Idina Menzel and Nia Long star in a Lifetime remake of the sob story “Beaches”

You gotta have friends. Sometimes you gotta have remakes. It will be interesting if Idina Menzel and Nia Long can stir up more (read = better) memories and deeper sobs when they star as lifelong best friends in the remake of the Bette Midler-Barbara Hershey flick Beaches. The new flick, an Original Lifetime movie, premiers on Saturday, January 21 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT).

https://youtu.be/NuKOIHqPuWM

Want an earlier taste? Warner Bros. Records.  has already released a five-song soundtrack EP performed by Menzel. The disc features new takes on the classic songs “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “The Glory of Love,” as well as “I Can Hear the Music,” “I’ll Stand by You,” and “Last Time” recorded specifically for the movie. 

In this contemporary remake, Beaches follows the serendipitous meeting of two young girls on the Venice Boardwalk, who, though worlds apart in lifestyle, embark on an unexpected and lifelong friendship. CC (Menzel) is an aspiring singer trying to make it in Los Angeles until she is discovered by a director who gives her her first big shot. Hillary (Long) is the daughter of a prominent civil rights lawyer who struggles to find her own destiny. Their friendship—even with its ups and downs—sustains them for decades.

What does Bette think? She’s too busy preparing for the Broadway run of Hello, Dolly!,  revival opening in March and long sold-out.

Movie mavens, committed cineophiles: Welcome to Arrow Academy, whose first five releases are five star

We’ll march right the exciting news delivered by MVD Entertainment Group: MVD will be disturbing works in the U.S. by Arrow Academy, one of the world’s leading distributors of independent, arthouse and world cinema, beginning in March.
The label releases definitive and prestige edition films by revered maestros of cinema from across the globe, including filmmakers such as Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick, Fritz Lang, R.W. Fassbinder, Roberto Rossellini and Jean-Luc Godard.


Each of Arrow Academy’s five new titles feature :
– Definitive editions of classic arthouse films from across the world
– World class restoration and an award-winning label
– A label which goes above and beyond to release films in their original release format
– High-end and well-produced boxsets aimed at the cinephile audience
– New and insightful extras on each release

Film fanatics, movie mavens and committed cinephiles take note and save these dates!

March 7
Ludwig
He loved women. He loved men. He lived as controversially as he ruled. But he did not care what the world thought. He was the world.
A string of masterpieces behind him, the great Italian director Luchino Visconti turned his attentions to the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1972, resulting in an epic of 19th century decadence. 
Dominated by Helmut Berger in the title role, Ludwig nevertheless manages to find room for an impressive cast list: Romy Schneider (reprising her Elisabeth of Austria characterization from the Sissi trilogy), Silvana Mangano, Gert Fröbe, John Moulder-Brown and Trevor Howard as Richard Wagner.
As opulent as any of Visconti’s epic (Piero Tosi’s costume design was nominated for an Academy Award) Ludwig is presented here in its complete form in accordance with the director’s wishes and features the English-language soundtrack for the first ever on home video.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
4K restoration from the original film negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Two viewing options: The full-length theatrical cut or as five individual parts
  • Original Italian soundtrack with optional English subtitles
  • Original English soundtrack available on home video for the first time ever with optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Brand-new interview with Helmut Berger
  • Luchino Visconti, an hour-long documentary portrait of the director by Carlo Lizzani containing interviews with Burt Lancaster, Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, Claudia Cardinale and others
  • Speaking with Suso Cecchi d’Amico, an interview with the screenwriter
  • Silvana Mangano: The Scent Of A Primrose, a half-hour portrait of the actress
  • Theatrical trailer

Property Is No Longer A Theft
Having tackled the corrupting nature of power with Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and taken an angry, impassioned look at labour relations with The Working Class Goes to Heaven, Italian master Elio Petri next turned his attentions to capitalism for the darkly comic Property is No Longer a Theft.

