Category: Movies

DVD Review: Straight Outta Compton

By , April 12, 2016

Straight Outta Compton

At the end of 2015, the Popmatic Podcast did our best of the year movie picks. My third favorite movie of the year was Straight Outta Compton. The problem with that pick was not all the racial issues and requisite language, but the fact that I HAD NOT ACTUALLY SEEN IT! Sigh. I’d seen the previews and it was one of a few that I actually wanted to watch. Plus my friend saw it and loved it. DOUBLE PLUS I used to work in the music business so I was curious from that point of view as well. So I picked it and the boys razzed me about it, but I stuck to my guns. (You can listen to the episode to hear our discussion of events.)

And I’m so glad I did because the movie was awesome!

Yes I finally saw it and it was everything I thought it would be. I was never a big NWA fan growing up. That’s shocking, I know, coming from a white girl who was raised in the rural, cookie-cutter Midwest. Their music was just something I had no idea how to relate to. But I remember when “beep tha Police” was causing such a big stink in the media – especially after the incident in Detroit (which is in the movie). At the time, I probably agreed with my parents who thought they were hoodlums.

But now that I’ve got a few years under my belt (just a handful, here and there, let’s not get crazy), I have a better idea of the reality of their situation. Their music really was just an expression of their reality. That’s what music is supposed to do so violent life = violent music. And if you listen to the production of the original release, it really is amazing what they achieved with the resources they had to make it.

I thought the casting of the movie was good. All the characters look like their intended representation. Especially with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre – who have both gone on to have monster careers – Dre as a producer and headphone maker and Ice Cube as a musician and actor (he also gets a writing credit – as O’Shea Jackson – for the movie Southpaw which I also just mentioned on our Valentine’s Day podcast). My favorite cast member was Aldis Hodge as MC Ren because I loved him on Leverage. Also, fun fact – Hodge would have only been 1.5 years old when the original album was released.

If you have issues with language or violence, then maybe this movie is not for you. But it is definitely a reflection of the reality of Compton, CA in the 1980’s and 90’s. The world gave them violence and they gave us art. Even if you disagree, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a great story.

And I’m Straight Outta Nashville…sorry, I had to say that…yo…

:) Amanda

Movie Review: The Black Panthers: Vanguards of the Revolution

By , March 27, 2016


The Black Panthers The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

Stanley Nelson interviewed several scholars who spoke about the Civil Rights era, and the Panthers’ influence during the time period. More importantly, Mr. Nelson interviewed former Black Panther members which included Ericka Huggins, Kathleen Cleaver, and Jamal Joseph. The interviews highlighted the ideals Huey Newton and Bobby Seale had, the work that was put into the group, and the impact the group had on the rest of the world. Yet, the documentary also shows how young and unprepared many of the members were.

I was shocked when I realized that Huey Newton and Bobby Seale were only 24 and 30, respectively, when they founded the Black Panther Party. Many of the group members were under 25, yet all of these young people came together to protect and grow their neighborhoods. All of them risked their freedom, bodily harm, and death, to try and make the lives of minorities better. The group did have its issues–sexism, drugs, interpersonal dramas, etc., however, I found myself struck by the fact that the group was still able to shake up authority, demand change, and have it happen! Fred Hampton was organizing NAACP youth groups by the time he was 18 years old, while I was just struggling to organize my class schedule.

The movie is only about two hours long, and gives the audience a well researched starting point for those who have never heard about the Black Panthers, those who have never heard anything good about the group, and those who have always wanted to learn more. As you watch, it is okay to be amazed at these barely christened adults starting a revolution, and face the consequences with a level a poise that most people could only dream about.


Having Belcourt withdrawal?

By , March 7, 2016

Reeling Through LifeReeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies
by Tara Ison

In this memoir/film class, Ms. Ison reveals how movies shaped her attitudes about life.  Chapters include How to Go Crazy, How to Be Lolita, How to Be a Drunk, and How to Die in Style.  In each essay, the author talks about several films that she saw during her formative years and the life lessons that she gleaned from them.  For instance, How to Die in Style discusses Love Story, Harold and Maude, In Cold Blood, and Thelma & Louise, among others.  Her preteen perspectives on the heavy themes of sex, death, and addiction are especially interesting.  Plus, it will give you a huge list of old movies to revisit while the Belcourt’s closed!




Wilson Collection pays tribute…

By , January 25, 2016

David Bowie

Recently Updated!

