Loyal readers know we’ve done the gift shopping for you.
We found the best of the best: Those gifts that have presence and are sure to please anyone on your gift guide this holidaze season.
Read about our past picks: lodeplus.com/stage-and-screen-in-pittsburgh/petrucelli-s-picks-the-best-toys-and-games-of-2011-hello-santa
You can also found our picks for the two best mail-order catalogs products here: lodeplus.com/dead-celebrities-in-national/petrucelli-pick-s-the-holiday-gift-guide-to-the-two-best-mail-order-catalogs.
We even tested the tops from QVC and HSN here: lodeplus.com/stage-and-screen-in-pittsburgh/petrucelli-s-picks-top-gifts-you-can-buy-from-your-tv-think-qvc-and-hsn
Now taking center stage: The last-minute gifts for the DVD and book lovers on your list. Heck, we even threw in a great new holiday CD!
Once again, this holiday season the list of new seasonal CDs is longer than the names of elves Santa doesn’t talk about. We got so many of them, but the only we find ourselves listening to again and again is Celtic Christmas (Putumayo). A lush and relaxing mix of Irish and Scottish voices, entrancing Celtic instrumentation and carols that provide an uplifting soundtrack for the holiday season, especially when the traffic is bad
THE WRITE STUFF
The Seasons of Veuve Clicquot: A Social Cookbook for All Celebrations (Rizzoli, $50) Make your celebration the most fabulous fete of the season with recipes and entertaining tips from Veuve Clicquot, the champagne of celebrations. It’s our fave bubbly. Truly. The book is divided into four chapters—Spring, Summer Fall, and Winter—highlighting centuries-old traditions and expertise of champagne making while chronicling events and recipes for each season’s celebrations. This book takes you from the Champagne vineyards in Reims to the chic social events of the world: polo tournaments in New York, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the ski slopes in Australia, even a vintage car race in the English countryside.
Prestigious contributors make it a must-have cookbook for socialites and foodies alike. Intermixed with the recipes are beautiful new and vintage photographs inspired by the celebrations, making this cookbook also a gorgeous coffee-table book.
The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate (W.W. Norton, $19.95) You can get your kicks on Route 66. Then what? Plenty. Stretching 3,389 miles across 13states, from the neon scramble of Times Square to the foggy beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, The Lincoln Highway is just the thing to satisfy those with an itch for the wide open road and a hankering to see the “real” America. This tome is just the guide to take you there.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, generations of Americans had made do with substandard, impassable roads, until Carl G. Fisher, founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Henry B. Joy, president of Packard Motor Company, dreamed up “The Costliest Memorial Ever Planned”—a coast-to-coast highway that would be named in tribute to the nation’s sixteenth president. This highway, “14 Miles Longer than the Telephone Line” (at least in 1913), meanders through small towns and Plains cities, through America’s Heartland and its memory.
Packed with trivia, history, and images of a lost and re-found America,the book traceseach step of the journey allowing Thelma and Louise and their team to experience not only the well-known (Gettysburg, Notre Dame, the Great Salt Lake), but also the not-forgotten (the Haines Shoe House in Hallam, PA; the World’s Largest Teapot in Chester, WV; Pretty Boy Floyd’s death mask on display in the basement of a former East Liverpool, OH funeral home).
With more than 200 color photographs, a resource guide, a special map and a section entitled “Lincoln Highway Resources,” The Lincoln Highway provides everything you need to plan your own cross-country journey of discovery.
The Louvre: All the Paintings (Black Dog & Leventhal, $75) is truly an historic publishing event. Endorsed by the Louvre and for the first time ever, all 3,022 paintings on display in the permanent painting collection of the world’s most popular museum are presented in full color in this striking, slip cased book.
