Tag Archives: PBS Distribution

February is a month of love, and what better than binge watching PBS programs with Russell Stover?

February is a month of love, and what better to love than binge watching PBS programs with an armful of chocolates?

Enjoy!

MASTERPIECE: Sanditon
Andrew Davies, Britain’s national treasure, has given Jane Austen fans what they have been waiting over a century for: the completion of Austen’s last piece of work, unfinished due to her death in 1817. Now Davies takes the first 11 beautifully crafted chapters of the final Austen masterpiece and creates an epic drama for all to enjoy. The lavish adaptation stars Rose Williams as Austen’s lively, but levelheaded heroine Charlotte Heywood and Theo James as the humorous, charming (and slightly wild) Sidney Parker.

Charlotte observes hypochondria, avarice and attempted seduction run amok. Lady Denham is playing matchmaker for her destitute nephew, Sir Edward, who is determined to seduce Lady Denham’s ward, Clara and become the primary heir to his aunt’s estate. Then, the arrival of wealthy, mixed-race heiress Miss Lambe, under the guardianship of Tom’s upright brother Sidney, adds another interesting complication.


MASTERPIECE: Howards End
Written by Kenneth Lonergan, comes the four episode adaptation of E.M. Forster’s, Howards End. Starring Matthew Macfadyen as Henry Wilcox, Philippa Coulthard as Helen Schlegel, Julia Ormond as Mrs. Wilcox, Hayley Atwell as Margaret Schlegel and Tracey Ullman as Aunt Juley,

this is a fresh take on the story of two independent and unconventional sisters and the men in their lives seeking love and meaning as they navigate an ever-changing world. Also starring Joseph Quinn, Rosalind Eleazar and Alex Lawther.


American Experience: McCarthy
The legacy of Joseph McCarthy’s relentless search for anyone he deemed a communist or enemy of the state will forever be shrouded in infamy. The Wisconsin Senator’s crusade is now the centerpiece of any conversation involving the government’s role in decency, democracy and ethical conduct. This witch hunt, completely free of restraint or oversight, led to the trials and imprisonment of many celebrities, Americans and immigrants.

This program details the rise of McCarthy’s political life which led to his belief that there was a great conspiracy threatening America, culminating in a chilling campaign full of groundless accusations, bullying intimidation, grandiose showmanship, cruel victimization and a web of lies to keep public opinion on their side.


NOVA: Decoding da Vinci
On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, with guidance from historian Walter Isaacson, NOVA pulls back the curtain to investigate what led to da Vinci’s ahead of his time, legendary successes.

The program examines how Leonardo’s scientific studies, from dissecting humans to studying optics, led to a host of brilliant inventions, like hang gliders, armored tanks, parachutes and many others. Decoding da Vinci further explains how this deep scientific curiosity was behind the most captivating work of art in history, The Mona Lisa. Viewers now have the chance to delve deep into Leonardo da Vinci’s Renaissance genius.


NOVA: The Violence Paradox
Violence is ubiquitous in our every day lives. We see it in the news, in movies, on TV and video games so why do some experts say that violence is decreasing and that we’re living in the most peaceful time in history? Can this actually be true?

The Violence Paradox addresses these questions and explores the intricacies of how violence permeates our life, psychology and every day thoughts and actions. The program takes us through time and the human mind to investigate what impacts the violence rates and what people are doing now to reduce violence in the world.


NOVA: Animal Espionage
Studying animals that are incredibly hard to approach or observe without them being aware has always been a constant struggle for wildlife experts. Though now, with the technological advancements of the camera industry, experts and viewers are able to get an intimate view of these species behind closed doors during their everyday lives. Camera traps and drones, completely hidden from the animal’s view, are allowing for revolutionary findings in wildlife biology, allowing viewers to get closer than ever before to animals like whales, tigers and elusive giant armadillos.

NOVA: Animal Espionage DVDThe recordings featured on this program capture everything from the unexpected to the comical, and these technologies are giving wildlife analysts insights that could ultimately help them fight extinction and habitat loss.

PBS Distribution’s New Year Bounty of must-see, must-own DVDs . . . all score 20/20

We always hope a New Year promises happiness, good health, safety and weight loss.
We always know a New Year brings oodles of great new films and shows and specials and programs . . . especially from the King of TV, PBS.
We share the great ones for the month of January.

FRONTLINE
Fire in Paradise

A year after the devastating Camp Fire, who’s to blame and why was it so catastrophic? With accounts from survivors and first responders, the inside story of the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, its causes and the impact of climate change.

In the Age of AI
It’s been called “The New Space Race.” This time it’s China taking on the United States, and the race is to seize control of a technology with the potential to change everything — the way we work; how we play; how our democracy functions; how the world could be realigned. FRONTLINE explores some of the ways in which our world is being re-shaped and reimagined by the technology of artificial intelligence, whose development has been compared to the industrial revolution and the discovery of electricity as an epochal event in human history.

