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Thursday, Dec 2, 2010
Earth & Space (Blu-ray) [$79.95]

Have someone on your list who asked for the world this Christmas? Well, now you can give it to them (and a bit more from our solar system, as well), with the History Channel’s epic six-disc blue-ray set Earth and Space. The set includes the best selling series The Universe and How the Earth was Made as well as a bonus, feature length documentary, Beyond the Big Bang.


The groundbreaking miniseries, The Universe, uses cutting edge technology to take you to the outer reaches of distant galaxies and back home to our solar system. In How the Earth was Made, you can travel the world looking at the physical process that lead to some of the most recognizable geographical features on our planet today. The double set features all 26 episodes from the first seasons of both The Universe and How the Earth was Made. Beautiful!


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Wednesday, Dec 9, 2009
Elvis: Return to Tupelo - 100% WOMON [$24.98]

On September 21, 1956, Elvis Presley made a triumphant return to his birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi, following his recent, rapid rise from poverty and obscurity to prosperity and celebrity. At the beginning of this documentary, produced by Michael Rose and narrated by Kris Kristofferson, author Elaine Dundy asserts the importance of place in the formation of legendary personalities by stating, “You can hear the soil in Elvis as you can hear the cement in Frank Sinatra.” And, of course, it’s obvious from the details presented in Elvis: Return to Tupelo that the Presleys’ experiences in the rural, Depression-scarred community—just a couple hours south of Memphis, Tennessee, but it may as well have been a million miles from the big city life he would come to know—shaped the boy who would be the King more, perhaps, than anything else that happened later in his life. With this documentary, Michael Rose has done a magnificent job in providing a glimpse of Elvis’ childhood and shining a light on the city and situations that shaped a legend. Elvis: Return to Tupelo will make a cherished gift for anyone who has made the Graceland pilgrimage.


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Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009
Anvil: The Story of Anvil - VH1 Films [$24.98]

Anvil: The Story of Anvil is truly one of 2009’s treasures, a brilliant distillation of how the fleeting flicker of the limelight just can’t destroy the hard work and determination of two incredibly dedicated and legitimately likable guys. In Sacha Gervasi’s genius undertaking, we get to know these middle-aged men: Steve “Lips” Kudlow works for a Canadian caterer supplying meals to school children. Robb Reiner dabbles in construction while pursuing a personal passion for painting. Both have families that are supportive but specious. After three decades and 13 albums, they’d hope the boys would see more mainstream acceptance. Balancing these beliefs with other individual insights, we get a true, more telling Behind the Music portrait of greatness struggling to survive.


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Wednesday, Dec 2, 2009
Trouble the Water - Tia Lessin and Carl Deal - Zeitgeist Films [$29.99]

For pretty much anybody outside of New Orleans, the city is defined solely by these tourist attractions, with everything else surrounding it, and in particular the places where the people of New Orleans actually live, completely invisible. A walk down Bourbon Street, for most tourists, is like taking a nighttime stroll down a wharf bedecked with lights and crowded with revelers; hardly anyone bothers to look off to either side and see the murky waters that swirl around them. 


Kimberly Roberts, a 24-year-old New Orleans resident who was trapped in the city during Katrina because of a lack of transportation, had the presence of mind to depict those raging waters as they destroyed her neighborhood and killed friends and family. Her video footage of the storm and its aftermath has been incorporated into a more broad-ranging documentary by director/producers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal, who remind us that New Orleans isn’t just a brand, or a tourist destination, but a living, breathing city even though, in the wake of Katrina, it is hardly breathing at all.


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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2008
American Experience: The Presidents Collection - PBS Paramount [$129.98]

This is my pick for the finest DVD collection of the year. American Experience’s biographies of U.S. presidents are engrossing, definitive, illuminating and often surprising. You’ll learn more history in the shortest period of time by watching these shows than virtually anything else you can do. It’s the perfect gift for both the history buff and the political junkie, as well as for those who want to better understand the American present and how it has developed. That didn’t mean to sound stuffy either. These documentaries are seriously addicting, filled with stories that grab you more than the latest prime time soap, while being healthy brain food at the same time.


AMAZON


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