Oct 02

Throwback Thursday: Imitation of Life (1959)

imitation of lifeIn honor of Netflix acquiring the entire Gilmore Girls television series this week, let’s take a look back at a classic mother-daughter film for Throwback Thursday. Douglas Sirk’s remake masterpiece, Imitation of Life captures the interracial friendship between two women and the awkward love/hate relationship between the women and their daughters. From IndieWire’s The Playlist,

Not enough handkerchiefs in the universe for this one—Douglas Sirk’s unbelievably manipulative and luscious “issues movie” is an extraordinary example of a film that so completely defines its genre (the “women’s picture”) that it practically transcends it. Of course Sirk has been thoroughly and rightly reclaimed in recent years as an absolute master of the form, (our Sirk Essentials can be found here) imbuing syrupy melodrama with honest depth of feeling, and clothing it all in such dazzling, skilful technicolor photography that his films become so much more than the maudlin, chocolate box confections they were initially dismissed as. And “Imitation of Life,” the director’s last Hollywood picture, is certainly one of his masterpieces, and fits our purposes here entirely, dealing with not one but two mother/daughter relationships as central themes, but using them to highlight gender and race issues in a remarkably fearless and, certainly at the time, provocative manner.

Find Sirk’s Imitation of Life in our library catalog.
For more diabolical mothers check out the original Carrie with Piper Laurie or John Waters’ Serial Mom with Kathleen Turner.

 

Sep 23

Secret State

secret-stateOur branch library, Fairfield Woods focuses their film collection on British television which includes mini-series like the new Gabriel Byrne Secret State. From Wikipedia,

British four-part political thriller, starring Gabriel Byrne, Charles Dance and Gina McKee, and inspired by Chris Mullin’s novel A Very British Coup. It delves into the relationship between a democratically elected government, the military and big business.

Find Secret State in our library catalog.

Sep 18

Throwback Thursday: Queen Margot

queen margotThe 20th Anniversary DVD of Queen Margot arrived in the library this week. From Rotten Tomatoes,

The historical novel by Alexandre Dumas was adapted for the screen with this lavish French epic, winner of 5 Césars and a pair of awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Isabelle Adjani stars as Marguerite de Valois, better known as Margot, daughter of scheming Catholic power player Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi). Margot is an heiress to the throne during the late 16th century reign of the neurotic, hypochondriac King Charles IX (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a time when Protestants and Catholics are vying for political control of France. Catherine decides to make an overture of good will by offering up Margot in marriage to prominent Protestant Huguenot Henri of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil), although she also schemes to bring about the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, when tens of thousands of Protestants are slaughtered. The marriage goes forward but Margot doesn’t love Henri and takes a lover, the soldier La Mole (Vincent Perez), also a Protestant from a well-to-do family. Murders by poisoning follow, as court intrigues multiply and Catherine’s villainous plotting to place her son Anjou (Pascal Greggory) on the throne threatens the lives of La Mole, Margot and Henri.

Find Queen Margot in our library’s catalog.
In French with English sub-titles.

Sep 18

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

angriest man in brooklynOur branch library Fairfield Woods has the newest Robin Williams film, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. From Rotten Tomatoes,

Some people have bad days. Henry Altmann (Williams) has one every day. Always unhappy and angry at the world including everyone in it, Henry sits impatiently at the doctor’s office when he is finally seen by Dr. Sharon Gill (Kunis). Sharon, who is enduring her own bad day, reveals that Henry has a brain aneurysm. This news makes Henry even angrier, yelling at Sharon he demands to know how much time he has left. Faced with Henry’s anger and insults, Sharon abruptly tells him he has only 90 minutes. Shocked and reeling by this news, Henry storms out of the office leaving Sharon stunned by what she has just done in a lapse of judgment. As Sharon goes on a city-wide search, Henry struggles with his diagnosis, determined to make amends with everyone he has hurt in his life.

Find The Angriest Man in Brooklyn in our library catalog.

Sep 03

The Normal Heart

normal heartRyan 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.

Find The Normal Heart in our library catalog.

Aug 26

Only Lovers Left Alive

 

only lovers left alive

Jim Jarmusch dips into the vampire genre putting his own particular stamp on Only Lovers Left Alive with 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?

David Ehrlich at The Guardian writes,

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.