The film explores both the peril and the promise of this ascendant technology — tracing the battle between the U.S. and China to harness its power; examining fears about what AI advances mean for the future of work; and revealing how AI algorithms are ushering in an age of both great problem-solving potential, and of new and troubling threats to privacy and democracy.
In the Age of AI is a powerful and telling journey into how this new technology will transform our world — and some of the ways it already has.

NATURE
Okavango—River of Dreams
The Okavango River in Southern Africa is an unlikely oasis and lush paradise in the middle of a hostile desert that supports and feeds an incredible abundance of wildlife. Unlike most rivers that flow toward the shores of a nearby ocean, it instead runs inland through Botswana, creating a huge river delta before finally disappearing into the Kalahari Desert. An all-star cast of charismatic African wildlife lives and dies in the timeless drama of survival revealed in the program.

Among the one-of-a-kind footage captured includes that of a lioness injured by a buffalo and left for dead by her pride. While recovering, she must find a way to care for her two young cubs on her own. In a surprising sequence, hyena and warthog families share neighboring dens, helping each other by keeping an eye on potentially threatening predators such as lions and leopards. And in the deadliest part of the river, a leopard mother must climb trees in order to hunt from above.

Nature’s Biggest Beasts
Discover the ingenious strategies that nature’s biggest beasts employ to conquer their environments, from the Komodo dragon with a deadly bite to the tallest giraffe to the bird-eating Armored ground cricket. Nature’s Biggest Beasts shows their epic surivival stories.
Being massive can have its advantages, but it brings equally immense challenges to survive. Big bodies need more fuel, more space and can attract unwanted attention.

Take the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, whose huge appetite means it must take on prey ten times its weight, or the tallest of them all, the giraffe, who with such a long neck must control immense blood pressure. From the 150-ton blue whale who can suck up four tons of krill a day, to Japan’s finger-length giant hornets that can decimate a hive of 30,000 bees to feed on their larvae, nature’s biggest beasts must go to extraordinary lengths to thrive.

Bears
From the mighty grizzly bear to the endearing spectacled bear (the real-life “Paddington Bear”) and from the bamboo-eating panda to the bizarre-looking sloth bear, this remarkable animal family has long captured the human imagination.

Among the biggest land mammals on the planet, bears need a lot of resources to survive and must use all of their skills, brawn and brains to get what they need—whether they’re foraging for honeycombs or tasty plants, standing up to their rivals or raising cubs.  Follow the adventures of bears across the globe as they draw on their remarkable adaptations to survive in an ever-changing world. Viewers find out what it really takes to be a bear.

NOVA
Why Bridges Collapse

On a rainy August morning in 2018, a massive section of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed and killed 43 people. As emergency responders raced to rescue survivors, authorities began investigating the cause of the collapse. For 50 years, the iconic bridge had stood up to ever-increasing traffic, a testament to the strength of its pre-stressed concrete and cable stays. So what went wrong that fateful day?
Through eyewitness testimony, expert interviews, and dramatic archival footage, the program pieces together the sequence of events—and investigates what may have led to the bridge’s downfall. But the Morandi Bridge isn’t alone.

Across the United States and Europe,  thousands of bridges are listed as structurally deficient. Join experts as they compare what happened to the Morandi with other deadly bridge collapses, including Minnesota’s I-35W bridge over the Mississippi and the ill-fated Silver Bridge over the Ohio River. How can new technologies and engineering improvements make bridges across the world safer and more durable than ever before?

Look Who’s Driving
After years of anticipation, autonomous vehicles are now being tested on public roads around the world. Dozens of startups have sprung up alongside established auto and tech giants – which are also testing the waters—to form what many hope will be a transformative new industry.
Nova: Look Who's Driving
But as innovators rush to cash in on what they see as the next high-tech pot of gold, some experts warn there are still daunting challenges to overcome—like how to train computers to make life-and-death decisions as well as humans can. NOVA peers under the hood of the autonomous vehicle industry to investigate how driverless cars work, how they may change the way we live, and whether we will ever be able to entrust them with our lives.

Rise of the Mammals
The course of life on Earth changed radically on a single day 66 million years ago. Blasting our planet, an asteroid caused the extinction of three of every four kinds of living things. The impact ended the Age of Dinosaurs and launched our age, the Age of Mammals. But our understanding of the asteroid’s aftermath has been spotty. Who survived? How quickly did mammals and their habitats spring back? How did our planet recover from this global cataclysm?

