Friday, April 29, 2011

What I've been watching:

Recommended by one of my patrons, this was a sweet little sports film. Hugh Dancy stars as a young man whose inherited wealth has left him with little ambition in life but to have fun. When his girlfriend leaves him because his life is going nowhere he sets out to find a job. Having no qualifications for anything but with a love of soccer he takes a job as a middle school soccer coach. Surprisingly enough, the job is a good fit. There are a lot of clichés in this film but Dancy is extremely likeable as are the kids and the clichés are not too offensive so it was an enjoyable way to spend time.

Compassionate Sex
Recommended by the same patron, this film was on the crazy side. The film opens with Manolo leaving his wife Dolores because she is too perfect—she spends her days doing good deeds. She seeks help from the priest: she doesn’t know how to sin. She sets to work in her friends bar when a troubled man comes in. His wife has cheated on him; he can’t understand what she has done and he thinks his marriage is doomed. So Dolores tells him that if he cheated on his wife then he would understand and could forgive her thereby saving their marriage. She helps him with this solution and so begins her new life as Lolita: the woman who helps troubled men by providing compassionate sex. Wild enough for you?! It’s a bit silly but it was a fun film.

Fair Game
This political thriller was about the life and marriage of exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame. It started out slow and a bit confusing showing the woman at her job but built up in suspense and interest once she was exposed, let go, and her husband begins a public protest against the government. As political thrillers go you’d be better off watching All the Presidents Men again or one of my other favorites, Enemy of the State.

I Love You Phillip Morris
This is an interesting little film. It’s a bit like a cross between Catch Me if You Can and Love Story (a gay version). Jim Carrey (who I normally don’t like because I think he overacts) is quite good as Steven Russell, a con artist. In jail he meets the love of his life, Phillip Morris, downplayed by Ewan McGregor (who I really do like). The film is based on a true story. Russell, as played by Carrey, is such a good con man that you never really know who or what the real Steven Russell is which makes Phillip Morris very sympathetic because he doesn’t know either. In fact, Russell himself doesn’t know who he is; all he knows is that he loves Phillip Morris. Because all of his crimes are victimless, Russell truly is a loveable guy who is just able to take advantage of every situation in which he finds himself. It’s hard to not like him, and Phillip, a sensitive guy who has been used and abused by many a lover is also likeable. In the end, that makes this a rather bittersweet love story. I liked it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New to the library

Somewhere along the way I missed a week--an important week because we received The King's Speech, the academy award winner that everyone wants to see! I promise that I've caught up now and I'll try to not get behind in my reporting again.

Colors have scent. Sounds possess images. In a future world, where biochemical weapons have changed the game, an unlucky few have their senses blended.

Country Strong
Soon after a rising young singer-songwriter gets involved with a fallen, emotionally unstable country star, the pair embark on a career resurrection tour steered by her husband/manager, that includes a beauty-queen-turned-singer. Between the concerts, romantic entanglements and old demons threaten to derail them all.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1
Part 1 begins as Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on their perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort's immortality and destruction--the Horcruxes. On their own, without the guidance of their professors or the protection of Professor Dumbledore, the three friends must now rely on one another more than ever. But there are Dark Forces in their midst that threaten to tear them apart. Harry's only hope is to find the Horcruxes before Voldemort finds him.

Irreversible (French)
Alex and Marcus are a couple whose story is told in reverse-chronological order over the course of a fateful evening in a series of long takes. This film is an emotional odyssey that unspools in reverse from gut-wrenching violence to sweetly observed moments of sublime tenderness.

King’s Speech
The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

Rabbit Hole
Becca and Howie Corbett are returning to their everyday existence in the wake of a shocking, sudden loss. Just eight months ago, they were a happy suburban family with everything they wanted. Now, they are caught in a maze of memory, longing, guilt, recrimination, sarcasm and tightly controlled rage from which they cannot escape. The journey is an intimate glimpse into two people learning to re-engage with each other and a world that has been tilted off its axis.

