MONK WITH A CAMERA chronicles the life and spiritual quest of Nicholas (Nicky) Vreeland, who for the past twenty-eight years has been a Tibetan Buddhist monk. The son of a United States Ambassador, grandson of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, and a photographer by trade, Nicky left his privileged life behind to follow his true calling. He moved to India, cutting his ties with society, photography, and his pleasure-filled world, to live in a monastery with no running water or electricity. There he would spend the next 14 years studying to become a monk. Then in one of life’s beautiful twists, Nicky went back to the worldly pursuit of photography in order to help his fellow monks rebuild their monastery, one of the most important of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. His journey from being a photographer to becoming a monk and, most recently, to being appointed as the abbot of the monastery he helped to rebuild, are the core of the story.
In honor of Memorial Day, we recently acquired this year’s Academy Award nominated documentary, Last Days in Vietnam for our film collection. From Indiewire’s Best Documentaries of 2014,
You probably peripherally remember the story of the U.S.’ mass exodus out of South Vietnam in 1975 from history class, and you’ve maybe seen some iconic photography resulting from the exit. But you’ve never seen the story told as wrenchingly as in “Last Days Of Vietnam.” Like a thriller moving to the sound of a ticking clock, director Rory Kennedy’s gripping documentary sets the stage for a heartbreakingly clear-eyed account of a betrayal of ideals and of people: with Gerald Ford in office cleaning up Nixon and Kissinger’s mess, political concerns shift and the U.S. evacuates, abandoning the defense of the South Vietnamese from their Northern communist invaders. As the various aspects of that occupying force pack up to leave, it’s with the full knowledge that thousands of citizens now designated as collaborators will likely be killed or imprisoned. What ensues are the firsthand recollections from soldiers, officers and civilians from both sides of the war, recounting how several key figures disobeyed direct orders in order to save as many South Vietnamese citizens as they could. Kennedy constructs an utterly spellbinding story that ultimately provides context instead of pointing fingers. The Vietnam war has been covered ad nauseum by movies and documentaries, and this is another chilling memento of the cost of war, but it’s also a reminder of the exceptional humanity, bravery and honor of some men and women on the ground in that ugly, fucked up war, of human decency revealing itself in the most indecent of circumstances. A must-watch, up there with greats like “Hearts & Minds”
Find Last Days in Vietnam in our library catalog.
We gratefully thank all our patrons who served their country.
Our branch library Fairfield Woods boasts an amazing seed library collection. Part of the branding of our branch comes from a focus on the environment and sustainability. Woods’ DVD collection reflects that in films like the new release Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds. From the distributor,
One of the world’s most precious resources is at risk. This film will help others learn what is at stake and what can be done to protect the source of nearly all our food: SEEDS. While the price of gold and oil skyrockets the fate of our most priceless commodity is ignored. Seeds provide the basis for everything from fabric, to food to fuels. They are as essential to life as the air we breathe or water we drink… but given far less attention. Over the past one hundred years, seeds have steadily shifted from being common heritage to sovereign property. This film tells the story of seeds by following the challenges and triumphs of some of their most tireless stewards and advocates.
Find Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds in our library catalog.
Patrons can pick up films like this at Fairfield Woods or have them sent over to our main library for you to pick up in the center of town.
Acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and executive producers Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball) present LIFE ITSELF, a documentary film that recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert – a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent. Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, LIFE ITSELF, explores the legacy of Roger Ebert’s life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America. (C) Magnolia
The Oscars are upon us this weekend. You may be wondering when we will be getting your favorite films on DVD at the library. Here is a run down of the nominated films and their video release dates on DVD and Blu-ray:
Already in our collection:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
3/6: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
3/17: The Theory of Everything
3/24: Into the Woods
3/31: The Imitation Game
4/28: Wild Last Days in Vietnam
Coming Soon (no release date yet): American Sniper Mr. Turner Selma Still Alice Two Days, Two Nights Unbroken
It’s going to be cold outside this New Year’s Eve here in Fairfield. Why not stay in and catch up with some great films from 2014? We are open until 5pm on Wednesday, December 31st. Our Express DVD section has popular and critically acclaimed titles from the past six months. If you need help, here is a list compiled from several end of the year favorite film lists. Copies of all of these films are in our catalog:
Best of 2014: (selections from Indiewire, Wired, Rolling Stone, Metacritic, and The Atlantic)
A Most Wanted Man
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Cold in July
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dear White People
Ernest & Célestine
The Fault in Our Stars
Finding Vivian Maier
Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Normal Heart
Only Lovers Left Alive
The Skeleton Twins
Venus in Fur
We are the Best!
Wishing you and yours a safe and healthy new year.
Great new local* documentary Next Year Jerusalem is now available to borrow from Fairfield Woods. Director’s statement from the film’s website,
Next Year Jerusalem is my third documentary feature and a continuation of my attempts to examine the decision to choose life in spite of death. This is a special project because my first documentary film, a short, was photographed at the Jewish Home for the Elderly (Fairfield, CT)* the nursing home featured in Next Year Jerusalem. That project (More Than Skin Deep, 2002) explored awareness of aging on the part of five nursing home residents, interviewed during their weekly beauty shop appointments.
I am fascinated with exploring the subtle distinctions between living and dying. Framed by the story of elderly people going on one last adventure, I found a vehicle to pose existential questions in subtle ways: at one moment a reflection on the vain struggle to capture experiences in a photograph, in another the frustrated refusal to accept mediocre hospital food. The stakes of living can be high in the final stages and I wanted to bear witness to the complicated dynamics of acceptance when life’s end is near.
Art lovers and documentary fans take note. Tim’s Verneer just got released on DVD this week. From Rotten Tomatoes,
Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, (Video Toaster, LightWave, TriCaster) attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) manage to paint so photo-realistically – 150 years before the invention of photography? The epic research project Jenison embarks on to test his theory is as extraordinary as what he discovers. Spanning a decade, Jenison’s adventure takes him to Delft, Holland, where Vermeer painted his masterpieces on a pilgrimage to the North coast of Yorkshire to meet artist David Hockney and eventually to Buckingham Palace, to see the Queen’s Vermeer.
Brand-new documentary Fed Up gets released today on DVD. From the movie’s official site,
Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see. From Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH) and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever.
Following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed documentary Manufactured Landscapes, filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal teams up once again with artist Edward Burtynsky as he explores the simplest idea in the film Watermark. From Burtynsky’s website,
Watermark is a feature documentary from multiple-award winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, and renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, marking their second collaboration after Manufactured Landscapes in 2006. The film brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use.
Find Watermark in our library catalog.
Discover their previous film, the stunning Manufactured Landscapes in our library catalog.
Check out Burtynsky’s book of photographs, Manufactured Landscapes in our library’s collection.