Hearts of Darkness

This re-release of Hearts of Darkness (1991), a documentary on the making of Francis Coppola's legendary Apocalypse Now (released in 1979), affords us unprecedented entry into the filmmaking experience. The boisterous Coppola and his charmingly mild wife, Eleanor, provide (for this new DVD) voice-over commentary on a movie (mostly shot by her) that itself comments on the production of another movie. And don't forget the two books in the story: Conrad's masterpiece lurking in the background and Eleanor's own Notes, a superb and understated narrative about the wild 238-day shoot of Apocalypse Now in the Philippines. The project suffered numerous setbacks -- a crucial last-second casting change; replacement Martin Sheen's subsequent heart attack; and endless financing woes. Coppola plowed on, doubt-filled but determined, hampered as well by an ill-prepared Marlin Brando and a spaced-out Dennis Hopper. The documentary captures it wonderfully, with Eleanor's meek voice imposing a calmness on all the chaos. Also included is Eleanor's new documentary on her husband's's latest film, Youth Without Youth, which sheds further light on Coppola's tumultuous career. The pampered auteur of the '70s now exhibits the certainty and resignation of a seasoned pro who still risks pretentiousness. If it all seems ridiculously postmodern and meta-level, don't worry: it's riveting and revelatory in every respect.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.