Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Flick Picks 12/23/2014: The Trip to Italy, The Equalizer

New on DVD at the Library This Week
It's the end of the year so the new releases are sparse, though the studios certainly saved some good ones for last.

Release date 12/23/14:
ENTERTAINMENT: Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's gutbusting impression showcase (disguised as a restaurant tour) The Trip has its sequel arriving this week in The Trip to Italy. Michael Winterbottom is back behind the camera. Based on a true story, the funny and uplifting Pride tells the story of British gay and lesbian activists who raised money to support striking mine workers in a tiny Welsh town in the 1980s. Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and Paddy Considine star. Juliette Binoche is a war photographer whose husband asks her to quit the job that gives her life meaning in 1,000 Times Goodnight.

Release date 12/30/14:
ENTERTAINMENT: Denzel Washington stars in a violent new reboot of the 1980s TV series The Equalizer, as a man with a mysterious past who must help a young prostitute (Chloƫ Grace Moretz) escape Russian gangsters. Antoine Fuqua, the director of Training Day, takes the reins. We've got it on DVD and Blu-ray. Elsa & Fred brings us Christopher Plummer and Shirley MacLaine as two people who discover love late in their life. The indie Kelly & Cal features Juliette Lewis as a former rock musician who moves to the suburbs and bonds with the 17-year old boy who lives next door.

SERIES: Season 4 of Chicago-based William Macy series Shameless and season 2 of Amish country action show Banshee arrive this week.

Some Gems From 2014
If you're looking for a great film that fell outside of the mainstream last year, check out this list. All of these films were smart, entertaining and worth your while, despite possibly being overlooked when browsing for blockbusters. Take some of these for a look at some of the best that 2014 had to offer!

Alan Partridge - A hilarious big screen look at Steve Coogan's arrogant television (now radio) host.
The Armstrong Lie - A documentary that began filming before Lance Armstrong was busted for drug use and wrapped up after Armstrong came clean.
Blue Ruin - An unlikely hero goes out for vengeance when a killer is released from prison. Dark but surprisingly humorous in parts.
Casting By - Some of the unsung heroes of Hollywood - the casting directors - are profiled, with contributions from many Hollywood stars.
Enemy - Bizarre but entertaining little film about professor Jake Gyllenhaal stumbling across his doppelganger.
Fruitvale Station - Powerful dramatization of the last day of a former convict's life, as he heads towards a conflict with transit police in San Francisco that will leave him dead.
The Great Beauty - It won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film but I've heard from people who were not entertained by its dreamlike celebration of Rome. I would have been happy if it had gone on for another two hours.
Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction - Anyone interested in film from the 1960s - 1980s should enjoy this documentary.
The Hunt - A devastating look at what a false accusation does to a close-knit community.
The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete - Both charming and devastating story of two boys left alone for a summer in the big city.
Let The Fire Burn - The 1985 conflict between Philadelphia police and MOVE that resulted in 11 deaths and the destruction of 61 homes, told through archive footage.
Our Nixon - Newly released home movies trace Richard Nixon from his election to his fall.
16 Acres - Fascinating documentary about the challenges faced by attempting to rebuild on the World Trade Center site.
The Trials of Muhammad Ali - A strong look at racism, religion and Muhammad Ali's attempt to avoid prison while avoiding the Vietnam draft.
Under the Skin - Gorgeous, hypnotic film about an alien's journey through a world she doesn't know.
The Unknown Known - An interview with Donald Rumsfeld that has been criticized for not revealing enough but which is worth watching for what it does show.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Flick Picks 12/16/14: This Is Where I Leave You, Magic in the Moonlight

New on DVD at the Library This Week
ENTERTAINMENT: It's hard to imagine that a better cast could have been assembled for the film adaptation of the Jonathan Tropper This is Where I Leave You. With the lead roles filled by Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Jane Fonda you are guaranteed a good time even had the film been directed by insane goats. The story concerns a group of siblings and their assorted spouses who must spend a week under the same roof (their mother's) after the family's patriarch dies. We've got it on DVD and Blu-ray. Also this week, another year, another Woody Allen film, with Magic in the Moonlight falling towards the whimsical end of the spectrum of Allen's works. Emma Stone is the woman who claims to speak to the deceased while Colin Firth is the magician brought in to debunk her who eventually falls for her charms.

