Library staff member Barbara Slack takes us back to 1946 with one of the most outstanding classic films of all time,
In my opinion, The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the best movies ever made. It may even be number one on my top ten list. I saw it for the first time when I was in college, long before the large flat screens. In fact, I think that about eight of us watched this film on a TV about a foot wide. Even on that small screen, the movie hit me like a ton of bricks.
If I had to use one word to describe the movie it would be poignant — incredibly moving without being sentimental. There is an amazing realism to the movie, every scene rings true. The scene where the parents speak with their daughter late at night about their marriage, is one of the most accurate and affecting scenes I have ever seen in any movie. When I watch it, I almost feel as if I am in that room.
This movie was made in 1946 and is often summarized as soldiers returning home from the war to civilian life. If that was all I knew about this movie I would probably flip right by it. Although it is about three soldiers who meet on a flight home, it is also a movie that profoundly touches on the subjects of love, family and friendship in a way that makes it timeless. It touches on socially sensitive subjects including post traumatic stress and the complexity of relationships in a way you wouldn’t expect for the time period.
The casting of the movie is perfect — led by stars like Fredric March, Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo and Dana Andrews. But even minor characters in this movie are crucial to the film. It is the kind of film you could see many times, yet find additional nuances with each watching. If you are an old movie buff and haven’t seen this film, you need to see it as soon as possible. It will rock your world. And if you aren’t an old movie buff, this is one of the black and white movies that may change your opinion about classic films.
Find The Best Years of Our Lives in the library catalog.
For better or worse, Woody Allen’s been in the news these past few weeks. His personal life has been all over social media and this past weekend he came out of seclusion to refute 20 year-old claims of abuse. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Golden Globes. His new film, Blue Jasmine has just released on DVD and most agree it’s his best work in years. Cate Blanchett is nominated for an Oscar for her performance as Jasmine.
Find Blue Jasmine in the library catalog.
Browse all of Woody’s films and books in the library catalog.
The acting world lost a giant this past weekend. Philip Seymour Hoffman died on February 2, 2014 at the age of 46. Hoffman amassed a daunting list of incredible character performances in film and on stage in his 20 year career. The following are a few of our personal favorites,
A Late Quartet
Check the library catalog for over 30 films on DVD from Hoffman’s illustrious career.
Nicole Holofcener creates dark, introspective comedies that are never light weight but nearly always make you wake up and notice her characters. Her previous films include Lovely & Amazing, Friends with Money, and Please Give. She casts Catherine Keener in every one of her films. Her latest, Enough Said is worth seeing for many reasons but the one most people are familiar with is that it’s James Gandofini’s final performance. See Gandofini and Julia Louis Dreyfus in Holocener’s newest film, Enough Said.
Find Enough Said in our catalog.
from the film’s site,
Based on a true story and winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter.
See Fruitvale Station in our catalog.
Every so often, we’ll be featuring an older film for you to discover or re-discover. Like the social networking trend, we call this feature Throwback Thursday. Today’s gem comes from library staff member Judy Sparzo. Judy recommends 1998’s Pleasantville. From IMDb,
Two 1990s teenagers find themselves in a 1950s sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.
Judy mentioned in the wake of Paul Walker’s death “he has a small role in the film. Also, some great actors (Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, and Jeff Daniels) and a time travel premise that always manages to fascinate.”
The best thing about The East, which is a very tight, sophisticated Hollywood thriller is Brit Marling. Marling co-wrote the screenplay with director Zal Batmanglij, produced and stars in the film as lead character Jane who leaves her FBI job to work for an elite private intelligence firm. Jane’s new assignment is to bring down the eco-terrorist anarchist group, The East. Fantastic premise along with solid performances by all the actors including Marling, Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood), Shiloh Fernandez, Ellen Page, and the delectable Patricia Clarkson as the amoral head of the firm.
Richard Linklater’s 2013 sequel to the cult hits Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, Before Midnight finds favorite couple Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) nearly 20 years after their first meeting again at a crossroads in their lives. The couple now have twin girls from their reconciliation nine years ago and Jesse’s son Hank from a previous marriage is now a teenager and ending a visit with his Dad in the location of this final film in the trilogy on the Greek Peloponnese peninsula. All three films have struck a nerve with Gen X-ers and anyone interested in the complexities of maintaining modern relationships. The library carries all three films on DVD.
Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck) and Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot) star in Cloudburst as an aging lesbian couple who face separation after Fricker’s character Dot ends up in an assisted living facility. Dukakis’s Stella decides to break Dot out of the home and run away to Canada where the two can be married legally. Cloudburst combines some of the funniest potty-mouthed dialogue ever to come out of an 80 year-old actor’s mouth with a universal story of love, longevity, and fidelity. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer for the ladies of Cloudburst.
Gael García Bernal stars as real-life Chilean advertising executive René Saavedra in Pablo Larraín’s smartly executed film No. Following the 1988 referendum by Augusto Pinochet to determine if the country wanted him to continue as president, no one expected the election to be fair. So the left decided to go out on a limb and hire a creative, sophisticated ad man to oversee the 15 minutes of airtime each side had every evening for 27 days prior to the election. Shot in as Slate.com called, “a deliberately scruffy visual aesthetic,” Larrain enlists cinematographer Sergio Armstrong to give the film a washed out 80′s style that adds authenticity and grit to compliment the intense story. This film has a very modern feel to it. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Click to see No in the catalog.