This documentary by Mark Wexler deals with the sometimes scary topic of aging. It presents people in various stages of life and interviews gerontologists, scientific researchers and others involved in final life matters. More well-known interviewees include Jack LaLanne, Ray Bradbury and Suzanne Somers. One subject nears her 114th birthday and earns a Guinness World Record. From Japan to Iceland, some of the world’s hot spots with unusually older population statistics are revealed along with possible causes for increased longevity in those areas. How to Live Forever is entertaining for adults of any age and the plethora of ideas presented from laughter theory to diet guarantees you’ll find something of interest.
Technical Services & Collections Manager
Judging by the circulation of films from Manhattan Public Library, most library customers are well aware of our holdings. We’ve got multiple copies of “Lincoln,” Life of Pi,” “Les Miserables,” and “Wreck-it Ralph,” to name but a few of the many available films. Most folks who hear that the library owns some 8,600+ films are reluctant to believe it, as the shelving would not seem to have that capacity, but so many titles are always checked out at any one time.
In addition to features films, the library has an extensive collection of documentaries. Those do not circulate as much as some of the other offerings, but there are treasures to be found among them. Just recently added are the following which have received excellent reviews:
“Joffrey”: A favorite of the San Francisco Film Festival as well as the Dance on Camera Film Festival, this lovely piece of work follows the historical dance company’s founding in 1956 by creators Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino. Dogged by financial woes, the dance company managed to re-create itself several times to become one of the premier organizations of the world. Of special note is the wealth of historical footage of glorious performances. Testimonials by some of the dancers, choreographers, and the founders themselves allow viewers to trace the growth and tradition-breaking techniques of this highly esteemed company.
“Deadliest Tornadoes”: Though we don’t want to think about it, our region is already immersed in one of our most dangerous seasons of the year. This NOVA PBS presentation recounts the incredibly high occurrences of tornadoes that took place in April of 2011. Extended footage of Joplin’s horrific storm is a quick reminder of the potency of such winds. Interviews with scientists and with weather forecasters demonstrate how wind rotation begins, and victim testimonials highlight an informative program.
“How to Survive a Plague”: This historical documentary follows the path of AIDS activists in the early 1990s who demonstrated in the streets and who demanded that the Food and Drug Administration take immediate action to approve AIDS-fighting drugs. They worked to help identify new treatments and move them through safety trials in record time. Their determination reduced the numbers of AIDS-related deaths and offered new hope to sufferers. This drama earned both the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Gotham Award and was nominated for an Academy Award as well.
“Planet Ocean”: This beautiful film has a two-fold purpose. Stunning footage of ocean currents taken from well above the Earth and shots of the feeding mouths of a coral reef are particularly striking. But this film is also a plea for the protection of the ocean’s vast resources. Researchers cite the drifting of crucial fish populations toward more temperate waters to the north as an alarming trend. They also describe populations, like that of the Bluefin tuna, which are nearing extinction because of over-fishing. This environmental gem was the 2012 Official Cinematography Winner at the Blue Ocean Film Festival.
“You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t”: This film has not yet arrived at MPL, but will be available shortly. A documentary by Scott Kirschenbaum, this touching film recounts the life Of Lee Gorewitz in the Traditions Alzheimer’s & Other Dementia Care Unit in Danville, California. This in-depth character study reveals that many of our perceptions of Alzheimer’s disease are misguided. The film premiered on PBS and has received much praise from physicians and university instructors for its content.
“Secrets of Highclere Castle”: For the many fans of “Downton Abbey,” this PBS special is a rare treat. Highclere Castle is the opulent location for the filming of the Masterpiece classic. Interested viewers can learn about the current owners, Lord and Lady Carnavon, they can listen to the actual butler’s philosophy of service, and they can explore the beautiful rooms and grounds of one of England’s more famous estates. They can also learn about Lady Almina’s huge investment in upkeep and restoration during the 19th century. A visual delight.