Tron (1982)
When a brilliant video game maker named Flynn hacks the mainframe of his ex-employer, he is beamed inside an astonishing digital world and becomes part of the very game he is designing.

Way Back
Inspired by an incredible true story beginning in 1940 when seven prisoners attempt the impossible: escape from a brutal Siberian gulag. Thus begins a treacherous 4,500-mile trek to freedom across the world's most merciless landscapes. They have little food and few supplies. They don't know or trust each other. But together, they must withstand nature at its most extreme. Their humanity is further tested when they meet a teenage runaway who begs to join them on their quest.

White Material (French)
Maria is an entitled white woman living in Africa, desperately unwilling to give up her family's crumbling coffee plantation despite the civil war closing in on her. A gripping evocation of the death throes of European colonialism and a fascinating look at a woman lost in her own mind.

Child Sexual Predators: the Familiar Stranger (362.7 CHI)
A bill enacted by the New York State Legislature required the Division of Criminal Justice Services to produce an instructional video to help parents protect their children from sexual predators, and to distribute the video to libraries across the State. This extraordinary program features interviews with four convicted child molesters who reveal what they do and how they do it, and three survivors of childhood sexual abuse. A professor of psychology at the University at Albany takes viewers on a guided tour through the troubled mind of a pedophile, and offers insight into how child molesters operate, how they manipulate children and families, and why, all too frequently, parents refuse to believe their own children. The program is narrated by Tina M. Stanford, Director of the New York State Office of Victim Services.

Great Rift: Africa’s Greatest Story (551.136 GRE)
"The producers of Life, Galapagos and Yellowstone bring us The Great Rift. Visible from space, Africa’s Great Rift Valley runs four thousand miles from the Red Sea to the mouth of the Zambezi – a diverse landscape of erupting volcanoes, forest-clad mountains, spectacular valleys, rich grasslands, vast lakes and mighty rivers. Home to the greatest concentration of animals on earth – lions, crocodiles, elephants, hippos and flocks of flamingos – and pastoralists such as the Maasi – this is a land of constant geographical turmoil. It will take you to another world – a world of exotic extremes, where the forces of nature have shaped the landscape and so created a hotbed of evolution. It is the very cradle of mankind."

Incredible Human Journey (591.38 INC)
"How did we get here? ...Using the evidence from genetics, fossils, archaeology and climatology, Dr. Alice Roberts uncovers five epic routes our ancestors took across the globe and the obstacles and brutal challenges they encountered along the way. It reveals how our family tree grew and spread out across the world, producing all the variety we see in the human species today -- but despite all that diversity, Dr. Roberts reveals how astonishingly closely related we all are."

And now this week's new DVDs:

Mesrine: Public Enemy #1 (French)
In the climactic second part of the Mesrine saga, Jacques Mesrine is back in France after his brazen assault on the maximum-security prison from which he daringly escaped. Once again in police custody and facing stern justice for his crime, 'the man of a thousand faces' escapes directly from the courtroom after kidnapping the judge at gunpoint. The life of Jacques comes once and for all to a full bloody circle.

True Grit (1969)
U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn helps a headstrong young girl find the man who murdered her father in Native American territory and fled with the family savings. When Rooster's employer insists on accompanying the old gunfighter, sparks fly. The situation goes from troubled to disastrous when an inexperienced Texas Ranger joins the party.

Upstairs Downstairs (2011)
One of the most loved television series of all time is brought back to life with a fresh cast and sumptuous production values. It's 1936, and six years since parlor maid Rose left 165 Eaton Place, when fate brings her back as housekeeper to its new owners: Sir Hallam, his wife Lady Agnes, and Maud, Lady Holland, his mother. Rose soon finds she has her work cut out as she recruits a new 'downstairs' family to help run the elegance and finery of the 'upstairs' world.

New to the library

These were new the week of 4/13/11:

3 Idiots (Hindi)
Rascal. Joker. Dreamer. Genius. You've never met a college student quite like 'Rancho.' From the moment he arrives at India's most prestigious university, Rancho's outlandish schemes turn the campus upside down-along with the lives of his two newfound best friends. Together, they make life miserable for 'Virus, ' the school's uptight and heartless dean. But when Rancho catches the eye of the dean's sexy daughter, Virus sets his sights on flunking out the '3 idiots, once and for all.