Organized and divided into the four main painting collections of the museum—the Italian School, the Northern School, the Spanish School and the French School—the paintings are then presented chronologically by the artist’s date of birth. Four hundred of the most iconic and significant paintings are illuminated with 300-word discussions by art historians Anja Grebe and Vincent Pomarède on the key attributes of the work, what to look for when viewing the painting, the artist’s inspirations and techniques, biographical information on the artist and the artist’s impact on the history of art. All works are also fully annotated with the name of the painting and artist, the date of the work, the birth and death dates of the artist, the medium that was used, the size of the painting, the Louvre catalog number, and the room in the Louvre in which the painting is found. There’s a DVD-ROM that’s easily browsable by artist, date, school, art historical genre or location in the Louvre. This last feature allows readers to tour the Louvre and its contents room by room, as if they were actually walking through the building.
Remember Gnomes? The best-sellingbook has been repackaged into an exceptional collector’s edition (Abrams, $29.95) celebrating the 35th anniversary of the magical book. The beloved Gnomes was first published in 1976 and the world became enchanted with the simple and diligent ways of these special creatures. Based on Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen’s scientific observation of the local gnome population in Holland, Gnomes covers all areas of gnome culture: architecture, education, courtship, medicine, industry, and relationships with other mythical creatures. Thirty-five years later, this beautifully illustrated book continues to bring joy to readers of all ages. This revised collector’s edition of Gnomes features a new introduction, eight removable prints in a back cover envelope, and an all-new signature of never-before-published gnome sketches by artist Rien Poortvliet on distinctive sketchbook paper.
George Harrison: Living in the Material (Abrams, $40) draws on Harrison’s personal archive of photographs, letters, diaries and memorabilia. His wife Olivia reveals the arc of his life, from his guitar-obsessed boyhood in Liverpool, to the astonishment of the Beatles years, to his days as an independent musician and bohemian squire. Here too is the record of Harrison’s lifelong commitment to Indian music and his adventures as a movie producer, Traveling Wilbury and Formula One racing fan. The book is crammed with stories and reminiscences from scores of Harrison’s friends, including Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Fab Four members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. The book is deeply enriched by dozens and dozens of never-before-published photographs taken by Harrison himself beginning in the mid-’60s. It is a rich tribute to a man who died far too young, but who touched the lives of millions.
New York Times bestselling cookbook author Claudia Roden believes that through food a cook can reconstruct an entire world. In her classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food–800 recipes long served alongside a treasure trove of folk tales, proverbs, stories, poetry and local history–that’s just what she did.
Now, in The Food of Spain (Ecco, $39.95), Roden applies that same remarkable insight, scope and authority to a cuisine marked by its regionalism and suffused with an unusually particular culinary history. In hundreds of exquisite recipes, she explores both the little-known and the classic dishes of Spain–from Andalusia to Asturias, from Catalonia to Galicia. Roden’s clear, elegant, humorous and passionate voice is a reader’s delight, a guide not only to delicious food but to the peoples and cultures that produced it.
Maurice Sendak transforms Bumble-Ardy (HarperCollins, $17.95), his 1970s Sesame Street animated short, into a rollicking picture book starring a piglet in need of a party. After eight, sad birthday party-less years, Bumble’s feckless family of pigs finally overindulged too much and “got ate” themselves. Sent to live with his aunt Adeline, Bumble gets a very pleasant ninth birthday party, complete with cake. But after his aunt leaves for work, the piglet launches a wild, raucous affair filled with costumed participants of all kinds. Cultural references abound and there is a fun play on numbers throughout. With Sendak’s trademark chimerical artwork creating a story within a story.
We aren’t great fans of Harry Connick Jr., but we gotta admit we fell for The Happy Elf (HarperCollins, $17.99). Based on HC’s holiday song of the same name and with vibrant illustrations from Dan Andreasen, The Happy Elf tells the tale of Eubie, the happiest elf at the North Pole. More than anything else, he longs to be a part of Santa’s sleigh team. Instead, he’s stuck checking the naughty-or-nice lists. Then, one Christmas Eve, he notices something strange: In the whole town of Bluesville, not a single person has been nice. So with a pinch of elfish magic and a magical whoosh!, Eubie’s off to Bluesville. But can he turn a whole town of naughty children nice in just one day? A CD is included.
