Category Archives: DVDs

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best DVDs and Box Sets (Part One)

Rock ‘n roll! Pin-up girls! Hot rods and hotter fashion! Welcome to the documentary It’s a Rockabilly World (Virgil Films). Directed by the award winning Brent Huff, the film focuses on the vibrant scene known as “rockabilly” and the people who follow this subculture religiously.unnamed-2 The term dates back the mid-’50s, where it was coined to describe the rock ‘n roll played by hillbillies, by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The flick details its humble beginnings to the global sensation it is today, not only in the United States but in Europe, South Africa and Japan. The colorful cast brings you right onto the rockabilly scene-describing how and why they fall in love with this cultural phenomenon.

The action of Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures: Complete Season One (Disney) begins after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and before Return of the Jedi and follows a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from battle debris strewn throughout the galaxy. Recycling runts!s-l1600-6 When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact—the Kyber Saber—his world is turned upside down, and he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire to restore peace and freedom to the galaxy. The Freemakers explore new worlds, meet new and familiar characters and learn the meaning of family. Relive all 13 action-packed episodes in one nifty set. And no, you;re not hearing things: The voice of Lando Calrissian is that of Billy Dee Williams, reprising his role from the original film series.

RuPaul has his queens. And the Kingdom of Avalor has theirs. After saving her enchanted kingdom from an evil sorceress, Princess Elena must now reign as Crown Princess until she’s old enough to become Queen. s-l1600-7She has help: With her sister Isabel, magical flying jaquins, and her friends Naomi, Royal Wizard Mateo and Royal Guard Gabe by her side, this empowered Princess will do her best to rule Avalor with bravery and compassion. Disney’s most inspiring new leader embarks on a heroic journey to restore her kingdom to greatness and prove she’s ready to rule. Such is the wonder of Elena of Avalor (Disney).

We know the story well: Ben-Hur is the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother Messala, an officer in the Roman army. The story’s highlight still remains the chariot race: Both the 1925 silent film version, starring gay icon Ramon Navarro as Ben-Hur, and the 1959 blockbuster remain memorable with Biblical proportions. (Three were two other adaptations of the 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace: The 1907 silent film starring Herman Rottger and the 2003 animated film with Ben-Hur voiced by Heston.) ben-hurA new version hit theaters earlier this year, starring Jack Huston in the title role. The breathtaking action-adventure,from Paramount Home Media Distribution, is a great adventures, especially on Blu-ray!

If you missed the critical acclaim (think applause, then more applause) director Andrew Neel’s gripping drama Goat received at its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, ask Santa for the Paramount Home Media Distribution DVD. goat-2016-hollywood-full-movie-dvdrip-1-4gb-download Based on Brad Land’s memoir, the film follows a 19-year-old Brad (played by Ben Schnetzer), newly arrived to college and desperate to belong.  Taking a cue from his older brother Brett (Nick Jonas), Brad decides to pledge a fraternity.  At first, it’s all parties and girls, but as Brad enters into the final stretch of the pledging ritual—known as “hell week”—things take a violent, humiliating turn.  What occurs in the name of ‘brotherhood’ tests both boys and their relationship in brutal ways.

True cinephiles crave everything Cohen Film Collection releases. Trust us and check out the wide array of flicks at cohenmedia.net. Santa will get a long list. One must-have: Merchant Ivory’s undisputed masterpieces Howards End, in a gorgeous new 4k restoration on Blu-ray and DVD. This adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel won multiple prizes including three Academy Awards, with Emma Thompson picking up Best Actress.unnamed-1 A saga of class relations and changing times in an Edwardian England on the brink of modernity, the film centers on the interwoven fates and misfortunes of these three families and the diverging trajectories of the two sisters’ lives are connected to the ownership of Howards End, the beloved country home. A compelling, brilliantly acted study of one woman’s struggle to maintain her ideals and integrity in the face of Edwardian society’s moribund conformist values.

