Are you hooked on Downton Abbey? Did you know the series was inspired by Robert Altman’s film Gosford Park? Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for Gosford Park. Check out Maggie Smith as Countess of Trentham before she became Downton Abbey’s Countess of Grantham!
Check It Out
If you’re a fan of Christopher Guest movies (like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show), you’ll love his TV series, Family Tree. Tom Chadwick plays an Englishman who inherits a mysterious box from a great-aunt he has never met. This begins a splendid, funny adventure to find his roots.
On January 1, 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the back while being held down on the ground in the custody of transit officers. Several witnesses captured video footage on their cell phones, and soon the incendiary images were widely viewed across the nation. In the award-winning drama Fruitvale Station, we are given a new picture — that of a complex young man trying to make better choices than he had in the past so that he could provide both a present and a future for his young daughter. Lead actor Michael B. Jordan reaches deep to reveal the humanity of a name consigned to tragic headlines, and knowing the facts of that day in no way lessens the impact of watching them play out.
It’s 2071 and the entire Solar System is fair game through the use of hyperspace gates. Cruising through the black is the Bebop, a starship full of bounty hunters. Spike is a lithe, mod suit-wearing, martial arts expert with a dark past. Jet is a mech-armed, former cop as ready to cook noodles as clock ya one. Faye Valentine, well, she can steal or find anything, but somehow always ends up tied up. Finally, oddball Ed can hack any network, especially with the help of Ein, the ship’s data dog. If you like Firefly, James Bond, martial arts movies, or innovative soundtracks, try Cowboy Bebop, a 26-episode series that is an excellent entry-level step into anime.
(When you’re done with the series, watch Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, too!)
Staff Pick: One Goal II: The Inside Story of the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks by Bob Verdi
Diane of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends One Goal II: The Inside Story of the 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks by Bob Verdi:
From the streak to the Stanley Cup, One Goal II and the 53 minute long DVD 17 Seconds (which comes with the book) portray the inside story of the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks. The hardcover book and DVD provide an all-access pass inside the locker room party in Boston, the airplane ride home with the Cup following Game 6, and interviews with the players. Through full color photos, fans ride along on the players’ buses during the championship parade and follow the Blackhawks as they spend their Cup days with family and friends, sharing the greatest trophy in sports with their communities.
Additionally, the book contains an innovative, mini video screen. It plays the Blackhawks’ two goals in 17 seconds to win the Cup and a five-minute feature with interviews about those two goals and the ensuing celebration.
The Earth has the possibility of becoming a garbage heap. In the documentary Trashed, Jeremy Irons narrates the problems and solutions to modern waste management while he travels from open air heaps in Lebanon to modernized dumpsites in the U.S. Broken down into “Land”, “Air”, “Water”, and “Solutions”, Irons guides the viewer through issues like groundwater pollution, birth defects, and oceans becoming a slurry of toxins – all caused by the world’s lax landfill regulations. With easy solutions, like more stringent fines on those who fail to recycle, Trashed lays out not only problems, but attainable solutions. If you like Jeremy Irons’ golden baritone or movies that are good for watercooler talk in the morning, try Trashed.
Father-son relationships will never not be complicated. Add a measure of professional rivalry, and the drama is bound to entertain. Dr. Eliezer Shkolnik is a purist in Talmudic scholarship, one who for years has been largely unrecognized by his peers. His son, Dr. Uriel Shkolnik, enjoys popularity as a similarly dedicated but more personable academic. Uriel is selected to be the winner of the Israel Prize, a prestigious national honor, but the Prime Minister calls Eliezer by mistake, creating a tangle in which there is no clear way to correct the error without sacrificing one or the other. Footnote, a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film of the 2012 Academy Awards, features bittersweet humor, restrained camerawork, and exceptional understated performances.
Think you know WWII history? You might be surprised! The Ghost Army explains how the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops – made up of artists, sound technicians, and radiomen – created the grand illusion of American troops that held the line against German forces in major battles of the war. Amazing!
Anyone who clicked through the TV channels from 1983 – 1994 surely crossed paths with Bob Ross. You know: Bob Ross – the painter with the soft voice and the big afro. His 30-minute PBS show, The Joy of Painting, taught amateur artists how to landscape paint using the wet-on-wet oil painting technique. Ross brought a positive mental attitude, humor, camp, and easy-to-follow methods of art-making to the public. Bob Ross: The Happy Painter explores how Ross starring in a TV commercial for local painting classes turned into a 15 million dollar empire. Celebrities like Terrence Howard, Jane Seymour, and Brad Paisley discuss Ross’ life and legacy in this feel-good documentary.
The Happiest Millionaire is a favorite lesser-known Disney musical that offers toe-tapping charm. Fred MacMurray is a wealthy father who keeps pet alligators in his mansion and hosts a Bible-and-boxing club in the stables. Lesley Ann Warren, Greer Garson, and the irrepressible Tommy Steele add to the family fun.