The name Ahmet Ertegun brings music to the ears of die-hard music fans. The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun (Simon & Schuster, $30) is the definitive biography of the man who changed popular culture throughout the world. As the founder and head of Atlantic Records, he signed and/or recorded many of the greatest musical artists of all time—the lost is longer than Santa’s nicer list, so we’ve picked some of our faves: Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Sonny and Cher, Eric Clapton, Buffalo Springfield, the Rolling Stones and Bette Midler. Ertegun transformed Atlantic Records from a small independent record label into a hugely profitable multinational corporation.
A larger-than-life figure, always hip, Ertegun lived in the grand manner but was never happier than when he found himself in some down-and-out joint listening to music late at night. Blessed with impeccable taste and brilliant business acumen, he brought rock ’n’ roll into the mainstream while creating the music that became the sound track for the lives of multiple generations.
Music fans will also dig, big time, Rock Seen (Abrams, $45), a coffee table book filled with the works of noted photographer Bob Gruen. For more than 40 years, his name has been synonymous with rock and roll. From taking early photos on tour with Ike and Tina Turner, to capturing the early CBGB/Max’s Kansas City scene to covering current stadium rockers such as Green Day, Gruen has always been at the right place at the right time—and he’s always gotten the shot. In this lavish monograph, Gruen has curated his favorite photographs from his career, with intimate captions and behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Featuring such illustrious acts as the Clash, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, Ramones, and more, and including an introduction by the legendary Debbie Harry of Blondie, this collection is a must-have for all fans of rock and roll.
Vogue Knitting: Classic Patterns from the World’s Most Celebrated Knitting Magazine (Rizzoli, $50) celebrates Vogue Knitting’s 30th anniversary and is a must-have for knitters at all levels. Whether you are a young or an old knitter, a novice or an expert, one thing remains true: Vogue Knitting magazine is the bible for innovative and inspiring knitted garments. In the past decades, the handcrafted revolution has converted lovers of fashion and young people alike into obsessive knitters. Vogue Knitting, the most respected knitting magazine in the world, has served as an indispensable how-to guide for knitters with its beautiful and intricate patterns.
This must-have volume features the most sought-after patterns of Vogue Knitting from its launch in 1982 to the present. Reproducing more than eighty full-color patterns by renowned designers such as Marc Jacobs, Twinkle, Oscar de la Renta, and Cynthia Rowley, as well as various legends within the knitting community, this volume combines classic and cutting-edge styles and will remain a timeless and essential book for knitters of all levels and styles.
From sweaters to suits, from elegant to edgy, Vogue Knitting features a range of patterns for beginners and experts alike. In essence, this volume embodies what Vogue Knitting has stood for over the past thirty years: inspiration, luxury, creativity and fashion.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Puffin, $29.99) One taste of this nifty pop-up book, and kids of all ages will run off to Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. But only five lucky people will be allowed inside, including our hero, Charlie Bucket. With his golden ticket in hand, Charlie is ready for the wildest time of his life. The book is marvelously crafted, with amazing pop-up visuals, lift-the-flaps and pull tabs that bring Roald Dahl’s timeless classic to life in a scrumdiddlyumptious new way.
He was, along with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, one of the greatest stars of the silent (and sound) film era, appearing in such classics as Safety Last! and The Freshman. But most people don’t know that Harold Lloyd was also an avid photographer with a passion for stereoscopic (3D) photography. In 1947 he began taking pictures of family and friends, including Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Ronald Reagan. During his lifetime he took more than 300,000 photographs, thousands of which featured starlets and models who posed nude in front of some of the most spectacular and creative backdrops and scenery. Collected here for the first time by Lloyd’s granddaughter, Suzanne, Harold Lloyd’s Hollywood Nudes in 3-D! (Black Dog & Leventhal , $19.95)presents the most lavish, luscious, and, yes, ludicrous photographs of Hollywood nudes from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s in all kinds of settings, including Lloyd’s luxurious Greenacres estate, the Grand Canyon and studios filled with outrageous props such as faux flowers, animal pelts, and Christmas kitsch. There are 200 photographs, 50 of them rendered in 3-D and viewable with the special Harold Lloyd–style 3-D spectacles for an enhanced and extraordinary visual experience. Naughty and nice!
