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Headsup: The Buddha, The Conqueror and The Composer

Tchaikovsky DVD Cover Art
Grace is Gone DVD Cover Art
The Buddha of Suburbia DVD Cover Art

Tchaikovsky is a BBC production that mixes dramatic recreations of the composer’s life with conductor Charles Hazlewood trying to seek out what the man means in Russia. He does this by providing commentary and interviews, which can be a little jarring since the cover would make this seem to be a straight up biopic of some sort. Instead you get two hours of essentially a primer, which should get you setup to learn more should you choose to. The disc comes with a single extra–“Who Killed Tchaikovsky?”–which covers the controversy of his death. Music lovers should consider renting. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

John Cusack surprises no one by being excellent in Grace is Gone, the story of a man at home with two daughters while his wife is deployed in Iraq. Then he receives the word that his wife has died–and has to figure out a way to break the news to his kids, not to mention tell with the loss himself. I don’t suppose I need to point out that this isn’t going to be a film you watch to make yourself feel peppy and happy and light, right? But that’s okay–strong performances, good story = good release from The Weinstein Company. The features are scant–a short batch of interviews, a featurette on a Marine who lost his wife, and more. Worth a rental, but only when you feel like crying for a while. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

[ad#longpost]The Buddha of Suburbia is a BBC miniseries from 1993 that stars a pre-Lost and even pre-English Patient Naveen Andrews as a young man in the 70s dealing with the fact his life is falling apart: his father has become a guru and is running around on his mom, and he’s going through the what the hell am I doing with my life confusion that all of us do around that age. Some of us are still in it. This four-part series also stars Brenda Blethyn as Andrews’ aforementioned mom and has original music by David Bowie. Nice. The features are a commentary with co-writers Hanif Kureishi and Roger Michell (the latter was also the director) along with a Bowie music video. Six hours across two discs it’s a good rental for fans of the era, for fans of British television, and for fans of either Andrews or Blethyn. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The Last Oracle by James Rollins CD Audiobook Cover Art
Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden CD Audiobook Cover Art

Well, after having to talk about his novelization of Indy 4 it seemed like we needed to give James Rollins another chance. Rollins writes thrillers and this is one of the Sigma Force series: think Indiana Jones meets even more High Weirdness meets Tom Clancy in a dark alleyway. Why does a guy dying in the arms of the Force’s Commander tie back to the Oracle at Delphi? And tie forward–or maybe sideways–to bioengineering? And are there guns? Yes, yes there are. The Last Oracle is unabridged from Harper Audio: twelve CDs with fourteen hours of reading by Peter Jay Fernandez. Excellent pulp paperback reading that’s good for a long trip–or your craptastic commute. Worth nabbing from your local audiobook rental emporium, especially if you’re a fan of Rollins. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

If the name Conn Iggulden rings a bell, it’s probably because he was half of the team that brought you the most excellent Dangerous Book For Boys last year. Now he’s back with Genghis: Birth of an Empire, which I would think was timed well with the release of Mongol on the big screen, but nobody’s talking about Mongol. So. This is, like the movie, a historical account of the life of Genghis: his father was killed, his family was booted out and he decided to put together his own tribe and grow to kick everyone’s ass. Which is sort of like our plans for Needcoffee, except Siege has all the blades. This is out from Blackstone Audio and is unabridged: fifteen hours on twelve discs. Read by Stefan Rudnicki, one of the current audiobook go-to guys. Again, this is worth a listen for those who enjoy history or just like stories about guys who take over large bits of the world. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)