Category: Movies

Movie review: Enough Said

By , September 30, 2014

Enough Said_ Enough Said

This is a smart, funny and very enjoyable movie featuring the late, great James Gandolfini in a role you may not be accustomed to given his preeminence as Tony Soprano.  He plays Albert, a sweet divorced man whose ex-wife, Marianne, befriends Eva, played by Julia Louise-Dreyfus (of course, well known from Seinfeld, New Adventures of Old Christine and recently star of HBO’s Veep).

Eva, a travelling masseusse, begins a relationship with Albert and their woman in common leads to all sorts of plot twists where shared information creates uncomfortably real and thought provoking situations.  What to reveal; When?  Who knows what?  Can we go on like this and become an honest couple based on our true feelings for each other?

Definitely a charming, romantic situational comedy worth watching with excellent acting all around and lots to recommend it.

-Phil

 

 

 

Book review: Tara Road

By , September 23, 2014

 Tara Road
By Maeve Binchy

This book has sat and sat and SAT on my To-Be-Read pile for what seems like forever. Initially I grabbed it because I thought it might have something to do with Gone with the Wind. Even though it completely doesn’t, the book jacket grabbed me. A house swap? From Dublin to Connecticut and vice versa? Hmm…I liked The Holiday. Why not?

When I finally began to read Tara Road, I borrowed the audio. This was a lucky happenstance, because the reader (in this case, Jenny Sterlin) has a beautiful Irish voice and sets the story nicely. Starting in Dublin, we meet Ria Johnson. The first half of the book details how she meets Danny Lynch & how they build their family. I kept waiting for the house exchange part, but couldn’t possibly see how it would fit. I even went back and read the cover, just to make sure this was the same book. It was, and is. I just hadn’t read far enough.

Little by little, Marilyn Vine and her Connecticut world sneek into the story. She and her husband are estranged, having just suffered through some horrific tragedy and Marilyn decides she needs some time to get away. On a whim, she dials Danny’s number in Dublin, having met him on a previous visit several years prior. When Ria answers they both cook up this scheme to trade houses for two months.

Whew! That was a lot of backstory to get through for a house exchange. But, honestly, every minute and page and scenario was worth it. At this point, you may either continue reading Tara Road OR you may switch out at start watching the movie (or do both like me!).

The movie starts right before the house exchange, significantly truncating Ria’s backstory and stars Andie MacDowell as Marilyn Vine and Olivia Williams as Ria Lynch. (Just because I always have to find some Joss Whedon connection, Williams starred as Adelle DeWitt, the head of his short-lived Dollhouse.) The book version is almost 500 pages, so naturally several plotlines and characters get cut in the movie. I loved both Ria and Marilyn, but I thought that movie Danny Lynch was nowhere as good, or as handsome, as the written Danny and I wanted to punch Polly Calahan in the face in both versions. Definitely a decent film adaptation though.

This book was nothing like what I was expecting, but I so enjoyed reading it. I was sorry when I finally finished. I had not read anything from Maeve Binchy before, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last book of hers I read.

Happy reading…

:) Amanda

PS Today is my birthday (Da na na na na na). I’m gonna have a good time (birthday!)…

Comics review: Sin City

By , September 18, 2014

Frank Miller has become reclusive in recent years. Before going off the grid, he changed comics forever. Jeremy tells us how.

Daredevil Volume 1

Batman: Year One

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Sin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye

Sin City Volume 2: A Dame to Kill For

Sin City Volume 3: A Big Fat Kill

Sin City Volume 7: Hell and Back

Sin City (movie version)

music by Black Dice Freegal | Hoopla | Free Music Archive

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Football Movies We love

By , August 28, 2014

With the 95th NFL season getting ready to kickoff on September 4th what better way to get into the mood for football season than with some of our favorite football movies……

 

The Blind Side

Based on a true story, “Michael Oher is a homeless teenager who with the help of his coaches and adopted family becomes an All-American offensive left tackle.”

