2009 Gift Guide
Monitor picks for TV, movies, music, and games.
(Page 2 of 7)
These animated films put a fresh spin on Marvel comics classics such as Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, and Captain America. Hours of special features honoring specific details of the original comics as well as seamless animation in the pictures prove that this is not only for the comic-book newcomer, but the aficionado as well. It is refreshing to see the level of dedication to bring an update to these characters that are so consistently beleaguered by corruption, whether in the form of big business or nasty politicians. This should be a treasure for any comic-book lover, worthy of placement next to first-edition copies of the comics they depict.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
DisneyNature Earth ($29.99) Buy on Amazon.com
In the spirit of "March of the Penguins," "Earth" takes viewers on a year-long journey around the world to see animals in their struggle for survival. The 90-minute documentary, shot on all seven continents, is built around three journeys – polar bears in the Arctic, elephants in the Kalahari Desert, and humpback whales' migration to the Antarctic. Narrated by James Earl Jones, it includes unforgettable scenes from the first "flight" of Mandarin ducks to a nighttime standoff between lions and elephants. The package includes a bonus film on the making of the five-year project.
The Swell Season: Strict Joy ($17.98) Buy on Amazon.com
Ireland's Glen Hansard and Czechoslovakia's Markéta Irglová fell in love while recording their debut album. In turn, the world fell for the songwriters when they starred in the movie musical "Once." Then, unexpectedly, they broke up. But the duo's musical partnership continues and their vocal harmonies still share a tight clinch. "Strict Joy" is, however, a breakup record. On "I Have Loved You Wrong," a double bass quivers alongside Irglová's voice as she admits, "This estranged organ in my chest still beats for you." The music isn't nearly as morose. With an exuberant sound reminiscent of Van Morrison, songs such as "The Rain," "The Verb," and "High Horses" seem designed to jump-start a broken heart.
Unlikely pop star Leonard Cohen and his crack nine-piece band were two months into their first world tour in 15 years when they hit the stage in London. Fortunately, a film crew was on hand to capture every nuance of the spellbinding concert. The songwriter/poet, looking delighted to be there, kicked the night off by sashaying onto the stage in a jaunty fedora, talk-singing "Dance Me to the End of Love." Cohen's whispery vocals, supported by a fine trio of backup singers, has you hanging on every word from the infectious first song to the last – a dramatic recitation of his romantic poem "A Thousand Kisses Deep." Never before has poetry sounded so musical.