Ringo was best man at Harry Nilsson’s wedding. Nilsson knew all of The Beatles. In fact, when asked who his favorite band was, Lennon said “Nilsson.” Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? is a documentary examining the life of a songwriter who widely influenced popular music of the 20th century, but has since been somewhat forgotten. Using three dozen interviews with family and friends (like Yoko Ono, Robin Williams, and Eric Idle), along with music videos, home videos, and archive audio footage, a moving portrait of a musician is made. Nilsson’s vivid and complex creativity is exposed, along with the wild side that may have hastened his death.
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OH, NO! Aliens are here to invade our bodies and take over Earth. Wait…what about…OH, NO! Humans have accidentally destroyed the Earth and now have to find another oxygen-rich world. Planetary colonization is a major theme within sci-fi, and there are plenty of ways in which it can go down.
Click here to see fiction, and a few movies, that feature planetary colonization.
Hollywood gossip tells us that there are all sorts of biopics coming down the line. Supposedly, Don Cheadle has a Miles Davis project; there is a Nina Simone movie, multiple Marvin Gaye films, a Mahalia Jackson movie, and a Sam Cooke project. That’s not even denting the list…but none of them are completed.
Click here if you don’t want to wait to see excellent African American biopics.
If your obsession with Downton Abbey has led to you fantasize about being one of the Crawleys or among their staff, then the PBS series Manor House is a must-see! In this project, nineteen volunteers from the modern world agree to live in an Edwardian country house for three months. Not only are they without 21st-century conveniences, but they must abide by the class system and standards of behavior of the early 1900s. As the tagline claims, “There’s a place for everyone…and everyone better know their place.” The tensions between family, upper staff, and lower staff are played out in both expected and surprising ways, and you will gain a new appreciation for all. Looking for even more insight? Try the program website, the companion book, or Secrets of the Manor House.
The New York Dolls were a proto-punk, rock-and-roll band who played hard, loud…and in women’s clothing. They kicked out the jams for five years and fell apart by 1977. New York Doll is a documentary on bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane after his life in the Dolls. Kane describes his alcoholism, drug abuse, and his climb back into normal life – having become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just when working in a Mormon genealogy library was starting to get mundane, the New York Dolls reunited, giving Kane a chance to rock out without the negative nightlife.
A werewolf, vampire, and ghost share a London flat. No, this isn’t a new Twilight love triangle spin-off. It’s Being Human, a BBC television show that combines drama, horror, and comedy all in one. Currently in its fourth season, it is one of those shows that you can’t stop watching.
Fringe is more than you think it is. Yes, it began with X-Files-like investigations into strange events, and you’ll certainly find episodes with the best storytelling elements of science fiction, fantasy, and even horror. However, it grows beyond formulaic genre fare. Fringe became a complex and poignant exploration of parenthood, identity, and humanity. Terrific performances, most especially that of John Noble as the repentant, Red Vine-loving mad scientist, expose the beating hearts beneath dual worlds. Not many series boast episodes that include a noir musical, an LSD-fueled jump into animation, or a twenty-five-year fast-forward into dystopia, but that’s par for the course on a show that embraces the full spectrum of human emotion, from the creepy to the heart-tugging.
Michael C. Hall can’t seem to escape death. Before he was Dexter, he was a mortician in Six Feet Under. He’s part of a quirky family whose lives are entwined with the funeral home their father left after suddenly dying. Although the setting seems maudlin, the show is about relationships, expected and unexpected, and their complications.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch, cinematic history’s first transsexual, glam-rock musical, follows German expatriate Hedwig and her hilariously unpopular band The Angry Inch (named for Hedwig’s semi-botched sex-change operation). Their cross-country tour plays a chain of cut-rate family seafood restaurants in a film about pain, love, and what identity means.
It’s a new year, so how about thinking of the world around you in a new way? The Earth is the only planet that can sustain life in humanity’s foreseeable future. Take some time to learn more about it, the way we currently use it, and some of the ways that we could use it better.
Click here to see for documentaries focusing on crucial environmental issues.