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The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer. Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"The #1 Ladies'
Television detectives come in various shapes and sizes. There's tall and charismatic Angela Lansbury, gorgeous and intense Mariska Hargitay, brilliant and oozing Southern charm Kyra Sedgwick. And now available on DVD, there's a voluptuous and tenacious detective in Jill Scott.
Earning Grammys for her vocal gift as a soul singer proved only the beginning of the talent Scott has to offer. As the owner and lead detective in HBO's "The #1 Ladies Detective Agency," Precious (Scott) combines all the qualities of the aforementioned slate of actors, plus the allure of the far off continent of Africa.
Precious is anything but stereotypical in her country of Botswana. She's a woman with property, a divorced woman with a business, and a woman who through clever wiles and wit accepts all challenges. Her secretary Grace (played superbly by Anika Noni Rose) adds to the humor of the sometimes dire cases that stumble through their beaded door.
"The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency" is based on a series of books by Alexander McCall Smith. A BBC/HBO production, seven episodes are available on DVD and appropriate for family viewing. There are long winter nights ahead and no better way to escape than renting these DVDs and savoring good writing and good acting.
"Rock of Ages"/"Shine a Light"
If you haven't heard of the Rolling Stones, you probably have been living on another planet. Whether you're a fan or not will determine if these two documentaries strike your fancy.
"Rock of Ages: An Unauthorized Story on the Rolling Stones" is a 60-minute rockumentary that manages to focus on the rock and roll band's lengthy career without ever playing any of their music. There's lots of old news footage documenting the chronology of their various run-ins with the law (mostly related to marijuana possession) and a few newer news clips of the aging rock stars at a press conference, but nothing that truly addresses the obvious question as to why this particular band has had success decades after most old rockers are rocking in a chair rather than on stage.
On the other hand, "Shine a Light," the documentary directed by Martin Scorsese, not only supplies the reason the Stones still are around but provides a front-row seat as well as a backstage pass for your entertainment. Jagger at 60-plus has more energy than the average 2-year-old on the run. Interestingly, his main concern regarding the filming is that the cameras don't get in the way of the audiences' enjoyment. The other "boys" in the band - guitarists Ron Wood and Keith Richards and drummer Charlie Watts - truly look like men you might run into on grandparents' day at the kids' school. But when the lights go up and the crowd starts to scream, excitement fills the Beacon Theatre in New York City.
The Stones are legendary; however "Shine a Light" is brilliant because of Scorsese's direction and the work of his all-star camera crew. No doubt as the director of his own projects, Scorsese is in total control of every detail. In the opening scenes of "Shine a Light" he clearly states, "I don't know what's going on!" Only someone with his knowledge and experience could pull off this documentary.
"Shine a Light" features lots of music, a few guest stars and interesting preconcert preparation. You'll feel like you've been to the concert without the hefty price tag of a Rolling Stones ticket.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at email@example.com.