For the first time ever, Transformers Vault (Abrams, $35) reveals the complete story of the Transformers, everyone’s favorite robots in disguise. Loaded with never-before-seen images, this book is a guide to the epic battle between the Autobots and Decepticons, as it began with toys and television, and continued to comics, film, games, and other media. There’s something here for all generations, from classic toys that have become sought-after collectibles to the amazing, high-tech visuals of the three live-action films.
Hasbro has opened its official archives, gathering more than 250 images and several featured pieces of memorabilia. Look inside for a sheet of Generation One tech specs with a secret revealer, a rare pencil sketch from comics artist Casey Coller, an unseen character profile for Hot Rod from the 1986 film, an animation cel, and much more. Exclusive photos of Japanese Transformer prototypes, archival development art, and brand-new information about the future of the Transformers make this the ultimate package for every fan.
Star Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives (Abrams, $40)charts the remarkable history of the world’s most popular science fiction series, examining the franchise’s first 40 years. Covering all six Star Trek television series and the ten original feature films, the book highlights the far-reaching social and scientific optimism that underpins the franchise, dwelling on milestones such as its groundbreaking mixed-race casts and technologies that have since become commonplace, before taking an in-depth look at the making of each series and movie. Fully illustrated with more than 350 images, and including 13 interactive reproductions of the most fascinating memorabilia from the CBS archives–on-set signage, hand-drawn storyboards, blueprints for Picard’s captain’s chair, and a vintage T-shirt transfer–Star Trek Vault provides a broad perspective on the voyages of Captains Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer. The ultimate treasure trove of Star Trek imagery and memorabilia, Star Trek Vault is sure to appeal to both the casual and the die-hard fan.
Brian Walker’s two comprehensive guides to American comics, The Comics Before 1945 and The Comics Since 1945, are combined here in one beautifully designed omnibus edition, The Comics: The Complete Collection (Abrams, $40). The cartoon authority has amassed over a century of strips—more than 1,300 images—including rare examples provided by the artists themselves. Featured cartoonists include George Herriman (Krazy Kat), Walt Kelly (Pogo), Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), Scott Adams (Dilbert), Patrick McDonnell (Mutts), and many more. Organized bydecade, with biographical profiles and analysis of the different genres, The Comics is a graphically stunning, and terrifically priced survey of American newspaper comics.
DVD QUICK PICKS
He’s big and purple and one helluva nice guy. This season, Barney and his plentiful pals take a trip to the North Pole in Holiday Favorites, a box set of three fun-filled tales: “Barney: Night Before Christmas.” “Barney: Christmas Star” and our fave” Frosty Friends,” in which Barney, Bob the Builder, Kipper and Thomas learn about the holiday season. We could all learn from The Big Purple Dude. The set boats lots of bonus features, including read-alongs, sing-alongs and games.
Art of the Western World (Acorn Media) offers a sweeping overview of Western art. Go to just about any museum, and a work’s title, artist, medium and creation date are usually the only info offered by museum placards. But historian Michael Wood demonstrates art is so much more than paint on canvas or figures chipped from stone. From the bloody revolution that inspired The Death of Marat to the postwar exuberance of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, Wood reveals how Western art mirrors Western culture, each work forever reflecting the cultural forces, historical events, and social changes that defined its era.
