Top Picks: 'American Folk,' Smithsonian Channel's 'Escape to the Great Dismal Swamp'

The film 'The Philadelphia Story' and its legendary trio of stars – Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart – returns to theaters, the automobiles of Pixar return with 'Cars 3,' and more top picks.

’Folk’ wonder

American Folk is an indie road movie starring singer/songwriters Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth, set in the days immediately following Sept. 11. The film has modest appeal, but its accompanying soundtrack is an unexpected charmer. Purdy and Rubarth have both been solo acts on the coffeehouse and music festival circuits, but their vocal blend, concocted purely for the film, is a wonder, shining brightly on American folk standards such as “Red River Valley” and their own originals, most notably Purdy’s touching “Someone Singing with Me.” Folk legend John Prine also stars.

Tip substitutes

Sleeves for chopsticks become something beautiful in the art project Japanese Tip, which features paper chopstick sleeves that restaurant patrons have twisted and folded into intriguing shapes. Artist Yuki Tatsumi, who worked as a waiter, brings together thousands of these paper sculptures, which are often left behind by patrons in Japan as a way of saying “thank you” to the host. Check it out at

Courtesy of The Smithsonian Channel

Swamp excavation

A new Smithsonian Channel program, Escape to the Great Dismal Swamp, tells the story of the area in Virginia and North Carolina that became not only a shelter for runaway slaves but, for some, a permanent home. In the program, which airs Feb. 19 at 8 p.m., archaeologists utilize new knowledge to learn more about the area’s history.

Return to Philadelphia

The film The Philadelphia Story and its legendary trio of stars – Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart – returns to theaters Feb. 21. The movie depicts the unexpected meetings and love affairs that result from family and friends gathering at the Lord house for the wedding of Tracy (Hepburn). Stewart won his only Academy Award for his role as reporter Macaulay Connor. Check to see if it will be on a big screen near you.

’Cars’ continuation

The automobiles of Pixar return with Cars 3, available on DVD and Blu-ray. Owen Wilson is back as the voice of Lightning McQueen, who must contend against new rival Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Monitor film critic Peter Rainer writes that race technician Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) is “refreshing.”

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