A young bank clerk (Flavio Bucci, the blind pianist in Dario Argento’s Suspiria), denied a loan by his employer, decides to exact his revenge the local butcher (Ugo Tognazzi) who is not only a nasty, violent, greedy piece of work but also one of the bank’s star customers. Quitting his job, the clerk devotes all of his time tormenting the butcher, stealing his possessions one-by-one, including his mistress (Daria Nicolodi).

 Told in an off-kilter fashion by Petri, abetted by the woozy sound design and another outstanding score by Ennio Morricone, Property is No Longer a Theft presents a caustic, blackly comic look at a corrupt society.
 
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS 
  • 4K restoration from the original film negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • New subtitle translation
  • Brand-new interview with actor Flavio Bucci
  • Brand-new interview with producer Claudio Mancini
  • Brand-new interview with make-up artist Pierantonio Mecacci
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh

Cinema Paradiso (Barnes & Noble exclusive)
Giuseppe Tornatore’s loving homage to the cinema tells the story of Salvatore, a successful film director, returning home for the funeral of Alfredo, his old friend who was the projectionist at the local cinema throughout his childhood. Soon memories of his first love affair with the beautiful Elena and all the high and lows that shaped his life come flooding back, as Salvatore reconnects with the community he left 30 years earlier. Presented in both the original award-winning cut and the expanded Director’s Cut incorporating more of Salvatore’s backstory, newly restored from original negative materials.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS 
  • Restored from the original camera negative and presented in two versions: The 124 minute Cannes Festival theatrical version and the 174 minute director’s cut
  • Uncompressed original stereo 2.0 Audio and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio options
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Audio commentary with director Giuseppe Tornatore and Italian cinema expert critic Millicent Marcus
  • A Dream of Sicily A 52-minute documentary profile of Giuseppe Tornatore featuring interviews with director and extracts from his early home movies as well as interviews with director Francesco Rosi and painter Peppino Ducato, set to music by the legendary Ennio Morricone
  • A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise – A 27-minute documentary on the genesis of Cinema Paradiso, the characters of Toto and Alfredo, featuring interviews with the actors who play them, Philippe Noiret and Salvatore Cascio as well as Tornatore
  • The Kissing Sequence Giuseppe Tornatore discusses the origins of the kissing scenes with full clips identifying each scene
  • Original director’s cut theatrical trailer and 25th anniversary re-release trailer
March 14
The Creeping Garden
The Creeping Garden is an award-winning feature-length creative documentary exploring the extraordinary world of the plasmodial slime mold as revealed through the eyes of the fringe scientists, mycologists and artists who work with them. Long overlooked by biologists, in recent years this curious organism has become the focus of much research in such areas as biological-inspired design, emergence theory, unconventional computing and robot engineering, much of which borders on the world of science fiction.

The film transports us from the laboratory into its natural habitat, depicting these otherworldly lifeforms using startling time-lapse macro-cinematography to reveal hidden facets of the world around us. 
The Creeping Garden is a unique exploration into a hitherto untapped subject matter, immersing the viewer within the worlds of the observers and the observed.
 
DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original 2.0 audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by directors Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp
  • Biocomputer Music, a short film by Grabham on the first biocomputer music system, allowing a two-way musical dialogue between man and slime mold
  • Return to the Fungarium, a featurette revealing further treasures of the fungarium at Kew Gardens
  • Feeding Habits of Physarum, a featurette on the feeding preferences and dislikes of slime molds
  • Three cinema iloobia short films: Milk (2009), Rotten (2012) and Paramusical Ensemble (2015)
  • Angela Mele’s animated slime moulds
  • Gallery
  • US theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two pieces of original artwork
The Creeping Garden soundtrack [Limited Edition Exclusive]
Bonus CD containing the rearranged soundtrack to The Creeping Garden by legendary producer and musician Jim O’Rourke

Story of Sin

The life of a beautiful, young and pious woman is thrown into chaos when her parents takes in a dashingly handsome lodger. Having embarked on a torrid affair, the lodger goes off to Rome to seek a divorce from his estranged wife.