Now a remarkable find—a trove of exceptionally preserved fossils from the critical first million years after the catastrophe—shines a revelatory light on what followed Earth’s darkest hour. With exclusive access, viewers see the discovery from the first thrilling moments of the initial find in 2016. Providing a rare record that combines plants, animals, and precise dates—a paleontological trifecta—the discovery paints a vivid portrait of the emergence of a brand-new world. Thanks to the vision, grit, and luck of the scientific team, we are gaining our first clear understanding of how our modern world of mammals arose from the ashes.

Dead Sea Scroll Detectives
One of the greatest archaeological finds of all time—the Dead Sea Scrolls—was made by a Bedouin shepherd boy in 1947. And since the 2,000-year-old scrolls were first taken from a cave, they’ve intrigued scholars, religious leaders, and profiteers alike. These fragile parchment relics include the oldest known versions of the Hebrew Bible and hold vital clues about the birth of Christianity. But who compiled them? And do more scrolls await discovery?

While some scrolls have survived intact, others have been ravaged by time—burnt, decayed, or torn to pieces—and remain an enigma. Now, scientists are using new technologies to read the unreadable, solve mysteries that have endured for millennia, and even discover million-dollar fakes.

American Masters
Rothko: Pictures Must be Miraculous

One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Mark Rothko’s signature style helped define Abstract Expressionism, the movement that shifted the center of the art world from Paris to New York.

American Masters—Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous is an intimate portrait of the celebrated painter whose luminous canvasses now set records at international auctions. Interviews with Rothko’s children, Kate and Christopher, as well as leading curators, art historians and conservators present a comprehensive look at the artist’s life and career, complemented by original scenes with Alfred Molina in the role of Rothko. Molina performs segments from Rothko’s writings, and the documentary features clips from the six-time Tony-winning play Red.

Mike Bartlett’s “Press” takes a riveting look at two of London’s fictional rival newspapers

An ensemble cast of some of Britain’s hottest talent portrays the committed and passionate characters behind the daily news at two fictional rival newspapers in Mike Bartlett’s Masterpiece drama Press (PBS Distribution). Set in the world of newspapers in London—its past riven by hacking scandals, its present at the mercy of the digital age and the 24-hour news cycle, its future uncertain—this razor sharp and observant drama explores the current, turbulent media landscape and the ethical dilemmas that journalists and editors face each day.

Charlotte Riley stars as the News Editor of fictional newspaper, The Herald; Ben Chaplin as the Editor of the fictional The Post; and Priyanga Burford as The Herald’s Editor.

Press is rounded out with Paapa Essiedu as The Post’s newest reporter and Shane Zaza its News Editor. Ellie Kendrick stars as a junior reporter, Al Weaver stars as an investigative journalist and Brendan Cowell stars as the Deputy Editor at The Herald.

Joys and hardships. Overcoming obstacles. Near-daily adversities. Welcome to “Animal Babies: First Year on Earth”

Doris Day once told us that “four-legged animals are so much nicer than the two-legged ones”.

We couldn’t agree more.

In Animal Babies: First Year on Earth viewers meet six baby animals from across the globe, the toque macaque monkey, the spotted hyena, the African elephant, the sea otter, the mountain gorilla, and the Arctic fox. Like all babies, young animals can have a first year filled with joy, love and play. To survive, however, they must overcome threats and challenges, from rivals, from the elements, and from predators. Follow along as they experience joy and hardship, confront near-daily adversities, navigate their habitats and overcome challenges in their first year of life

Renowned wildlife cinematographers tell the stories of these magical first months in three parts, First Steps, Testing the Limits and New Frontiers. They travel the globe to follow the lives of these six iconic baby animals as they grow and develop. This is the story of what it takes to survive in the wild. This is their first year on Earth. Welcome.

Great food, great cast. Just the dish: “America’s Test Kitchen: Home for the Holidays”. Seconds, anyone?

What is cooking with PBS Distribution DVDs? Just the recipe: America’s Test Kitchen: Home for the Holidays. The entire cast is home for the holidays, and they’re sharing their tips and tricks for planning a stress-free gathering, while also recounting personal holiday memories and revealing their all-time favorite holiday recipes from the Test Kitchen archives.

Home For The Holidays features hosts Bridget Lancaster and Julia Collin Davison and the rest of the America’s Test Kitchen cast gathered together in a casual behind-the-scenes setting, sharing the warmth of the holidays with viewers. The program also spotlights five of the Test Kitchen’s favorite holiday recipes, including new twists on classic holiday fare such as turkey en cocotte and beef tenderloin with smoky potatoes and persillade relish.

Their porchetta recipe offers a flavor-packed alternative to traditional holiday roasts, and elegant holiday desserts such as millionaire’s shortbread and gâteau Breton are sure-fire favorites to consider anytime you’re trying to please a crowd.

Seconds anyone?

PBS’ “Magical Land of Oz” haunts the unimaginable destruction taking a powerful toll on Australia

The destruction is  unimaginable; scores of devastating bush fires destroying the Australian outback, countless homes and (as of date) more than one billion (!) animals. We keep the country, the people and the animals in our prayers.

