Top picks: PBS's 'The Calling,' Leonard Bernstein 60-CD set, Keith Urban's 'Get Closer,' and more
PBS documentary 'The Calling,' 60-CD set 'Leonard Bernstein: The Symphony Edition,' new Keith Urban album 'Get Closer,' and more recommendations.
When the call came
"The Calling" takes us on a four-hour journey through the lives of those who have been called to serve God. The series profiles the aspiring Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and evangelical Christian leaders as they dig into their educational process and grapple with how to balance their divine calling with the demands of everyday life. Airs Dec. 20 and 21 on PBS's "Independent Lens."
Composer, conductor, educator Leonard Bernstein's impact on 20th-century classical music cannot be overstated. Now for the first time, Sony Classical has released his collected symphonic works, "Leonard Bernstein: The Symphony Edition." The 60-CD set retraces his years with the New York Philharmonic and includes a book of essays and photos.
Contentment fits Keith Urban well, as the smooth set of radio-ready pop-country songs in "Get Closer" (Capitol Records) makes clear. Mr. Nicole Kidman gushes on domestic tranquility in "Without You" ("The traveling/ The singing/ It don't mean nothin' without you"), delivers arena singalong fare with "Put You in a Song," and teams with Richard Marx (yes, that one) on what is sure to be a major single in 2011: "Long Hot Summer." Urban rarely surprises, but his cool efficiency and nimble guitar work make him a consistent performer whose charming confidence is well-earned.
Behind the genius
The PBS series "American Masters" looks beyond the myths and misconceptions that have arisen about the wildly gifted classical pianist Glenn Gould. "Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould," airing Dec. 27 at 9 p.m., traces the passions and concerns that drove him. Never-before-seen footage, photographs, and excerpts from Gould's private recordings and diaries, and memories from his closest friends, flesh out one of the great figures of 20th-century classical music.
Banksy ruse or real life?
The highly secretive British street artist Banksy, who leaves his stenciled handiwork on walls all over the world, is the focus of "Exit Through the Gift Shop," newly out on DVD. The documentary – or mockumentary – is the story of how an eccentric French shopkeeper and amateur filmmaker attempts to befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results.
The utterly charming HBO documentary "Top Ten Monks" explores the group of Cistercian monks in Austria who became international stars when their album of Gregorian chants topped the charts. The show reveals the men behind the monastery walls who seem just like any other 21st-century men in their love of motorcycles and computers. But we see their lives through the lens of their greatest love, devotion to God. Debuts on Dec. 22 on HBO 2.