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
A Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking Magazine
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I love to watch the Food Network. I can watch hours upon hours of food TV even if I never make anything the fancy chefs are cooking. I do think, though, that my cooking has improved just by proximity. Watching all that good cooking - some of the tips and techniques had to get buried in my brain somewhere.
“But Amanda,” you say, “I don’t have cable.”
Good news. The library has recently acquired the PBS series, A Moveable Feast, seasons one and two. Each season is made up of roughly 20 episodes that last approximately 20 minutes or so. I binged watched Season 1 on a Sunday afternoon. (Binge watching takes on a whole new meaning when involves a food show, doesn’t it?) The host, Aussie Pete Evans, is tots adorbs. I hadn’t heard of him before, but I assume he is a chef as well because he does do some of the cooking.
Main premise: Pete travels around to various US cities where he meets up with the local talent, usually goes shopping to a local farm, butcher, fisherman, etc, and then cooks up a delectable meal for friends and suppliers of the meal. In season one, it seems like Pete mainly hops back and forth from New York/ New England to California. We revisit old favorite chefs like Jeffery Saad and Marcus Samuelsson as well as meet new favorites. Season two does better – visiting New Orleans and Chicago, among others. Some feasts I wish I could be at – the crawfish boil from season two stays fresh in my hungry mind. Others, I could live without (I’m not too big on foraging for salad greens). Even if the food isn’t my cup of tea, they all look amazing. Dear Pete…I hear Nashville is a great foodie city to visit…ahem.
So whether you watch A Moveable Feast to supplement your television viewing, or you watch it instead of cable – please enjoy every delectable moment. You can also check out the Moveable Feast website for video clips and recipes seen on the show. Fried avocado anyone?
Who knows what these crazy chefs will come up with next?
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
Starring Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.
Based on the novels of Kerry Greenwood.
I wasn’t looking for a new crime series to binge watch when I recently came across Miss Fisher, but hours later I found my chores undone, my book club book unread, and my cat staring longingly at her empty food bowl. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has it all: it’s cozy enough to appeal to fans of gentler mysteries, but it doesn’t shy away from serious issues like class, racial discrimination, and women’s rights. The tone of the series can be a little bit dark at times, with lots of funny, clever, and sexy bits in between. By the end of each episode, Miss Fisher always solves her case, all while dressed impeccably I might add.
If you’re like me and aren’t familiar with Kerry Greenwood’s novels, her heroine Miss Phryne (pronounced Fry-Knee) Fisher is a thoroughly modern and independently wealthy woman living in 1920s Melbourne, Australia. Phryne has quite a knack for solving mysteries and becomes a private detective. She is dismissed by the local police leader Inspector Jack Robinson as a nosy pest, but sooner than later Robinson realizes how valuable her skills of deduction can be. Phryne’s little sister was kidnapped and murdered when they were kids. Her killer is in prison, but has never admitted to the crime, nor revealed where her body is buried.
I do feel guilty not having read any of the Miss Fisher novels before watching series one, but I plan to remedy that before moving to series two. A third series has been commissioned so we have more episodes to look for in the future. Essie Davis, whose name is gaining notoriety after starring in the 2014 horror film The Babadook, is absolutely superb as Miss Fisher. The supporting cast is excellent as well. And the historic setting of Melbourne is so much fun to experience. There’s only one thing left to say – watch it and I guarantee you’ll be entertained!
The Simpsons family history: a celebration of television’s favorite family
The holidays are upon us and that means sharing this festive time with people you normally would not spend time with outside of a funeral home. Well, embrace the family spirit by taking a stroll down memory lane with a family we first met on the Tracy Ullman show 25 years ago. Yes, the long awaited Simpsons family history: a celebration of television’s favorite family can now be shared.
Did you know that Marge and Homer first met as children at Camp-See-A-Tree?
Did you know that Homer’s mother was a free-spirit that had to abandon him to avoid the feds? And that Mr. Burns is involved?!?!?!?
Did you know that while mired in sibling jealousy Bart tried to mail baby Lisa away?
These facts and many others are revealed in The Simpsons Family History.
Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a copy of this instant classic sitting prominently on the coffee table when the relatives arrive. The resulting Simpson discussions may be quite revealing…. Of course he relates to Moe! Gather the family around the internet and take one of hundreds, “Which Simpson are you?’ quizzes available. A holiday tradition is born.
“…and that is how you win an opium war” - Mr. Burns
AMC’s hit new series Turn has created a renewed interest in the colonial period including its fashions. Turn, based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring, tells the story of the Culper Ring and the part they played in aiding the colonies’ liberation from England. Turn’s Emmy award winning costume designer Donna Zakowska, makes the show’s colonial period fashions sophisticated in a contemporary way.
