Top Picks: 'Captain Phillips' on DVD and Blu-ray, PBS's celebration of Britain's National Theatre, and more
Jazz singer Gregory Porter's new album is funky and irresistible, graphic designer Brock Davis captures whimsical still lifes with his iPhone, and more top picks.
Outlaws on the run
The world fell in love with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when Paul Newman and Robert Redford helped to romanticize the waning days of America’s old Wild West in the 1969 movie about the outlaws. Now PBS’s “American Experience” tells the story of the real-life train and bank robbers on the run from the Pinkerton detective force, which pulled out every stop to chase them down, until the duo met their grim end in Bolivia. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid airs Feb. 11 at 9 p.m.
Explore the greatest feats of technological engineering with PBS’s interactive Engineering Map of America. The site, the latest installment of the “American Experience: Mapping History” project, offers dozens of videos of mechanical marvels, from the Alaska pipeline to the Golden Gate Bridge and from the New York underground to the Panama Canal. People can upload videos and photographs to show the effect of engineering on daily life. Check it out at www.pbs
.org/engineeringmap or download the app on iTunes.
Jazz with soul
Jazz singer Gregory Porter sings like he means it, like he’s lived it. He’s a genre-bending practitioner of real soul music, the kind that makes you feel, not just move. For Porter, it’s all about heart, not just beats. His latest two releases from Blue Note records, the 2014 Grammy-winning “Liquid Spirit” and the smooth-jazz favorite of 2012, “Be Good,” channel singer-songwriter Bill Withers’s down-home style of soul singing with jazz and gospel underpinnings. The result is timeless, funky, and irresistible.
Lovers of great theater have a feast in store on Feb. 14 when PBS’s “Great Performances” celebrates the legacy of Britain’s National Theatre, which has premièred works by Tom Stoppard, Peter Shaffer, Harold Pinter, and David Hare. The program highlights a half century of luminaries performing modern and classical masterworks. National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage offers past and present performances by stars such as Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench, and Ralph Fiennes.
iPhone still lifes
If you love to take photos with your smart phone, you’ll be inspired by Minneapolis graphic designer Brock Davis. He captures simplistic and whimsical still lifes with his iPhone by staging everyday objects (often food and kitchen items) in unexpected ways (think mint leaf positioned as a flame above a match, or a popcorn kernel exploding into a thought bubble of popped corn). Check it out at http://bit.ly/BDavisArt.
Captain Phillips, an Oscar nominee for Best Picture and now available on DVD and Blu-ray, stars Tom Hanks as the captain whose cargo ship was taken over by Somali pirates in 2009. The tension-filled movie does a good job of fleshing out the back story of the hijackers. First-time actor Barkhad Abdi, who has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, gives a fine performance as the leader of the pirates.