We especially prayed when was watched Magical Land of Oz, an exciting three-part series from PBS Distribution that explores the magical depths of Australian animal life, unique species that navigate extremes on land and sea. Blue chip cameras capture the continent’s diverse animal populations in its highest snow peaks, frigid southern seas and suburban backyards.

In the first part, Land, viewers see the unique wildlife of Australia which includes a tree-dwelling kangaroo, a spider that survives underwater and a bird that spreads fire. In the second part, Human, the program explores how Australian wildlife has adapted to survive in the human environment, including a flamboyant dancing peacock spider in a suburban garden. In the final part, Ocean, viewers are taken to Australia’s magical coasts and islands where three oceans create the perfect environment for whales, giant cuttlefish and sharks.

Watch and keep all in your prayers.

PETRUCELLI PICKS: THE MUST-HAVE PBS DISTRIBUTION GEMS OF 2019

PBS Distribution tops the list (yet again) for its must-see, must-have programs, specials, miniseries and documentaries. These are just a small sleighfull, dozens of others can be found at shoppbs.org.

The best of the best: Ken Burns: Country Music.
Ken Burns: Country Music DVD
This eight-part, 16-hour documentary series chronicles the history of a uniquely American art form, focusing on the biographies of the fascinating characters who created it. More than eight years in the making, the film follows the evolution of country music from its diverse and humble origins as it emerged, by the end of the twentieth century, into a worldwide phenomenon. Filled with memorable musical moments, interviews with more than 80 country music artists, and evocative footage and photographs, Country Music weaves an unforgettable story that is both intimate and sweeping.

Other top choices:
The bitter, partisan battle that played out during monster and deviant  Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings reflected deep divisions in Washington that may seem unique to America’s current political and social moment. But as the FRONTLINE investigation Supreme Revenge reveals, the intense politicization on display during the Supreme Court confirmation process, and the transformation of the Court itself, has been a shift decades in the making.
FRONTLINE: Supreme Revenge DVDOffering both critical context on the state of America’s judicial system and a gripping political narrative, Supreme Revenge is a must-watch look at the battle for control of America’s highest court.

Trace the improbable journey of Robert Shaw’s life and career, from his childhood as a preacher’s son in rural California through his meteoric rise as a star of popular music during the Great Depression, with Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices.
An early champion of civil rights, his chorales were among the first to break the color barrier in the American South. Shaw performed the music of Bach in the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, brought audiences to tears in East Berlin in the darkest days of the Cold War.
American Masters: Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices DVDShaw believed great music could have a profound influence, whether in individual lives or in bringing communities together. His eventful journey is brought to life in the film by interviews with legendary musicians including Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia McNair, Alice Parker, Marietta Simpson, and Florence Kopleff, among others.

It’s 1969, and things have taken a darker turn for the old Cowley team. With Endeavour, Thursday and the gang now scattered across Oxfordshire, it takes a series of brutal crimes–including the death of a young schoolgirl, a fatal act of sabotage,
Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour, Season 6 DVD a deadly campaign of gossip and rumor in a picturesque village and a murder at the Bodleian Library–to reunite them. Welcome to the riveting Masterpiece Mystery!: Endeavour, Season 6.

In iconic settings such as the First Ancient Theatre of Larissa, the historic Church of Pammegiston Taxiarchon at Pelion and the newly opened Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performs works by Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Ravel and the contemporary Greek-American composer George Tsontakis.
ODYSSEY: The Chamber Music Society In Greece Odyssey: The Great Music Society in Greece also offers a sumptuous taste of Greece itself, exploring the history, mythology and ideas that have inspired classical music for centuries.

We all know the riddle: What came first, the chicken or the egg? The Egg: Life’s Perfect Invention takes a fascinating look at what is perhaps nature’s most perfect life support system. These remarkable structures nurture new life; protecting it from the outside world at the same time as allowing it to breathe.
NATURE: The Egg: Life's Perfect Invention DVD They are strong enough to withstand the full weight of an incubating parent and weak enough for a hatchling to break free. But how is an egg made? Why are they the shape they are? And perhaps most importantly, why lay an egg at all? Step by step as the egg hatches, host David Attenborough reveals the wonder behind these incredible miracles of nature.

Words from a Bear takes audiences on a journey through the expansive landscapes of the West, when N. Scott Momaday’s Kiowa ancestry roamed the Great Plains with herds of buffalo, to the sand-painted valleys of Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico where he showed superior writing skills as a young mission student.
American Masters: N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear DVD The biography gives a thorough survey of Momaday’s most prolific years as a doctorate fellow at Stanford University, his achievement of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1969, and his later works that solidified his place as the founding member of the “Native American Renaissance” in art and literature, influencing a generation of Native American artists, scholars, and political activists.
Historical photos and original animation will complement captivating interviews with Robert Redford, Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, James Earle Jones, and Joy Harjo to bring audiences inside the creative core of this American Master.