Unable to live apart from her beloved, our hero leaves home only to fall prey to the infatuations and lusts of a band of noble admirers, unsavory criminals and utopian do-gooders . . .

The only feature Walerian Borowczyk made in his native Poland, Story of Sin transforms Stefan Zeromski’s classic melodrama into a deliriously surrealistic meditation on l’amour fou.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
  • 2K restoration from the original film negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • New subtitle translation
  • New 2K restorations from the original negatives of Borowczyk’s ground-breaking Polish shorts: Once Upon a Time (co-directed by Jan Lenica), Dom (co-directed by Lenica) and The School
  • New introduction by poster designer Andrzej Klimowski
  • New interview with Story of Sin lead actor Grazyna Dlugolecka
  • New interview featurette on Borowczyk’s career in Poland by Daniel Bird (co-founder Friends of Walerian Borowczyk)
  • New interview featurette on Borowczyk’s innovate use of classical music in his films by writer and filmmaker David Thompson
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Andrzej Klimowski

The New Year puts the country in a state of horror. And not only from Washington, D.C.

We can name the one major reason the country goes into terror this month. But we’d rather name three reason, good ones, that will frightened film fans looking for movies that trump releases from those “big” Studios.

MVD Entertainment Group keeps furthering the distribution of Arrow Video in the U.S. with a triumvirate of titles to kick off 2017.  Each release is crammed with incredible extras and bonus tracks.

Fans of Japanese crime cinema will revel Takashi Miike’s Black Society Trilogy, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD. After several years spent working almost exclusively in the direct-to-video world of “V-cinema” in Japan, Miike announced himself as a world-class filmmaking talent with this trio of thematically-connected, character-centric crime stories about violence, the underworld of Japanese society, families both real and surrogate, and the possibly hopeless task of finding one’s place in the world.

His first films made specifically for theatrical release, and his first for a major studio, the “Black Society Trilogy” was the beginning of Miike’s mature career as a filmmaker and they remain among the prolific director’s finest works.These stylish and gripping crime films put Miike on the cinematic map and proved he was more than just a specialist in blood and guts. See the films that made Miike’s name as a master of Japanese crime cinema with this exciting set; including Shinjuku Triad Society, Rainy Dog and Ley Lines, in beautiful high definition transfers, the set also contains a host of special features including a brand new interview with the director himself.
Fresh from recent festival and filmmaker acclaim, We Are the Flesh debuts on DVD and Blu-ray. We Are the Flesh is a Mexican arthouse head-trip which takes you on a nightmarish journey into a post-apocalyptic hell. Outrageous and explicit, it sees a brother and sister taken in by a strange hermit who uses them as he acts out his own depraved fantasies. The longer they stay, the more they find themselves slipping into the darkness, despite their better judgement.
This bizarre slice of Mexican arthouse is one of the most unsettling film experiences you will ever have and an all-out psychedelic head-trip. It details the adventures of a brother and sister who take refuge with a strange hermit in a post-apocalyptic city. As he acts out his dark, depraved fantasies, they find themselves drifting further into the realms of the forbidden.
Last but not least, the United States gave motorcycle-mad cinemagoers Easy Rider, The Wild One and The Wild Angels. The United Kingdom gave them Psychomania, the tale of zombie bikers run amok is southern England, coming to dual format DVD + Blu-ray on February  21. The Living Dead are a delinquent biker gang, fond of causing havoc on British roadways and making out in graveyards. Gang leader Tom (played by Nicky Henson) also has a Satanist for a mother, and when he discovers the secret of immortality, the name of his motley crew takes on a more literal meaning. Psychomania is a wonderfully offbeat gem, outlandish and eccentric in equal measure.

Eight-legged horses, serpents and cosmic wolves: Welcome to “The Norse Myths”

Gods and goddesses; mighty heroes and indomitable women; dragons, serpents and cosmic wolves; the great World-Tree, inhabited by magical and monstrous creatures . . . .