It merely seems that Kristen Wiig has been in every independent film of the year, when in fact she has only appeared in half of them. The morbid Skeleton Twins pairs her with Saturday Night Live colleague Bill Hader in the story of a pair of twins trying to repair their relationship. Finally, we've got a couple of big budget tween films for the family to enjoy. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot pairs "heroes on the half shell" with Megan Fox to battle Shredder and his feared Foot Clan. The bestselling young adult novel The Maze Runner also hits the screen, telling the story of teens who wake up in a strange community surrounded by an inescapable maze. Some might feel that the film serves as a metaphor for how one must pursue an unknown future in order to experience success while a young critic in my house simply thought it was "really, really cool". It's available on DVD and Blu-ray.

SERIES: There was quite a delay before wacky Arrested Development was brought back from the dead for a fourth season - and then it was only available to Netflix subscribers - but now you can take home the DVD! Also this week brings us season 2 of the domestic Cold War drama The Americans.

PERFORMING ARTS: Your dream of seeing Christopher Walken play Captain Hook live on TV has finally come true with Peter Pan Live!

Holiday Films Now Available
Time to get caught up on your holiday favorites and to maybe find a few new ones! Our holiday films are now on display in a cart in front of our classic films. We've got titles like Bill Murray's Scrooged, Adam Sandler's animated Hanukkah tale Eight Crazy Nights, 80s classic A Christmas Story, Oscar winner Miracle on 34th Street, TV mainstay It's a Wonderful Life and even our good friend Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Here's a longer list for some more ideas.

Film Comment's Top Films of 2014
Every year, prestigious movie journal Film Comment solicits best-of lists from critics around the country in order to compile its own list of the year's best films. Their top 20 films of 2014 can be found here. Not everything is available on DVD yet but the titles that we own or have on order are:
#1 Boyhood (on order)
#3 The Grand Budapest Hotel
#4 Ida
#5 Under the Skin
#12 Only Lovers Left Alive
#15 Norte, The End of History (on order)
#19 Manakmana
#20 Snowpiercer

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flick Picks 12/9/2014: Guardians of the Galaxy, Frank

New on DVD at the Library This Week
ENTERTAINMENT: This summer's surprise superhero blockbuster featured a group of misfits that most casual comic readers hadn't heard of. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy hits the right balance of action, humor and futuristic effects, which makes it the rare action flick that works well for audiences who want a little bit more. Chris Pratt is given the spotlight and the rest of the cast is filled with cast members who fit their roles perfectly, as well as a talking squirrel and an anthropomorphic tree. It's available on both DVD and Blu-ray. Our other big film release this week is the funny and off-the-wall Frank, which features Michael Fassbinder as a rock musician who wears a large fake head and Maggie Gyllenhaal as his bandmate. It's a little bit different but surprisingly clever and engaging.

SERIES: Woo hoo! There's a new Who for you as season 8 of Doctor Who brings Peter Capaldi aboard as the newest regeneration of the title character. Season 2 of the Stephen King series Under the Dome also arrives this week.

DOCUMENTARIES: Bahman Mohassess - the "Persian Picasso" - is profiled in Fifi Howls From Happiness. The film shows the challenges that Mohasses faced as a gay artist in pre-revolutionary Iran, and his eventual escape to Italy. A number of nursing home residents are profiled as they take a bus tour of Israel in Next Year Jerusalem.

You can find all of our new and upcoming DVDs in Enterprise.

Monday Night at the Movies
On December 15th at 1:00 and 7:00 we will be screening Calvary in the library's Hammond Room. Father James is a good priest made to answer not only for the transgressions of his church, but seemingly all the pent-up outrage of Ireland in the early 21st century. Carried by the rich performance Brendan Gleeson, Calvary faces its many serious issues with a uniquely Irish mix of candor, gallows humor and a reverence for the spoken (and written) word. The film runs 100 minutes and is rated R. All of our film screenings are free of charge and open to everyone.

Talking Pictures
Susan Benjamin hosts another screening of The Jewish Cardinal on Wednesday, December 17th at 1:00 p.m. The Jewish Cardinal tells the true story of the son of Jewish immigrants who converted to Catholicism while still maintaining elements of his Jewish identity. Eventually he became involved with a controversy involving Carmelite nuns who desired to build a convent within the walls of Auschwitz. The film runs 90 minutes and is free and open to everyone.

