, including gutter-noir trailers from the Something Weird vault,  memorabilia scrapbook and a bonus movie, Anatomy of a Psycho, a new 2K scan from an original theatrical print.

Richard Simmons is still a show-biz heavyweight. For 30 years, he has been helping people lose weight (more than 3,000,000 pounds and counting) and get healthy with his unique enthusiasm, charm and encouragement.  Since opening his first aerobics studio in Beverly Hills in 1974, he has cemented himself in America’s pop-culture psyche with 65 fitness videos (selling over 20 million copies), dozens of infomercials, nine best-selling books, myriad parodies of his over-the-top persona, seemingly endless TV and film appearances and tabloid headlines digging the skinny on him.  Time-Life celebrates the glittery guru with Richard Simmons: Sweatin’ to the Oldies: 30th Anniversary Edition, an energetic six-disc set includes the complete collection of Simmons’ bestselling  workout programs. 

Pairing lively classics from the ’50s and ’60s with rockin’ low impact routines and Simmons’ humorous banter, encouragement and sparkly tank tops, the set offers 41 exercise routines set to rock n’ roll classics. Loaded with extras, this special anniversary set also includes 100 minutes of bonus programming featuring an exclusive interview with Richard, testimonials and success stories from Simmons’  students, a full-color 20-page album of rare personal photos and memories personally selected by Richard and a bonus disc of Love Yourself and Win–Six Steps to Self-Esteem & Permanent Weight Loss.

So what was the fuss about? Director Darren Aronofsky’s film mother! received good reviews, though many whined about the flick’s biblical allegories and depictions of violence. And the controversy continues. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in  mother! (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the visually arresting psychological thriller that will leave your heart pounding and your mind blown.  The film also stars and Michelle Pfeiffer, and stunned critics and audiences around the world. The mother! 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include more 35 minutes of in-depth bonus content. Join Aronofsky and cast as they discuss the production of the movie and take us through its spectacular finale. Plus, check out the incredible makeup effects that made mother! a visual tour de force. We thought we’d share the reason Aronofsky so named the film: the title’s exclamation mark, he says, “reflects the spirit of the film” and corresponds to an “exclamation point” of the ending. “To find out why there’s a lowercase ‘m’, read the credits and look for the letter that isn’t capitalised. Ask yourself what’s another name for this character?”

It’s the series that out the “fun” in “dysfunctional”.   After breaking out from “The Family” sketches on The Carol Burnett Show, Thelma “Mama” Harper’s home-spun humor earned its own well-loved sitcom for six knee-slapping seasons.  Time Life invites all classic TV aficionados and sitcom lovers to spend some quality time (across 130 episodes) with Mama’s Family: The Complete Series.  Remember, Mama always knew best.

Celebrating the Original King of Late Night, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends The Complete Collections is the ultimate 10-disc set bringing together all the greatest moments and Johnny’s most legendary guests from the show’s 30 year, 4,000 episode run.  Carefully selected from the vaults by Carson archivists, this Time Life collection features more than 27 hours of classic Johnny–full, unedited episodes and original commercials from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.  Also included is a memory book filled with incredible and rare archival photos and nearly two hours of bonus features. Let’s say it together: Hereeeeeeeeeeeeee’s Johnny!

Paramount has made film fans an offer they cannot refuse:  The Godfather Trilogy: Omerta Edition. Only 45,000 of these limited edition, numbered sets will be made making it a stunning gift for any fan. Celebrating its 45th anniversary, director Francis Ford Coppola’s opus is widely considered one of the most influential films in cinematic history.  Now the entire epic trilogy is available on Blu-ray in a spectacular 4-disc Omertà Edition, which includes the Coppola Restoration of The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II, as well as the remastered version of The Godfather, Part III. The set includes commentary by Coppola on all three films, a full disc of previously released in-depth special features, as well as exclusive new collectible Trivia Cards, Magnetic Poetry, an Anatomy of a Scene fold out and Quote Cards.