Only producer Lorne Michaels could make our Saturday nights live with laughter. Witness: Brother Nature (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the outrageous new comedy about family, friendship and fish.  Roger, a straight-laced politician, has big plans to propose to his dream girl at her family’s lake house. But everything goes awry when he meets his potential brother-in-law Todd: A full-time camp counselor with a heart of gold and a wild sense of fun, pining to be Roger’s best friend, and ultimately catapulting him into a series of unfortunate events.brothernature-570x300
As Roger tries to take a stand amidst outrageous fishing excursions, propulsive water jetpacks and American history-themed musicals, he realizes that being a part of a new family may be more difficult than he’d thought.

Perhaps the most touching and important film of the year: When two pregnant cows were trapped in an over-turned rig on the 210 Freeway in March, the City of Los Angeles’ SMART, a specialized mobile animal rescue team, was called in to save them. The team, the first of its kind in the United States, is a uniquely trained unit within the Animal Services division that risks life and limb to rescue domestic and wild animals in the most precarious situations. An award-winning documentary film, SMART: Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team (Cinema Libre Studio), captures the heart and soul of this team as they battle to save LA’s animals.

Since SMART’s formation in 2009, the self-trained team has saved nearly 1,000 animals . . . domestic, wild, and abused animals of all kinds. The team of 12 Animal Control Officers, represent the cultural melting pot that is this city, and has a 100% save rate. Due to SMART’s distinctive training, it can respond to calls that other emergency responders and Animal Control Officers are not equipped to handle, as seen in the film when they are called in to help Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) after a buck gets trapped in his backyard.
In the last seven years, team members have spent almost $80,000 dollars of their own money to assist with expenses not covered by the department’s budget. Says Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette, SMART’s role is “to show people that the impossible is possible.”
A truly remarkable team and their story.

Based on the phenomenal bestselling book series by acclaimed author James Patterson, Maximum Ride has landed on DVD
from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  Patterson’s book series spent 144 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and has spawned 11 Manga comics. 91ze3jndmyl-_sl1500_ The film brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly who are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist.  Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers”, confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.

Time Life is releasing several new-to-retail collections of episodes from the first five years of her  show with The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes–Classic Carol. This must-have series, unveiled by Time Life in 2015, features original, uncut broadcast episodes from Seasons 1-5 (1967-1972), unseen by the public in more than 40 years–no reruns, streaming video, DVDs or any other format. Until now.   Fans  will have the opportunity to restore their CB connections and tune in to rediscover what made the program tick and stick around as one of the best hours on TV.
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The 6-disc set  features 14 episodes, as they originally aired on television, and showcases some of the most acclaimed and beloved moments from “The Carol Burnett Show” including classic sketches “The Old Folks,” “Carol and Sis,” “The Ham Actors,” and “As the Stomach Turns;” TV spoofs including the ever-popular commercials; movie parody presentations from Tearjerker Theatre, Insomnia Theatre, and The Early Early Show; and guest stars including Lucille Ball, Ken Berry, George Carlin, Ray Charles, Cass Elliot, Robert Goulet, Bernadette Peters, Debbie Reynolds and Lana Turner. There’s also a 3-disc set (features seven episodes) and the single disc  that includes three episodes.

Specially-created bonus features are also available on both the 6-disc and 3-disc sets and include “A Writers’ Roundtable: A Conversation with The Carol Burnett Show‘s Writers” and interviews with show dancer and choreographer Randy Doney and ballet dancer Edward Villella.  The 6-disc collection also features several bonus shows, including “The Garry Moore Show” episodes featuring the original “Accidents” and “Princess of Morovia” sketches.

Your favorite pizza-loving heroes return in an epic new adventure loaded with wall-to-wall laughs. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Paramount Home Media Distribution), the Heroes in a Half-Shell also will be available in a limited edition two-movie Blu-ray giftset with collectible metal lunchbox. Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo are back to battle bigger, badder villains, alongside April O’Neil and a newcomer: the hockey-masked vigilante Casey Jones.152bc4ff-842d-4ee6-879c-6a3c4af5e87e_1-26522b32e3088bd56cb2b1bf0f1f9643 After supervillain Shredder escapes custody, he joins forces with two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady, to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater threat with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.