Trains, Not in Vain
Have you ever noticed how many great films are set on trains? Well we have! Here's a list of films for you to choo choo on.
  • Two recent action films are worth a look: Last Passenger, in which a man takes control of a London commuter train in order to crash it, and the futuristic Snowpiercer, about a train that carries the remainder of society, which is divided into two classes.
  • The Denzel Washington and Chris Pine thriller Unstoppable is nonstop fun as the pair tries to stop a runaway train. Director Tony Scott also made the Denzel Washington/John Travolta remake of the hostage drama The Taking of Pelham 123 (the original is available as well).
  • Wes Anderson's dreamlike The Darjeeling Limited follows three brothers on a journey across India.
  • Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are an American couple who encounter a mysterious couple while travelling to Moscow in Transsiberian.
  • Is it or isn't it Tom Hanks in the animated The Polar Express? Well it's some version of him in this new Christmas classic.
  • The Lady Vanishes and Night Train to Munich are two very similar thrillers (with the same pair of comic supporting characters appearing in both), though the fact that Alfred Hitchcock directed the former probably makes it better known.
  • Buster Keaton's The General is memorable not only for being hilarious but for some brilliant stunts as well

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Flick Picks 12/2/2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Hundred-Foot Journey

New on DVD at the Library This Week
ENTERTAINMENT: Hey hey, they're the apes! The sequel to 2011's reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes comes home this week with the dark and thought-provoking Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, in which the intelligent apes are free but eventually come into conflict with a group of human survivors. The film's producers didn't monkey around with the first film's quality so you're sure to go ape over it. Gary Oldman and Keri Russell are the humans, Andy Serkis is an ape and you and I are the viewers, tossing popcorn into our mouths while laying on our couches. We've got it on DVD and Blu-ray. The Hundred-Foot Journey is another feel-good food dramedy starring Helen Mirren as a restaurateur who becomes resentful of the Indian chef who moves his restaurant next door. Eventually they are brought together through their shared love of food. Finally, the sci-fi flick The Congress features Robin Wright as a version of herself, who decides to sell her digital image for future film use. Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti, Jon Hamm and Danny Huston beef up the cast.

SERIES: Guillermo del Toro's disturbing vampire virus novel The Strain has been adopted into a disturbing series for FX. Also, modern Kentucky cowboy show Justified hits season 5.

SUBTITLED: Eric Rohmer's A Summer's Tale, never released on DVD in the United States, finally arrives, telling the story of young people in a French beach town.

DOCUMENTARIES: We've got a number of meditation programs coming up and you can continue to use what you've learned at home with A Beginner's Guide to Mindfulness Meditation. Celebrate the late Robin Williams's career with Robin Williams Remembered, a PBS Pioneers of Television special.

PERFORMING ARTS: Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy and Kris Kristofferson are just a few of the musicians celebrating four decades of entertainment in Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years.

You can find all of our new and upcoming releases on Enterprise.

History is No Mystery on DVD
Take advantage of the cold weather by locking yourself in the house and watching a documentary about some fascinating parts of the world.
  • Do you remember when the Berlin Wall came down? The Wall: A World Divided is a PBS series telling the history of the structure that divided Berlin for over 25 years.
  • The Story of Ireland tells the story of the country's mythic past and important figures.
  • We've got a number of fascinating National Geographic specials including When Rome Ruled, Egyptian Secrets of the Afterlife and Unlocking the Great Pyramid.
  • Arabia is a beautifully shot film, narrated by Helen Mirren, that culminates in the largest gathering on earth.
  • The secrets of The Kremlin are secrets no more when you view the series The Kremlin, which was the first time that an American film crew was allowed to film inside the building.
  • The Story of India is a six-part series covering ten thousand years of the country's history.
  • Learn about the history of England through its rules with the series Monarchy.
  • The PBS series Napoleon brings the man to life from birth to exile.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Flick Picks 11/25/2014: The Expendables 3, The November Man, The Giver

New on DVD at the Library This Week
ENTERTAINMENT: What action superstars can be found in The Expendables 3? It's probably easier to count the ones who AREN'T in The Expendables 3. You don't even have to see the full names to get a taste of what The Expendables films are all about - Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Gibson, Snipes, Lundgren, Banderas and Statham are all on board showing off their big guns. Even Harrison Ford got roped into this one. Anyway, the plot involves arms dealers and wisecracks, and you know you want to see it. A little more low-key but still exciting is the Pierce Brosnan offering The November Man, about an ex-CIA agent who is brought out of retirement for a final job and soon discovers that he can trust no one.