The new Lucas or Spielberg film? Hardly. These are Norse myths, and they speak to us as vibrantly today as when they were told in Viking halls centuries ago. Originating in ancient Scandinavia and Iceland, they were recorded in sagas and poems, and in the (less approving) accounts of medieval Christian writers. Archaeology also gives us tantalizing depictions of Viking ships, eight-legged horses, and titanic battles on runestones, metalwork and carvings. Sounds Greek to you?  Through The Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes (Thames & Hudson, $24.95), literature scholar Carolyne Larrington brings us vivid new translations from the Old Norse, and we meet the inhabitants of this rich mythological cosmos face to face. The book is an exhilarating introduction to the vivid, violent, boisterous world of the Norse myths and their cultural legacy—from Tolkien to Game of Thrones.

Beginning with an account of the Norse myths’ origins and survival, The Norse Myths continues by introducing the principal gods and goddesses—Óṍinn (Odin), Loki, Þórr (Thor), Freyja, Heimdallr and the rest—before examining the gods’ powerful adversaries, the giants of ice and fire. According to the Norse creation myths, the world was born, and continued, in violence; two chapters are devoted to the (mis)adventures of the men and women of heroic legend and their sometimes unsettling conceptions of heroism and sacrifice. The last chapter is, fittingly, dedicated to ragnarök—the final conflict in which most of the gods will die and the world come to an end, with a hint at the possibility of rebirth.

The book offers fresh retellings of the vivid, often funny, almost always bloodthirsty tales of the Norse gods and heroes, and a satisfying exploration of their meaning and significance, past and present. The old stories have found new life in the work of Wagner, William Morris and J.R.R. Tolkien, and even in the reimagining of the fimbulvetr, or “Mighty Winter,” in Game of Thrones. And the 102 illustrations are an extra treat!

Listen closely: Did Vincent Van Gogh really cut off his ear? “Secrets of the Dead: Van Gogh’s Ear” offer new evidence

Listen up, dear readers. This is important news. Even those with a scant knowledge of art know about the moment when artist Vincent van Gogh looked into a mirror, held up a blade and cut into his ear. Ouch! The deed was dramatized by Irving Stone in his best-selling novel Lust for Life, and portrayed vividly by Kirk Douglas in the 1956 film.

But did Stone get it right?  What did van Gogh really do on the fateful night of December 23, 1888 in the town of Arles in southern France?  Afterwards, there was a successful effort by his family to play down the event.  His friend, artist Paul Gauguin, who was present, gave conflicting accounts.  Still others tried to profit from his local infamy. Generations have theorized about what really happened, but no one has unearthed the true details. Until now.

Answers lie in Secrets of the Dead: Van Gogh’s Ear (PBS Distribution), available on DVD January 17. The program will also be available for digital download.

The program offers fascinating evidence discovered by Bernadette Murphy, an independent researcher living in Provence, France. Murphy had long been intrigued by van Gogh’s story and spent seven years piecing together a meticulous picture of his life in Arles; person by person, house by house, exploring closely his friends and his enemies.

Her detective work uncovered definitive long-lost evidence, which graphically reveals exactly what happened that night, who was involved and how it ultimately shaped van Gogh’s remarkable art. Murphy finally provides answers to the mystery that has divided art historians for decades.

The program focuses on van Gogh’s time in Arles including the visit from Gauguin which proved to be life-changing, weaving together a detailed timeline of the momentous events. Following Murphy’s meticulous research and a reexamination of van Gogh’s work, the film reveals the artist’s roller coaster of emotions and his mental health, placing his actions in proper context for the first time.

Judy Collins offers the perfect Valentine’s treat: “A Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim”

We cannot think of a better Valentine’s Day gift, even if it won’t be released until February 24. Judy Collins takes the audience through Stephen Sondheim’s remarkable treasure trove of music, interweaving stories of Broadway with her personal anecdotes in A Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim (MVD Entertainment Group). The musical treat was filmed in May 2016 at the Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver, Colorado.

