Top Picks: 'The Last Station,' 'A Capitol Fourth,' Tanglewood, and more recommendations
'The Last Station,' featuring Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy on DVD, PBS hosts 'A Capitol Fourth' from Washington D.C., the annual Tanglewood music festival begins, and more top picks.
Tolstoy's great love
"The Last Station" chooses the final days of Russian literary icon Leo Tolstoy as a framing device for a life full of great passion and great ideas. Two acting heavyweights, Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren, face off as the writer and his wife of 48 years in an acting tour de force. For those who enjoy their history through the grand biopic lens, this is both popcorn and meaty stuff, indeed. Arrives on DVD and Blu-ray with lively extra features on June 22.
Songs in an aboriginal key
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu grew up on a remote island off Australia's north coast. Born blind, he took up playing the guitar and has since become an international sensation, this first album going double platinum. The appeal is his simple but poignant folk songs, telling of ancestry, country, and home. Backed by guitar, occasional bass, and vocal harmonies, his clear voice seems fragile yet unwavering. The 12 songs on "Gurrumul" (Dramatico, $13.98), are all in local dialects except for "Gurrumul history (I was born blind)," his own story.
Fired up for the fourth
Celebrate the nation's 234th birthday with PBS July 4 with a concert and fireworks extravaganza broadcast live from the Capitol's west lawn. Hosted by actor Jimmy Smits, this 30-year anniversary show features performers such as country music stars Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker, actor and singer John Schneider, as well as classical pianist Lang Lang with the National Symphony Orchestra. "A Capitol Fourth" airs in HD at 8 p.m. EDT. It will also air on the Armed Forces network as well as on National Public Radio.
Two months of Tanglewood
Tanglewood's 10-week festival in the leafy Berkshires of western Massachusetts launches June 26 with Garrison Keillor's annual live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion." The season includes performances by the Mark Morris Dance Group, Carole King and James Taylor, and Herbie Hancock, plus eight weeks of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. For tickets go to: tanglewood.org.
Picturing women's voices
"Picturing Power & Potential" is a groundbreaking online photo exhibition about women – celebrating them as economic participants and agents of change. The juried show, organized by the International Museum of Women and the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, features 50 works by artists across the globe and is also on display at San Francisco City Hall until Aug. 27.
A cool head for murder
Fans of "Foyle's War" will appreciate the low-key sleuthing of Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) in "Midsomer Murders" (Acornonline.com, $39.99). Set in contemporary rural England, the three mysteries swirl around class frictions, World War I grudges, and a decades-old disappearance.