Porno for Xmas? And why not. Bat Pussy isn’t just porno . . . it’s considered one of the worst movies ever made. We’re not sure when it was made and released (possibly released in the early ’70s), but we do know it’s a spoof of the TV series Batman, and the film’s cult following relish the flick’s notoriously poor quality, technical flaws, bizarre dialogue, flaccid dicks, public urination, dildo demonstrations and unattractive stars.

Need more? The director can be heard giving actors directions, a crew member audibly belches during a sex scene and the dialogue includes gems such as My horoscope says “I’m going to fuck you in the nose!” Be honest: Even Mrs. Claus loves Bat Pussy, whose alter ego is Dora Dildo!

First Run Features always releases first-rate DVDs. A quartet of faves:
♥ Life on the Line: Season 3  This Emmy-winning series narrated by Lisa Ling that follows the medical journey of individuals fighting for their life. At hospitals around the nation, people face life and death situations every day. Episode 2: Ebola WarriorsLife on the Line zeroes in on one renowned academic hospital in Southern California. Loma Linda University Health serves one quarter of California and equips medical teams to travel around the world. From surviving Ebola in Western Africa to healing after one of the deadliest terrorist attacks on US soil, the series is an inspiring look into the resilience of humankind.
Ma’ Rosa Actress Jaclyn Jose took home the award for Best Actress at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for her powerful performance as Rosa in this riveting new film from director Brillante Mendoza. Exploring the widespread corruption and chaos of the Philippines in the Duterte era, the film follows Rosa and her husband Nestor, owners of a tiny convenience store who supplement their meager income by selling small amounts of “ice” (crystal meth).

Eventually the couple gets caught and hauled away by police, who are more interested in collecting bribes than eradicating crime. With their parents locked away, it’s left to Rosa’s children to scrounge together the money to pay off the police and free their parents, by any means necessary.
♥ Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe tells the story of the Austrian writer and his life in exile from 1936 to 1942. Zweig was one of the most famous writers of his time, but as a Jewish intellectual he struggled to find the right stance towards the events in Nazi Germany.Image result Driven to emigrate to South America at the peak of his worldwide fame, Zweig fell into despair at the sight of Europe’s downfall. This visually stunning and emotionally powerful film explores what it means to be a refugee, and exposes the difficult decision to speak out or remain silent in the face of tyranny.
♥ The Pulitzer at 100 This documentary by Oscar-winning director Kirk Simon celebrates the centenary of the Pulitzers–the revered national award for excellence in journalism and the arts. The riveting tales of the winning artists give an insider’s view of how these pinnacles of achievement are selected and how the award has the power to change lives and communities. The diverse stories explored in the film relate to immigration, race, gender, and above all freedom of speech–all issues that are ever more relevant in America today.

 Featuring interviews with notable prize recipients (including authors, journalists, playwrights and musicians such as Toni Morrison, Michael Chabon, Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel, Carl Bernstein , Wynton y of the man who created it, also brings Pulitzer-winning works to life through readings by John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Liev Schreiber, Martin Scorsese and Yara Shahidi.

American Genre Film Archive continues to scarce us (sometimes silly) with their gory gamut.  Some faves that will become yours:
♥ The Zodiac Killer Directed by Tom Hanson, who had once owned a chain of Pizza Man restaurants, made this flick in an attempt to capture the real-life Zodiac Killer. That plan didn’t work. Instead, we got the most outrageous and compelling ”tabloid horror” vortex in the history of planet Earth. And beyond.Zodiac Killer, The [Blu-ray + DVD] During theatrical screenings, Hanson constructed in-theater ”traps” to lure the killer from hiding. These included the use of an ice cream freezer filled with rent-a-cops and a raffle with a motorcycle as a prize. Shades of William Castle! This edition is a new 4K scan from the only surviving 16mm blow-up elements. Make sure you listen to Hanson’s commentary!
♥ Ruby No, this movie was not named after my mother. It’s a still relatively-unknown gem brimming with atmosphere and suspense . . . yes, there are enough creepy special effects and blood and gore to satisfy the most demanding genre fans.Ruby [Blu-ray + DVD] Most of it takes place at night, with all kinds of marvelous influences lurking in the shadows. Directed by cult-film director Curtis Harrington and featuring an impressive cast including Piper Laurie (as Ruby, fresh from her starring role in Carrie) and Stuart Whitman. This special BD/DVD combo is the definitive original theatrical version of Ruby, with a 2K restoration, two commentary tracks and more than hours of video interviews and special features.