The library has many amazing books in its fashion history collection. If you would like to learn more about the clothing worn during the colonial period then you may want to take a look at the following titles:
The History of American Dress: the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods
By Alexander Wyckoff
This oldie but goodie is packed with rich historical details depicting the clothing worn by men, women and children during the American Revolution. Drawings showcase every aspect of the clothing worn, from the men’s wigs, to the shape of the heel on children’s shoes. This book is a must read for fashion history fans.
Everyday Dress of Rural America, 1783-1800: with Instructions and Patterns
By Merideth Wright
This slim volume is a “comprehensive study of late-18th-century clothing worn by the settlers of New England. Features full descriptions and line drawings with complete instructions for duplicating a wide range of garments from: shifts, petticoats, gowns, breeches, waistcoats and headgear.”
Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries
By Avril Hart and Susan North
This book is filled with large, beautiful, color photographs of fashions from the historical costume collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Each featured piece includes a detailed photo and description of the item and a drawing of the garment to better understand its overall construction. This book is amazing don’t miss it!
What Clothes Reveal: the Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America: the Colonial Williamsburg Collection
by Linda Baumgarten
“Drawing on the costumes and accessories in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, Linda Baumgarten examines how Americans of all classes dressed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Topics range from the work clothes of slaves to the elegant, high-style attire of the gentry. What people wore during significant life passages and the social contexts of such apparel are fully and engagingly discussed.” This book features tons of lovely photographs of American colonial fashions.
Broadchurch. the Complete First Season
Starring Olivia Colman and David Tennant
Were you a fan of the 2013 mystery event series Top of the Lake? Can’t stop talking about season one of True Detective? Then I urge you to add Broadchurch to your viewing list.
Broadchurch is an idyllic, quaint little seaside town in England shocked and torn apart by the murder of one of its own – an eleven-year-old boy named Danny Latimer. Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller must assist her new boss Detective Inspector Alec Hardy in the investigation. DS Miller, who grew up in Broadchurch and is liked by all, was looked over for the promotional position Hardy now occupies. DI Hardy, the moody and broody outsider, joins the Broadchurch force after botching up the investigation of another recent child murder case.
The characters in Broadchurch are complicated and no one appears completely innocent of Danny’s murder. In fact, the series kept me guessing until the very last episode. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know I absolutely adore David Tennant, and I’m really glad to see him in this serious role. Another David Tennant project to look out for is The Escape Artist, a recent feature on Masterpiece Mystery.
Broadchurch is being remade by an American TV network, which is nothing new. However, what is unusual is the fact that David Tennant will be playing the detective in charge once again. The series, now called Gracepoint, will air on the Fox network sometime this fall. Gracepoint promises to include new twists and turns, offering a fresh viewing experience to those who enjoyed Broadchurch. As long as David Tennant stars, I’ll definitely be watching!
The second season of Orange is the New Black
will be released on Netflix this Friday, and I’ll be binge-watching along with rest of us on the outside. If you missed the first season, it was as fun and engaging as television can be, and you can catch up by placing your holds on the DVD’s here
While some may criticize the accuracy of how it portrays life in prison, one cannot deny that it starts a conversation about the conditions and power dynamics in our nation’s prisons that, to most of us, remain invisible. The library helps bring the conversation to the community by providing the materials needed to help round out the picture. Netflix may have perfected binge watching, but libraries have long been enablers of binge reading (are those 100 book check-out limits just a rumor?) If you’re looking to delve a little deeper, here are some places to start:
If you weren’t aware, Orange is the New Black
(the show) takes its title from the best-selling memoir by Piper Kerman, and loosely follows her experiences in women’s prison. In addition to paperback copies
, the audio book is now available for download instantly from Hoopla
(where you can also check out the soundtrack
). For book clubs, you can get everything you need in one bag with our Book Club in a Bag
(10 copies, plus discussion questions and an author bio).
Assata : An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
: A rare modern classic that is also a page turner. Full of gripping descriptions and biting criticism, by a controversial figure and the grandmother of Tupac Shakur, dealing with issues of race, gender, and incarceration.
Herman’s House : Herman Wallace made news last year when he was released after 41 years of solitary confinement and died just three days later, a free man. This documentary deals with the practice of long term solitary confinement (called Solitary Housing Units, or “the SHU,” on Orange is the New Black) and the transformative power of art. Available on DVD and streaming on Hoopla.
The Fall. Series 1
Created by Allan Cubitt
Scully* is back and she totally kills it in the new BBC crime drama The Fall!
Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson is called away from London to review the handling of a murder investigation led by police in Northern Ireland. Gibson quickly finds procedural mistakes, and evidence that another recent murder may make this the work of a serial killer. When yet another victim is discovered, Gibson is put in charge of the investigation.
