Top Picks: 'War and Peace' on DVD, Nigel Slater's book 'Notes from the Larder,' and more

Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave star in 'Unfinished Song,' German tenor Jonas Kaufmann releases his Sony debut recording, and more top picks.

PBS
Arnel Pineda in Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey
War and Peace on DVD
Notes from the Larder, by Nigel Slater

Indie film series

Heads-up for a month of award-winning indie documentary films, launching Sept. 30 on PBS. The Indies Showcase will feature critically acclaimed films including 56 Up, the latest installment in the iconic Michael Apted series that profiles the same Brits every seven years; Brooklyn Castle, about a New York junior high school where the cool kids are on the chess team; The Waiting Room, a harrowing microcosm of the American health-care system; and Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, about Arnel Pineda, the Filipino YouTube sensation plucked from obscurity to front the rock band Journey.

Verdi for tenor

German tenor Jonas Kaufmann – with his rare, emotion-packed vocal range – has released his Sony debut recording, The Verdi Album. Recorded with Pier Giorgio Morandi conducting the Orchestra dell’Opera di Parma, the album features all the famous tenor arias from “Luisa Miller” and “La Forza del Destino,” the dramatic highlights from “I Masnadieri” and “Simon Boccanegra,” and two arias each from “Un Ballo in Maschera” and “Otello.”

Tolstoy’s epic

Tolstoy may be a tough read for some, but the visuals of this master storyteller make his novels a natural for epic filmmaking. War and Peace, a TV miniseries directed by Robert Dornheim with a stellar international cast including Malcolm McDowell and Brenda Blethyn, is available for the first time in the United States from Acorn Media. Set amid the Napoleonic Wars that threaten the privileged lives of Russian aristocracy, this sweeping saga will make you forget “Downton Abbey” altogether. Heartbreak and horror, cloaked in elegant period costumes and top-notch performances make this 2007 production the best kind of guilty-pleasure home theater.

Pompeii up close

If you happen to have London on your itinerary, you can take in the exhibit “Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum” at the British Museum. The rest of us can head to the nearest movie theater that shows Fathom Events on Sept. 25 to catch an in-depth tour of the museum’s blockbuster exhibit (open through September). Pompeii From the British Museum is a behind-the-scenes look at this collection of artifacts from the ancient Roman civilization destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Check for local showings at www.fathomevents.com.

Song for the ages

Unfinished Song, the story of a crusty senior citizen and his wife who join an a cappella group led by a chipper director, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 24. The movie is a little too determined to leave no tear duct untapped, but Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave as the leads are the real deal.

Kitchen talk

From the pen and kitchen of Britain’s foremost food writer comes Notes from the Larder, by Nigel Slater, a companion book to his previous “The Kitchen Diaries.” Like its predecessors, this new tome chronicles a year of Slater’s home creations with more than 250 seasonal recipes and delightful food-inspired musings. Cook from it for new inspiration or simply curl up for a delicious read.

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