Criterion remastered and reissued Federico Fellini’s classic 1960 film La dolce vita. From Criterion,
The biggest hit from the most popular Italian filmmaker of all time, La dolce vita rocketed Federico Fellini to international mainstream success—ironically, by offering a damning critique of the culture of stardom. A look at the darkness beneath the seductive lifestyles of Rome’s rich and glamorous, the film follows a notorious celebrity journalist (a sublimely cool Marcello Mastroianni) during a hectic week spent on the peripheries of the spotlight. This mordant picture was an incisive commentary on the deepening decadence of contemporary Europe, and it provided a prescient glimpse of just how gossip- and fame-obsessed our society would become.
With our star and fame obsessed American culture, it certainly will be fascinating to take a look back at how Fellini saw it over 50 years ago! And no one does pristine film restoration with attention to detail better than Criterion.
Ryan Murphy’s (Glee, American Horror Story) HBO mini-series The Normal Heart gets released on DVD today. The Normal Heart is based on a 1985 play by AIDS activist Larry Kramer. A bit of trivia – Kramer’s husband’s brother and sister in-law live here in Fairfield. The story revolves around the very earliest years of the AIDS crisis before there was even a language to discuss the disease. Starring Mark Ruffalo as Ned Weeks (the Kramer character), Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, and Julia Roberts – The Normal Heart acts as a history lesson for those too young to remember the horror of the 1980′s and early 90′s and a stark reminder to everyone else who lived through it. The film has a 94% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We’ve got copies at both locations for you to check out.
Are you a lover of Romantic Comedies? Did you know The Awful Truth starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne is considered the very first Rom-Com? From Rotten Tomatoes,
Leo McCarey directed this classic screwball comedy in which Cary Grant and Irene Dunne play Jerry and Lucy Warriner, a couple whose marriage is starting to fall apart. Jerry informs Lucy that he’s taking a vacation alone in Florida; instead, he holes up with his buddies and plays poker for a week (while sitting under a sun lamp so he’ll have an appropriate tan). Lucy concludes that Jerry was never in Florida just as Jerry discovers that Lucy was spending her time with Armand Duvalle (Alex D’Arcy), a handsome voice teacher. Both Jerry and Lucy believe the other was unfaithful, so they agree to a trial divorce, with a bitter battle fought over custody of Mr. Smith, the dog (Lucy gets the dog, but Jerry has visitation rights). Determined to make Jerry jealous, Lucy continues keeping company with Armand while also dating Daniel Leeson (Ralph Bellamy), a wealthy oil man from Oklahoma. Convinced that turnabout is fair play, Jerry starts going out with Dixie Belle Lee (Joyce Compton), a brassy nightclub singer, as well as socialite Barbara Vance (Molly Lamont). However, Lucy has belatedly decided that she wants Jerry back, and she hatches a plan to win him back by making a spectacle of herself at a party. The Awful Truth was based on a play which had been filmed twice before, but McCarey gave his superb comic cast free reign to improvise and add new business, and the results were splendid; you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Irene Dunne attempt to sing “Home on the Range.” ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
If you’ve ever heard anyone say, “they just don’t make them like they used to,” check out The Awful Truth and watch the original screwball comic genius of Irene Dunne and Cary Grant - and be prepared to laugh a lot.
Jim Jarmusch dips into the vampire genre putting his own particular stamp on Only Lovers Left Alivewith the help of Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve, a pair of centuries old vampires. From Sony,
Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?
I’d happily argue Only Lovers Left Alive is Jarmusch’s best film, but it might be more helpful to say it’s his most fluent. The leads are Eve (Swinton) in Tangier, an ancient city forever on the cusp of rebirth, and Adam (Tom Hiddleston), in Detroit, contemporary America’s most famous icon of decay. Both are exotic in their own way. She Skypes him on an iPhone. He answers on a rotary relic that he’s rigged up through a tube television. They’re vampires, and they’re in love.
Great new Hindi indie The Lunchbox arrived this week at both locations. From Sony,
Middle class housewife Ila is trying once again to add some spice to her marriage, this time through her cooking. She desperately hopes that this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. She prepares a special lunchbox to be delivered to him at work, but, unbeknownst to her, it is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in the following day’s lunchbox, in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the mystery. This begins a series of lunchbox notes between Saajan and Ila, and the mere comfort of communicating with a stranger anonymously soon evolves into an unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities.