We cannot stand hip-hop or rap or any other such noise. But we did find the miniseries Streets of Compton (Lionsgate) fascinating as we witnessed the rise of West Coast hip-hop. Produced and narrated by rapper The Game, this miniseries brings unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to hip-hop’s origins, exploring the rise of music legends like NWA and Dr. Dre told through the eyes of its current and former residents. unnamed-1Compton is a place most people have never seen and the truth isn’t always pretty. Streets of Compton tells the story of how a city overrun by gangs and violence became a cultural powerhouse. Hip-hop superstar The Game takes us on a dark yet redemptive journey into the heart of his city.

We got out kicks from Kicks (Universal Studios Home Entertainment). In Justin Tipping’s feature debut, nothing is as simple as it seems. Fifteen-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy; assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone — even his best friends.a17ne5ymmgl-_sl1500_ Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood, Flaco. Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.

“9/11 Inside the Pentagon” offers first-hand accounts of the attack we must never forget

America marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S., a nightmare we just never forget. PBS Distribution offers 9/11 Inside the Pentagon on DVD, a documentary which reveals new, first-hand accounts of the attack that took place at the heart of the country’s military headquarters–an attack in which 184 people from inside the building and on board American Airlines flight 77 perished.

While most of the media coverage of the events of September 11 focused on New York City and United Flight 93, the story of what happened inside the Pentagon on that tragic day has never truly been told. Until now.

Produced by Lone Wolf Media, 9/11 Inside the Pentagon revisits the events of 9/11 from the perspective of those who were in Washington, DC, working at or near the Pentagon. Using exclusive first-person interviews with Pentagon personnel, first responders, aviation experts and journalists, as well as rarely seen Department of Defense footage taken from inside the Pentagon after the attack, the special tells the story of heroism and perseverance in the face of unimaginable, life-threatening obstacles.

Unlike those in New York City who were completely taken by surprise, those in Washington, DC, followed the news coming out of New York and realized than unaccounted-for flights still in the air would likely target significant, symbolic and strategic sites in the nation’s capital–including the Pentagon.

In the chaos that followed after Flight 77 struck the Pentagon, a group of workers inside would crawl through black smoke and pools of jet fuel looking for an exit, only to find themselves trapped behind a newly installed blast-proof window that was impossible to break open; emotional clashes over jurisdiction would break out between Pentagon personnel and first responders trying to find survivors in the wreckage; smoke would threaten to incapacitate the National Military Command Center; and an unaccounted-for plane would pose the threat of yet another strike.

Among those interviewed in the film are those who experience the attack first-hand: Steve Carter, assistant building operations manager at the Pentagon; first responders Mike Regan, Alan Wallace and Ed Hannon; Pentagon personnel Captain William J. Toti (U.S. Navy, retired) and Colonel Marilyn Wills (US Army, retired); air traffic controller Colin Scoggins; structural engineer Leo Titus; and Washington Post reporter Steve Vogel.

TV pioneer Norman Lear is impossible to stifle. PBS celebrates his career in “Just Another Version of You”

We call it 90 minutes of good times. How else would you explain a PBS special–the first documentary about the television legend– celebrating the career of Norman Lear? Savor American Masters: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You on Blu-ray and DVD.  Enjoyed the special on PBS? Take note that the home releases include more than 12 minutes of bonus features.

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Bea Arthur and Bill Macy in an episode of “Maude”.

Largely responsible for the explosion of bold American television in the ’70s, the writer/producer is synonymous with the sitcom. With unprecedented access to Lear, his work and his massive personal archives, the special combines stories from his turbulent childhood and early groundbreaking TV success (think All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Maude) and social activism.

The documentary also features colorful stories from Lear’s family, friends and collaborators, including John Amos, George Clooney, Alan Horn, Bill Moyers, Rob Reiner, Phil Rosenthal and Russell Simmons, as well as cinéma vérité moments with Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Jon Stewart, Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham.

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Rob Reiner and Carroll O’Connor bickering (as usual) in “All in the Family”.

Breaking down the fourth wall to create an evocative collage where past and present intermingle, Oscar-nominated filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady reveal a psychologically rich man whose extraordinary contributions emerge from both his personal story and his own self-professed childlike view of the world.

The documentary traces how a poor Jewish kid from Connecticut started writing for The Colgate Comedy Hour with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, created All in the Family and became one of TV’s most successful showrunners.