Enjoy all five seasons of the outstanding historical family saga Poldark, here in Poldark: The Complete Collection. Set against the spectacular landscapes of the Cornish coast, Poldark is full of unforgettable characters, captivating storytelling and fiery romance.
Poldark: Seasons 1-5 Complete Collection (Masterpiece)In the more than 150 minutes of bonuses, go behind the scenes with cast and crew in special featurettes from all five seasons; meet the skilled people who design the vivid scenery and create the lavish costumes and hear from the actors who bring to life the compelling heroes, heroines and villains of Cornwall.

Louise Brooks, the ’20s silver screen sensation who never met a rule she didn’t break, epitomized the restless, reckless spirit of the Jazz Age. But, just a few years earlier, she was a 15-year-old student in Wichita, Kansas, for whom fame and fortune were only dreams. When the opportunity arises for her to go to New York to study with a leading dance troupe, her mother insists there be The Chaperone. Norma Carlisle, a local society matron who never broke a rule in her life, impulsively volunteers to accompany Louise to New York for the summer.
Masterpiece: The ChaperoneWhy does this utterly conventional woman do this? What happens to her when she lands in Manhattan with an unusually rebellious teenager as her ward? And, which of the two women is stronger, the uptight wife-and-mother or the irrepressible free spirit? It’s a story full of surprises . . . about who these women really are, and who they eventually become.

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST DVDS/BLU-RAYS OF THE YEAR

Before making Hollywood epics such as Tora! Tora! Tora! and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, director Richard Fleischer started his career with a series of low-budget B-features, often taking ripped-from-the-headlines tales of crime stories and spinning them into noir gold,  of which an exquisite example is 1949’s endlessly entertaining Trapped.

A young Lloyd Bridges stars as hard-boiled hood Tris Stewart, a convicted counterfeiter doing time in the Atlanta pen. When a fresh batch of fake bills starts circulating, treasury agents bail Stewart out to help lead them to the maker of the fake plates. But Tris double-crosses the Feds, hooking up with his gun-moll sweetie (22-year-old Barbara Payton in her breakout role). They plan to heist the plates and hightail it across the border. With the Feds closing in and the double-crosses piling up, Stewart finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Will he trapped for good?

Although long sought by the Film Noir Foundation, Trapped was believed to have suffered the unfortunate fate of many B-films of the era—oblivion. But when a private collector deposited a 35mm acetate print at the Harvard Film Archive, the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive (with support from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Charitable Trust [The HFPA Trust]) sprang into action, restoring the film. The result, presented in a Blu-ray/DVD dual-format edition by Flicker Alley, honors the pitch-perfect performances, assured direction, and gorgeous cinematography of this edge-of-your-seat, noir classic.


Olive Signature line has released  a Blu-ray edition of Bells of St. Mary’s that is a significant improvement over the DVD released by Republic Pictures 100 years ago. The lack of specks and soot and and scratches leads us to believe the film has been (greatly) restored, though why Olive doesn’t use this bragging point is beyond us.
The Bells of St. Marys (Olive Signature) [Blu-ray]This is not a true “Christmas film”, but the warmth and heart and humor and luminous Ingrid Bergman make it worth a few viewings. We are still a bit surprised when we admit that she and co-star Bing Crosby (as a nun and a pastor at odds with each other) have appealing chemistry together.


Have an appetite for a dark, delectable comedy in the tradition of cannibal classics Eating Raoul and Delicatessen? Look no further than A Feast of Man (IndiePix Films), certain to satisfy your hunger (and funny bone).
A Feast of ManWhen a wealthy and eccentric New York playboy prone to mischief dies unexpectedly, his four closest socialite friends  are summoned to the late aristocrat’s country home overlooking the Hudson for a viewing of his video will. Only things don’t go quite as Wolf, the executor of the estate, had planne: Gallagher’s posthumous wish is to put his dearly beloved to the test—each will become a millionaire overnight if they can unanimously agree to consume his dead body and the group, has until the end of the weekend to reach a decision.  Funny food for thought!

Say hello to the ultimate Tony Montana experience with the Scarface “The World Is Yours” Edition Gift Set (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment). This gem is chockfull of goodies: The 1983 film is 4K UHD; experience the unforgettable film like never before with HDR for brighter, deeper, more lifelike color.
There’s also more than 2 and a half hours of bonuses, including the brand-new Scarface 35th Anniversary Reunion Feature, with an all-new conversation with director Brian De Palma and actors Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer. Another Blu-ray bonus: Both the original theatrical and alternate censored versions of Howard Hawks’ newly restored 1932 version Scarface. Perhaps best of all is the limited edition, individually-numbered replica of one of the most iconic props from the film.


