Jun 23

Omar

omarNominated for Best Foreign Language Film this year at the Oscars, Palestine’s entry Omar is director Hany Abu-Assad’s follow-up film to his hugely suspenseful Paradise Now (2005). Omar finally got released on DVD last week. From Rotten Tomatoes,

A tense, gripping thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories. Omar (Adam Bakri) is a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet up with his girl Nadja (Leem Lubany). By night, he’s either a freedom fighter or a terrorist-you decide-ready to risk his life to strike at the Israeli military with his childhood friends Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). Arrested after the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant. So begins a dangerous game-is he playing his Israeli handler (Waleed F. Zuaiter) or will he really betray his cause? And who can he trust on either side? Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) has made a dynamic, action-packed drama about the insoluable moral dilemmas and tough choices facing those on the frontlines of a conflict that shows no sign of letting up. (c) Adopt Films

Find the highly anticipated Omar in our library catalog.
Discover Hany Abu-Assad’s previous film, Paradise Now in our library catalog.

Jun 20

True Blood

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.

Check out all the seasons of True Blood in our library catalog.
Read the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris which were adapted to become True Blood.
Or whip up some recipes from the True Blood inspired cookbook, True Blood: Eats, Drinks, and Bites from Bon Temps by Karen Sommer Shalett, Marcelle Bienvenu, Alan Ball, and Gianna Sobol.
alex fangs

Jun 12

Throwback Thursday: The Remains of the Day

Are you going through Downton Abbey withdrawal? Consider quenching your thirst for gorgeous British costume drama with a trip down memory lane – Merchant Ivory’s The Remains of the Day.  Before Carson and Mrs. Hughes, 1993 introduced us to Anthony Hopkins’ Stevens and Emma Thompson’s Miss Kenton.

remains of the daySynopsis from Rotten Tomatoes,

Filmed with the usual meticulous attention to period and detail of films from Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, The Remains of the Day is based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Anthony Hopkins plays Stevens, the “perfect” butler to a prosperous British household of the 1930s. He is so unswervingly devoted to serving his master, a well-meaning but callow British lord (James Fox), that he shuts himself off from all emotions and familial relationships. New housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) tries to warm him up and awaken his humanity.

New York Times film critic Vincent Canby’s original 1993 review tells us all we need to know,

Taking this rather arcane story, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s award-winning novel, Ismail Merchant, the producer; James Ivory, the director, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the writer, have made “The Remains of the Day,” a spellbinding new tragi-comedy of high and most entertaining order. Here is an exquisite work that could become a quite unlikely smash.

In the way that “The Remains of the Day” looks grand without being overdressed, it is full of feeling without being sentimental. Here’s a film for adults. It’s also about time to recognize that Mr. Ivory is one of our finest directors, something that critics tend to overlook because most of his films have been literary adaptations. It’s the film, not the source material, that counts. “The Remains of the Day” has its own, securely original cinematic life.

You really owe it to yourself to embrace the subtly and beauty of one of Merchant Ivory’s masterpieces.

Find The Remains of the Day in our library catalog.
We also have the complete Upstairs Downstairs for more British class costume drama fun.

Jun 03

Happy Pride: June 2014

pride flag

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.

 

May 22

Throwback Thursday: Klute

 

gordon-willis-klute

Award-winning cinematographer Gordon Willis passed away this week leaving a canon of outstanding films. His signature dark shots can be seen in such classics as The Godfather, Annie Hall, Manhattan (remember the Planetarium scene?), and All the President’s Men.  From NPR,

He shot a total of eight films for Woody Allen and was dubbed the “Prince of Darkness” by fellow cinematographer Conrad Hall for his use of shadows.

But today, let’s focus on the brilliant Klute which won Jane Fonda an Oscar for Best Actress in 1971. Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland star in this 1971 suspense drama about a high-class call girl in New York City who gets reluctantly dragged into a missing person’s investigation. An outstanding plot with lots of interesting choices like the taped phone calls being repeated throughout the film and Jane’s confessions to her therapist.  Incredible outdoor shots of NYC in the early 70′s.  This is a classic for sure.  Klute is a top-notch thriller!

Find Klute in our library catalog.

May 13

Her

herSpike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) new feature Her starring Joaquin Phoenix garnered mixed reviews from the staff at the library. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave it a 94% rating which is impressive.  Some of the glow,

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.).

Decide for yourself. Check out Her from the library today.

May 08

Throwback Thursday: Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under

From 2000 – 2005 HBO graced the world with the darkly funny and excruciatingly well-written drama Six Feet Under. Based on The Fishers – a family in the funeral business, each week someone would die in the opening credits and the family would busy themselves preparing the final tribute as well as learn hard and serious life lessons and manage to play and have fun. Created by Alan Ball who wrote the script for American Beauty and went on to helm True Blood, Six Feet Under captured a certain kind of family dynamic previously not explored on American television.  The Fishers spent the five years trying desperately to break through their buttoned-up way of living life. We watched them each week experience triumphs and heartbreaks as they stumbled through life searching and often finding beauty and wonder. Featuring a stellar cast including Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause, Frances Conroy, Rachel Griffiths, Matthew St. Patrick, Freedy Rodriguez, Jeremy Sisto, Justina Machado, James Cromwell, Lili Taylor, and Richard Jenkins, Six Feet Under taught us how to grieve as well as live each moment out loud.  Six Feet Under also ushered in a new renaissance of American television along with The Sopranos and The Wire.

Check out all five seasons of Alan Ball’s award-winning Six Feet Under in the library’s catalog.

 

May 02

Director spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock

hitchcock iconPerhaps no other director in the history of cinema captured the hearts and scared the wits out of movie goers more than Alfred Hitchcock. Beginning with his first British film in 1925 and continuing through an illustrious career including Shadow of a Doubt, Suspicion, Spellbound, Notorious, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie, film goers marveled at his expertise for nearly a century. In total Hitchcock directed 58 films spanning most of the 20th Century through his death in 1980. To this day, no one can match the suspense of Hitch nor can they elicit the fright of an audience simply by implying rather than showing the terror or gore. Alfred Hitchcock was one of a kind and his films really are timeless classics.

Check out our list of Hitchcock films and books in the library catalog.

Apr 29

The Americans – Season 1

The_Americans_season_1_DVDfrom Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture,

Joe Weisberg, creator of The Americans, worked at the CIA for four years in the early nineties. There are just enough real-world spycraft details woven into the action to sell the show’s more ludicrous conceits, chiefly that the former Soviet Union would breed certain men and women from adolescence onward to pass for Americans, then plant them among us to wreak havoc. But make no mistake: This is a dark fantasy, not just of espionage but of domestic life; it operates as much by dream logic as actual logic, placing its main characters — married spies-assassins-seducers Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) — in suspenseful situations, then having them switch gears and deal with the house or the kids.

Read the entire review at Vulture.
Check out the first season of The Americans in our catalog.

Apr 15

Philomena

philomenaDirector Stephen Frears’ Philomena starring the incomparable Judi Dench finally gets released on DVD today! From Rotten Tomatoes which by the way gave Philomena a 92% rating,

Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee, mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock – something her Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of – and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into the son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith, a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.

Find Philomena in our library catalog.