All character-driven, with theatrical sets and live audiences, Lear’s TV series changed not only the face of national television but the content of national discourse. Bringing provocative subjects like war, poverty and prejudice to 120 million viewers every week, Lear proved that social change was possible through an unlikely prism–laughter–and created some of the greatest moments in television history.

Co-produced by Ewing and Grady’s Loki Films and THIRTEEN’s American Masters series, Just Another Version of You doesn’t shy away from the controversies Lear stirred with his TV series and advocacy organization People For the American Way (PFAW). The documentary also highlights his later years touring the country with the Declaration of Independence and promoting his memoir Even This I Get to Experience, spending time with his tight-knit family, and developing new productions.

Look at this way: Lear can never be stifled.

Premiere pitmaster Aaron Franklin serves up some might tasty menus

More food for thought, served by PBS Distribution and premiere pitmaster Aaron Franklin. Feast on BBQ With Franklin, 10 half-hour episodes that celebrate the traditions, techniques and histories passed along through generations, while serving up a new take on this distinctly American passion. The tour guide for this adventure is the owner and chief firestarter at Austin’s Franklin Barbecue, Aaron Franklin, widely regarded as one of the most influential pitmasters in the U.S.

Part pilgrimage, part noble quest, the series brings viewers into Franklin’s world as he visits notable BBQ joints and their legendary masters, tries new recipes, answers burning questions such as “Is it done yet?” and shovels wood at his own BBQ pits.

BBQ With Franklin is based on the popular YouTube web series of the same name, created and launched in 2012 by KLRU-TV, Austin PBS. The broadcast series serves as an entertaining blueprint for barbecue buffs as Franklin treks across Texas, talking with big thinkers in the world of barbecue, from an old-timer pit boss to today’s game-changing BBQ artisans. The journey is full of experiments and detours, as Franklin cooks brisket in his backyard, builds his own smoker from scratch (out of a 250 gallon propane tank) and ponders whether or not to go whole hog by barbecuing a whole hog. Along the way, the Master of Central Texas ’cue serves up some of his hard-won knowledge and unlocks the secrets behind truly great barbecue for the backyard pitmaster.

Aaron Franklin’s interest in BBQ started with the backyard cookouts that he and wife, Stacy, would throw. When they opened up a small barbecue trailer on the side of an Austin, Texas, interstate in 2009, they had no idea what they’d gotten themselves into. Today, Franklin Barbecue has grown into the most popular, critically-lauded and obsessed-over barbecue joint in the country (if not the world)—and Franklin, a 2015 James Beard winner, is the recipient of every major barbecue award there is, including Texas Monthly’s coveted Best Barbecue Joint in Texas award and Bon Appétit’s Best Barbecue Joint in America. Six days a week, crowds stand in line for hours for a taste of his mouth-watering brisket. Franklin’s barbecue has been celebrated by everyone from Jimmy Kimmel to Anthony Bourdain to President Obama.

Seconds anyone?

“Craft in America: Teachers” offers an inside look into artists who share creative lessons

PBS Distribution teaches us another valuable lesson by releasing the eighth season of Craft in America: Teachers, the Peabody Award-winning series. This time ’round, the program delves into artists committed to sharing the skills and passion for craft with students of all ages.

Craft in America: Teachers takes an inclusive approach to education and craft, emphasizing that it is never too early–or too late–to acquire skills and appreciation for craft. The education covered in this episode starts with kindergarten exploration and discovery; goes through high school and university where the curriculum becomes simultaneously more liberating and challenging; and develops into the curiosity and enthusiasm of lifelong learning.

These artists/teachers are a special breed. They are found in classrooms and workshops ensuring that their hard-earned wisdom and practical skills are passed on. Across the country these craft artists are dedicated to education–inspiring, evaluating, critiquing and praising their students’ achievements.

The program begins with the artistry of Navajo weavers Barbara Teller Ornelas and her sister Lynda Teller Pete, both of whom learned the craft of weaving the time-honored way–through family. Often this method of teaching begins with observation, when skills are absorbed. This legacy of learning is essential to Navajo weavers. The Teller sisters spent summers with their grandparents in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, ancestral home of the Navajo people, in an environment where weaving “is a way of life.”

