Flick Picks 3/26/13: Lincoln, Les Miserables, Parental Guidance

New This Week:

ENTERTAINMENT: He's not just one of our most exceptional presidents, he's a movie star as well! Steven Spielberg's Lincoln focuses on one particular time period in Abraham Lincoln's presidency, as he tries to pass the 13th Amendment while the Civil War rages. Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Oscar for his remarkable turn as our 16th President and the supporting cast of Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and James Spader also shines. We've got it on DVD and Blu-ray. Another slice of history, albeit one with a lot more singing, is covered in Les Miserables, the latest adaptation of the Broadway musical. Russell Crowe is Inspector Javert, hunting down former thief Hugh Jackman, while Anne Hathaway plays poor unwed mother Fantine. Les Mis was nominated for two Oscars, features a new song and is available on both DVD and Blu-ray.

Also this week, Billy Crystal and Bette Midler star in the wacky family comedy Parental Guidance, playing old-fashioned grandparents who get to babysit the grandkids that they barely know. Also, the gritty Killing Them Softly features Brad Pitt as a mob enforcer who is brought in to restore order after a criminal-protected card game is robbed.

SERIES: If you found the most recent Papal conclave a little boring then pick up season 2 of Showtime's The Borgias for some back-stabbing and manipulation. Jeremy Irons is brilliant as the controversial Rodrigo Borgia. For something a little lighter, check out Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her Emmy-winning role as the US Vice-President in Veep.

SUBTITLED: After The Wedding's Mads Mikkelsen returns in A Royal Affair, the true story of an 18th century Danish physician who falls in love with a queen and brings radical ideas to the nation. All Together Now is a French comedy starring Geraldine Chaplin and Jane Fonda (in a French-language role) as members of a group of five seventy-something friends who all decide to move in with one another.

DOCUMENTARY: In Shakespeare Uncovered, a number of Shakespeare aficionados (including Derek Jacobi, Jeremy Irons and Joely Richardson) explore the background behind the creation of some of Shakespeare's greatest plays. It's a six-part series that originally aired on PBS and will be enjoyed by any lover of The Bard.

PERFORMING ARTS: Levon Helm, the drummer from The Band, died nearly a year ago and many of his musician friends got together to perform a tribute/benefit concert in his memory. The resulting Love for Levon features Gregg Allman, John Hiatt, Joe Walsh, Roger Waters, John Mayer and more, performing songs by The Band and others.

Women's History Month

Did you know that March is Women's History Month in the United States? We have many interesting documentary DVDs that explore issues of interest to women (and men too!)

  • Explore how advertising's images of women affects society with Miss Representation, which originally appeared on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network. Also available on the same subject is Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women.
  • The Bro Code looks at the many ways that our culture produces sexist men.
  • It's hard to imagine that it was not until 100 years that women gained the right to vote. Not for Ourselves Alone is the story of  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan Anthony's fight for equality.
  • Half the Sky, a companion to the book of the same name, features six advocates for women's rights who fight for them worldwide.
  • The empowerment of Afghan women is explored in The Beauty Academy of Kabul, a look at Western hairstylists who open a beauty school in the title city.
  • The pink ribbons campaign against breast cancer is perhaps the most well-known campaign of its kind but it's not without controversy. Pink Ribbons, Inc. explores how corporations have adopted this campaign yet continue to produce products that may contribute to the problem itself.
  • Romance novels are eternally popular. Explore the world of the people who read them in Guilty Pleasures.
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