No Picture
Documentary

The War: “A World Without War”

Ken Burns’ The War comes to an end tonight, and, unfortunately, the episode title — “A World Without War” — does not refer to the literal fact that our world has gone on without conflict. Rather, it references America coming to the exhilarating realization that four long years of living in a war climate — either in actual combat, or making sacrifices on the homefront — are over. After being in a “war” mindset for so long, it might take a little readjustment, but it is certainly a worthwhile and joyous one. Right at the beginning, the episode realizes that […]

No Picture
Documentary

The War: “The Ghost Front”

Tonight’s episode of The War begins with an incredibly eerie account from Ray Leopold, who explains a conversation he had with a German soldier who had just been captured by his outfit. The German, in perfect, accent-free English, persists in asking Leopold the exact location from which he comes. When Leopold tells him he is from Waterbury, Connecticut, the German turns out to be very familiar with the minute details of the area. Puzzled, Leopold asks how he knows so much. Following the German’s explanation, Leopold says, “my blood ran cold.” The German mentions that he has been trained “for […]

No Picture
Documentary

The War: “FUBAR”

Ken Burns’ The War picks up again this Sunday with the first of its final three episodes. When we last saw the series, hopes of a quick end to the war in Europe were running high following the D-Day invasion, and the Allies’ rapid advance toward the German border. But as we see in this episode, nothing can be assumed, certainly not victory against a desperate opponent in wartime. Overconfidence can lead to things becoming “FUBAR” — F***ed Up Beyond All Recognition — very quickly. Now, your local PBS station may choose to run a version of this episode that […]

No Picture
Documentary

The War: “Pride of Our Nation”

In “Pride of Our Nation,” the last episode of The War for this week (three more are to come next week), we see Americans’ hope begin to increase as the long-awaited invasion of France — D-Day — finally occurs. As we all know from fictional accounts such as Saving Private Ryan, the disastrous American D-Day landing at Omaha Beach was the bloodiest day in U.S. history since the Civil War. Since we have seen so many histories of this battle, there is not an inordinate amount of time spent on it, but there are enough new angles to make an […]

No Picture
Documentary

The War: “A Deadly Calling”

Tonight’s episode of The War, airing on PBS at 8pm ET/PT, covers the months from November 1943 up until June 1944, and is titled “A Deadly Calling.” It’s an apt title, coming from one veteran’s recollection of how he (and most others) came to accept their duty to kill in this now total war, where once they had subscribed to “Thou shalt not kill.” It also describes how the American public came to realize just how deadly this calling was. Through the first two years of the war, even though the dreaded and heartbreaking telegrams to wives and mothers kept […]

No Picture
Documentary

Ken Burns’ Necessary “War”

In the first episode of The War, Ken Burns’ incredible new miniseries premiering this Sunday on PBS, a veteran of World War II describes that conflict as “a necessary war.” History has proven that to be correct. And history should also determine that Burns’ documentary is a very necessary and worthwhile endeavor, as it manages to put on film valuable recollections of that monumental moment in world, and particularly American, history. With many from that “greatest generation” now passing away each day, it is crucial to gain whatever information from them that we can. As the introduction to each episode of […]

No Picture
Documentary

No Meer Reality Series

I’m not big on reality TV — at least the human kind. But when it comes to the natural world, you get all the same fighting, intrigue, sex, backstabbing, poignant emotional moments and more. Granted, you don’t see animals get drunk. But you also don’t get to see the cast members of The Real World eat each other (unless those are in the outtakes), so it all balances out. Most importantly, with animals you get honesty. Nothing is staged for the cameras. And that’s what makes Meerkat Manor so endearing. It’s simply a story of families literally struggling for survival. […]

No Picture
Documentary

Explore The “Cities Of The Underworld”

As any sanitation worker can likely attest, there is a lot going on under our streets. But it isn’t all modern pipes and recently constructed sewer access tunnels. Instead, many of the great cities of the world have beneath them labyrinths of old catacombs, hidden water supplies, dungeons, tombs and even forgotten cities that have miraculously survived the ravages of time and formed the foundations — often literally — of the modern cities above them. These range from ancient ruins beneath Old World cities to the hidden places beneath modern American ones. Each has its own hidden wonders, many of […]

No Picture
Documentary

Rosie Perez Finds The Source Of Puerto Rican Pride

They say travel is broadening. But though I’ve toured Puerto Rico, from a trek through the El Yunque rainforest to a midnight ride on the phosphorescent bay near Ponce, I never expected to increase my knowledge of the island through an hourlong interview with actress Rosie Perez about her journey of cultural discovery. We discussed her feature-length documentary, ¡Yo Soy Boricua, Pa’que Tu Lo Sepas! (I’m Boricua, Just So You Know), premiering June 12 on IFC, which she appears in as well as directs. What prompted you to put this film together? Rosie Perez: I have this guy I used […]