We remain crazy over Patsy Cline.  She was a trailblazer who defined modern country music, and broke down barriers of gender, class and genre. In her music and her life, she set a standard of authenticity towards which artists still strive. After years of hard work to overcome industry biases and her own personal hardships, she achieved enormous success, only to have it punctured by uncanny premonitions and her untimely death at age 30 in 1963.

When Patsy Cline Was CrazyHer life and legacy is showcased in When Patsy Cline Was … Crazy (UMe), a DVD that collects the acclaimed PBS documentary, Patsy Cline: American Masters, and a wealth of exclusive bonus material comprised of themed additional interview footage and rare vintage performances.  An accompanying booklet includes classic photos of Cline.

Charles Castle, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, looks like he has it all. But his marriage is falling apart and his wife is threatening to leave him if he renews his contract. Studio boss Stanley Shriner Hoff isn’t taking the news too well, and he’ll do anything he can to get his man to sign on the dotted line, even if means exposing dark secrets. Winner of the Silver Lion at the 1955 Venice Film Festival, Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife remains a great piece of film noir. The Big Knife (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] Based on Clifford Odet’s famed stage work, the film boasts a remarkable cast, including Jack Palance, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, Ida Lupino, Jean Hagen and Everett Sloane.

Remember when fading film stars began working in schlocky films and/or TV shows? Some of these treasures exist. Yvonne DeCarlo, John Ireland and John Carradine stars in the hellish Satan’s Cheerleaders (VCI Entertainment). Benedict High School’s cheerleaders aren’t shy and sweet. The football team knows them well . . . and Billy, the school’s disturbed janitor, would like to. In the locker room, the girl’s shower and dress, unaware of the evil eyes which secretly watch them. They don’t know that a curse has been placed on their clothes. Satan's Cheerleaders [Blu-ray + DVD]And they don’t know that their trip to the first big game of the season might sideline them for eternity. Will the cheerleaders succumb to the dark ritual of sexual sacrifice and death that’s been plotted for them? Only those who dare watch will know!

“Masterpiece: The Collection” . . . Who knew that couture could be so cutthroat?

We have told you many times . . .  many, many times . . . that the DVDs released by PBS Distribution are masterpieces. Another wonder: The all-new fashion-centric miniseries Masterpiece: The Collection on DVD and Blu-ray. World War II is over and stylish clothes are back as Paris recovers from the horrors of the Nazi occupation. Richard Coyle, Mamie Gummer and Tom Riley star as a family struggling to build a fashion empire at any cost.

The beautifully shot series won accolades during its UK debut in 2016, with The Telegraph calling it “possibly the most glamorous series on TV,” The Guardian finding it “captivating … glossy and murky at the same time,” and The Huffington Post praising its large cast as “first-rate from top to bottom.”

Indeed!

Focusing on the Sabine family, composed of business-savvy Paul (Coyle), his wealthy American wife, Helen (Gummer), and his brilliant but dissipated designer brother, Claude (Riley), the program also stars Frances de la Tour as Paul and Claude’s overbearing mother, Yvette, who will stop at nothing to advance her boys’ careers—often to their dismay.

Set in 1947, The Collection captures a turbulent era in French history, when partisans hunted down Nazi collaborators and anyone with something to hide shunned the past and embraced the future. Fashion became the perfect expression of this impulse to look ahead. Wartime rationing, drabness, and erotic restraint gave way to alluring displays of color, form, and fabric in women’s clothes—for those who could afford them.

The Sabine family firm is at the forefront of this exciting but ruthless pursuit, and Paul has been chosen by the French government to lead the battle to reclaim the nation’s preeminence in the couture world. Widely regarded as the genius behind his studio’s stunning designs, Paul is in fact purveying the work of his brother, Claude, an unbridled sensualist who can’t restrain his amorous impulses. In free moments, Claude works in a frenzy to sketch new gowns, often consigning them to the wastebasket, where they are retrieved and turned into the Sabine collection’s latest sensations.