After a 30-year-old bachelor, leaves his corporate job to pursue his dreams as an artist, he embarks on a new life as an Uber driver while working on a graphic novel titled Pixelia, which just happens to also be the name of this IndiePix Films release. One day, a transgender woman gets into his car and changes his life forever; they spend the whole day together, opening each other’s minds: she shares her desire to adopt a child, while he narrates the story of his graphic novel.
After a special bond quickly forms, he realizes his own queer identity, and the couple start to make their way in a culture that is not always friendly to alternative ways of life.
This LGBTQ festival favorite, made on a show string budget, is a prime example of India’s budding queer cinema movement.

The Broad City Complete Series(Paramount) has everything a queen or two could ever need. In addition to every single freakin’ episode, there are special features including outtakes, deleted/extended scenes, and every episode of Hack into Broad City and Behind Broad CitysPlus, a special features only disc with more than 30 minutes of additional extras. Yaaaas!


Frank Capra’s heart-warming masterpiece is the best-known and most-loved holiday film.  Now you can watch It’s a Wonderful Life (Paramount)  holiday classic like never before, newly remastered from the original film negatives and more vibrant than ever with stunning clarity.
With the endearing message that “no one is a failure who has friends”, Capra’s heartwarming masterpiece continues to endure, and after more than 70 years, this beloved classic still remains as powerful and moving as the day it was made.


Not to be catty, but little heroes can romp to the rescue with the PAW Patrol pups, as the canine crew use their tools, tech, vehicles and problem-solving skills to save Adventure Bay.
Each pup has a unique job and skills, but the pack must always come together as a team to save the day. The 3-DVD set PAW Patrol: Best in Snow Collection (Nickelodeon) deserves a spot in each kid’s stocking.


For the young and young-at-heart: Bumblebee & Transformers Ultimate 6-Movie Collection,
including Bumblebee and all five Transformers films, from visionary director Michael Bay and legendary producer Steven Spielberg.


Baby Boomer boom! The Toys That Made Us (Screen Media) is an American television series created by Brian Volk-Weiss. The first four episodes of the series began streaming on Netflix on December 22, 2017, and the next four were released on May 25, 2018.
The eight-episode documentary series, as it was originally touted, focused on the history of important toy lines. The first four episodes focus on the Star Wars, He-Man and G.I. Joe toy lines with subsequent episodes featuring LEGO, Transformers, Hello Kitty and Star Trek. The Bu-ray set includes a free collectible!


Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orphee & Eurydice in one of opera’s most beautiful masterpieces; his exquisite drama introduces us to Orpheus, the poet and musician whose every word and note communicate the most overwhelming love for his Eurydice.
Gluck: Orphee et Eurydice [Blu-ray]This production features Gluck’s reworking of the original German opera into a French-language production which contains thrilling ballet sequences that will come to vivid life under the direction and choreography of the legendary John Neumeier. This production stars Dmitry Korchak as Orphée with Andriana Chuchman as Eurydice and Lauren Snouffer as Amour.  Oui!


Democracies should protect their citizens, especially the most vulnerable among them, but the United States is increasingly failing to do so especially in areas like the Rust Belt, the manufacturing heartland of the nation that includes Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The investigative documentary The Corporate Coup d’Etat (First Run features) shows how corporations and billionaires have taken control of the American political process, and in doing so have brought economic hardship and ruin to vast swaths of the country. It combines insights from political thinkers and journalists with the experiences of citizens from the Rust Belt, where factory closures and outsourcing have left it desolate and people hopeless.
Corporate Coup d'Etat, TheThe film argues that the crisis predates Adolph Freak’s election by many years: Decades ago, U.S. democracy began selling its soul to big corporations; lobbyists and business-friendly politicians took control in Washington, gradually undermining the will of the people. Provocative and revealing, The Corporate Coup d État exposes what happened and where we are now.

Other First Run features topping the list:
Tattoo Uprising reveals the artistic and historical roots of today s tattoo explosion. This sweeping overview explores how tattoos were used in early Christian practices, how they were discovered halfway around the world during the voyages of Captain James Cook, and how they exploded in popularity in America beginning with artists like Ed Hardy.
Tattoo UprisingThere’s an unforgettable appearance by  Werner Herzog, who allows a rare glimpse at his Ed Hardy tattoo.

Spanning three generations, Chasing Portraits is a deeply moving narrative of the richness of one man’s art, the devastation of war, and an unexpected path to healing. Moshe Rynecki was a prolific artist who painted scenes of the Polish-Jewish community until he was murdered during the Holocaust. Chasing PortraitsFor more than a decade his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth, has searched for the missing art.

