Category: Movies

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

Legends of Film: Gary Sherman

By , September 12, 2015

film poster for the 1990 film LisaDuring this episode we talk to Director Gary Sherman. Sherman’s film credits include Raw Meat, Vice Squad, Dead and Buried, and our upcoming Movies @ Main feature, Lisa. Mr. Sherman discusses his love of shooting at night, how to shoot a scene by candlelight, and how the film Lisa actually came to be.

Join us for a free afternoon screening of Lisa on Saturday, September 12th, at 2:00 p.m. in the Main Library auditorium.

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Movie review: Wagonmasters

By , August 4, 2015


This is a super enjoyable 40 minute PBS documentary (not including the voluminous and very worthwhile bonus features) celebrating the rise and fall and ongoing club-like passion for the American station wagon.

So well made and absorbing, this documentary features glimpses of restored vintage wagons, woodies, surfer culture, award shows (one in a bowling ally parking lot, of course) and much more.

Cool graphics, vintage ads “The family car” and good interviews are interspersed with quality material from historians and the likes of the president of the American Station Wagon Owner’s Association to really bring the love alive for these cars. Whether it be a ’53 Mercury Colony Park, a ’56 Chevy Bel Aire,  a ’61 Chrysler New Yorker or a venerable ’73 Chevy Impala all the bases and more are covered.

“Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, the wagon” says one enthusiast, emphasizing this cars’ link back to more innocent times (the last production run was ’96, apparently).  Maybe they’ll be a comeback, but for many – they never left!

A truly outstanding, delightful documentary film – highly recommended.



Book review: The Price of Salt

By , August 3, 2015

The Price of SaltThe Price of Salt: Or Carol
by Patricia Highsmith

The new movie Carol, based on this 1952 novel, premiered to a standing ovation at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.  As a huge Patricia Highsmith fan, I couldn’t wait to read the semi-autobiographical source material.  Highsmith’s writing style, in general, lends itself well to film adaptations because of her close attention to detail.  With this book in particular, I felt like I could visualize exactly how Todd Haynes would portray the clothing, settings, and other period details (think Far From Heaven and Mildred Pierce), and also exactly how Cate Blanchett would play the role of Carol.  This actually enhanced the reading experience rather than detracting from it, particularly in picturing the New York City scenes and the road trip out West.

As you would expect from a Highsmith novel, the action turns suspenseful later in the book.  As you would definitely not expect, the romance is tenderly and emotionally depicted.  The last few pages, especially, pack a big wallop.



American Sniper & American Wife

By , June 23, 2015

American Sniper

I’m not usually one for war movies. But every once in a while one will get me. Jarhead did it in 2005. And now American Sniper.

I first got pulled into this world when I saw Chris Kyle on Conan’s show, I think this was back when he was still on NBC Late Night. Kyle was interesting and he told a good story. This was back when Seal Team 6 books were big, and I knew I didn’t want to read one of those, but I thought maybe I could read American Sniper. Heck, Jethro Gibbs was a sniper and he was super cool.

American Sniper covers Kyle’s life as a Seal sniper, serving four tours in Iraq. It got pretty heavy in places, but it pulls you in and won’t let you go until the good guys bring it home. I enjoyed Kyle’s writing style. He might have portrayed himself as a dumb redneck, but the guy had some brains. So when his second book, American Gun came out I knew I had to read it. Here Kyle discusses 10 favorite guns and the roles they played in shaping our country. I even mentioned this one on the Popmatic Podcast (if you’re not listening, you should be).

Unfortunately, Kyle was killed while trying to help a fellow veteran with PTSD. But even before his passing a movie version was in the works staring Bradley Cooper. Cooper had a chance to meet Kyle and get to know him before any filming was ever done. Kyle’s wife Taya says that the movie version, while not entirely factual in portraying historical events, completely captures Chris’s spirit.

Taya shares her side of the story in her book, American Wife, which was recently released. I didn’t really plan on it, but I actually read most of her book and then watched the movie on the same day. Whew. Got kinda heavy there for a minute, but I don’t know if it would have been as powerful if I hadn’t experienced both in the same 24 hour period. I got to read Taya’s version of events and then go back and watch Chris’s side of the story. I’m not a big movie crier, but there were definitely tears, both when I read about the day Chris died as well as when I watched the movie version of his memorial. The book,  American Sniper, obviously ends before Chris dies, but both Bradley Cooper and director Clint Eastwood wanted to honor this fallen soldier in film, so they showed photos of his actual funeral and depicted his funeral procession.

Again, this is not a topic I usually seek out to read, but this trilogy of books was enjoyable and moving. If you are looking for something extra patriotic as we move towards our nation’s birth date, may I highly recommend any one of these works.

Thank you to all the men and women who serve and protect our homes and families. We wouldn’t be here without your sacrifices.

Happy Independence Day!

:) Amanda


Super hero? My heart belongs to the anti-hero

By , June 19, 2015

Super Hero? Not interested. My heart belongs to the Anti-Hero….always.

While Heroes are full of hubris and ring hollow after a time, the Anti-Hero brings spice, flavor, and dimension that an ordinary hero-villain cannot even fathom.

Literature and cinema are full of bad-boy Anti-Heroes. Some of the most consistently compelling portrayals of contemporary anti-heroes have been found in the performances of James Gandolfini.

His choice of roles –  from the ever so human and fatally flawed mobster Tony Soprano, to the hitman with a heart of, well maybe not gold but certainly hand tooled silver, in The Mexican  - gave viewers a glimpse into the world of flawed murderous anti-heroes.

One of  Gandolfini’s most human roles has to be that of the monster Carol in the Spike Jonze directed film adaptation of Where the Wild Things are. This performance mesmerized both the preschooler and the college freshman in my family of theatre goers in 2009. One ended up in tears by movie’s end.