 

Brian’s Song

“A drama about the deep friendship between Gale Sayers, black halfback for the Chicago Bears, and his white teammate, Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer in 1970.”

 

Friday Night Lights

“Odessa is an oil town in the western part of Texas that is home to the Permian High School Panthers, the football team with the best winning record. The city’s economy is in a tailspin, but football is the one thing that brings all the people of Odessa together.”

 

Invincible

“Vince Papale is a down-on-his-luck substitute teacher in Philadelphia who, at the age of 30, was out of work, abandoned by his wife, and biding time as a part-time bartender when he decides to answer an open call for tryouts on the Philadelphia Eagles NFL football team in 1976.”

Leatherheads

“Dodge Connolly is a charming, brash football hero. He is determined to guide his team from bar brawls to packed stadiums. But after the players lose their sponsor and the entire league faces certain collapse, Dodge convinces a college football star to join his team. Dodge hopes his latest move will help the struggling sport finally capture the country’s attention.”

 

Radio

“The story of the relationship between a prominent high school football coach in a small South Carolina town and the illiterate, mentally-challenged man nicknamed Radio whom he mentors.”

 

Remember the Titans

“A drama of forced high school integration in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971. After leading his team to fifteen winning seasons, white football coach Bill Yoast is demoted and replaced by African-American Herman Boone, tough, opinionated and as different from Yoast as could be. The two men overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions.”

 

Rudy

“Although people have told Rudy all his life he’s not good enough, smart enough or big enough, nothing can stop his impossible dream of playing football for Notre Dame.”

 

Undefeated

“The inspiring and moving tale of three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis and the volunteer coach, Bill Courtney, trying to help them beat the odds on and off the field.”

 

We are Marshall

“While traveling home after a football game in North Carolina, 75 members of Marshall College’s football team and coaching staff were killed in a plane crash. As those left behind struggled to cope with the devastating loss of their loved ones, the grieving families found hope and strength in the leadership of Jack Lengyel, a young coach who was determined to rebuild Marshall’s football program and in the process helped to heal a community.”

 

- Karen

 

 

Ebola: a primer

By , August 15, 2014

Ebola: the plague fighters
NOVA

Ebola Hemorragic Fever. If those three words did not send blood curding chills down your spine before the most recent West African outbreak, I bet they do now.

First identified in 1976, Ebola Hemorragic Fever appeared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. The latest outbreak is centered in Guéckédou, Guinea. The virus is believed to be zoonotic (animal-borne) spreading to humans once in contact with a diseased animal. Ebola Hemorragic Fever is severe and often fatal to humans and nonhuman primates. The symptoms are frightening so to spare the reader graphic details, focus on the word, “hemorragic.”

If you care to further investigate this virus from the safety of your Ebola secretion free home, we offer these horrifying reads and films beginning with the 1987  Robin Cook medical thriller, Outbreak.  A film by the same name followed in 1995 featuring “a take charge army virologist” played by Dustin Hoffman.  Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman also star. Cook followed up with the 1995 book Contagion (film by the same name in 2011).

In 1994 Richard Preston gave non-fiction audiences The Hot Zone. This book looks at the disease and the research behind the testing and the lab work involved in finding a treatment. If you wonder why no cure or treatment exists, it is because outbreaks are sporadic and occur mainly in Africa.

Finally for your viewing pleasure, the 2007 no-nonsense Nova production Ebola: plague fighters. The Nova film team was permitted into the 1995 Zaire Ebola “hot zone”. They spent four weeks in the quarantined city of Kikwit following medical specialists who traced and tracked the Ebola virus that dissolves internal organs and connective tissue. You can watch this one while donning a surgical mask. No one will blame you.