Into this superficially elegant universe comes hard-boiled American reporter Stan Rossi (Stanley Townsend) with suspicions about Paul’s past, but so far little to go on. Assigned to photograph a fashion story for Rossi, Billy soon parts company to become the Sabine studio’s official photographer. In the process, he elevates the worker Nina to be the signature model for the firm—much to the chagrin of the reigning top model, Dominique (Poppy Corby-Tuech, who plots revenge.

Adding to the turmoil, police Inspector Bompard (Allan Corduner) enters the picture when Yvette’s scheme to get Claude under control goes horribly awry, leading to an investigation that threatens the entire Sabine enterprise.

Who knew that couture could be so cutthroat?

“The Farthest: Voyager in Space” takes viewers on an exciting exploration

File this DVD under: far Out. PBS Distribution has released The Farthest: Voyager in Space, a new program about NASA’s historic Voyager mission to explore our solar system and beyond. With participation from more than 20 of the original and current mission scientists, engineers and team members, the film tells captivating tales of one of humanity’s greatest achievements in exploration. From supermarket aluminum foil added at the last minute to protect the craft from radiation; to the near disasters at launch; to the emergency maneuvers to fix a crucial frozen instrument platform, viewers will get a sense of how difficult—and rewarding—space exploration can be. The documentary was an official selection in the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival as part of the festival’s Viewpoints program. (DVD includes an 18-minute  bonus feature titled Second Genesis, featuring Cassini mission scientist Carolyn Porco (who also worked on Voyager), exploring the possibility of finding life on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Featuring a soundtrack of evocative period music including songs from Pink Floyd, stunning cinematography, vivid CGI animations of Voyager traversing the solar system, and original groundbreaking photographs taken by the twin spacecraft, the film tells the story of one of humanity’s most ambitious scientific endeavors. Voyager revolutionized planetary science, resolved key questions about the outer planets and raised intriguing new ones about the evolution of our solar system. Originally approved to travel only to Saturn and Jupiter, the spacecraft used gravity-assisted slingshot trajectories to take advantage of a once-in-176-year planetary alignment to extend their missions, with Voyager 2 also visiting Uranus and Neptune.

After completing its mission to Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 1 turned its camera inward and, at the insistence of the eloquent and insightful astronomer Carl Sagan, took one of the most famous images of Earth ever captured. As described by Sagan in the film, the image showed Earth as a pale blue dot on which “everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives . . .  on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

The two spacecraft, equipped with a fraction of the computing power of a modern cell phone, sent back unprecedented images and data from all four outer planets and many of their moons. As they continue their journey into interstellar space, they carry with them a literal record of our existence that may outlive us all. Sagan was one of the masterminds behind perhaps Voyager’s most iconic feature, The Golden Record, which carries greetings, music and images from Earth to intelligent beings they may one day encounter. The program reveals how this famous record was created and how it presents humanity to any creatures that may find it.

Four decades after they left Earth, Voyager 1 has traveled more than 12 billion miles and Voyager 2 more than 10 billion. Both nuclear-powered spacecraft continue to send back data. In 2012, Voyager 1, which is traveling at more than 320 million miles per year, became the first human-made object to leave the bubble of our solar system—ushering humanity into the interstellar age.

Robert Redford demonstrates how lightning was caught in a bottle . . . musIc to your ears!

Teresa Brewer suggested we put another nickel in the Nickelodeon so we could hear “music, music, music!”

Now Robert Redford steps up to the plate (or platter) by narrating American Epic, the essential that explores the pivotal recording journeys at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology captured the breadth of American music and discovered the artists that would shape our world. PBS Distribution has released this journey back in time to the “Big Bang” of modern popular music. 