Beginning in ancient Greece and Rome, historian Michael Wood leads this eye-opening tour through 2,500 years of Western art. Four years in the making and filmed at over 150 locations in 8 countries, this nine-part documentary travels from sun-bleached temples to soaring cathedrals, palaces to villas, galleries to gardens, and Soho’s streets to the Arizona desert. The fascinating journey is complemented by close-up views of masterpieces, walks through important buildings, and informative commentary by historians and scholars.
This is as complete as you will ever get.Smallville: The Complete Series (Warner Home Video) contains every episode from all ten seasons of Smallville, the series that focused on Superman’s teenage years when he grew up as Clark Kent. The groundbreaking hit that redefined the origins of the world’s greatest hero is all here—from his arrival on Earth through his tumultuous teen years to Clark Kent’s final steps toward embracing his destiny as the Man of Steel. Relive a decade’s worth of thrills across 218 Episodes in a spectacular 62-disc set that includes 2 bonus discs of more than 5 hours of newly added special features including a 90-minute series retrospective with all-new interviews, the never-before-aired 1961 Superboy pilot and 2010 final Comic Con panel. Great Caesar’sghost! Also included: An exclusive issue of the Daily Planet created by DC Comics.
Tis the season to be jolly, and a really jolly way to enjoy this season is with Video Artist’s International release of The Stingiest Man in Town. VAI is famous for bringing us TV treats from the ‘50s, and this musical bon-bon will keep you smiling.
Broadcast on December 23, 1956, it’s based on the Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol that would have been fit for Broadway. The music and lyrics are by Fred Spielman and Janice Torre, who’ve given us not only “Paper Roses”, but also tunes sung by Melchior, Presley and Garland. The production values are superb; the video is a tad grainy or jumpy here and there, but for a TV show more than 50 years old, it’s in remarkable condition.
What’s most remarkable is the cast. Basil Rathbone sheds his pipe, violin and Dr. Watson persona to play the infamous Scrooge, and he is absolutely outstanding. Singing, dancing and snarling his way through this live broadcast, it’s unfortunate his talent didn’t grace more musicals. He’s thoroughly credible, making the transition between the stingiest man in town to the most generous, happy and joyful with an ease and a style that’s just wonderful to watch.
Rathbone is supported by some of the great talents of the period. Robert Weede, from Broadway’s The Most Happy Fella and the Metropolitan Opera plays Marley’s ghost (in a costume that frankly makes him look like a nun in chain bondage); from the Met we also have Patrice Munsel, who was in any number of musical television broadcasts. The Four Lads, the ultimate ‘50s pop group, narrate and play various chorus parts, and Johnny Desmond, fresh from replacing Sydney Chaplin in Funny Girl opposite Streisand, is nephew Fred. Only two peculiar notes are struck: Vic Damone, as the young Scrooge, gives the most wooden performance since he played the Caliph in the film Kismet, and Martyn Greene playing Crachit, yet singing only briefly in a duet with Rathbone. Why hire the premiere Gilbert and Sullivan singer of his day, and give him so little?
But why quibble? In a market fairly glutted with versions of this classic, one would have to be a real Scrooge not to check out the most recently released version. And, to paraphrase the words of that little fellow on his dad’s should, “God bless us, everyone, especially VAI for releasing this great DVD!”
Caldecott Favorites (Scholastic) features 23 award-winning stories in a 3-DVD collection. This is a cream-of-the-crop collection, including Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, Denise Fleming’s In the Small, and Robert McCloskey’s’ Make Way for Ducklings (in English y en Espanola). Guest narrators include John Lithgow and Laura Dern.
The most exciting news of the week is that HBO Home Entertainment is releasing Band of Brothers/The Pacific Special Edition Gift, a magnificent Bly-ray box set, containing the best-selling TV-on-DVD of all time and the No. 1 TV-on-DVD/BD of 2010.
Considered two of the finest depictions of the sweeping panorama of World War II, the HBO Miniseries Band of Brothers and The Pacific are being offered, for the first time, in one ultimate 13-disc collector’s edition–just in time for holiday gift giving. Band of Brothers/The Pacific Special Edition Gift Set.