By visiting patients in their home, by helping them come to terms with their illness, I could heal when I could not cure.      Abraham Verghese

-laurie

 

 

 

DVD review: Zero Charisma

By , August 7, 2014

Zero Charisma

This year is the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, the tabletop roleplaying game that changed the world forever. The newest version of the game just launched. Feature articles in New York Times, Salon, and BoingBoing charted D&D’s influence on culture above and beyond the gaming world. Gamers though have often lamented that the joy of tabletop roleplaying games has never been captured on film. Perhaps the closest was the episode of Freaks and Geeks (Episode 18 “Discos and Dragons”) when sexy bad boy James Franco switches teams and hangs out with the nerds for a game of D&D. To his surprise, he has a ton of fun and his new found happiness caps the critically acclaimed series. This was the final scene of a soon to be cancelled show.

This brings us to Zero Charisma – the first film distributed by geek media powerhouse Nerdist Industries. Zero Charisma is a portrait of Scott, an old school gamer who is equal parts megalomania and persecution complex. Though he’s a down and out loser, he’s used to being the big man around his gaming table. Scott’s world is his game. This world gets knocked out of orbit when Miles, a new school nerd joins his gaming group. Miles is everything Scott is not. Miles has a beautiful girlfriend, a hipster’s fashion sense, a popular blog, and always knows the right thing to say. Scott and Miles cannot exist in the same space-time. When the long running gaming group breaks up, Scott is forced to examine his life IRL. Why doesn’t he have a girlfriend? Or his old job at the neighborhood gaming store that used to be his home away from home?

Does Zero Charisma capture the joy of gaming? Probably not. The title is Zero Charisma after all. It’s a character study of an unlikable guy. The rest of Scott’s milieu are portrayed as, to be kind, socially awkward. Is there more here than a movie for gamers by gamers? I don’t know. I’m a gamer so I can’t tell. I do know I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this movie since I saw it. Scott represents a certain type of geek that makes life hard for other geeks. The issue of intra-community bullying comes up all the time at fan conventions. This aspect of geek culture is as rarely shown on film as the joy of tabletop gaming. The personal dynamics and life lessons here could easily be transposed to other social groups. Is there a Scott in your family? In your workplace? Find out by giving Zero Charisma a chance. It’s an indie movie with a lot heart and a window to a world not many are privy to see.

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50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer

By , July 27, 2014

In the summer of 1964, around one thousand young people, mostly college students, mostly white, headed to Mississippi. Their goals seemed simple. Help black people to register to vote. Start community schools, libraries, and centers. They knew it would be tough. Mississippi law was not on their side.

Check out the full movie: Freedom Summer from Nashville Public Library

 

Freedom Summer by Susan Goldman Rubin

Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi 
by Susan Goldman Rubin

The disappearance of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner forms the backbone of this thoroughly researched book. Rubin conducted interviews with many of the students and leaders present in Mississippi during that summer, interweaving their stories with news accounts and other primary source documentation. The real treasures of the book, however, are the photographs. From frightening scenes of violence to the peaceful setting of children reading in a library, readers are able to viscerally connect with that long-ago summer.

Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell

The Freedom Summer Murders  
by Don Mitchell

Who were those three young men who were shot in a dark, secluded Mississippi woods? Their names and faces mobilized the first real government interference in Mississippi’s racist political system, but they did not set out to be heroes. Mitchell traces the early years of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, as well as the reactions of their families to their disappearance at the onset of Freedom Summer.

 

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Freedom Summer  
by Deborah Wiles
illustrated by John Lagarrigue

John Henry swims better than anyone I know. He crawls like a catfish, blows bubbles like a swamp monster, but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me. He’s not allowed. Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be  
by Augusta Scattergood

A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool. As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Revolution  
by Deborah Wiles

Sunny is twelve-years-old as the summer of 1964 begins to bake her home in Greenwood, Mississippi. She’s already feeling overwhelmed by her new stepmother and her two kids, and now there’s talk of white people coming to stir up trouble for everyone. And sure enough, right away three Freedom Summer workers disappear. Violence hangs like a thundercloud over Greenwood, while Sunny frantically tries to understand who is right.

