Top Picks: PBS's re-exploration of 'Magical Mystery Tour,' the Minimalists' simple lives, and more
Scribblenauts relies on the player's imagination, Nicole Kidman stars in 'The Portrait of a Lady,' and more top picks.
Isabel Archer returns
A star-studded cast portrays Henry James's classic novel in the 1996 film The Portrait of a Lady, out on DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 11. Actress Nicole Kidman stars as Isabel Archer, a young American heiress who travels to Europe only to become ensnared by scheming expats. Kidman gives Isabel a blend of high intentions and unshakable naiveté that James might well have applauded.
Entrancing African blues
By night, Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara moonlight as members of Robert Plant's new band, the Sensational Space Shifters. By day, the British guitarist and the Gambian master of the ritti (a one-stringed Fula fiddle) collaborate under the name JuJu. The duo's third album, In Trance, is aptly titled. Through improvisations such as "Nightwalk" and "Deep Sahara," Adams's and Camara's instruments orbit and overlap each other to create rippling, concentric grooves. African blues has never been more spellbinding.
Back on the bus
It's not easy to find an unexplored corner of Beatlemania, but PBS brings viewers inside Magical Mystery Tour, the 1967 British TV film behind the album from the Fab Four by the same name. The show interviews Beatles as well as Martin Scorsese, Peter Fonda, and a slew of British personalities about the impact of the film. Full of veiled references to psychedelic drugs and anarchy, it never aired in the United States, but now "Great Performances offers Magical Mystery Tour Revisited Dec. 14 at 9 p.m., followed by the film itself at 10 p.m.
Scribble to adventure
The original Scribblenauts seemed impossible. The video game gave you a magic notebook that would create pretty much anything that you wrote down. Need to cross a river? Jot down "boat" or "bridge" or "jet pack" or – now that sequels to the game allow for adjectives – "massive floating pink refrigerator." Hop on. Hop off. Next puzzle! The newest version, Scribblenauts Unlimited, brings this creative toy box to the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and PC.
If the glut of stuff and shopping has already got you down, take a page from the playbook of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, otherwise known as The Minimalists. This duo of overachieving Millennials discovered that six-figure incomes and McMansions full of gadgets were not making them happy. So they chucked it all and found a new path of simplicity and purpose. Now they are on a mission to share their newfound joy with the rest of us through their bestseller, "Live a Meaningful Life," and website, theminimalists.com.
Community of cooks
A community of online home cooks lead by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs is back with another crowd-sourced tome, The Food52 Cookbook: Volume 2. The cookbook includes 104 recipes culled from themed recipe contests hosted on the website, Food52.com. Full of unique, seasonal dishes and candid comments from Food52 users, the cookbook inspires as easily as it charms.