Landmark moments for television, Band of Brothers and The Pacific bring extraordinary events of World War II dramatically to life. True portrayals of courage, sacrifice, camaraderie and heroism, Band of Brothers recounts the remarkable achievements of Easy Company who parachuted into France early on D-Day 1944.
The Band of Brothers/The Pacific Special Edition Gift Set is packaged in an all-new, premium case featuring maps from the European and the Pacific fronts of World War II as well as high-gloss sweeping photography from both productions. The set also features an all-new bonus disc featuring the exclusive, never-before-seen documentaryHe Has Seen War featuring surviving veterans of Easy Company and the 1st Marine Division, whose stories are told in Band of Brothers and The Pacific. From their initial steps at reintegrating into civilian life to the lasting impact the war had on each of their lives, He Has Seen War features veterans and their families relaying their own unique stories. Complemented by renowned historian and author Donald L. Miller, as well as rarely seen archival and documentary footage, it captures the struggle and ultimate triumph of a generation who, after helping rescue the world from unprecedented calamity, reclaimed their lives and re-forged a country.
On the heels of the successful extended run of Terrence McNally’s acclaimed Broadway revival of Master Class starring Tyne Daly as famed opera diva Maria Callas, Entertainment One brings to DVD–and for the first time ever on Blu-ray–Pier Paolo Pasolini’s acclaimed Medea, starring Callas. Originally made in 1969, Medea has been fully restored and re-mastered from a new 35mm film-to-tape transfer; both formats also include an incisive and enlightening documentary of Callas.
That noise in the background? All those opera queens screaming “Brava!”
Based on the Greek classic by Euripides, Medea, the only movie Callas ever made, tells the tale of Jason, the leader of the invincible army of Argonaut, and his quest for the Golden Fleece.
Talk about tainted love: Jason falls in love with Medea and takes her home as she sacrifices everything to be with him, including dismembering her own brother. Years later he spurns her for a new love, the young and beautiful Glauce. But Medea gets the final word, sort of speak: Using her powers of witchcraft, she exacts a terrible revenge upon Jason leading to a terrifying climax where loyalty and betrayal are tried before the altar of human sacrifice.
And you thought Whitney and Bobby were a troubled lot.
A side note, please, on the odd story of how the Pasolini died: He was brutally murdered (in 1975) by being run over several times with his own car on a beach in Rome, Italy. A 17-year-old hustler named Giuseppe Pelosi was arrested and confessed to the murder. But 30 years later he retracted his confession (claiming he first made it under the threat of violence to his family) and insisted that three people “with a southern accent” had committed the dirty deed. An investigation into Pasolini’s death was reopened in 2005, but the murder remains unsolved. No one really knows what happened . . . but it is known that in the months before his death, Pasolini had met with a number of politicians, with whom he shared “certain important secrets.” For now, the film has ended, and Pasolini remains buried near his mother in Cimitero di Casara in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, wearing the jersey of a soccer team he help found.
Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero (PBS Distribution) is a superb documentary that explores how the spiritual lives of both believers and nonbelievers have been challenged since the 9/11 attacks. Questions of good and evil and the potential for darkness within religion itself are explored in this emotional program.
The documentary begins with the day itself, as both survivors and relatives of World Trade Center victims recount the shock and the horror of realizing that their friends and loved ones had perished. Almost immediately, it seems, some people began questioning the existence of God. Some, even those who lost loved ones, say the tragedy only affirms their belief in a higher power. Others are neither so certain nor forgiving. Particularly troubling to some individuals is the role religion played in the attacks. Frontline speaks with several religious leaders and scholars–including Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield and Khaled Abou El-Fadl, a professor of Islamic Law at UCLA–who now find themselves confronting the dark side of their faiths and the potential danger of religious fervor. The documentary’s final act explores the search for hope amid the rubble of Ground Zero.