 

Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson

Like a Holy Crusade by Nicolaus Mills

Like a Holy Crusade: Mississippi 1964 – The Turning of the Civil Rights Movement in America  
by Nicolaus Mills

We remember the Kennedy men of the 1960s as “the best and the brightest”; we celebrate the Mercury astronauts for having “the right stuff.” But, Mills writes, if anyone in the 1960s earned the right to be called heroes it was the men and women who risked their lives to carry out the Mississippi Summer Project. That summer took a terrible toll on staff, volunteers, and, above all, those black families who opened their homes to the movement. In the face of danger, courage was everywhere.

 

Freshwater Road by Denise Nichols

Freshwater Road  
by Denise Nichols

Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree leaves Ann Arbor to go to Pineyville, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964 to help found a voter registration project as part of Freedom Summer. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself.

 

 

Mississippi Burning (movie) Mississippi Burning (DVD)

Two FBI agents investigate the deaths of civil rights workers in a Mississippi town. Tension is caused by the discovery of a local coverup.

Directed by Alan Parker. With Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, and Brad Dourif.

 

Neshoba (movie)

 Neshoba: The Price of Freedom (DVD)

The story of a Mississippi town forty years after the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, an event dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning. No one was held accountable until 2005, when the State indicted preacher Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old notorious racist and mastermind of the murders.

Directed by Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano

 

The Nashville Room at the Nashville Public Library’s Main Branch has many resources on the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these books are unique and hard to find. Below is a list of books available in the Nashville Room. These books cannot be checked out.

Letters from Mississippi

Letters from Mississippi: Reports from the Civil Rights Volunteers and Freedom School Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer  
ed. by Elizabeth Martinez

800 students gathered for a week-long orientation session at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, in June, 1964, before leaving for Mississippi. They were mostly white and young, with an average age of 21. Letters from Mississippi is a collection of moving, personal letters written by volunteers of the summer.

And Gently He Shall Lead Them

And Gently He Shall Lead Them: Robert Parris Moses and Civil Rights in Mississippi  
by Eric Burner

Moses spent almost three years in Mississippi trying to awaken the state”s black citizens to their moral and legal rights before the fateful summer of 1964 would thrust him and the Freedom Summer movement into the national spotlight. This first biography, a primer in the life of a unique American, sheds significant light on the intellectual and philosophical worldview of a man who is rarely seen but whose work is always in evidence.

Freedom Summer - Belfrage

Freedom Summer 
by Sally Belfrage

Published in 1965, Belfrage recounts her time participating in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s summer project in Mississippi in 1964. The text covers one intense summer from the basic training session in June to the Democratic Convention in August.
 
Faces of Freedom SummerFaces of Freedom Summer
text by Bobs M. Tusa
photographs by Herbert Randall

These rare photographs re-create the exhilaration and danger of Freedom Summer in 1964 Mississippi.

My Favorite Costume Dramas of the Last Twenty Years

By , July 24, 2014

My love of fashion began when I was six years old. I watched Walt Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and saw ladies wearing ball gowns. I was hooked, to this day I love nothing more than a film filled with beautiful clothes.   With that being said, here is a list of my favorite costume dramas of the last 20 years……

 

   

 A Royal Affair (2012) “The story of a passionate and forbidden romance between the royal physician and the Queen.”  German with English subtitles.

 

 

 

 Bright Star (2009) “19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, share an unstoppable love.”

 

 

 

 Coco Before Chanel (2009) “Years after being abandoned at an orphanage by her father, Gabrielle Chanel finds a job in a tailor shop and begins making hats.”  French with English subtitles.

 

 

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (2009) “By the 1920s, Coco Chanel has established herself in the world of fashion. After a disastrous reaction to an early production of his Rite of Spring ballet, Igor Stravinsky has become a penniless refugee living in exile. When the two are introduced, the attraction is immediate.”  French with English subtitles.

 

 

 Dangerous Liaisons (1988)  “Set in 18th century France, this is the story of two bored aristocrats and the havoc they wreak when they play dangerous games with people’s lives.”