In the ’20s, as radio took over the pop music business, record companies were forced to leave their studios in major cities in search of new styles and markets. Ranging the mountains, prairies, rural villages, and urban ghettos of America, they discovered a wealth of unexpected talent. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. Country singers in the Appalachians, Blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, Gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, Native American drummers in Arizona, and Hawaiian musicians were all recorded. For the first time, a woman picking cotton in Mississippi, a coalminer in Virginia or a tobacco farmer in Tennessee could have their thoughts and feelings heard on records played in living rooms across the country. It was the first time America heard itself.

Virtually no documentation of these extraordinary events survives and nearly ninety percent of the recording masters have been destroyed. A vital part of American cultural history has been lost.

Over three episodes, narrated by Redford, American Epic rescues this history. The remarkable lives of these seminal musicians are revealed through previously unseen film footage and photographs, and exclusive interviews with music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses to the era. 

 American Epic represents a 10-year odyssey undertaken by director Bernard MacMahon and producers Allison McGourty and Duke Erikson, and audio engineer Nicholas Bergh that involved tracking down countless long forgotten musicians, restoring the music that they recorded and reassembling the technology that created it. Along the way they brought some of the most important figures in contemporary culture to help them on their quest. Executive Producers Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford have lent their support to what Redford calls “America’s greatest untold story”. 

The DVD also includes the feature-length film The American Epic Sessions for which the team has reassembled the very first electrical sound recording system from the ‘20s, and invited Jack White and T Bone Burnett to produce an album of recordings by twenty of today’s greatest artists. In this beautifully filmed musical feature, these artists are given the chance to pass through the portal that brought the world into the modern era.

Engineer Nicholas Bergh has reassembled this recording system from original parts and it is now the only one left in the world. The system consists of a single microphone, a towering six-foot amplifier rack, and a live record-cutting lathe, powered by a weight-driven pulley system of clockwork gears. The musicians have roughly three minutes to record their song direct to disc before the weight hits the floor. In the ’20s, they called this “catching lightning in a bottle.” All the musical performances in this film are live. The audio you hear is taken directly from the discs they were recorded to, with no editing or enhancements. 

 

Fly the friendly skies . . . and visit some of the scariest airports

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s super, man.

City in the Sky, a three-part BBC-PBS co-production now on DVD, goes behind the scenes with rare access to showcase what keeps hundreds of thousands of flights aloft daily. At any given moment, more than one million people are traveling by airplane, in 100,000 daily flights moving 30,000 feet above the Earth. This airborne metropolis and the armies of professionals needed to make it all work are captured.  From hidden cities of luggage below ground to the steady hands guiding flights around the globe, the program goes behind the scenes with rare access to uncover the invisible global networks and complex logistics that have allowed air travel to soar to new heights.

From the coldest airport in the world (in Yakutsk, Russia), to one of the busiest (in Atlanta, Georgia), to the most dangerous (in the Himalayan town of Paro, below), the series takes viewers to remote, little known places such as the world’s largest luggage storage facility and the storage tanks in Europe and southeast America that hold and transport millions of gallons of jet fuel through underground pipes.

Credit:  wikipedia

Though international in scope, the program highlights key American airports and aviation hot spots coast-to-coast, including:

· Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, one of the three busiest in the world and America’s most advanced in passenger and airline traffic flow

· Phoenix’s MedAire, Inc., at Banner University Medical Center, where a team of doctors and emergency specialists is on-call 24/7 to help cabin crews with mid-air medical crises

· Seattle’s Boeing facility, which has developed a radical new material that has led to the biggest change in airplane design since the ’20s

· The Bangor, Maine International Airport, which boasts the size of a major international hub because it serves as the first U.S. point of arrival for troubled airliners crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The program gives viewers a new appreciation for the paper stub or digital ticket that unlocks a precisely choreographed journey that starts the moment they walk into an airport terminal. Signage, lighting and flooring are designed to keep travelers on a flowing path to their gates. Vast underground machines give baggage the ride of its life from check-in to pick-up.  Even non-consumer-facing parts of the industry bring fascination: the world’s largest cargo storage in China, for example, sees one-fifth of all global shipping come through its facility.

A short recap of each episode follows:

“Departure”
Learn what it takes to get a million people off the ground—from building the world’s biggest passenger plane to controlling the flow of passengers through the busiest airport on the planet to the perils of takeoff in the coldest city on Earth.