An elderly man, Octav Petrescu (portrayed by the brilliant Marcel Iures), returns to his childhood villa in Romania to sell it. Arriving there after a decades-long absence, Octav wanders through the atmospheric house and undulating grounds that surround it and is confronted and transformed Octavby the memories and spectres of his youth, eventually finding answers to questions that have cast a shadow over his adult life.

From Oscar-nominated Josh Aronson and featuring a new song from Jon Bon Jovi, To Be Of Service is a documentary about veterans suffering from PTSD who are paired with a service dog to help them regain their lives.
To Be of ServiceThe film follows these warriors with their dogs as this deeply bonded friendship restores independence and feeling for the men and women who so courageously served our country.


Inherited from Maria Montessori in 1907, the Montessori Method is a child-centered educational philosophy that celebrates and nurtures each child’s desire to learn, an approach valuing the human spirit and full development: physical, social, emotional and cognitive. The Montessori Method is increasing in popularity both in the U.S. and abroad.
Curious to see how the Method works first hand, filmmaker Alexandre Mourot sets his camera up in the oldest Montessori school in France (with kids from 3 to 6) and observes. He meets happy children, free to move around, working alone or in small groups. Some read, others make bread, do divisions, laugh or sleep. The teacher remains discreet.
Children guide the filmmaker through the whole school year, helping him understand the magic of their autonomy and self-esteem–the seeds of a new society of peace and freedom, which Maria Montessori dedicated her life work to.
Such is the wonder and joy of Montessori: Let the Child be the Guide.


Holy high notes! Melody Makers (Cleopatra Entertainment/MVD Visual), a chronicle of the birth of music journalism from the world’s oldest and longest standing seminal music magazine, Melody Makersis not just another music documentary; through a series of interviews from artists and journalists of the time, the film tells the true story of the rise and fall of the world’s most influential music publication and uncovers an era of tremendous creative freedom.


Who says the holidays can’t be a horror . . . and we don’t just mean when the in-laws come. George Roy Hill’s landmark science-fiction classic, Slaughterhouse-Five, tells the tale of World War II soldier Billy Pilgrim and how he was abducted by aliens. The flick took home the Jury Prize at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival and has been a favorite of sci-fi fans ever since.  Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote the novel the book is based on, famously claimed, “I drool and cackle every time I watch that film.”
Slaughterhouse-Five [Blu-ray] Not only is Arrow bringing this to Blu-ray for the first time in North America, but it comes with a brand new 4K restoration and a spaceship-load of special features. Yippee!


He was a true genius. And Kurt Weill’s Street Scene is an amazing mélange of show tunes, arias, jazz numbers, folk songs and spirituals, a true musical melting pot that aptly underlines the rich variety of characters that populate the New York City tenement block in the ’30s that’s the focus of this exceptionally vital and criminally undervalued work.
It was meant meant to be a truly American opera, half-way between his The Threepenny Opera and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and drawing from the famous play by Elmer Rice (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize when it was published in 1928).
Kurt Weill's Street Scene [Blu-ray]Weill wrote Street Scene shortly after fleeing Nazi Germany. When he discovered the vitality of the American musical scene, his focus became to reconcile the Broadway musical with European traditional opera, jazzy and North-American tunes with an almost Puccinian-like lyricism. Under Tim Murray’s vivid and precise baton, the superb production by John Fulljames perfectly renders the vitality and energy released by the streets of New York that proved to be a great inspiration to the theatrical mind of the composer.
Released by BelAir Classiques, the staging generously evokes a bygone era of American history, simultaneously looking rundown and part of a dreamscape worth longing for.


 

 

 

May we present a nifty selection of nifty “American Experience” PBS specials

Sealab
In the spring of 1964, explorers were preparing for a new mission, diving into the sea as one of the Navy’s newly-minted “aquanauts.” Aquanauts were divers who attempted to chart the ocean’s depths and faced barriers that had thwarted humans for centuries: near total blackness, bone-jarring cold, and intense pressure that could disorient the mind and crush the body. Aboard Sealab, explorers would attempt to break through those barriers—going deeper and staying underwater longer than anyone had done before.

An audacious feat of engineering—a pressurized underwater habitat, complete with science labs and living quarters—Sealab aimed to prove that humans were capable of spending days or even months living and working on the ocean floor. Sealab would pioneer what is known as “saturation diving,” which would allow divers to remain undersea—and emerge unscathed—for more extended periods of time.

After a tragic accident the Sealab program was subsequently suspended and completely shut down in 1970, however the lessons learned were used in numerous covert Naval operations for years to come.


Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. presents the definitive history of one of the least understood chapters in American history—the transformative years following the American Civil War, when the nation struggled to rebuild itself in the face of profound loss, massive destruction and revolutionary social change. The film takes a broad view of the Reconstruction era and its aftermath.