I think it’s safe to say that the year 2016 is starting off a little more bitter than sweet. Not only has the winter weather showed up with a vengeance, but there have been several shocking and heartbreaking deaths already this new year. Though this tribute is predominately focusing on David Bowie and his love for reading, I’d like to first recognize a few other individuals who also recently passed away.

The most recent passing being of the great, English actor Alan Rickman, who passed away last Thursday (the 14th) of Pancreatic Cancer. Though my favorite role he played will Always be Severus Snape in theAlan Rickman Harry Potter films, he was famous for many of his other films including Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Love Actuallyand of course, Die Hard. No one will ever forget his voice either.

On a more personal note, this next individual that passed away on Jan. 12th is being mentioned because his death was felt by everyone in the Butler Bulldog community – a community I am very much a part of as a proud alumna. At the young age of 25, former Butler basketball player Andrew Smith passed away after 2 tough years battling Cancer.

I could go on about the tough fight Andrew put up, how strong his wife was throughout the battle (and how strong she still is), and what he means to the school, but you’d be reading forever, and as Brad Stevens (former Butler coach-turned Celtics coach) said “it still wouldn’t do him justice.” But I’ll simply say that my thoughts go out to his family and friends, and summarize his character with a message sent out from the school – “He is, was, and always will be a Bulldog.

Andrew SmithSorry to take it down a notch, but like all lives, these are worth mentioning and remembering.

For the last tribute, I’m going to recognize innovative English musician, David Bowie. Bowie passed away on January 10th, just 2 days after his birthday and the release of his latest album, Blackstar.

As sad as I am at his passing like many others, I will halt here on my tribute to Bowie because if you are a regular follower of the Library’s Off-the-Shelf blog, you have already seen the beautiful tribute written by Bryan on January 11th. If not, click here to check it out. Instead, I’d like to share a few of Bowie’s favorite books via the Wilson Collection.

David BowieLike music and art, Bowie enjoyed immersing himself in a book; it was one of his favorite forms of relaxation. When he toured or was filming a movie, he had a large collection of books with him always. And, he was also one of the first celebrities to pose for the American Library Association’s series of READ posters. For the 1987 edition, you can find Bowie jumping for joy (it appears) while he reads Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. 

If you haven’t already seen the many shared articles and Twitter feeds, a list of Bowie’s top 100 favorite books was released (unsure of when and by whom initially). Though I wish we had every single one of them in the Wilson Collection, I was at least happy to find a few.



Here are 3 of his favorites:

Madame BovaryMadame Bovary
Author: Gustave Flaubert
Water-Color Illustrations by: Gunter Böhmer
LEC: 1938

  • This is a tragic story about Emma Bovary, the wife of a doctor, who indulges in adulterous behavior to escape her provincial life. I say “tragic” because the story ends with Emma taking her own life due to unhappiness.
  • This book is not only considered to be a masterpiece, but is also a seminal work of literary realism. It received strong backlash when it was first published due to its controversial content.
  • This copy of the book is signed by well-known German-Swiss illustrator, Gunter Böhmer. Though he was also known as a talented painter and draftsman, he was best known for his stylistic book illustrations.

The BridgeThe Bridge
Author: Hart Crane
Photographs by: Richard Mead Benson
LEC: 1981

  • It is a long poem with varying scope and style and was written as an ode to the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City.
  • Though he traveled around to different cities while writing the poem, Crane also spent time in an apartment that overlooked the famed bridge. What Crane didn’t know when he was living there was that the designer of the bridge also stayed there during the bridge’s construction.
  • The photographs taken for the LEC copy were by talented photographer, Richard Mead Benson – a longtime admirer of New York’s geographical beauty.

The LeopardThe Leopard
Author: Giuseppe di Lampedusa
32 Photographs from the film by: Giovan Battista Poletto
Arion Press: 2015

  • The story is based on the life of the author’s grandfather, Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi, who was Prince of Lampedusa. It follows the life of a family during the Italian Risorgimento, or Resurgence.
  • Published posthumously after several failed attempts, The Leopard eventually became the top-selling novel in Italian history after initial political attacks, and is now also considered to be one of the most important literary works in the modern Italian literature.
  • The book was also made into a film, the same film that the 32 photographs were taken from.

If you’re interested in visiting the Wilson Collection, you’ll find it on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library in the East Reading Room (between the Fine Arts department and Non-Fiction). The hours are the same as the Main Library hours. If you’d like a personal tour of the collection where you’d get to see the books up close and even get to look through them yourself, either respond to this blog post or call either of the following numbers:

(615)880-2356 – leave a message for Liz.