In early childhood they were introduced to weaving by their mother, Ruth Teller, who instilled the belief that beauty and harmony should be woven into every rug. We film as they teach outdoors amidst the extraordinary natural beauty of the Canyon. They recount the story of Spider Woman who, as ancient legend has it, taught the Navajos to weave. Our cameras then move with them to the Idyllwild Arts Native American Arts Program, where in the summer, they teach the practice of Navajo weaving atop a mountain overlooking Palm Springs, California.

The program travels to Honolulu, Hawaii, where artist Mark Mitsuda introduces professional glass forming techniques to his students at Punahou School. In 1972, his mentor Hugh Jenkins started the high school glass program at Punahou, using recycled milk and mayonnaise bottles as raw materials. Mitsuda took charge of the program after Jenkins’ retirement in 1998. Since its inception, participation in the program has doubled. Underscoring the inter-generational mission of teaching, Mitsuda says that what he learned from Jenkins, he now passes on to his own students.

“I feel fortunate to be teaching something that I feel passionate about and being able to inspire other people in the place that inspired me to first go into glassblowing.” Mitsuda’s early work was a balance between conceptual and functional, slowly he was drawn back to making objects of utility which he finds in his teaching especially, carry tremendous meaning for the student in the process of learning.

The program next travels to Omaha, Nebraska, where Therman Statom, a major figure of the Studio Glass Movement, decided to start programs for underserved inner city students and economically challenged youth.

“I think teaching is the highest form of advocacy in terms of influencing the world or having the chance to be a part of something that you can change,” he explains. Cameras capture Statom at work in his studio and the excitement of his class at the Hot Shops Art Center, witnessing how art and glass blowing inspires youth.

Alfred, New York is home to Alfred University, School of Art and Design. Here, students perfect their craft and learn to become professional artists. The College of Ceramics includes a graduate program where conceptual thinking elevates the approach to clay. Professor Linda Sikoradescribes the program: “We teach many disciplines alongside what might be more strictly categorized as craft. This is deliberate and allows our students to become broad thinking in terms of visual and material culture regardless of how they specialize. It is also, I believe, what keeps our program vital and contemporary.”

Nikola Tesla: PBS remembers the “mad scientist” in a must-see DVD

He’s been dubbed the “patron saint of geeks” and has had electric cars, rock bands, a unit of measurement, a minor planet and a lunar crater named after him. Yet visionary scientist Nikola Tesla is still relatively unknown, eclipsed by contemporaries such as Edison and Marconi. And he died impoverished and largely forgotten.

During his lifetime, he gained international fame for his invention of a system of alternating current that made possible the distribution of electricity over vast distances and is the basis for the electrical grid that powers 21st century life. But the visionary Tesla imagined much more—robots, radio, radar, remote control, the wireless transmission of messages and pictures, and harnessing the wind and sun to provide free energy to all.

A showman, he dazzled his scientific peers who flocked to see him demonstrate his inventions and send thousands of volts of electricity pulsing through his body. His fertile but undisciplined imagination was the source of his genius but also his downfall, as the image of Tesla as a “mad scientist” came to overshadow his reputation as a brilliant innovator. But it is his exhilarating sense of the future that has inspired renewed interest in the man, as his once scoffed-at vision of a world connected by wireless technology has become a reality.fair-edison-tesla-westinghouse-people

PBS introduces him to audiences in the DVD American Experience: Tesla.  The program is also available for digital download.

Born in 1856 to a Serbian family in Croatia, the tall, gangly, 28-year-old inventor arrived in New York in 1884, almost penniless but with a letter of introduction to his hero, Thomas Edison. Tesla was convinced that he had solved the problem that had plagued Edison’s plans to electrify the world, not just the tip of lower Manhattan. Edison relied on direct current (DC) to transmit electricity, which was severely limiting. Tesla had found a way to do what had so far stumped everyone: invent a motor that could run on alternating current (AC), making the distribution of electricity across long distances possible.Nikola_Tesla_on_Time_Magazine_1931

“Before Tesla, you would have to have thousands of little power plants at every mile,” explains biographer Marc Seifer. “After Tesla, from one power source—Niagara Falls—you could light up and power the entire northeast.”