The Fall is not a whodunnit. From the very first episode you know who is doing the killing. Irish actor Jamie Dornan portrays Paul Spector – a married father of two, who works part-time as a grief counselor and full-time as a murdering psychopath. An interesting subplot in The Fall involves corruption on the police force, which ends (slight spoiler here) in a very shocking scene at the precinct… And since this series is set in Belfast, the past political tensions of Northern Ireland are a subtext to the unfolding events.
Fans of Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in TV series Prime Suspect will especially be interested in The Fall. And for those who are waiting for the Fifty Shades of Grey film, you’ll want to watch Jamie Dornan in The Fall to experience his potential to play that troubled, dark character Christian Grey.
So check out The Fall, and lets talk after you see the finale! Season 2 is scheduled to begin filming in February.
*I know Gillian Anderson isn’t Scully. I’m paying tribute to a gag featured on SNL when Ron Howard hosted an episode in the early 80′s. In one sketch Eddie Murphy kept referring to him as Opie Cunningham, much to Mr. Howard’s chagrin. And while we’re on topic, why hasn’t Gillian Anderson ever hosted SNL? Let’s all write to Lorne Michaels!
Family Tree. The complete first season.
Created by Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock.
Yikes! We’re right in the midst of Holiday Season 2013. If you’re looking for something to pass the time during those more awkward family gatherings, I highly recommend a group viewing of the mockumentary series Family Tree. (The family that laughs together, stays together, am I right?)
The plot revolves around Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd), a 30 year old Englishman who’s hit a bit of bad luck. Not only has Tom lost his job, his girlfriend unceremoniously dumped him. When he inherits a box of family heirlooms from a recently departed great aunt, Tom decides to research his family tree.
That’s all you really need to know to start watching the series. But let me gush a bit about the outstanding cast! Michael McKean sports a great Cockney accent as Tom’s father, Nina Conti incorporates her deadpan ventriloquist skills as Tom’s eccentric sister, actor Tom Bennett provides a little Mighty Boosh-inspired humor as character Tom’s best friend Pete the zookeeper, and series creators Christopher Guest and Jim Piddock both appear in hilarious supporting roles; Guest as an American cousin, and Piddock as a London antiques dealer. Guest project regulars Ed Begley Jr. and Fred Willard enter the action when Tom travels to Los Angeles to meet his American cousins.
While watching Family Tree it occurred to me the series tickles the same funny bone that both Modern Family and perennial holiday favorite National Lampoon’ s Christmas Vacation hit every time I watch them. Everyone’s family ranks on the offbeat scale, and that’s why movies and TV series featuring families can be so entertaining.
Enjoy the rest of Holiday Season 2013. Have fun, be safe, and above all, be good to one another. May 2014 be our best year yet!
Top of the Lake
If you need more evidence that cream of the crop dramatic narrative lives in series TV these days and not movies, look no further than the miniseries Top of the Lake. The latest project from New Zealand auteur Jane Campion (if you’re not a film nerd you still remember The Piano right?), Top of the Lake features Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) trying find Tui (Jacqueline Joe) a tween age girl that goes missing after discovering she is pregnant. Tui claims to have no idea who the father is before she goes disappearing into the woods. All the clues point towards Matt (Peter Mullan), Tui’s own father and local big man with as many criminal connections as illegitimate children. Matt’s sway over the rural community is challenged by the appearance of G.J. (Holly Hunter – oh yeah I remember The Piano now), a perplexing guru who has set up all female commune on an idyllic lakeside plain, the traditional stomping ground of Matt and his family. Detective Griffin is stuck in the middle. She has affinities for G.J. and her followers but she has tasked herself with solving the case by the book – not only to rescue Tui and her baby, but to spite a patriarchal police force whose good old boys ties with Matt and his gang reek of corruption.
There’s evil in the woods. The lake and the wilderness are as much a part of the story as any of the human characters. It is nothing short of Twin Peaks New Zealand, but where Twin Peaks’ palette is warm, Top of the Lake’s palette is cool. Where Twin Peaks is ironic, Top of the Lake is realistic. Since Mad Men devolved into Dallas, I know I’ve been dying to see Elizabeth Moss go toe to toe with sexist meatheads again. Peter Mullan’s turn as Matt, a conflicted ball of neuroses about to burst at the seams, is the tightest, most engrossing performance of a royal baddest dad since Tony Soprano. (Anyone who thought I was going to write “Walter White” can go watch Sons of Anarchy while drinking beer out of a can.) With astonishing cinematography usually reserved for feature films and powerhouse performances, Top of the Lake deserves to be at the top of your holds queue.