Top Picks: Lorde's new album, CNN Films' orcas documentary, and more

'Before Midnight' is the most poignant film of Richard Linklater's trilogy, historian Henry Louis Gates examines slavery in America for PBS, and more top picks.

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    African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross on PBS
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Love at midlife

Before Midnight, the third part of director Richard Linklater’s trilogy (“Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset”), now available on DVD and Blu-ray, catches up with Jesse and Celine after the birth of their twin daughters. The couple’s back-and-forth dialogue rings true to life, and this installment is the most poignant of the three. We’re still hoping for a fourth.

London’s West End

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Visit London’s legendary West End without even crossing the pond when Fathom Events beams Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s Merrily We Roll Along to 460 US cinemas Oct. 23. Beyond the fabulous close-ups of performers belting out songs such as “Good Thing Going” and “Not a Day Goes By,” viewers are treated to backstage interviews with the cast, crew, and special guests. Maria Friedman’s award-winning production plays live at 7 p.m. local time.

Kiwi talent

A super-precocious young lady from Auckland, New Zealand, took the music world by storm in 2013. Singing and rapping as Lorde, her worldwide smash “Royals” bubbled up from down under to the pinnacle of the charts. Now she has an album – Pure Heroine – that, while not quite rising to the level of her hit song, confirms, undeniably, that a new star has arrived, fully formed and radiant. Clever, worldly lyrics are the key to Lorde’s appeal with three of the album’s 10 cuts crashing the Billboard 100.

Orcas in captivity

Blackfish is the native American name for killer whales (orcas) – and the title of a compelling documentary from CNN Films about these creatures, which were featured in the “Free Willy” movies and are also popular attractions at water parks. The film indicts the way the whales are handled in captivity and probes the circumstances around the accidents and deaths of some trainers. Trainers and marine biologists interviewed say the killings were the result of animal abuse. (Sea World has publicly challenged the film’s assertions.) It airs Oct. 24.

Then and now

Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959) is at the heart of A Raisin in the Sun Revisited: The Raisin Cycle at Center Stage. The 60-minute PBS documentary follows the Baltimore Center Theater’s presentation of two plays, “Clybourne Park” and “Beneatha’s Place,” both contemporary responses to “A Raisin in the Sun,” as they come to life in front of an audience and tackle the past and present of race relations. It airs on PBS Arts Festival Oct. 25.

The legacy of slavery

Renowned African-American historian Henry Louis Gates returns to PBS with an ambitious six-part examination of the origins and evolution of slavery over the course of 500 years. In African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, the scholar travels the country to present an overview of how slavery began in Africa, migrated to the US, and finally transformed the nation through the crucible of the Civil War. The series comes right up to the present, with the election of the first black American president. It begins Oct. 22 (check local listings).

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