Chile’s entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars finally gets released on DVD. We’re guessing this film will resonate with a lot of our patrons. From Indiewire,
“Gloria,” Chile’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category has swiftly attracted widespread critical acclaim for offering an honest, comically-driven portrait of your not-so-typical 50-something year old single woman.
When fun-loving Gloria (Paulina Garcia) steers her way through the trappings of loneliness and into Rodolfo’s (Sergio Hernandez) arms, his limbo-like affair with his (ex)wife forces her to retreat from her sudden romantic glow. Gloria, however, drags herself heart break to happiness and shines brighter than ever as an emotionally reborn woman in her golden years.
Sebastian Lelio’s “Gloria” is at first glance the antithesis to a conventional sorrowful break-up drama ripe with shouting matches and teary monologues. What is presented to us instead is a refreshingly optimistic “look on the bright side” tale of a character for whom age and relationship status could not be more irrelevant.
HBO’s sassy, sexy and gory True Blood returns for its final season this Sunday on HBO. For those of you out there who call yourselves Trubbies (True Blood fans), I have a little “degree of separation” treat for you:
1) You are a patron of The Fairfield Public Library.
2) I work at The Fairfield Public Library and write for this blog.
3) I have two good friends in New York City.
4) They are good friends with Audrey Fisher, the costume designer for True Blood.
That makes you my friend three degrees of separation from your favorite cast or crew member of True Blood. Pretty cool, huh? If you still need to catch up on last season, Season 6 just got released on DVD and we have it at both locations. Or if you’re new to the screen adaptation of the very popular Sookie Stackhouse novels, start with Season 1 of Alan Ball’s hilariously morbid, sexy vampire television series True Blood.
June is Gay Pride Month around the country celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality. Locally Norwalk has a wonderful event Pride in the Park sponsored by the Triangle Community Center Saturday, June 14, 2014 from 12-5pm in Mathews Park. 75 minutes away by Metro North come celebrate where it all began 45 years ago in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, New York City for Heritage of Pride’s March on Sunday, June 29, 2014.
Great LGBT movies come in all shapes and sizes. We decided to highlight one for each letter of the acronym:
L: The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko’s movie about two lesbian Moms raising teenage kids broke all kinds of barriers and box office records. Annette Benning and Julianne Moore star.
G: I Do – David W. Ross’s indie script digs deep into the issues of transnational same-sex relationships and immigration. Glen Gaylord directs this heart-felt, feel good love story.
B: Kissing Jessica Stein (2002) – A woman searching for the perfect man instead discovers the perfect woman in this romantic comedy written by Heather Juergensen, Jennifer Westfeldt and directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld.
T: Boys Don’t Cry (1999) – Hillary Swank won the Oscar. Kimberly Peirce directs. Based on the true story of transgendered youth Brandon Teena who convinces himself he can survive amongst bigoted, small-minded people after transitioning from female to male.
And if you’d like to do some reading may we suggest the seminal work on LGBT characters in film, Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet available in the upper stacks of the main library.
Delightfully entertaining (Tom Long)… An abundantly earnest look at the pain of loss and the rebirth of new love (Brad Keefe)… Her is a wistful, wonderful meditation on where we are and where we might be going (Steven Rea)… It’s an incredible technological tale about love, human connection, and a question of a higher power (Felix Vasquez, Jr.).
Journey back to the 1980′s in RIchard Kelly’s 2001 cult indie masterpiece, Donnie Darko. The film put Jake Gyllenhaal on the map, sports a killer 80′s soundtrack, and features amazing celebrities in minor roles including Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wylie, Beth Grant, Seth Rogan,and Katherine Ross. From IFC Center,
“This unclassifiable but stunningly original film obliterates the walls between teen comedy, science fiction, family drama, horror, and cultural satire — and remains wildly entertaining throughout. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Donnie, a borderline-schizophrenic adolescent for whom there is no difference between the signs and wonders of reality (a plane crash that devastates his house) and hallucination (a man-sized, reptilian rabbit who talks to him). Obsessed with the science of time travel and acutely aware of the world around him, Donnie is isolated by his powers of analysis and the apocalyptic visions that no one else seems to share. The debut feature of writer-director Richard Kelly, DONNIE DARKO is a shattering, hypnotic work that sets its own terms and gambles — rightfully so, as it turns out — that a viewer will stay aboard for the full ride.” – Tom Keough