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 28

When Jews Were Funny

when jews were funnyufrom the filmmaker’s website,

Insightful and often hilarious, the latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig surveys the history of Jewish comedy, from the early days of Borsht belt to the present, ultimately exploring not just ethnicity in the entertainment industry, but also the entire unruly question of what it means to be Jewish.

Get access to additional bonus clips, including never-before-seen interviews with the filmmaker and featured comedians like Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, and Howie Mandel. Enjoy this insightful and hilarious film which surveys the history of Jewish comedy with the whole family!

Discover When Jews Were Funny in our library catalog.

Jul 22

Listening is an act of love : a StoryCorps special

listening is an act of loveDo you wake up Friday morning to the sounds of StoryCorps on NPR? Do you find tears falling down your cheek onto the pillow before you start your day? Yup, we do too. Good news for fans of this outstanding American archival project. From NPR,

The first-ever animated special from StoryCorps celebrates the transformative power of listening. Listening Is an Act of Love features six stories from 10 years of the innovative oral history project. Each story reflects StoryCorps founder Dave Isay’s fundamental belief: “We can learn so much about the people all around us — even about the people we already know — just by taking the time to have a conversation.” Framing these intimate conversations from across the country is an interview between Isay and his 9-year-old nephew, Benji. As always, the selections provoke both tears and laughter — and highlight the simple joy found in sitting together and asking life’s important questions. Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.Produced in association with American Documentary | POV.

Read more about StoryCorps’ new DVD on NPR.
Discover StoryCorps’ website.
Find the StoryCorps’ DVD in our library catalog.

Apr 25

Camille Claudel 1915

Camille_Claudel_1915_posterfrom Roger Ebert’s website,

Cinema can be one of the most empathetic of arts. When done well, its immediacy, its sense of experiencing another life (fictional or not) can bring about an expansion of understanding, an overwhelming telescoping of consciousness. “Camille Claudel 1915″, the latest by French director Bruno Dumont, is that kind of cinema. It tells the story of three days in the life of Camille Claudel, gifted sculptor and one-time protege and lover of Auguste Rodin. Claudel was committed to an asylum in 1913 by her brother, poet/diplomat Paul Claudel, following the death of their father (a man who had always been in her corner). Dumont uses only Claudel’s medical records and the letters that Claudel and her brother wrote to one another, as the material for his script. The result is a story pared down to a bone-white gleam, a grim portrait of monotony and silence broken by unrelieved despair, and an almost suffocating sense of claustrophobia and entrapment. It’s a harrowing film, made even more so by the raw performance of Juliette Binoche as Camille Claudel. By the end, you are left with a feeling of helplessness, rage, and a kind of abstracted bafflement. How did this happen? You want to intervene (the key sign of a classic tragedy). All credit to Dumont and Binoche here, who approach their difficult subject without blinking.

Read the full review.
Discover Camille Claudel 1915 in our catalog.

Apr 01

New documentaries

A quick scan of the library’s Express Non-fiction DVDs – our new documentaries reveals the following diverse subjects,

History (Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl)
Food/Drink (Crafting a Nation)
Politics/Human Rights (Pussy Riot)
Sports (Knuckleball)
Judicial System (West of Memphis)
Science (Last Days of Man)
Climate Change (Chasing Ice)
Cities (London: The Modern Babylon)
Civil Rights (Bridegroom)

Click on any title above in print to be taken to each film in our catalog.

doc selection 03 2014

Stop by today and see what’s on the shelf in our Express (New Release) section.

Jan 06

The Central Park Five

central park five

 

 

 

 

Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon produced The Central Park Five, a PBS documentary which chronicles the five African-American men wrongly accused of raping a white woman in Central Park during the summer of 1989.  There’s nothing sensational about this documentary.  Just a quiet truth about race relations in our country.  Timely especially given the Zimmerman trial last year.

Dec 31

No

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.

no-dvd-cover-75