Best Movies of 2015

By , January 4, 2016

Warning: I love documentaries.

The OvernightersThe Overnighters
This actually came out in 2014, but came to Nashville in 2015 as part of the Belcourt’s annual Overlooked/Underplayed series. It’s not often that you find a documentary with a great twist ending.






Also part of Overlooked/Underplayed, this gripping mix of indie drama and sci-fi would be good for fans of Primer.






Red ArmyRed Army
Having zero interest in hockey, I was completely bowled over by how much I loved this documentary about the famous Soviet team from the 1980’s.






While We're YoungWhile We’re Young
Tailor-made for 40-something fans of Noah Baumbach, this is a funny but unsettling portrait of the divide between Generation X and the Millennials.






I Am Big BirdI Am Big Bird
I defy you to stay dry-eyed during this tribute to the life, work, and marriage of puppeteer Caroll Spinney, the man behind Big Bird for over 45 years.






You do not need to be an Amy Winehouse fan to appreciate this heart-rending documentary. The shot of a teenage Winehouse singing happy birthday, by itself, is worth putting this on your holds list. The director Asif Kapadia also directed the magnificent Senna (and no, you don’t need to be a Formula One fan to like that one).




Stanford Prison ExperimentThe Stanford Prison Experiment—This has my vote as the most underrated film of the year. The performances were astonishing, and the storyline was so true to what actually happened that it was almost documentary-like. Not to mention that the subject matter itself is riveting. The cast included Ezra Miller, perhaps best known for his chilling performance in the also underrated We Need to Talk About Kevin.




Finders KeepersFinders Keepers—From the director of The King of Kong comes this implausible-sounding documentary about a man who finds a human foot in a smoker and attempts to profit from it. Yes, that’s the plot summary. The best thing about this movie is the unexpected and poignant ripple effect that this action has on everyone involved.





Thank you to the Belcourt for bringing all of these to Nashville–happy renovating, Belcourt!


Legends of Film: Walter Murch

By , December 26, 2015

Return To OzDuring this episode we talk to Sound Designer, Film Editor and Director Walter Murch. Mr. Murch’s editing credits include Apocalypse Now, Julia, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The English Patient, and The Conversation. Murch won three Academy Awards® over the course of his film career.

Subscribe to Legends of Film by RSS | iTunes

Popmatic Podcast for December 16, 2015: Best Movies of the Year

By , December 16, 2015

It’s the best movies of the year! Will this episode be as divisive as the best music of the year episode? I hope so! Plus—what is tickling our fancy this month because we think you have all the time in the world to listen to podcasts. Something must brighten the gray of your cubicle cage. Let it be us! Please let it be us! The audio version of Popmatic is going on holiday vacation for two weeks so binge now.



Sicario1) Sicario
2) Ex Machina
The Gift




Call Me Lucky1) Call Me Lucky
2) Going Clear
3) Inside Out




Pixels1) The Intern [We'll get it when it comes out. Pinky swear.]
2) Pixels
3) Straight Outta Compton




Mad Max Fury Road1) Mad Max: Fury Road
2) The End of the Tour
3) What We Do in the Shadows




Felt1) Felt
2) Interstellar [Hack your tractor just like the movie.]
3) Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana






Amanda plays Christmas

Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds

Megahex by Simon Hanselmann

Mike’s movie runner ups:
Last Days in Vietnam
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Creeping Garden
Steve Jobs
The Nightmare
The Search for General Tso


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

By , December 6, 2015

Black Panthers Vanguard of the RevolutionThe Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution 
by Stanley Nelson

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is a film about the history of the Black Panther Party containing rare archival footage and interviews with the people who were a part of it, including members Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Ericka Huggins, and Jamal Joseph. It bills itself as the first feature length documentary to explore the party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson notes:

“The parallels between pivotal moments within the movement and events occurring in our communities today are undeniable. To better understand the Black Panther Party is to be able to better reflect on our own racial climate and collective responsibility to ensure basic rights are fulfilled, not diminished, and that voices of justice and dissent are celebrated, not silenced.”

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution will air on PBS in February, but you can catch a FREE special screening with Stanley Nelson in attendance as part of our Conversations@NPL series this Friday, December 11 at 6:00pm. You may recognize the Emmy Award-winning filmmaker from some of his previous projects like The Murder of Emmett Till, Freedom Riders, and Freedom Summer – the film that framed the discussion for July’s Conversations@NPL event with civil rights activists Bernard Lafayette and C.T. Vivian. Following the screening, Mr. Nelson will answer questions with WSMV’s Demetria Kalodimos.