Lois Lowry's popular young adult novel The Giver, about a futuristic perfect world where a young man learns about sorrow and pain, is given a filmic adaptation starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. Daniel Radcliffe continues to shed his Hogwarts uniform in the comedy What If, in which he plays a one of a pair of friends who must decide whether to test their friendship by becoming romantically involved. The late Robin Williams co-stars with Joel McHale in A Merry Friggin' Christmas, in which the duo plays a father and son who hit the road in order to rescue some forgotten presents. Finally, The Discoverers is a warm, goofy comedy about a history professor (Griffin Dunne) who reconnects with his family on a road trip.

SERIES: Inspector Morse spin-off Inspector Lewis is acquiring its own pedigree, hitting series 7 this week.

SUBTITLED: An Iranian author and former political prisoner attempts to protect his memoirs from being destroyed by authorities in Manuscripts Don't Burn. Set in former Soviet Union republic Georgia following its independence, In Bloom is the story of two teenage girls trying to find peace in chaos. A strong international cast that includes Catherine Deneuve, John Malkovich and Isabelle Huppert are along to help Lines of Wellington tell the true story of a decisive victory by Portuguese/English forces over the French in 1810. Finally, Isabelle Huppert is a filmmaker who suffers a stroke and falls for a con man while trying to get her next movie made in Abuse of Weakness.

DOCUMENTARIES: Alive Inside features Bobby McFerrin and Oliver Sacks as it explores the possibility of music having a positive effect on Alzheimer's patients. The gripping Master of the Universe profiles former investment banker Rainer Voss as it explores the psychology behind the 2008 financial crisis.

Find all of our new and upcoming films in Enterprise.

Have You Tried Hoopla?
Looking for something to watch without having to leave your home? Hoopla is our great new service for watching movies on your iPad or other tablet computer or your home computer. It has a large selection of new and classic films as well as TV shows, exercise videos and more! It also offers audiobooks and new music. Give Hoopla a try!

Thanksgiving Films
Here are some titles that you might want to try on this Thanksgiving, including some that you probably forgot were set on the holiday!
  • The Band's farewell concert (which included guests like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young) was filmed on Thanksgiving of 1976 for The Last Waltz.
  • A quirky young woman tries to cook Thanksgiving dinner for her family in Pieces of April.
  • Thanksgiving dinner provides an important scene for the characters in the first of Sam Raimi's Spider-man series.
  • Thanksgiving provides various settings for both Rocky and Rocky II, with the sequel's fight falling on the holiday.
  • Home For Purim sounds too Jewish? Why not rename the film Home For Thanksgiving? For Your Consideration provides such typical Christopher Guest hilarity.
  • Two turkeys try to go back in time to change their fates in the animated Free Birds.
  • Revisit Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy and the gang with the classic A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
  • Finally, if you haven't planned your meal yet then pick up Jacques Pepin's Thanksgiving Celebration for some good ideas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flick Picks 11/18/2014: 22 Jump Street, And So It Goes, A Dame to Kill For

What's New on DVD at the Library?
ENTERTAINMENT: The recent reboot of 21 Jump Street was a surprisingly smart and entertaining hit and its sequel 22 Jump Street amazes in that it's just as enjoyable as its predecessor! This time, cops Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill go undercover at a college to bust a local drug supplier. But can their friendship survive? Writers/Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller also gave us The Lego Movie this year so they are clearly comedic minds to be reckoned with. We've got 22 Jump Street on DVD and Blu-ray. Next, Rob Reiner's And So It Goes is a comedy/drama about a man (Michael Douglas) who enlists the help of neighbor Diane Keaton when his young granddaughter appears at his door.

The visually striking hit Sin City gets a long overdue sequel with A Dame to Kill For. This neo-noir comic book hybrid features Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson in some brutal intersecting stories. The teen melodrama If I Stay features Chloe Grace Moretz as a promising young musician who must decide whether to live following a car accident. Finally, animation great Hayao Miyazaki offers up his final film The Wind Rises, which tells the true story of a young man who became an innovative airplane designer.

SERIES: The much anticipated new Worricker series, returning Bill Nighy to the role of the MI5 agent of the title that he played in Page Eight, hits these shores with Salting the Battlefield and Turks and Caicos. Also this week brings us season 2 of The Paradise, which tells the story of the first English department store.

