In the first two decades of the 20th century, coal miners and coal companies in West Virginia clashed in a series of brutal conflicts over labor conditions and unionization. Known collectively as the “Mine Wars,” the struggle included strikes, assassinations, marches, and the largest civil insurrection in the United States since the Civil War.
Coal was the engine of American industrial progress at the beginning of the 20th century. It powered locomotives, factories, and home furnaces, and it helped to purify the steel used in erecting skyscrapers all over the U.S. Nearly three quarters of a million menacross the country spent 10 to 12 hours a day in coal mines blasting, hand-picking, shoveling, and loading the indispensable rock onto railway cars bound for destinations across the country. Miners everywhere suffered deplorable working conditions, but between 1890 and 1912, miners in West Virginia suffered the highest death rate in America. Local business management was also not favorable to the miners; coal operators ran both the mines and the local towns, or camps, and often paid workers in company currency, forcing mining families to shop exclusively at the local company store, where operators set the price of everything to assure a profit.
Find The Mine Wars in our library catalog.
Michael Pollen’s incredible and accessible documentary, In Defense of Food for PBS on how to eat. No diets, no fasting, no starving. Just eat: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” From PBS,
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” With that seven-word maxim, US-based journalist Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) distills a career’s worth of reporting into a prescription for reversing the damage being done to people’s health by today’s industrially driven Western diet. In Defense of Food debunks the daily media barrage of conflicting claims about nutrition. Traveling the globe and exploring the supermarket aisles to illustrate the principles of his bestselling “eater’s manifesto,” Pollan offers a clear answer to one of the most confounding and urgent questions of our time: What should I eat to be healthy?
Find In Defense of Food in the library catalog.
New indie charmer, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl on DVD at both locations. From Fox Searchlight,
Winner of the 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL is the story of Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann), an awkward high school senior whose mom forces him to spend time with Rachel – a girl in his class (Olivia Cooke) with whom he hasn’t spoken to since kindergarten – who was just diagnosed with cancer.
Find Me and Earl and the Dying Girl in our library catalog.
David Oyelowo (Selma) stars in the HBO film Nightingale. AV Club gave solid marks to the film calling it, “David Oyelowo’s bravura performance anchors HBO’s unsettling drama Nightingale.” From Rotten Tomatoes,
A man’s mental health deteriorates at a rapid pace after an unspeakable tragedy inside his mother’s home on a quiet suburban street.
Find Nightingale in our library catalog.
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.
Find Still Alice in our library catalog.
Read Lisa Genova’s book also in our library catalog.
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.
Read the entire statement and explore the film’s website.
Check out the film in our catalog.
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.
Find Fed Up in our library catalog.
Ryan 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.