 

 

Doctor Zhivago (2002)  “War and revolution bring poet and physician Yury Zhivago together with the beautiful Lara.”

 

 

Elizabeth (1998) ”In 1554 young  Elizabeth Tudor comes to the throne amidst bloody turmoil.”

 

 

 

Forsyte Saga (2002)   “The family life and loves of an upper–middle–class Victorian family.”

 

 

 

 Frida (2002) “The life of artist Frida Kahlo, from her humble upbringing to her worldwide fame and controversy that surrounded both her and her husband, Diego Rivera.”

 

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) “17-year-old Griet must work to support her family, becoming a maid in the house of Johannes Vermeer.”

 

 

 Great Gatsby (2013) “A would-be writer Nick Carraway leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922 and lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby.”

 

 

Marie Antoinette (2006) “The story of young Marie Antoinette of France.”

 

 

 

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) “In 1929, an impoverished girl is sold to a geisha house in Kyoto.”

 

 

Pride and Prejudice (2005) “Mr. Bennet is an English gentleman living in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife and 5 daughters.”

 

 

Renoir (2012) “Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Jean Renoir — son of the Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste — returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I.”  French with English subtitles.

 

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2011) “Centuries ago, two ‘sworn sisters’ are separated by their families, but stay connected through a secret language written in the folds of a white silk fan.” In Mandarin with English subtitles.

 

 

Titanic (1997) “Two people from different classes meet and fall in love on the brief, tragic maiden voyage of the grand ocean liner Titanic.”

 

 

Wings of the Dove (1997) “A young society woman must choose between a life of ease and her lover.”

 

 

Young Victoria (2012) “Chronicles the life and times of Queen Victoria from her childhood to her early rise to power and the first turbulent years of her rule.”

 

 

-Karen

 

 

 

Book review: Life Itself

By , July 18, 2014

Life itself: a memoir
by Roger Ebert

In 2011 Roger Ebert, the everyman half of Siskel & Ebert penned the memoir, Life Itself.  The book gives readers behind the scenes access into the life of the man who shaped the way we  look at movies for 4o years.

From his childhood years in Urbana to the heady days of covering international film festivals, Ebert shares the nuances that made his life itself rich. Roger Ebert was raised a Catholic, but he later lapsed. He fought the temptations of drink, professional jealousy and the wiley ways of buxom, wonton women. Sure, there must have been editing in the telling, but what a masterfully crafted final product.

Ebert won a Pulitzer Prize (the first awarded for movie criticism) and notably co-wrote the screen play of Beyond Valley of the Dolls. He was the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His television movie review programs, beginning with Sneak Previews in 1975, hosting with Gene Siskel in various incarnations for 15 years and ending with Ebert & Roeper, changed the way we look at movies and movie going.

It was his talent for conveying the details, atmosphere and mutations in mood that gave his work a distinct voice no matter the medium.  Over the years he moved from print (linotype presses, no less) to television and finally electronic communications when he lost the physical ability to speak.

Filmmaker Steve James has produced a film version of the biography, loosely based on the book. Filming began after Ebert could no longer speak, but was still in relatively good enough health to be a vital part of the process.  Over the course of filming, Roger Ebert endured return visits to rehab and moments of restored health only to repeat the process over and over again with his (late in life) wife, Chaz at his side. Roger Ebert, the surgically devoured, papillary thyroid  and salivary glands  cancer patient died in April 2013, eleven years after his initial diagnosis. The film version, Life Itself was released earlier this month.  To rave reviews.

We don’t pretend to disagree.  Gene Siskel

-laurie

Legends of Film: Alec Smight

By , June 29, 2014


Bill interviews editor, director and producer of the CSI TV series, Alec Smight.  Mr. Smight is the son of late director Jack Smight, who directed this month’s Movies @ Main feature No Way to Treat a Lady.  Alec talks about his father’s directing career as well as his own work on CSI.

Come see No Way to Treat a Lady on Saturday July 12, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium.

 

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