Lionsgate unleashes a comic and dramatic bookends . . .
A home entertainment debut as fierce as the warrior himself! Jason Momoa stars as Conan the Barbarian, the Cimmerian set on avenging his father’s death . . . but the Big C’s personal vendetta soon escalates into an epic battle of impossible odds, facing the fiercest of rivals and the most horrific of monsters. The 3D/2D Blu-ray disc and DVD releases are both loaded with ferocious bonus materials that include two audio commentaries, The Man Who Would Be Conan: Robert E. Howard, a featurette that looks at the creator of the famous character plus two additional featurettes that examine the action and fight scenes
Based on the action-packed, unbelievable true story of money, power and opulent decadence, The Devil’s Double takes viewers on a white-knuckle trip deep into the lawless playground of excess and violence. The film is highlighted by a star-making turn from Dominic Cooper (who may remember from Captain America: The First Avenger) in an unforgettable dual performance as Saddam Hussein’s sadistic party-boy son, the “Black Prince” Uday, as well as army lieutenant Latif Yahia, the man thrust into the highest echelons of the “royal family” when he’s ordered to become Uday’s body double. Bonus materials include two featurettes examining the “making of” the film and a behind-the-scenes look at Dominic’s performance and transformation into these characters, plus an interview with the real “Devil’s Double,” Latif Yahia and an audio commentary with Tamahori.
Leave it to the magnificent Madea to save Christmas! Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (The Play) follows the wealthy, dysfunctional Mansell family as they clash with Madea and her relatives during the holidaze at their posh Cape Cod estate. It’s left up to the hilarious Madea to save this Christmas, turn around the drama and amp up the comedy! The play features musical numbers written by Perry and stars a number of fan favorites including Cheryl Pepsii Riley, Chandra Currelley-Young and Cassi Davis. Newcomer Patrice Lovely as Hattie will knock your socks off with her unforgettably hilarious performance.
Spend the holiday season with the Brown family in Meet the Browns: Season 3, starring the 2011 NAACP Image Award Winner for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, David Mann. The hit series follows the misadventures of his family as they learn the ins and outs of running a retirement home—a project that began as a complete fluke, a result of a misunderstanding followed by a happy accident in a neighborhood full of lively and unique individuals. While Brown might not be the brightest bulb in the house, he’s managed to create a combination safe haven and circus act under his Brown Meadows big top. The new “family” members—young and old—who now call Brown Meadows home hail from all walks of life, but more importantly, they share trials, tribulations and lots of laughter. Meeting the Browns will surely make you a part of this fun family.
Eames: The Architect and the Painter is a dazzling First Run Features must-have that chronicles the Eames empire. Indeed, design history was born in a cavernous warehouse on a gritty street in Venice Beach, California, where Charles and Ray Eames set up their Renaissance-style studio in the optimistic flush of American victory during World War II. Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey’s definitive cinematic foray into the world of the Eames is the first film to be made about Charles and Ray since their deaths—and the only one that peers deeply inside the link between their artistic collaboration and sometimes tortured love for one another.
Insightfully narrated by James Franco, the film brings to light a virgin cache of archival material, visually stunning films, love letters, photographs and artifacts produced in mind-boggling volume by Charles and Ray with their talented staff during the hypercreative forty-year epoch of the Eames Office. Interviews with family members and design historians guide the viewer on an intimate tour of the Eames era, while junior designers who were swept into the 24-7 world of “The Eamery,” as they called it, flesh out a fascinatingly complex blueprint of this husband-and-wife powerhouse.
The work of Charles and Ray Eames remains an ideal of design at its most virtuous, an alchemical combination of beauty and purpose. Their light and whimsical designs became emblematic of a new West Coast lifestyle whose influence reached Europe, Asia, and beyond. Though the Eameses are best known for their ubiquitous furniture and the signature innovation of the classic Eames chair, this essential documentary shows Charles and Ray applying the same process of inquiry to architecture, exhibitions and their quirky, beautiful films.