Edison immediately hired Tesla, who abruptly quit just six months later, frustrated by Edison’s refusal to adopt his idea. After a grim winter of digging ditches, his luck turned. The wealthy inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse knew that the future—and immense profits—would be found in electricity and he quickly bought the young inventor’s patents, making Tesla a rich man. But when Westinghouse became overextended, he revised Tesla’s deal, stripping him of a royalty that would have made him one of the wealthiest men in the world. Nevertheless, Westinghouse’s gamble on Tesla’s ideas paid off; the company beat Edison for the contracts to wire the Columbian Exposition in Chicago and to harness Niagara Falls to generate AC current, ending once and for all Edison’s hopes for his now antiquated DC technology.

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Tesla was now a celebrity, the new Edison. He moved into the luxurious Astor House, dined at Delmonico’s, and became a friend to the rich and famous, including Mark Twain, John Jacob Astor and J.P. Morgan. But he was plagued with a plethora of odd phobias that had followed him since childhood, when he often suffered from inexplicable visions and a difficulty in separating reality from his imagination. Everything he did had to be divisible by three, he had a manic fear of germs, and couldn’t bear the sight of earrings or the touch of human hair.

In 1899, Tesla headed west to Colorado Springs where he set up a laboratory and began to build massive coils that produced a million volts of electricity; he soon announced that he could transmit electricity over vast distances by sending currents though the earth. But he never produced the evidence and his credibility slipped, tarnished even further by his claims that he had received signals from Mars. His imagination, so critical to his inventive powers, began to betray him.99774988_136425712297

Returning to New York, Tesla managed to convince Morgan to invest in his next idea, the transmission of wireless messages, although Tesla dreamed of transmitting electric power without wires as well. With Morgan’s money, Tesla bought 200 acres on Long Island’s North Shore and began building a transmission tower. But an Italian electrical engineer, Guglielmo Marconi, doomed his dream by sending the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic in 1901—based on Tesla’s patents. The invention of wireless telegraphy—radio—would win Marconi a Nobel Prize and send Tesla into a downward spiral.

By 1916, he had relinquished the Long Island mortgage to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where he had lived on credit for almost 20 years. He would spend the rest of his life imagining new inventions and searching for investors while his ideas became increasingly bizarre and fantastical, more science fiction than science. His mind drifting, his money gone, he died alone in 1943 in the New Yorker Hotel. Six months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the patents to Marconi’s wireless device belonged to Tesla, and that he, not Marconi, had launched the wireless world with the invention of radio.

James Pattersion’s bestselling young adult fantasy novels hit the big-screen with a “Maximum Ride”

James Patterson is pretty prolific. And pretty rich.

Based on the phenomenal bestselling young adult fantasy novels by their author, Maximum Ride takes flight on DVD on December 6 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  Patterson’s book series spent 144 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than 20 million books worldwide and has spawned 11 Manga comics.

The film brings to life the extraordinary journey of six DNA-enhanced young orphans with the ability to fly who are on a mission to rescue the youngest of their flock while discovering the diabolical, scientific secrets of how they came to exist.  Their leader is Max, wise beyond her years, who must summon all her courage and acumen to outmaneuver the brutal half-human/half-wolf creations known as “Erasers”, confront her own inner demons and ultimately face a stunning betrayal.

Maximum Ride boasts a sensational cast of up-and-coming talent including digital influencers such as Allie Marie Evans, Patrick Johnson, Lyliana Wray, Luke Gregory Crosby, Gavin Lewis, Tetona Jackson, Zayne Emory,  Carrie Wampler and Peter O’Brien.

The film ran into trouble in early 2012, when Catherine Hardwicke quit as the film director. When asked about the odds of a movie still being made, Patterson claimed he was “very hopeful as opposed to mildly depressed”. Trouble continued with the death of screenplay writer Don Payne on March 26, 2013. Two years later, the plans geared into a maximum ride and the flick was made.

 

A most memorial event: The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s new DVD

Think of this as a memorial event. Each year on Memorial Day weekend, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center takes up residency in one of the country’s most beautiful historic sites: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky, where a vibrant Shaker community once flourished.