Lovely Still
With the approach of Christmas causing him to feel lonely in life and love, Robert Malone braves the wintery snow to arrive home from his job at the grocery store only to find a stranger standing in his home. What begins as an odd and awkward encounter quickly blossoms into what appears to be a romantic late life love affair that takes a heartfelt and wonderful journey with an unexpected turn.

Kassie, a smart, fun-loving single woman, despite her neurotic best friend Wally's objections, decides it's time to have a baby, even if it means doing it herself, with a little help from a charming sperm donor. But, unbeknownst to her, Kassie's plans go awry because of a last-minute switch that isn't discovered until seven years later, when Wally gets acquainted with Kassie's cute, though slightly neurotic, son.

New to the library

I've really gotten behind in my blogging. So this is what was new the week of 4/6/11:

Casino Jack
Jack Abramoff, the real-life Washington power player, resorted to jaw-dropping levels of fraud and corruption. High-rolling excess and outrageous escapades are all in a day's work for Abramoff as he goes to outrageous lengths to promote the Indian gambling industry, earning him the nickname 'Casino Jack.' But when Jack and his womanizing protege Michael Scanlon enlist a dimwitted business partner for an illegal scheme, they find themselves ensnared in a web of greed and murder.

In 2009, filmmaker Josh Fox learned his land was on top of the Marcellus Shale, a giant reservoir of natural gas, and that he would be paid to lease his land for natural gas extraction. Fox documented his cross-country trek to find out if the controversial process of hydraulic fracking is actually safe. What he unearthed was a shocking discovery about a practice that is understudied and inadequately regulated, and raced to find answers about fracking before it was too late.

I Love You Phillip Morris
This film is a true story of a spectacularly charismatic con man's journey from small-town businessman to flamboyant white-collar criminal, who repeatedly finds himself in trouble with the law and on the lam, all in the name of love.

Little Fockers
Greg Focker has finally begun to earn the respect of his ex-CIA father-in-law, Jack Byrnes but one important test still lies ahead: will Greg prove that he has what it takes to be the family's next 'Godfocker', or will the circle of trust be broken for good?

Quiet Chaos
Pietro has just lost his wife, and he is left alone with their young daughter. He promises the girl that he will wait for her in the car when she returns to school for the first time, but then his temporary offer turns into habit. Now Pietro spends his days in his car, watching the world around him and grieving in his own way.

Tron: Legacy
When Flynn, the world's greatest video game creator, sends out a secret signal from an amazing digital realm, his son discovers the clue and embarks on a personal journey to save his long-lost father. With the help of the fearless female warrior Quorra, father and son venture through an incredible cyber universe and wage the ultimate battle of good versus evil.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What I’ve been watching:

Exit Through the Gift Shop
This is a film about graffiti artists. A Frenchman from L.A. who was an avid videographer travelled around the U.S. and Europe filming graffiti artists at work. He attempted to put his footage together into a documentary but what he made was an ADD mess. So Banksy, a famous British graffiti artist, suggested he put down his camera and create his own art which is what he did. You can decide whether or not he gives graffiti artists a bad name. I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening film.

Love the Beast
This film was made by actor Eric Bana about the love of his life—his first car, a Ford XB Falcon Coupe, “The Beast.” He spent his adolescence working on the car with his mates (he’s Australian) and continues to work on the car, to prepare it for racing in the Targa Tasmania, again with his mates. I love watching people talk about their passions and that’s what this film does—it is a film full of passion. Whether you like cars and racing or not you can’t help but share his joy for his beloved Beast.

Two in the Wave
I have loved foreign films since I saw my first one when I was a senior in high school and French films are my favorite--particularly the films of François Truffaut. This film is about the relationship between Truffaut and director Jean Luc Godard, both of whom were largely responsible for the New Wave movement in French films of the 60’s. This film is particularly relevant for those interested in the history of film. I found it fascinating.