The World of Jim Henson: 1 ::
"An excellent biography of the Muppet master, this 85-minute film from the PBS show Great Performances mixes the history of Henson's projects with plenty of sketches that any fan age 6 and older should enjoy. The film shows the incredible range of Henson's creations, starting in 1955 with "Sam and Friends" then moving on to Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and beyond. It illustrates the breadth of his genius, from creating entirely new worlds in film (The Dark Crystal) to pithy '60s TV commercials that achieved branding and a laugh in less than six seconds. There's footage that most fans haven't seen in years, or at all: a regular bit from The Jimmy Dean Show; tantalizing bits of his 1965 Oscar-nominated short, Time Piece; appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show; his explanation of Wall Street on Nightline; and Miss Piggy's hilarious deconstruction of Morley Safer on 60 Minutes."
Off The Charts
: "In his wildest satirical dreams, not even Christopher Guest could top Off the Charts for sheer folk-art eccentricity. And yet, the creator of A Mighty Wind would find comedic inspiration in Jamie Meltzer's hilarious and sincerely affectionate tribute to the subcultural phenomenon known as the song poem. For over 50 years, a small, strictly amateur music industry has thrived on the fine-print ads that appear in alternative newspapers and music-industry magazines, inviting would-be songsmiths to send in their lyrics (and perhaps even "earn royalties") when their songs--and we use that term loosely--are set to music, recorded by seasoned musicians, and returned to their creators as a kind of one-shot fantasy fulfillment of dreams that will never come true. What drives Meltzer's film is a uniquely American combination of pathos, fringe-dwelling ambition, and free expression by assorted misfits and "regular folk" who seek elusive immortality by turning their lyrical musings into trash-art that's simultaneously fascinating and pathetic. But despite the end-credit claim that not a single hit has resulted from the estimated 200,000 song poems that have been recorded over the decades, Meltzer's not out to ridicule these wonderfully ungifted artists. Instead, Off the Charts gives a memorable spin to the flipside of the American dream. --Jeff Shannon" (PBS, 54mins.)
Sikhs in America
"The Sikh community is an important part of northern Californias cultural tapestry, yet the Sikh religion and cultural traditions are not widely understood. This documentary captures Sikh social and family life, spiritual life, and economic and work life. Witness a beautiful Sunday service at a gurdwara, a Sikh wedding, the tying of a Sikh turban, and a look at the game Kabbadi." (PBS, 26mins)