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Top Picks: Examining the Wild West, an opera on Anne Boleyn, and more

'Moneyball' features a great performance by Brad Pitt, jazz duo Charlie Haden and Hank Jones release a beautiful collection of hymns and spirituals, a video shows breathtaking views of Ho Chi Minh City and the traffic inside it, and more top picks.

January 13, 2012


How sweet the sound

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Amazing Grace, a new DVD release from the Bill Moyers TV library, traces the history of the famous hymn. The special, which originally aired on PBS, includes performances from Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, and other notables who have sung this most-recorded of all spirituals – penned by a white slave-ship owner in the 18th century and reportedly based on the melodies heard from the slaves as they sang from the hold of his ship.

Who tamed the Wild West?

PBS's "American Experience" series launches its 24th season with an eye on the icons of the American West. The shows reexamine some of the most debated and mythic figures of this storied era, including Wyatt Earp, Geronimo, Annie Oakley, and Jesse James. Tune in Jan. 17 for a fresh look at Custer's last stand.

Brad and Baseball

Brad Pitt brings ballast and swaggering humor to Moneyball, now out on DVD, the story of real-life Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, who took the team into the big league. Not quite "The Social Network" of baseball movies, it still has an entertaining wonkiness.

Anne and Anna

Donizetti's Anna Bolena on PBS's "Great Performances at the Met" tells the tragic story of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's second wife. Anna Netrebko sings the lead role in a tour de force, highly anticipated performance – the first in North America. Stephen Costello, the up-and-coming American tenor, plays opposite the diva, singing the role of her doomed lover, Lord Percy. Airs Jan. 20 at 9 p.m.

Inspired interplay
 

Just because some music is quiet doesn't mean it can't pack a wallop. In this case, jazz soul mates Charlie Haden (stand-up bass) and Hank Jones (piano) deliver a master class in taste, restraint, and deep soul with Come Sunday, a collection of hymns and spirituals associated with African-Americans' struggles for freedom and dignity. Sixteen years ago, the pair recorded a similar collection, "Steal Away," which garnered well-deserved raves and Grammy nominations. This welcome reunion finds them once again in radiant form, recorded just months before Jones's passing last year at age 91. Inspiring and moving.

beauty and the traffic

Photographer Rob Whitworth's time-lapse video of Ho Chi Minh City not only provides beautiful views of the Vietnamese metropolis but also reveals the sheer volume of traffic that crisscrosses the city by road and boat each day. Try to stop your heart from leaping into your mouth when some of those Vespa and motorcycle riders weave through the city center. Watch it at: http://vimeo.com/32958521

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Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

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