Thursday, May 7, 2009

New this week:

These two films are from the award-winning PBS series:

Weekend Explorer: Santa Fe
Llama trek in the serene and beautiful Sierra de Cristo mountains, learn about chili at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, mountain bike through a ghost town along the Turquoise Trail, explore an ancient Pueblo Indian ruin, horseback ride during a stunning sunset, learn about Georgia O’Keefe, meet an up and coming artist, and relax in a unique outdoor Japanese spa.

Weekend Explorer: San Diego
Raise a sail on the tall ship Star of India, scuba dive with sea lions off the Coronado Islands, Horseback ride on a historic California Rancho, Mountain Bike through beautiful Cleveland National Forest, hike Mission Trails park and learn about the native Kumeyaay Indians, go barnstorming in a real 1920's bi-plane, and learn about the most famous barnstormer of them all Charles Lindbergh.

In BEN-HUR, William Wyler's much-lauded epic, the story of Judah's search for his mother and sister and his quest for revenge intersects with crucial biblical events such as the Sermon on the Mount and the crucifixion. Wyler gets fine performances from Heston, Boyd, Jack Hawkins (as a Roman admiral who befriends Judah), and Hugh Griffith (as an Arab sheik who dreams of racing his beautiful white horses against Messala). Among BEN-HUR's vivid dramatic sequences are a violent sea battle and the famous chariot race that pits Judah against Messala in one of cinema's great action sequences.

Curious Case of Benjamin Button
At once epic in scope and intimate in detail this film is loosely based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story. It tells the tale of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt), born in 1918 in New Orleans as a baby with wrinkles, cataracts, and arthritis. Benjamin will age backwards, getting younger as he watches those around him growing older. Included in that group are his adoptive mother, Queenie, and Daisy (Cate Blanchett), the love of his life whom he meets when she is just a little girl and he is an old man. They age in reverse, but despite Benjamin's globe-trotting adventures, their lives repeatedly intersect.

King of Kings
Nicholas Ray's lavish and beautifully constructed widescreen epic about the life of Jesus of Nazareth. "King of Kings" is built upon a series of narrative parallels and contrasts between Jesus and Barrabas. The film portrays the thief as a rebel leader of the Jewish resistance; unlike Jesus, who preaches a message of peace, Barrabas advocates violence as a means to an end. By building his drama around this religious and philosophical conflict, Ray establishes a tension that de-familiarizes this well-known story. Highlights include the Sermon on the Mount and the scene in which Salome asks King Herod for the head of John the Baptist.

Last Chance Harvey
In London for his daughter's wedding, a rumpled man finds his romantic spirits lifted by a new woman in his life. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson shine as the lonely couple.

Lost in Austen
Yearning for the romance in the books by her favorite author, Jane Austen, Amanda Price suddenly finds herself thrown into the nineteenth-century world of "Pride and prejudice," while Elizabeth Bennet is transported to Amanda's modern-day London.

Thérèse Raquin
Thérèse and Laurent think they have gotten away with murder after Thérèse 's husband "falls" from a speeding train. But a blackmailer's demands along with accusations from Thérèse 's mother-in-law could trip the couple up. This classic (1953) French film is from the novel by Émile Zola and is directed by Marcel Carné.

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