PBS’ Nature has always been one of its best shows. And compared to so many other shows of its ilk that are out there it is the cream of the crop. Its latest release, An Original DUCKumentary proves yet again why Nature is the prime example of a wildlife show done right.
An Original DUCKumentary takes viewers into the lives ofsome of our fine-feathered friends from birth to adulthood. This is a wonderful program for the entire family and for ornithologists and those studying aviary sciences. General audiences will love simply watching the feature’s outstanding cinematography while those with a deeper interest in the different species of ducks will appreciate both the cinematography and the more scientific explanations of each species’ general body construction and habits. The subtle narration by acting veteran Paul Giamatti (Sideways, The Illusionist, Cosmopolis) is a nice touch, too. There’s something about his delivery that is perfect for just such a setting as this. Both Lenny Williams and Chris Biondo are also to be commended in this new feature from PBS. The pair was responsible for the music used as a bed throughout the show. Just as Giamatti’s delivery was a perfect fit for narration, the control of the music by Biondo and Williams’ gentle musical touch added its own extra subtle nuance to the presentation.
The narration and music definitely play their own part in the success of An Original DUCKumentary as already noted. This is something that far too often, documentarians get wrong in crafting their presentations. Together, the pair have come together to make a presentation that will keep audiences engaged and entertained. One example of that match comes in a scene in which a number of different species of ducks had come together at a stopping point on their migration. Giamatti describes almost as if he were right there in person how each group actually works together in its own way to protect all of the ducks from predators while others rest and look for their mates. There’s something oddly humorous about Giammati’s delivery as he talks about the male ducks’ attempts to lure a female. There’s almost a certain slightly dry wit about his narration as he talks about the birds’ mating habits.
Along with the narration, music, and cinematography, there is one other aspect of An Original DUCKumentary that makes it enjoyable for both general audiences and those more deeply interested in studying ducks. That factor is the inclusion of a listing of each duck featured throughout the feature at its end. Audiences are presented with a collage of different ducks that is highlighted, one duck at a time, complete with its name. It serves as one more way to get audiences who might have otherwise not had any interest in studying ducks interested for the first time. For those who are more seasoned birders, it’s just one more bonus as it specifically highlights each species featured. Along with the other noted aspects of this feature, it’s one more reason for any viewer of any level of experience to check out this stand out dock…er…DUCKumentary. It’s available now on DVD and can be ordered online direct via the PBS store at http://www.shoppbs.org.
When one thinks of the term “artist” one’s mind generally leans toward images a painter. While that image fits, the artist as painter is just one type of artist. In the film world, writers and directors can be considered artists, too. Instead of using a brush and a canvass, the director and writer use cameras sets, and script pages as their canvasses. And just as the work of visual artists isn’t for everyone, nor is writer/director David Cronenberg’s new adaptation of author Don DeLillo’s book, Cosmopolis. It would be lying to say that this movie is easily accessible by any means. That’s especially the case for those who have not read DeLillo’s book. And even for those who have read it, there are differences. It’s both because of those differences, and because of Cronenberg’s own ambitious vision that this adaptation of Cosmopolis likely won’t appeal to all audiences.
While Cosmopolis does have its negatives, it also has its positives. The movie’s cinematography is an example of both the positives and the negatives surrounding this art flick. The camera angles used throughout the movie’s near two hour run time help to heighten the story’s tension in its more powerful moments. Those more powerful moments also include some of Eric’s (Robert Pattinson) conversations with those individuals whom he encounters on his cross-city journey. On the other hand though, sometimes, the quick cuts can be enough to leave some viewers feeling dizzy and confused as to what they’ve just seen. So to that extent, the cinematography behind Cosmopolis is something of a mixed bag.
Just as much of a mixed bag as the cinematography here is the general story itself. On the one hand, those who have read the book may be left wanting more in some cases as there were some elements of the book that were left out of the movie. But in its defense, Cosmopolis isn’t the first movie to every make changes in adapting the written word to the screen. This is always a delicate exercise. There are those who are so hardcore about adaptations that even the slightest difference could lead to anger and outcry. For those who have never read the book though, the movie’s general story may leave them feeling just as confused and dizzy even without its cinematography. It may be confusing at points, but those who really give this story a chance will see that in essence, it is a commentary of sorts centered on everything that society in general has become. Keeping that in mind, one will understand why this is one of those movies that takes more than one watch to really take in everything that it offers. It’s one of those movies that really require a viewer’s full attention to fully comprehend and appreciate it at any level. Given that chance, this art film will still remain very much a niche film. But audiences will have at least a new understanding of it and this perhaps even a different take on it, too.