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.
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July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).