Find Only Lovers Left Alive in our catalog at either location.
Browse other Jarmusch films in our library catalog.

Aug 11

A Touch of Sin

touch of sinOur foreign language film collection features the new Chinese film, A Touch of Sin from filmmaker Jia Zhangke. From the distributor Kino,

A “brilliant exploration of violence and corruption in contemporary China” (Jon Frosch, The Atlantic), A TOUCH OF SIN was inspired by four shocking (and true) events that forced the world’s fastest growing economy into a period of self-examination. Written and directed by master filmmaker Jia Zhangke (The World, Still Life), “one of the best and most important directors in the world” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker), this daring, poetic and grand-scale film focuses on four characters, each living in different provinces, who are driven to violent ends. An angry miner, enraged by widespread corruption in his village, decides to take justice into his own hands. A rootless migrant discovers the infinite possibilities of owning a firearm. A young receptionist, who dates a married man and works at a local sauna, is pushed beyond her limits by an abusive client. And a young factory worker goes from one discouraging job to the next, only to face increasingly degrading circumstances.(c) Kino

Find A Touch of Sin in our catalog.

Aug 07

Locke

lockeBig Hollywood action films can be hard to digest, but when a director and star come together it can be magic. Locke stars Tom Hardy and is directed by Steven Knight who wrote the screenplay for the powerful Eastern Promises and the suspenseful international film Dirty Pretty Things. From Rotten Tomatoes,

Ivan Locke (Hardy) has worked diligently to craft the life he has envisioned, dedicating himself to the job that he loves and the family he adores. On the eve of the biggest challenge of his career, Ivan receives a phone call that sets in motion a series of events that will unravel his family, job, and soul. All taking place over the course of one absolutely riveting car ride, LOCKE is an exploration of how one decision can lead to the complete collapse of a life. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Steven Knight (EASTERN PROMISES, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS) and driven by an unforgettable performance by Tom Hardy, LOCKE is a thrillingly unique cinematic experience of a man fighting to salvage all that is important to him.

Find Locke in our library catalog.

Aug 04

Here Are 9 Great WWI Movies In Honor of the War’s 100th Anniversary (Indiewire)

strategic-command-world-war-i-the-great-war-1914-1918-patch_1

Indiewire commemorates the start of World War I last week with an article listing nine great WWI films from around the world.  We already have six of them in our catalog and have ordered the other three.  We anticipate this year to be filled with patrons wanting to dig deeper into “The Great War” through books and media here at the library. We have a book display on the first floor at the Main Library on World War I. Look for a history series on WWI at the Branch from Dr. Mona Garcia coming this Fall. Click on the titles below to find each of these films in our library catalog. From Indiewire,

1. “A Very Long Engagement” (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2004)
For every soldier, there is a half-empty bed at home. This is the foundation of the lyrical French film “A Very Long Engagement,” starring Audrey Tautou as a country girl whose fiancé has left home for the war effort. Intimate in scope while thematically powerful, “A Very Long Engagement” is perhaps the pinnacle of the work of director of photography Bruno Delbonnel, who most recently shot “Inside Llewyn Davis.” His unique style is a step less quirky than his work in “Amelie,” but deliberate in a way that very much contributes to the progression of the story.

2. “All Quiet on the Western Front” (dir. Lewis Milestone,1930)
Based on the canonic novel by Erich Maria Remarque, this influential anti-war film chronicles the disillusionment of a group of young patriotic recruits amidst the horrific reality of combat. In many respects, the film was ahead of its time; the grisly imagery, honest performances, and unrelenting cinematography eviscerate romantic notions of war long before the protest films of the ’70s became a mainstay of war counterculture.

3. “Gallipoli” (dir. Peter Weir, 1981) (ON ORDER)
Often forgotten in the midst of Anglo-American self-importance are the Australians. They serve as the subject of Peter Weir’s epic account of the war in modern-day Turkey. Starring a young Mel Gibson and Marc Lee, “Gallipoli” is a coming-of-age war film which gently and progressively demonstrates the loss of innocence for Aussie soldiers at war. Heavy in themes of Australian identity such as larrikinism and the maturation of the nation as a global entity, “Gallipoli” sacrifices bits of historical accuracy to tell an unflinchingly humanistic story; it was well-received for it.