“I have loved the songs and the shows of Stephen since recording ‘Send in the Clowns’ on my album Judith in 1974,” says Collins. (Her take on the tune earned Sondheim his only chart-topping song.)

“My version of the great Sondheim ballad garnered a Grammy, the top ten slot in Billboard twice in a decade, and is still played on the radio all over the world. Ever since the success, I have longed to sing the rest of Sondheim’s greatest songs. Now, I have the opportunity do to that. These songs glow with familiarity and inhabit the rooms and vistas of all our lives, scenes and melodies from A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, Company, Merrily We Roll Along and Into the Woods. I pray to do justice to these great songs, and to their composer, one of our national treasures: Stephen Sondheim.”

All orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick, who has been orchestrating Stephen Sondheim’s musicals for decades. Tunick’s genius orchestration were used by Collins for her “Send in the Clowns.”

Nate Parker confuses audiences by giving birth to a different “Nation”

We got so excited when we heard Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment was releasing The Birth of a Nation on Blu-ray. The D.W. Griffith controversial masterpiece, finally to be (re)introduced to a (new) generation!

The “new” version of the flick

The silent version is a landmark in cinema history, yet since the day it opened, it has been continuously protested . . . and defended. It depicts the Civil War, and as such contains some battle scenes, though nothing overtly gory or bloody. We see the shooting of Abraham Lincoln. A black slave tries to attack a white woman, and she runs, leading to her accidental death. It also depicts drinking and drunkenness, mostly by the African-American characters. It contains some of the most disturbingly racist images ever filmed. Still, it’s unlikely that audiences today will be as powerfully influenced by this film as audiences were nearly 100 years ago.

Then we learned that the film was not the film. Kino already released the Blu-ray.  This time ’round, director Nate Parker simply “stole” the title of the 1915 silent epic . . . to confuse audiences? Make a statement? Who knows? Who cares?

The new Birth? It’s set against the antebellum South and follows Nat Turner (also played by Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities against himself and fellow slaves Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.

The flick is riddled with white characters who define evil: Think bad teeth, stupidity,violence. Plus it’s extremely violent. Characters are beaten and/or raped (happens largely off screen, but the effects of the violence are shown), and there’s fighting, shooting, stabbing, and more, with lots of blood and gore, in many forms. Slaves are also whipped, hung, and tortured. Topless women are seen in both a sexual context and during an African tribal scene. Language includes many uses of the “n” word, plus “hell” and “goddamn.” While it’s undeniable that Turner’s actions sent a message against oppression, the fact that he relied on violence makes things more complex.

It’s obvious Parker knew he was pushing buttons with the title. He says his film had the same title “ironically, but very much by design.” He adds: “Griffith’s film relied heavily on racist propaganda to evoke fear and desperation as a tool to solidify white supremacy as the lifeblood of American sustenance. Not only did this film motivate the massive resurgence of the terror group the Ku Klux Klan and the carnage exacted against people of African descent, it served as the foundation of the film industry we know today. I’ve reclaimed this title and re-purposed it as a tool to challenge racism and white supremacy in America, to inspire a riotous disposition toward any and all injustice in this country (and abroad) and to promote the kind of honest confrontation that will galvanize our society toward healing and sustained systemic change.”

Sometimes love has to lick you in the face. Proof: The new CD “A Dog’s Story”

We’ve always said that Broadway Records and its president Van Dean is the cat’s meow. Now they have gone to the dogs. And that’s a compliment.

The company’s latest release? The Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording of A Dog Story. It ill be released digitally and in stores on Friday, January 20. The album is currently available for pre-order at BroadwayRecords.com.

A Dog Story is a charming new musical comedy with music and lyrics by Gayla D. Morgan and a book by Eric H. Weinberger about Roland, a career-driven lawyer, who thinks he must be married to make partner. To solve his dilemma, he gets a puppy as a chick magnet. Through first dates, angry tangos, and a sudden disappearance, Roland discovers there’s more to life when you “get a dog!”