“The Abolitionists”: This PBS drama follows the interactions of abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, William Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Angelina Grimke. At a time when the country was fast approaching the Civil War, those individuals struggled to expose the horrors of slavery. Their selflessness laid the groundwork for civil rights at a time when violence was a given. This historic piece generates a lasting respect for those courageous few.
For these titles and a wide selection of others, take a look at the many fine documentaries your library has to offer.
The Last Chance to See is a thought-provoking, interesting and at times disheartening series that investigates the condition of several species of endangered animals. Traveling around the globe, Stephen Fry and zoologist and photographer Mark Carwardine search for some of the rarest creatures on the planet in an attempt to learn how species are faring in a world where humans are impacting the environment in many ways. Learn if Amazon manatees, white rhinos, Komodo dragons and others are able to adapt and survive or if they are of the edge of extinction. Not only do we see the animals, but the park rangers, biologists, citizens and volunteers who are dedicated to saving these animals and their habitats. This is an informative and fascinating series with entertaining and enthusiastic hosts, willing to travel in uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous circumstances to bring us the extraordinary stories of these animals and the humans committed to saving them.
The weather outside is frightful, so it’s a good time to travel vicariously with our DVD collection. My entire family has recently been obsessed with National Geographic’s National Park Collection. Each episode covers a different park with commentary on geology, wildlife, and history. So far we have enjoyed rock climbing in Yosemite, hiking the Appalacian trail, and discovering cowboy hideouts in Canyonlands. An adventure around every bend!
If you enjoyed the documentary Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock, then you’ll like his latest DVD, POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Since fewer people are watching commercials these days, advertisers have had to get more creative in advertising their products. One of common techniques used is product placement in movies and television. In this entertaining DVD Spurlock attempts to make a movie about product placement funded solely by companies using product placement in his movie!. It is a humorous, yet informative look at how advertising affects movies and TV without us even being aware of it much of the time. Spurlock takes the viewer through the entire process of making his movie: the initial steps of trying to get companies as sponsors, consulting lawyers, meeting with corporate executives, creating promotional materials for his movie, etc. Along the way, he interviews a number of different people in the business to get their opinions on how/if movie makers are selling themselves out to advertisers. I found myself chuckling at many different blatant and often ridiculous product placements in the movie .Plus, Spurlock gives a great picture of the contractual obligations movie makers enter into when they sign on for product placement. For instance, Spurlock must now agree to stay in a certain hotel chain, drink only his sponsor’s drink on camera, do an interview on a specific airline, wear sponsors’ clothing, and even take a bath with a pony. Although the viewer gets the feeling Spurlock does not agree with this type of advertising, he remains fairly objective throughout and respectful to those he interviews and with whom he meets.
Wildest Dream tells the story of George Mallory and his quest to climb Mt. Everest. In the early 1900′s, Mallory took part in three expeditions to attempt to summit the highest mountain in the world. On his third attempt in 1924, Mallory and his climbing partner Sandy Irvine both disappeared, their last known location only a few hundred meters from the summit. In 1999, mountaineer Conrad Anker and his team of climbers discovered the body of Mallory, with his personal effects remaining intact in his pack. The body was located where Mallory appeared to suffer a fall, broke a leg and froze to death. Irvine’s body has never been located. The only item missing from Mallory’s effects is a photograph of his wife, which he promised to leave on the summit of the mountain. Anker’s life becomes entwined with the legend of Mallory as he tries to re-create Mallory’s climb in order to see if it was possible that Mallory could have reached the summit. He and his partner Leo Houlding go to the extreme of removing a ladder installed in the 1970′s at the second step to the summit and free-climbing that portion of the mountain on the route that Mallory would have taken. This DVD alternates between original footage of Mallory’s expedition and following Anker’s harrowing climb up to the summit of Everest.The story is enhanced by readings from letters sent between Mallory and his wife Ruth. Was Mallory the first to summit Everest? The mystery may never be resolved, but this exciting DVD offers many insights into the psyche of mountaineers as well as into man and the legend that is George Mallory.