Top picks: Guitar festival redux, 'A Town Called Panic,' 'Rubicon,' and more recommendations

Highlights of Crossroads Guitar Festival in local movie theaters, a marvelously inventive Belgian animated film on DVD, AMC's new espionage series, and more top picks.

Spies are back in the news and so “Rubicon,” a new espionage series debuting on AMC Aug. 1, is a perfect summer diversion.
John Mayer
Zeitgeist Films
‘A Town Called Panic,' a film by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar.

Guitar festival redux

Guitar fans who couldn't make it to Chicago in June, can now experience Eric Clapton's day-long Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 at a local movie house on July 27. The special two-hour event will be shown in HD beginning at 7:30 p.m. local time across all time zones and will feature performances from the festival. Highlights include Clapton, ZZ Top, Steve Winwood, B.B. King, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Buddy Guy, John Mayer (right), and Bill Murray, as well as backstage access to footage and interviews with the performers. For tickets go to

For the love of nature

The quiet biologist whose book, "Silent Spring," alerted the public to the profligate use of pesticides in the years following World War II, is the subject of "A Sense of Wonder," a new DVD from PBS. Kaiulani Lee, who wrote the play by the same name, portrays Rachel Carson in this hour-long intimate portrait, based on two interviews Carson gave in 1963 as she fought the chemical industry and faced illness. What comes across is Carson's deep love of nature and her courage to defend it. She recognized the interconnectedness of life when that idea was considered wildly eccentric, and our modern environmental movement has her to thank.

Do 'Panic'

'A Town Called Panic,' the marvelous stop-motion animated film from Belgian duo Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, is out on DVD. It's a funny and inventive ride with a collection of plastic toys – a horse, a cowboy, an Indian chief, tractors, pigs, cows – who all move with a herky-jerky rapidity that is matched by the blurty, rapid-fire voices. (It's in French with English subtitles.) The frenetic pace has a lovely, slapstick grace that is as enjoyable for adults as it is for 8-year-olds.

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Spy games

Spies are back in the news and so "Rubicon," a new espionage series debuting on AMC Aug. 1, is a perfect summer diversion. Set in a murky New York intelligence bureau where elliptical newspaper crossword puzzles mask a mystery wrapped in an enigma – or something like that – the hero of course is caught in the middle of an unfolding conspiracy that only he can deconstruct. It's a bit of a mystery why there is still so much paperwork in a modern spy agency, but there's probably a good reason, right? Tune in for a two-hour première at 8 p.m.

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