So take that, suave and dashing leading men! My heart belongs to the spirited, grand gesture with a giggle anti-heroes of the world who get tangled up in their capes occasionally.

For the next week you can get an up close view of original artwork by Maurice Sendak. The Maurice Sendak Memorial Exhibition is a retrospective of original works by Maurice Sendak, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Where the Wild Things Are. This exhibit runs through June 28th in the  Courtyard Gallery – Main Library Second Floor

Good writing will bring you to places you don’t even expect sometimes. – James Gandolfini


Movie review: British Prison Movies

By , May 28, 2015



Based on a true story, this oddly exhilarating film features an almost unrecognizable Tom Hardy as Britain’s most violent prisoner.  Its arresting visuals and operatic, strangely humorous tone would appeal to fans of A Clockwork Orange.  Instantly available on hoopla.




StarreStarred Upd Up

“Starred up” is British slang for the early transfer of a juvenile offender to an adult prison—in this case, to one in which his father is also imprisoned.  Completely different from Bronson, this is a grittier portrayal of prison life with great sympathy for its characters.




Movie review: The Expendables

By , May 26, 2015

The Expendables (1, 2 & 3)

I can’t believe I watched these movies! Even more, I can’t believe how much I liked them!!

I’m trying to think of one movie I’ve ever sat and watched the whole way through that featured any one of these men. I’ve only seen parts of a few Rockys and about half the first Transporter. Oh wait, I did go to the dollar theater and see Parker, which stars Jason Statham. I would probably say he’s my favorite anyway (Terry Crews, you’re a close second).

But I’ve just heard a lot of good things about these movies so I thought I’d give them a try. And I wasn’t disappointed.

So the basic premise for all our under-the-rock dwellers is that Sly and pals are old dudes who like to save the world. They get their orders from a guy named Church (aka Bruce Willis) and then they’re off on their mission. In the first movie, The Expendables must deal with Dolph Lundgren a crazy good guy gone bad, along with a crazy South American dictator. The second movie sees us in Russia (who didn’t see that coming) and then for 3 we head to the magical world of Armenistan (I think) to track down Mel Gibson’s supposed-to-be-dead former Expendables character Stonebanks. No, Stallone doesn’t get to ask “How many times to I have to kill you?” and I think the movie is poorer for it.

My favorite scenes include Chuck Norris’s surprise cameo in #2 (oh wait, spoiler alert) and Bruce Willis’ taunt of Ah-nold – “Don’t worry. He just wants to be president.”

These movies are pretty gory, but I must admit there are some cool guns. I also liked how irreverent they are about the storied past of each actor. Famous lines are bandied about willy nilly. I am most disappointed that Harrison Ford, as he was flying in the evac copter, did not say, “Don’t get cocky” after saving the day. Sigh. Maybe in the next movie. There is a listing for The Expendables 4 on, but there’s not much info available. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.

Only time will tell.

Until then, enjoy the shoot’em-up-bang-bang fun of the three they’ve given us so far.

Happy watching…

:) Amanda

p.s. If these guys think we haven’t noticed that they’ve had some “work done” then they are on crack. You’d think, as tough guys, they’d be above this, but I guess Carly Simon was right. They are so vain…and I’m looking at you Stallone and Norris. Walker Texas Ranger had plastic surgery? Wrap your head around that!

Upcoming Movies from YA Books

By , April 7, 2015

Insurgent_poster Insurgent is based on the book by Veronica Roth Now out in theaters, Insurgent is attracting droves of fans, eager for the next installment in Triss’s quest for the truth. Reviews have been discouraging, and there are some significant changes from Roth’s book. Nevertheless, box office sales are through the roof.





Paper Towns Paper Towns  is based on the book by John Green The thing to know about this movie is that it is not TFiOS. True, there is a girl, Margo, played by Cara Delevingne. She’s fierce, beautiful, and utterly fascinating to the boy next door, Quentin. Quentin is played by Nat Wolff, who fans will remember from the movie TFIOS, although he wore sunglasses for much of the movie. Due out July, 2015.





Fallen is the first book in a series by Lauren Kate. Addison Timlin stars as Luce Price, who has been sent to the Sword & Cross boarding school in Savannah. Jeremy Irvine plays opposite her as the elusive Daniel Grigori. Also due for release in July, 2015.





The Scorch Trials is the second in James Dashner’s Maze Runner series. The big mystery of the Glade was answered at the end of the first movie…kind of. Now there’s more action as the Gladers confront a new situation and what it means for them. Look for this one in September, 2015.




Fifth Wave The Fifth Wave  is based on the book by Rick Yancey In Yancey’s thrilling novel, aliens have invaded Earth, leaving a bleak land that has been compared to the setting of Cormac McCarthy’s The RoadChloe Grace Moretz is lined up to play Cassie Sullivan, who lives by one rule: “Trust No One.” Projected release date: January, 2016.




ASA peregrine

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiars is based on the book with a similar title by Ransom Riggs. Tim Burton will be directing a cast of adorably peculiar children, headed by Asa Butterfield,  who plays Jacob Portman. Currently in production, the release date is set for March 2016.





Daughter of Smoke and Bone reportedly has a screen play written by author Laini Taylor. This one has been has been in the works for a while, with Michael Gracey set to direct. No news on casting or release date.






Grasshopper Jungle  is based on the Printz Honor Award-winning novel by Andrew Smith. Edgar Wright is set to direct this one – eventually. Aside from the heartwarming story of how Facebook brought Grasshopper Jungle to Wright’s attention, not much has come to pass. Should be worth the wait!
























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