Here’s the cast recording the CD. Those who can’t name who is who: Go to the doghouse!

The cast of A Dog Story includes David Perlman as Roland, Lindsie VanWinkle as Miranda, Stefanie Brown  as Blair, Brian Ray Norris as Guy.

You just got to love a musical who reminds us that sometimes love has to lick you in the face!

 

Dr. Laurie Hess and her pet profession: Her book reminds us why owning a Nile monitor is a major no-no

When a dog or cat is sick, there are often dozens of local veterinarians who could help. But who do you turn to when your pet is a boa constrictor or an African grey parrot?

In Unlikely Companions: The Adventures of an Exotic Animal Doctor (Da Capo Press, $24.99), Dr. Laurie Hess—a veterinarian with two decades of experience and her own private practice—invites us into her day-to-day life. Relating the events of one week, Hess shares the mysteries of her ER, the weird and wonderful animals she meets every day, and her observations on how people can connect with their pets in ways they can’t connect with each other. As she searches for answers in piles of lab test results, she shares the stories of owners who have stretched both pennies and hearts to keep their pets going strong.
Hess’ career mantra has always been that exotic pets deserve exceptional care. Here, we chat with her about why people should (and should not) own an exotic pet.

What exactly are exotic pets?
Exotic pets are domesticated animals, other than dogs and cats that are commonly kept as pets. This includes birds (most often parrots, but also canaries, finches, pigeons, doves, and others), ferrets, rabbits, rodents (guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, degus, prairie dogs); reptiles (turtles, tortoises, snakes, and various lizards); amphibians (toads and frogs); hedgehogs, sugar gliders (small mammals that look like flying squirrels but that are actually marsupials); pot-bellied pigs; and some less commonly known species such as wallabies, fennec foxes and kinkajous. Exotic pets should be differentiated from exotic animals—those that are typically wild or found in zoos and that should not be kept as pets.

Fennec foxes should not be kept as pets, though princess is awfully cute

Why would anyone want an exotic pet?
Exotics are great for people who are looking for an alternative to a cat or dog. This includes people who live in small homes who don’t have the room to house a dog or cat that needs a lot of space to run around, or individuals that have neighbors close by who won’t tolerate barking dogs. Certain species of exotic pets, such as small reptiles (geckos, bearded dragons, small tortoises) and rodents (guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils), are great for people who might want a lower maintenance animal than a cat or a dog, such as a family with elementary school age children who are getting their first pet. All children should, however, be supervised around any exotic pets.

What are the best exotic pets for families?
It really depends on what the family is looking for in a pet, how much time they have to spend with it, and the age of the kids interacting with it. A good starter animal for families that are considering getting a bird is a cockatiel. These birds are very interactive, full of personality and fairly easy to keep. For families that want a cuddly mammal, a guinea pig is a good choice. Guinea pigs are hardy rodents that bond to their owners and are not very time demanding. Finally, for families with slightly older children who want a fairly low maintenance pet that is interesting to look at but that doesn’t require a great deal of daily attention, a small reptile, such as a gecko or bearded dragon, might be a good choice.

The doc and a feathered friend

What are the problems wanting or owing an exotic?
While birds, rabbits, rodents (such as guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, and gerbils); reptiles (such as turtles, tortoises, lizards, and snakes); amphibians (frogs and toads); ferrets; and other less well-known animals like hedgehogs, sugar gliders and pot-bellied pigs, are very popular pets, most owners of these unique animals don’t even realize that these pets need regular medical care. Unfortunately, many of these exotic animals are purchased or adopted for the wrong reasons—because they are cute, colorful or in the case of birds, they can talk—and many exotic pet owners end up frustrated or disappointed in these animals which end up being ignored or dumped at shelters. Also, many exotic pet owners don’t educate themselves about what these animals need, so these pets get sick and end up being brought to veterinarians on an emergency basis. 