4. “Lawrence of Arabia” (dir. David Lean, 1962)
Like “Citizen Kane” before it, “Lawrence of Arabia” is about a reporter trying to understand the life of a momentous figure. But unlike that 1941 protagonist, T.E. Lawrence actually lived, a British officer in the Sinai and Palestine Campaigns in the First World War. With an inescapable sense of grandeur in every frame, “Lawrence of Arabia” takes the quest to uncover the internal motivations of its hero one step further still. “Who are you!?” he is shouted at by a local, and he seems to struggle for an answer, making this not simply a well-done biographical picture, but an investigation into one of the war’s most enigmatic figures.

5. “Legends of the Fall” (dir. Edward Zwick, 1994)
This stunningly shot portrait of rural American life over the first third of the 20th century not only showcases a young Brad Pitt’s talents as a character actor, but is also able to observe the full scope of The Great War, from dinner table debate to a poignant funeral. “Don’t talk at me like I’ve never seen a war,” says the family’s patriarch, played by Anthony Hopkins. The truth is, as his sons find out, he or the rest of the world has never seen a war quite like this one.

6. “Paths of Glory” (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1957)
Not his first or last entry into the war film arena, “Paths of Glory” is Stanley Kubrick’s greatest achievement within the genre, inserting Kirk Douglas’s officer as well as the audience deep into the psychological and physical horrors of war. This anti-war effort is hailed as Kubrick’s first masterwork, directly preceding “Spartacus,” “Lolita” and “Dr. Strangelove.” It was a timely anti-war film for the Vietnam generation, and it immortalized Douglas as his generation’s premiere action star.

7. “The White Ribbon” (Das weiße Band, dir. Michael Haneke, 2009) (ON ORDER)
Michael Haneke’s stark black and white masterpiece investigates the incipience of evil by zeroing in on a small German village at the dawn of WWI. The village residents, armed with a self-righteous allegiance to societal and religious custom, perpetrate various crimes with a horrifying lack of empathy. The weak suffer at the hands of the strong as a drama of survival of the fittest plays out in nightmarish detail: incest, rape, murder, and gross negligence are among the obscenities the village residents witness, condone, and commit with utter nonchalance (and, at times, with sinister pleasure). With “The White Ribbon,” Haneke endeavors to explore a simple yet resonant question: What incites the human capacity for evil? The latent evil that permeates the “The White Ribbon” suggests that it’s inherent in humanity; the village is a hotbed of war mentality, presaging a not-too-far future in which good and evil will become indistinguishable.

8. “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” (dir. Ken Loach, 2007)
Ken Loach’s tragic story of two brothers torn apart by the virtues of war is the highest-grossing Irish independent film ever made. The plot focuses on the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War — conflicts that derived from WWI — as it illuminates the human drama that engorges war. The lush Irish countryside pitted against the grim reality of the choices made in wartime make for a heart-wrenching portrait of lives literally and figuratively ripped apart at the seams by conflict.

9. “Wings” (dir. William A. Wellman, 1927) (ON ORDER)
“Wings” is the most famous silent film about WWI ever made. In a time when Hollywood was generally unconcerned with realism, it’s interesting that Paramount Pictures hired director William A. Wellman because he was the only established director who had WWI combat pilot experience. It was a decision well made: the film is revered for its realistic and technically sophisticated air combat sequences. “Wings” went on to win the first-ever Academy Award for Best Picture. It upended cinematic and social conventions by not only being the only silent film to win an Academy Award that year, but also for being one of the first films to feature nudity and a scene of two men kissing.

Read the article at Indiewire.

 

Jul 16

Mother of George

 

mother of georgeAttention The Walking Dead fans. Danai Gurira who plays Michonne in the hit zombie series has a new indie film out, Mother of George. From Amazon,

Adenike and Ayodele (The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira and veteran actor Isaach De Bankolé) are a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn. Following the joyous celebration of the their wedding, complications arise out of their inability to conceive a child – a problem that devastates their family and defies cultural expectations, leading Adenike to make a shocking decision that could either save her family or destroy it. Acclaimed director Andrew Dosumnu (Restless City) captures the nuances of this unique and fascinating culture by creating a beautiful, vibrant, and moving portrait of a couple whose joys and struggles are at once intimate and universal.

Check out Mother of George‘s Facebook page.
Find Mother of George in our library catalog.