“Airborne”
Examine the hidden army that keeps your plane safe, and explore just what it takes to keep the “city in the sky” functioning and safe between take-off and landing. Learn why flying has become safer than ever.

“Arrival”
What goes up must come down—and getting passengers safely back to earth depends on complex global networks and some astonishing technology. Around the world, 100,000 flights a day make touchdown—almost every one safely. Learn what’s involved.

Finally! “Funeral Parade of Roses”, Toshio Matsumoto’s queer masterpiece, hits Blu-ray

A question (and answer) to place somehow in your brain should you ever get on Jeopady! The answer: Funeral Parade of Roses. The query: What film did Stanley Kubrick cite as a direct influence on his dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange?

Long unavailable in the U.S., director Toshio Matsumoto’s shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late ’60s. It’s a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queen bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara. The flick drags into stores November 17.

An unknown club dancer at the time, transgender actor Peter  gives an astonishing Edie Sedgwick/Warhol superstar-like performance as hot young thing Eddie, hostess at Bar Genet — where she’s ignited a violent love-triangle with reigning drag queen Leda (played by Osamu Ogasawara) for the attentions of club owner Gonda (Yoshio Tsuchiya).

One of Japan’s leading experimental filmmakers, Matsumoto bends and distorts time, freely mixing documentary interviews; Brechtian film-within-a-film asides; Oedipal premonitions of disaster; his own avant-garde shorts; even on-screen cartoon balloons, into a dizzying whirl of image and sound. Featuring breathtaking black-and-white cinematography by Tatsuo Suzuki that rivals the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, the film offers a frank, openly erotic and unapologetic portrait of an underground community of drag queens.

Who must we 感謝 for a key work of the Japanese New Wave and of queer cinema? Cinelicous Pics and The Cinefamily, who have beautifully restored the film in 4k from the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements.

Dastardly and dramatic and a heaping of unctuous piety: Welcome “Poldark Season 3”

The election results are in from yesterday . . . but we always knew PBS Distribution would continue being a winner by releasing Poldark Season 3 on DVD and Blu-ray. Does George Warleggan finally have the upper hand against his archenemy, Ross Poldark? Can George’s growing power in Cornwall cement his control over the fate of his populist foe? Dream on! Follow the latest thrilling exploits of Ross Poldark and his fiery partner, Demelza, starring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson as the intrepid eighteenth-century duo.

The new season costars Jack Farthing as the dastardly George and Heida Reed as his bewitching wife, Elizabeth, now estranged from her first love, Ross—or is she? Also returning are Caroline Blakiston as Ross’s crusty Aunt Agatha, whose passion in life is tormenting George; Beatie Edney as the irascible servant Prudie; Luke Norris as stalwart Dr. Dwight Enys; and Gabriella Wilde as Dwight’s secret fiancée, the fetching heiress Caroline Penvenen.

Last season, TV Guide was captivated by Poldark’s “myriad pleasures, not the least of which is Aidan Turner’s swarthy charisma as the chivalrous and perilously proud crusader of Cornwall . . . Poldark is the sort of great escape you would be foolish to resist.”

Critics have been equally enthralled with Season 3, which recently aired in the UK. London’s The Independent lauded the “action-filled opener,” with its panoply of plot developments that “helped the atmospheric drama gallop out of the starting blocks.”

And gallop it does. Episode one introduces fresh doubts about the paternity of Elizabeth’s impending baby, along with some consequential new characters, including Ellise Chappell as Elizabeth’s pretty cousin Morwenna. Hired as the governess for Elizabeth’s young son (by her previous marriage to Poldark’s cousin Francis), Morwenna is soon a pawn in George’s grand game to win political influence.

Morwenna would prefer to share company with Demelza’s strapping brother Drake, a lay minister played by Harry Richardson, but George intends her to marry the recently widowed Reverend Whitworth, portrayed with unctuous piety by Christian Brassington. Whitworth gives every indication of being a rank libertine, to the horror of the upright and innocent Morwenna. Meanwhile, George manages to abuse every privilege he accrues in his ruthless climb to power.