Why did you choose to be an exotic pet vet?
After I graduated from veterinary school I realized that very few veterinarians receive adequate training in school to know how to care for exotic pet species properly. There was a definite need for exotic pet veterinary care because  owners routinely bring these animals to the vet when they are sick with the expectation that the vet will know what to do to make them better. These exotic pet species need not only specialized medical knowledge to get them better when they are ill, but also a detailed education of what to feed them and how to house them to keep them healthy. I didn’t receive any of this information when I was a veterinary student and realized that to be able to provide proper care for these pets, I would need additional post-doctoral residency training in exotic pet medicine and surgery. So, I completed an additional 3 years of training, beyond veterinary school, specifically in bird and exotic pet medicine and surgery.

Is the Nile monitor playing with or trying to eat the dog? People who released their Nile monitor pets has caused such a problem in areas of Florida that wildlife officials are shooting them on sight.

What is the strangest exotic pet you have ever treated?
I have seen many odd pets during my 22-year career treating exotic animals, but perhaps one of the strangest cases I have encountered was a large reptile—a six-foot-long, 30-pound Nile monitor—that was owned by a young man and his mother who traveled all the way from Pennsylvania to New York to see me. The monitor had been housed and fed improperly, became ill and then was then given an overdose of an antibiotic by another vet unfamiliar with this species. By the time it got to me, the lizard was in kidney failure. My staff and I tried very hard to save the animal, but unfortunately, it came to me gravely ill and passed away despite our best efforts to give it intravenous fluids and medications. This monitor is a perfect example of the type of animal that really doesn’t belong in most people’s homes as a pet, because it could not be cared for properly.

Forget skyscrapers and sightseeing. “True New York” shows the real pulse of Madhattan

If you can make it there, you’d make it anywhere. No wonder it’s called Madhattan. First Run Features is off to a great New Year run with the DVD release of True New York, an anthology of five award-winning short documentaries about New York City and the amazing characters who call the city home

C-Rock (Director: Jordan Roth)
Featuring stunning cinematography and staggering footage of cliff-diving, C-Rock tells the story of a group of Bronx boys who leap off the 100-foot tall cliff known as “C-Rock” and into the Harlem River. A dangerous rite of passage going back generations in the Bronx, the film captures the rawness of youth while also revealing a wistful nostalgia for a changing neighborhood.

http://https://youtu.be/xUK3lfRJKQU

Taxi Garage (Director: Joshua Z Weinstein)
Forget Louie De Palma and Elaine O’Connor Nardo. This Taxi Garage is a powerful and touching look inside a taxi depot in Queens filled with classic New York personalities and a melting pot of immigrants with big dreams of making it in America. The film focuses on Johnnie “Spider” Footman, a colorful octogenarian who has driven a taxi all his life and is New York’s oldest taxi driver.

One Track Mind (Director: Jeremy Workman)
One Track Mind reveals the amazing story of Philip Coppola, who has devoted four decades to cataloging, archiving and sketching every station in the New York City subway system. Filmed over the course of four years, this is a portrait of a man consumed by a singular obsession as well as a loving exploration of the city’s unique artistic idiosyncrasies.

A Son’s Sacrifice (Director: Yoni Brook)
The award-winning film is a classic immigrant story and father/son tale. Imran is just another 27-year-old New Yorker struggling to take over his family’s business, which happens to be a halal slaughterhouse in Queens. Imran must confront his mixed Bangladeshi-Puerto Rican heritage and gain acceptance from his father’s conservative community.

Black Cherokee (Directors: Sam Cullman & Benjamin Rosen)
This film  focuses on street performer Otis Houston Jr., a self-taught artist from Harlem who performs before a captive audience of car-bound commuters along Manhattan’s FDR Drive. A meditation on family and inspiration.

Petrucelli Picks the best in books, music and film . . . and then some