We are nearing the end of the DVD release dates for Oscar winners. Still Alice was released last week. American Sniper – the final big film gets released on Tuesday, May 19th. Julianne Moore won the coveted Best Actress award for her portrayal of Alice Howland, a linguistics professor who is diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s at age 50. Based on the novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice is Moore’s tour de force. She is reflective, nuanced, and brave as we watch her mind and world diminish. Alec Baldwin and Kristin Stewart play Moore’s husband and youngest child. Stewart in particular holds her own beautifully next to a powerhouse Moore. A beautiful, tragic film that will linger with you for days.
Danish television focused on the government and media? Are you serious? Yes, we are. Borgen is one of the best television shows released in any country in the past five years. Based on historical facts, Borgen begins with the election of the first female Prime Minister. Featuring powerhouse performances from Sidse Babett Knudsen as Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg Christensen and featuring Pilou Asbæk as spin doctor Kasper Juul, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as news anchor Katrine Fønsmark, Mikael Birkkjær as Birgitte’s husband Phillip Christensen and Søren Malling as Torben Friis, editor-in-chief for TV1 News, Borgen has you on the edge of your seat. You’re certain to finish Borgen wishing our political system worked a little more like Denmark’s – who knew politicians and political parties could actually work towards common good? Inspiring, exciting, full of intrigue and suspense, Borgen is sure to please anyone interested in contemporary international politics and the media’s role in our society. Oh, and it just happens to be author Stephen King’s favorite television series.
Before Claire Danes starred in the outstanding Homeland. Before Jared Leto won the Oscar last year for Dallas Buyers Club, there was My So-Called Life. The series debuted in 1994. It lasted only one season. 20 years later it’s considered a modern classic paving the way for more realistic portrayals of teenagers in television. From Wikipedia,
It was the first teen drama that didn’t feel like an after-school special. No one ever learned a very important lesson or uttered the phrase ‘I love you, Dad.’ Angela acted like a real 15-year-old, with all the crying jags and Buffalo Tom concerts that implies. What’s even more impressive is that anyone who watched the show back in the ’90s, when angst and Manic Panic felt totally of the moment, can now enjoy it on a very different level. Suddenly, Angela’s parents are relatable.
The Hunger Games continues its franchise with the first part of the final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay. From Lionsgate,
The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Danny Strong and Peter Craig and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the third in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins that has over 65 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.
All Hail the Queen – Queen Angie that is. Angelina Jolie deliciously morphs into Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent for Disney’s live action film available on Blu-ray and DVD at both branches. From Rotten Tomatoes,
“Maleficent” explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic “Sleeping Beauty” and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!