We’re not monkeying around when we say it would be hard to name anyone who has had more of an impact in the realm of animal research and wildlife conservation than Jane Goodall, whose 45 year study of wild chimpanzees in Africa is legendary. In Jane’s Journey (First Run Features), we travel with her across several continents, from her childhood home in England, to the Gombe National Park in Tanzania where she began her groundbreaking research and where she still returns every year to enjoy the company of the chimpanzees that made her famous. Featuring a wide range of interviews and spectacular footage from her own private collection (including her years in Gombe), the film is an inspiring portrait of the private person behind the world-famous icon.
Leave it to HBO to make us howl and hoot with the “adult animated series” The Life & Times of Tim. The show takes a wickedly offbeat view at life and its little challenges by chronicling the misadventures of an average guy whose instincts repeatedly take him down the wrong path. The Life & Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season includes all 10 half-hour episodes, plus a hilarious behind-the-scenes segment that offers an inside look at the casting and animation process including interviews with cast and crew.
On the surface, Tim is a typical, twentysomething New Yorker who’s looking to get ahead at work, while his on-again, off-again girlfriend Amy just wants him to be normal, like her friends’ boyfriends. But in Tim’s world, the simplest everyday decisions get in the way, thanks to his habit of befriending unreliable characters who repeatedly get him into serious trouble.
The series is conceived and written by Steve Dildarian (the Clio-winning co-creator behind Budweiser’s memorable “Lizards” TV campaign), who also provides the voice of Tim. Other voices in the show include Mary Jane Otto as Amy, Nick Kroll as Tim’s best friend Stu, Matt Johnson as The Boss’s assistant Rodney, and Peter Giles as The Boss. Celebrity guest stars this season include Will Forte, Cheri Oteri, Bob Odenkirk, Debi Mazar, Chris Parnell, Aziz Ansari, Jennifer Coolidge, Elliot Gould, Bonnie Hunt, Judah Friedlander, Wendie Malick, and Alfred Molina.
Brimming with wit and Roaring Twenties flair, The Bretts: The Complete Collection (Acorn Media) features all 19 episodes from Series 1 and 2 of this Masterpiece Theatre hit. Broadcast on PBS and ITV in the late 1980s, this classic series co-created by Upstairs, Downstairs writer Rosemary Anne Sisson follows Britain’s leading theatrical family as they navigate their complicated personal and professional lives. Hilarity, tragedy, and slapstick comedy ensue as the family attempts to adapt to their rapidly changing world. Norman Rodway, Barbara Murray and David Yelland provide pitch-perfect performances, collected in this value-priced six-disc collection.
The Bretts have ruled the London stage since the 1880s. Patriarch Charles is a matinee idol and a womanizer. His wife, Lydia, is a glamorous star of musical comedies. Their five children include actors and a radical playwright, and their dramatic household is further enlivened by loyal but gossipy servants.
But now it’s the late 1920s, and times are changing. As talking pictures loom and Hollywood calls, the family buys a West End theatre to manage. The Bretts is a glimpse into the lives of a theatrical family whose most dramatic moments often occur at home.
Concluding the cult classic Canadian comedy and longstanding PBS hit, The Red Green Show: The Geezer Year (Acorn Media) brings back hilarious handyman Red and the gang are back for one last round of manly misadventures. The 9-disc boxed set collects the last 55 episodes which find the boys dreaming up more of the half-baked ideas and crazy contraptions that entertained viewers for 15 hilarious years.
These 55 episodes feature series regulars Ranger Gord, Bill Smith, Hap Shaughnessy, and, of course, Red’s beleaguered but beloved nephew, Harold. The collection finds Red and the gang hobbling toward retirement—but they’ve still got a few tricks left in the toolbox. For more laughs than you can shake a hockey stick at, join Red, Harold, and all the guys at Possum Lodge for three final years of doing what men do when women aren’t around—and some things that are even worse.