Also enlivening the new season are a mysterious plague of frogs, a thwarted famine, and Aunt Agatha’s eagerly anticipated one-hundredth birthday party, which has a catastrophic catch. But the most stirring action involves the French Revolution, which manages to ensnare one of the program’s main characters in its Reign of Terror, prompting Poldark’s most dangerous mission yet.

Perhaps even more perilous—at least for his psyche—is Ross’s cooling attitude toward Demelza. Reckless to a fault, he appears to be throwing it all away—a magistracy, a seat in Parliament, his lands, and even his red-haired beauty. What on earth could he be thinking?

Prepare for great TV viewing with these must-own DVDs from Public Media Distribution

Now  it’s public knowledge: Public Media Distribution has release some nifty DVDs that belong in everyone’s library.

Carnivals have a delightful place in the American imagination, with childhood memories of family fun, fantasy and summer nights. But rising expenses and changes in U.S. labor patterns have caused many employers to find labor outside of U.S. borders.

Filmed over the span of six years, Farewell Ferris Wheel follows a carnival owner, a labor-recruiter and workers from a small town in Mexico who join the carnival legally on seasonal visas. ​The program is an honest on-the-ground portrait of the financial, emotional, and physical challenges they all face.


With insights from several internationally notable scholars of mythology and literature, Tolkien & Lewis: Myth, Imagination & the Quest for Meaning engages these scholars while challenging viewers to draw their own conclusions about the meaning of life and the role that mythology and imagination play in determining belief.

On a dreary September evening in 1931, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their friend and fellow scholar, Hugo Dyson, met for dinner in Lewis’s Magdalen College dormitory in Oxford, England. Lewis’s transformation from atheist to theist to Christian was based on the insights of Tolkien and Dyson as they engaged in deep conversation about mythology, reality, ritual, imagination, and faith. The program explores the fundamental characteristics of myth with an emphasis on how myth impacts our lives.


The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Saving Private Ryan is an intimate and behind the scenes look at the inspiration for one of the greatest war films ever made. The multi Oscar-winning “Saving Private Ryan” captures the sheer horror and brutality of combat that the men of World War II had to experience.

Known for its realism, the film was selected in 2014 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. So, was there a real Private Ryan? Uncover the real story behind this Hollywood blockbuster as the program conducts tests with weapons experts and gains insight from war historians. Viewers also hear the moving testimony of soldiers who landed at Normandy and meet the families whose tragic stories inspired the film that won five Oscars including Best Director in 1998.


Another look at wartime history: The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Platoon. The Oscar-winning anti-war film Platoon brought the true horror of the Vietnam War to the big screen. Based on filmmaker Oliver Stone’s own experiences as a soldier in the conflict, the film captivated millions of viewers all over the world. Yet how much of the film was real and how much was Hollywood fiction?

To reveal the real story, the program recreates scenes, and uncovers a radio transmission from the battle that inspired the movie’s climax. The program also includes interviews with Stone and cast member Willem Dafoe.

 


Even wee ones can savor the fun. Rose Cinderella thinks she is a regular teenager, but things change when she finds a magic key unlocking a world where fairy tales come to life!  Rose Cinderella quite literally falls into Fairy Tale Land and discovers that Cinderella is not only her grandmother but also the headmistress of Regal Academy, a school where fairy tale families teach the next generation how to become heroes. The fun is framed in Regal Academy: Rose Cinderella in Fairy Tale Land.

 

 


The film series Pirates of the Caribbean presents the buccaneer lifestyle of pirates as a back-stabbing, high-living, hard-drinking world. It makes for an entertaining series, but is it a true depiction of the times? Enter  The Smithsonian Channel’s The Real Story: Pirates of the Caribbean.

Historical evidence of real pirates shows that amidst the lawless merriment, pirates actually formed a highly organized society, where democracy ruled and voting and healthcare preceded England by a hundred years. The program interviews historians, weaponry experts, and one of the film’s screenwriters to show how true pirate adventures inspired the films.