You can find all of our new and upcoming DVDs in Enterprise.

Elementary, My Dear Watson...
There are very few characters who have been adapted in as many different filmic situations as Sherlock Holmes. From classic to contemporary, we've got many versions of the great detective for you to try!
  • Basil Rathbone portrayed Holmes in a number of movies between 1939 and 1944, collected on DVD.
  • Jeremy Brett is often considered one of the best Sherlocks, and made a number of series for British television.
  • Classic film director Billy Wilder took an unusual look at Holmes and his relationship with Watson in 1970's Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Another interesting take on Sherlock Holmes is 1976's The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, which envisions Holmes meeting Sigmund Freud.
  • Robert Downey Jr. is the highest profile Sherlock Holmes in some years in his two films.
  • Two well-reviewed contemporary versions are available on TV with the British Sherlock and the CBS show Elementary.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Flick Picks 11/11/2014: Jersey Boys, Tammy, How to Train Your Dragon 2

New on DVD at the Library This Week
ENTERTAINMENT: Clint Eastwood once again shows off the breadth of his directing skills in choosing to adapt the hit musical Jersey Boys for the big screen. The film tells the story of four young guys who form the musical group The Four Seasons and while there's plenty of drama you know you want to see it for the music. The Four Seasons are played by four unknowns while Christopher Walken is the cast's big name. We've got it on DVD and Blu-ray. Tammy is Melissa McCarthy's latest attempt to rule the world of comedy film. In this film, she tries to escape her troubled life with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) by roadtripping to Niagara Falls.

The second installment of the hit DreamWorks franchise comes to the small screen this week with How to Train Your Dragon 2, a sequel that captures the same highs as its predecessor. It's available on DVD and Blu-ray. The best-selling novel Mr. Pip sees itself adapted this week in a film starring Hugh Laurie as an Englishman on a Pacific island that is being torn apart by civil war. Finally, indie director Joe Swanberg is back again with Happy Christmas, starring Anna Kendrick as a woman who moves in with Melanie Lynskey and family and proceeds to shake up their life.

SERIES: Based on the British series of the same name, HBO's dark comedy Getting On follows nurses at an extended care facility, as well as a doctor played by Roseanne's Laurie Metcalf. This week also brings us the newest installment of the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse and her supernatural friends with season 7 of True Blood.

DOCUMENTARIES: Apparently Titanic director James Cameron loves spending time in the ocean and in Deepsea Challenge he films a  breathtaking solo submarine journey that he took deep into the Mariana Trench.

You can find all of our new and upcoming DVDs in Enterprise.

Monday Night at the Movies
Our next Monday Night at the Movies screening is the Indian romantic drama The Lunchbox, which we will show at 1:00 and 7:00 on November 17th. Ila attempts to spice up her marriage by preparing a special lunchbox for her indifferent husband.  When the lunchbox is mistakenly delivered to another man, an unexpected relationship develops between the two strangers through a series of notes and further lunchboxes. The film will be shown in the library's Hammond Room. All of our films are free and are open to everyone. Please note that this film has been changed from the one originally announced in Excerpts.

Talking Pictures
We will be screening Nebraska as part of Susan Benjamin's Talking Pictures program on Thursday November 13th at 1:00. The film will be shown in the library's Hammond Room and will be followed by a discussion. All of our films are free and are open to everyone.

Veteran's Day Films
Pay tribute to those who have fought for our country with an appropriate viewing choice.
  • Saving Private Ryan is Steven Spielberg's brutal look at a World War II Army division's attempt to rescue a soldier.
  • The classic Patton takes a look at the divisive World War II general in combat.
  • In the moving The Messenger, two soldiers are charged with letting families know that their children have died in battle.
  • Flags of Our Fathers was Clint Eastwood's film of the lives of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima.
  • The Hurt Locker brings us the intensity of the work of the bomb disposal units in during the Iraq War, eventually showing us the difficulty in returning to civilian life.
  • Michael Cimino's classic The Deer Hunter follows three men from a steel town who head to Vietnam, including their eventual return.
  • The Best Years of Our Lives remains one of the greats in its portrayal of World War II veterans returning home.
  • It's a miniseries rather than a movie but the Band of Brothers story of an Army division in World War II is well worth revisiting.