Live From Lincoln Center went on the road with the ensemble for the first time in its 40-year history, taking its cameras, trucks and a 15-member crew into the heart of rural America. Performed for a riveted audience in a converted tobacco barn, the concert celebrated American music with unparalleled intimacy and intensity, climaxing with Aaron Copland’s iconic Appalachian Spring, which incorporates a traditional Shaker theme at the heart of the work. Pulsing with the spirit of the Shakers, the film draws poignant parallels between art and craftsmanship; the beauty and hardships of the frontier; and the quest for transcendence in American life.

The result? Simple Gifts: The Chamber Music Society at Shaker Village (PBS Distribution). Featured on the DVD are performances of Copland’s Appalachian Spring; Gottschalk’s The Union; Dvořák’s Sonatina; Barber’s Souvenirs; O’Connor’s F.C.’s Jig; and selections from Foster’s The Social Orchestra, plus an additional 52-minute bonus documentary, A Gift to be Simple with a behind the scenes look at the Chamber Music Society and the story of the Shaker community.

We all have that family member who ruins holidays. Is he as bad as “Uncle Nick”?

Christmas may bring good cheer, but sometimes it brings a completely boorish relative to spoil the family gathering. My Aunt Thelma was one such creature.unnamed-2
Yet she wasn’t as bad as Uncle Nick, a drunken horndog who sets his sights on his brother’s stepdaughter . . . the endearing antihero of the raunchy comedy. Brian Posehn, a familiar and beloved comic character actor, gets the starring role of his career in this riotously anti-feel-good comedy arriving just in time for the Big Day.

Indeed. Lewd, drunken Uncle Nick stumbles his way through his brother’s cookie cutter family’s annual Christmas gathering in the hopes of scoring with a super-hot party guest . . . who just happens to be Nick’s brother’s stepdaughter!

The arrival of Uncle Nick’s equally crass sister coupled with Nick’s liquor-fueled faux pas cause family secrets to bubble to the surface . . . secrets that just might spell disaster for the whole clan before the night is over. Oh, and that super-hot guest(Melia Renee, Transparent)!

Presented by executive producer Errol Morris, Uncle Nick is a raucously funny comedy of inappropriate behavior, uncomfortably interrupted trysts and a monumental over-serving of 10-cent beers.

Maybe I will stay home, alone, with Uncle Nick (except on DVD) and Aunt Thelma.

One-horned rhinos! Asiatic lions! Hoolock gibbons! Take a tour of “India: Nature’s Wonderland”

It’s home to over a billion people. Yet India is a place where you can see animals that exist nowhere else on Earth, where the natural world has been woven into people’s lives and where wilderness still holds strong. Wildlife expert Liz Bonnin, actress Freida Pinto and mountaineer Jon Gupta reveal the wonders of India’s natural world in India: Nature’s Wonderland (PBS Distribution) on DVD. From the Valley of the Flowers in West Himalaya and turtles hatching on the beaches of the east coast to the lions of the Gir forest, the film reveals a land packed full of unrivaled wildlife experiences.

 

Here, descriptions for each of the two parts included on the DVD.

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An Asiatic lion family in Gir Forest

Part 1
Liz Bonnin visits the Gir Forest, home to the world’s last Asiatic lions, where she witness two females hunting, before watching elephants walking through a tea plantation. Freida meets a man who has dedicated his life to the Hoolock gibbon, India’s only ape, which starts the morning by singing. Jon climbs into the Himalayas and stops off at Debprayag to bathe in the sacred waters at a holy place where the River Ganges begins.

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Mama and baby one-horned rhinos

Part 2
Every winter morning the desert town of Khichan is invaded by thousands of Demoiselle Cranes. Liz can hardly believe the number of birds. Freida needs to ride on an elephant to get close to one of India’s rarest sights–the One Horned Rhino. Not only does she get to see one in the tall grass, she also sees its baby.  Jon comes down from the mountains to a beach on the Bay of Bengal to witness the mass hatching of Olive Ridley Turtles, more than a million baby turtles will erupt from nests buried in the sand.

 

No passport needed!