The Special Air Service is the world’s most famous combat unit with the motto “Who Dares Wins”.  Yet the story of how it came into existence has been, until now, a closely guarded secret. For the first time, the SAS has agreed to open up its archive and allow Ben Macintyre to reveal the true story of their formation during the darkest days of World War II.

With unprecedented access to the SAS secret files, unseen footage and exclusive interviews with its founding members, SAS Rogue Warriors tells the remarkable story behind an extraordinary fighting force.

 

 


An instant box office smash when it was released in 1977, the sci-fi flick Close Encounters of the Third Kind grossed over 300 million dollars and was nominated for eight Oscars. Now audiences can get a glimpse into the actual events that inspired the classic film.

Few realize the film was inspired by a series of reported UFO sightings in Michigan in the summer of 1966, and witness testimonies given to a U.S. Government investigation about alien abduction are just a few events examined in The Real Story: Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Part of Smithsonian Channel’s original series The Real Story, this intriguing program allows viewers to separate science-based fact from science fiction.

It investigates the original cases that inspired the film–from the Michigan UFO chase to the first and most famous case of claimed alien abduction in the US, the Betty and Barney Hill abduction. Using modern technology, a re-examination of government documents puts old witness testimonies to the test.

 

Spend time with Babs Streisand gabbing while on her shrink’s couch

Looking to relax on the couch and read about Babs’ loves and lifestyle? Yearning to learn just what makes Mrs. James Brolin tick (and tock)?

The On the Couch series by Alma Bond, Ph.D. gives readers an opportunity to discover the “secret” lives of Marilyn, Hillary and Jackie O through the eyes of renowned New York psychoanalyst, Dr. Darcy Dale. According to the powers-that-be, “the fictionalized biographies provided a unique and revealing perspective of their lives.”

In Barbra Streisand: On the Couch  (Bancroft Press, $27.95), Bond captures the details found in other biographies dedicated to the life of Babs in a way that provides deep insight into her personality and character. Dr. Darcy Dale―a Madhattan psychiatrist whose expertise is confronted by Babs, dismayed after 30 years of minimally successful therapy.

Throughout a year, Dr. Dale conducts an intimate psychoanalysis, breaking through ego defense mechanisms, and repressions to go deep into the heart and mind of one of America’s last remaining superstars. Babs’ many dimensions come alive as we hear her story in her own words. She fluctuates between self-inflation and insecurity. She cracks wise. She becomes angry. She weeps. For better or worse, Dr. Dale sees her client in all of her raw, most human, aspects, giving readers unprecedented access to her pain and joy.

Babs is funny, a bit abrasive, but very intelligent. Bond provides interesting insights into what Barbra could have been thinking during pinnacle times in her life, and her state of mind from a psychoanalyst’s point of view. While this book is technically fiction, the facts themselves are all true. Only the thoughts and feelings attributed to Barbra are fictitious, along with the story of her “analysis.” Dr. Bond’s extensive research into the life of Streisand, along with her professional knowledge of psychology and her beautiful style of writing, give fans of Barbra’s work and her persona fresh insight into a complicated woman, making this biography “thoroughly enjoyable,” according to Kitty Kelley, who used to write unauthorized celeb bios about every three days.

The book contains no photographs (an obvious money/legal reason) but a slew of rather unattractive illustrations. Funny, girl.

 

PBS offers another chance to relive the majesty of the August 21 total solar eclipse

It will be one of those questions . .  . Where were you on August 21, 2017?

Millions were watching the first total solar eclipse since 1979, and the first to cross the USA since 1918. This extraordinary cosmic spectacle passed through 14 states and everyone in the continental U.S. had the opportunity to see at least a partial eclipse, possibly making it the most widely viewed American eclipse of all time.

Relive the excitement without those special solar glasses with Nova: Eclipse Over America. PBS Distribution makes the DVD available on November 14. The program will also be available for digital download.

Eclipse Over America is an amazing presentation of this spectacular celestial event. The program followed teams working on the forefront of solar science and solar storm detection, incorporating immersive CGI animation to reveal the sun’s secret mechanisms, stunning sequences of the eclipse itself, NASA footage, and more.