Click here for more information about The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

Hoopla Film Fest: Native American Films and Filmmakers

By , November 27, 2015

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, here are six films by and about Native Americans that you can stream on Hoopla for free with your library card:


Narrated by Benjamin Bratt (Qechua), We Shall Remain tells the history of the United States from the Native American perspective. With contributions from Chris Eyre (Cheyanne/Arapaho), Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo), and other Native cast and crew members (including language and cultural consultants), this five-part PBS documentary series starts with the first Thanksgiving and explores the alliance between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag all the way through the modern day American Indian Movement.

2. REEL INJUN (2009)

Written and directed by Neil Diamond (Cree), Reel Injun examines the depictions of Native Americans throughout the history of Hollywood. Talking heads include individuals such as filmmaker Chris Eyre, actor Adam Beach (Saulteaux), and actors / activists Russell Means (Oglala Lakota) and Sacheen Littlefeather. Through discussions of stereotypes and the homogenization of cultures, Reel Injun demonstrates the importance of Native filmmakers telling their own stories.

3. A GOOD DAY TO DIE (2010)

Using oral histories and archival footage, A Good Day to Die recounts the life of American Indian Movement (AIM) co-founder Dennis Banks (Ojibwa). The documentary is co-produced and directed by Lynn Salt (Choctaw) and features the voices of activists like Clyde Bellecourt (Ojibwa), Lehman Brightman (Lakota-Creek), and of course, Dennis Banks himself.

4. EMPIRE OF DIRT (2014)

This woman-centric film chronicles the lives of three generations of First Nations women struggling to deal with their past and reclaim the future. Written by Shannon Masters (Cree/Saskatchewan), Empire of Dirt won the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Screenplay. Film producer Jennifer Podemski (Saulteaux/Israeli) – who you may know from Degrassi: The Next Generation – also appears in the film and received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.


Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls takes place in 1976 on a Red Crow Mi’gMaq reservation during a time when First Nations children were forced to attend residential schools. Starring Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Mohawk), the film is a fictionalized account of a teenager’s experience with death, drugs, and the erasure of her people’s traditions and culture. Rhymes for Young Ghouls earned Barnaby (Mi’kmaq) Best Director at the 2014 American Indian Film Festival.

6. ROAD TO PALOMA (2014)

You may recognize Jason Momoa (Native Hawaiian) as Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones, but did you know that in addition to acting he directed, wrote, and produced 2014’s Road to Paloma? Meant to raise awareness about the real life issue of uninvestigated and unprosecuted rapes of Native American women on reservations by non-Native people, the film is about a biker on the run from the FBI after avenging his mother’s death.

Movie Review: Spy

By , November 24, 2015


I don’t go out to the movies much because it’s just gotten so expensive. And because I’ve gotten spoiled. Why should I trudge out to a theater with sticky floors and pay $15 to listen to my hard-of-hearing seat neighbors argue if the actor on screen is Jude Law or Judge Nelson? (Eh? What?) Especially when I get the movie for free, delivered to my easily-accessible (for the most part) library. Then I can watch the movie in the comfort of my own home – with snacks and blankets and only crazy cats for distractions.

Which is exactly what I did with this one. I’m usually in for anything with Melissa McCarthy (I’ve loved her since The Gilmore Girls) but after The Heat which mostly flopped in my book, I’m a little more hesitant with my watching preferences. But not only was McCarthy good in this one, but they added Allison Janney in the uncredited role of CIA boss. Allison Janney! This is a twofer!

So the mostly believable premise is that Susan Cooper aka Coop aka McCarthy runs operations for field agents like the James Bond wannabe played by Jude Law. Of course she’s in love with him and (spoiler alert) of course he gets killed in the line of duty. So when field agent Jason Statham comes in to save the day, McCarthy volunteers to help him, and when he goes rogue, it’s all left on her shoulders.

Initially, I thought this was going to be McCarthy bungling into a victory, but she really does have some spy chops. And there were some shocking twists and turns. As he usually does, McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, makes a hilarious cameo that you don’t want to miss. (Definitely better than the Bridesmaids cameo.)

I really thought this was gonna be a dumb buddy comedy with some ersatz spy action to up the special effects budget, but overall it is a decent movie. Make sure to get your holds on now because this list has a few folks in front of you. While you’re waiting, you can always catch up on other McCarthy gems like a few episodes of The Gilmore Girls or Mike & Molly.

Happy McCarthying…

:) Amanda

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