The first half of the documentary centers on the pivotal and hopeful decade following the Civil War rebellion, charting black progress and highlighting the accomplishments of the many political leaders who emerged to usher their communities into this new era of freedom. The series’ second half looks beyond that hopeful decade, when the arc of history bent backwards.

Tracing the unraveling of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow segregation in the closing years of the 19th century, the film looks at the myriad ways in which black people continued to acquire land, build institutions and strengthen communities amidst increasing racial violence and repression.

The film also explores the flowering of African American art, music, literature and culture as tools of resistance in the struggle against Jim Crow racism, and the surge of political activism that marked the launch of iconic civil rights organizations.


Charm City
An official selection at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Maryland Film Festival, the Nashville Film Festival and at AFI Docs, this feature documentary was filmed over a violent three-year period when Baltimore’s nickname, Charm City, never seemed less apt. The film profiles a group of police, citizens, community leaders and government officials who, with grit, fury and compassion, are grappling with the consequences of violence and trying to reclaim their city’s future.

On the streets of Baltimore, shooting is rampant, the murder rate is approaching an all-time high and distrust of the police is at a fever pitch. With nerves frayed and neighborhoods in distress, dedicated community leaders, compassionate law enforcement officers and a progressive young city councilman try to stem the epidemic of violence. Filmed during the lead up to, and aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, Charm City is a powerful cinema vérité portrait of those surviving in, and fighting for, the vibrant city they call home.


Dictator’s Playbook examines the historical, sociological and psychological foundations of 20th century dictatorships, and provides fresh insight into six brutal men who impacted world history, how they functioned, how they influenced each other and why they succeeded or failed.

Six episodes focus on one dictator, including: Kim Il Sung, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini, Manuel Noriega, Francisco Franco and Idi Amin.


Margaret: The Rebel Princess focuses on Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth’s beautiful and rebellious younger sister. This program features rare footage and interviews with those who knew her best and offers unparalleled insight into Margaret’s turbulent life and times. Her unique position as the Queen’s younger sister in a changing Britain left her free to experiment and push boundaries, yet she was forever judged by the public and press beginning to question the very idea of a monarchy.

While Margaret often followed the rigid rules under which she was raised, she also stepped outside those rules and into scandal.


Directed by Peabody-and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Boss: The Black Experiences in Business shines a light on the story of resilience and resistance within the black American experience in the face of racial hostility and violence, economic exclusion, segregation and discrimination. The new two-hour documentary traces the lives of African American entrepreneurs over 150 years, from those bound by bondage to moguls at the top of million-dollar empires.

Stories featured in the film include those of entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, publisher John H. Johnson, Motown CEO Berry Gordy and business pioneer and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, among many others.

This program brings viewers on a journey from the end of Reconstruction through the present, tracing the emergence of a stable black business community alongside the greater struggle for civil rights.


Homo Spatius
Can Homo sapiens evolve into Homo spatius?

For over 50 years now, we have been testing our human nature in our effort to conquer outer space, and still 30 years away from a possible human exploration of Mars, a question remains: Can our body take such travels? Will it ever adapt?

Accelerated aging, muscular atrophy, slowed-down brain functions, euphoric hallucinatory spells; as soon as we leave our usual environment towards extra-terrestrial horizons, we face conditions which our bodies are unfit for. However, the pull of exploration is stronger and space medicine is at work to prepare astronauts for travelling to new worlds , in a near or more distant future.

Combining human adventure and the exploration of the human body, this film offers unique insights into the physical and psychological effects of space travel on the astronauts and measures the impact on medical sciences.

PBS Distribution offers “American Experience: The Swam”

Man has been attempting to conquer the Florida Everglades since the 1800’s. The Swamp (PBS Distribution) explores natures’ most mysterious and unique ecosystems told through the eccentric lives of hucksters, politicians and activists.

The program is based, in part, on the book The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise by Michael Grunwald. The program introduces us to the first person who attempted to drain the Everglades in 1881, Philadelphia industrialist Hamilton Disston. He was one of the first to see the potential of turning the wetland into a profitable enterprise.

By the 1920’s, Florida experienced a population and real estate boom as new settlers cleared away native vegetation to plant crops like celery, lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries. But there were some, such as naturalist Charles Torrey Simpson, who warned against spoiling the area’s beauty and biodiversity. Torrey-Simpson was right. After altering the Everglades, the area was hit with unintended deadly consequences, from catastrophic floods to brutal droughts. Still, even as the alterations wreaked havoc on the environment, efforts continued to conquer the Everglades.

In 1925, landscape architect Ernest Coe moved to Miami and fell in love with the Everglades and became a champion to preserve it. He created a national park which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved by authorizing the creation of Everglades National Park in 1934. One of Coe’s supporters, writer Marjory Stoneman Douglas from the Miami Herald, wrote a book in 1946 that forever redefined the region as essential not only to wildlife but to people.