Aug 20


71Rotten Tomatoes gives ’71 an average rating of 97% from over 100 critics’ reviews. From Roadside Attractions,

 ’71 takes place over a single night in the life of a young British soldier (Jack O’Connell) accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorientating, alien and deadly landscape.

Find ’71 in our library catalog. 

Aug 13

Best Picture Academy Awards


We took a look at the Oscar Best Picture winners and filled as many holes in our collection as we could. As a result, we now have all of the available DVDs in print. Turns out we had nearly all the films, there were only a dozen we had to acquire.

To refresh your memory, here’s a list of the newest:

2014 – “Birdman”
2013 – “12 Years a Slave”
2012 – “Argo”
2011 – “The Artist”
2010 – “The King’s Speech”
2009 – “The Hurt Locker”
2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire”
2007 – “No Country for Old Men”
2006 – “The Departed”
2005 – “Crash”
2004 – “Million Dollar Baby”
2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
2002 – “Chicago”
2001 – “A Beautiful Mind”
2000 – “Gladiator”

and the oldest:

1939 – “Gone with the Wind”
1938 – “You Can’t Take It with You”
1937 – “The Life of Emile Zola”
1936 – “The Great Ziegfeld”
1935 – “Mutiny on the Bounty”
1934 – “It Happened One Night”
1932/1933 – “Cavalcade”
1931/1932 – “Grand Hotel”
1930/1931 – “Cimarron”
1929/1930 – “All Quiet on the Western Front”
1928/1929 – “The Broadway Melody”
1927/1928 – “Wings”

And if you’d like to see everything in-between, check out the full list here.

Jul 02

Happy 4th of July: Patriotic Movies

From several compilation lists online, here are some American films sure to put you in the patriotic spirit, with links to find the titles in our library catalog:

Air Force One
All the President’s Men
An American Tail
Apollo 13
Captain America
Dazed and Confused
Forrest Gump
How the West was Won
Independence Day
John Adams
Legally Blonde 2
National Treasure
Saving Private Ryan
Tall Tale
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Patriot
The Right Stuff
The Sandlot
To Kill a Mockingbird
Top Gun
United 93
Zero Dark Thirty

May 25

Last Days in Vietnam

last days in vietnamIn honor of Memorial Day, we recently acquired this year’s Academy Award nominated documentary, Last Days in Vietnam for our film collection. From Indiewire’s Best Documentaries of 2014,

You probably peripherally remember the story of the U.S.’ mass exodus out of South Vietnam in 1975 from history class, and you’ve maybe seen some iconic photography resulting from the exit. But you’ve never seen the story told as wrenchingly as in “Last Days Of Vietnam.” Like a thriller moving to the sound of a ticking clock, director Rory Kennedy’s gripping documentary sets the stage for a heartbreakingly clear-eyed account of a betrayal of ideals and of people: with Gerald Ford in office cleaning up Nixon and Kissinger’s mess, political concerns shift and the U.S. evacuates, abandoning the defense of the South Vietnamese from their Northern communist invaders. As the various aspects of that occupying force pack up to leave, it’s with the full knowledge that thousands of citizens now designated as collaborators will likely be killed or imprisoned. What ensues are the firsthand recollections from soldiers, officers and civilians from both sides of the war, recounting how several key figures disobeyed direct orders in order to save as many South Vietnamese citizens as they could. Kennedy constructs an utterly spellbinding story that ultimately provides context instead of pointing fingers. The Vietnam war has been covered ad nauseum by movies and documentaries, and this is another chilling memento of the cost of war, but it’s also a reminder of the exceptional humanity, bravery and honor of some men and women on the ground in that ugly, fucked up war, of human decency revealing itself in the most indecent of circumstances. A must-watch, up there with greats like “Hearts & Minds

Find Last Days in Vietnam in our library catalog.
We gratefully thank all our patrons who served their country.

May 21

Wolf Hall

wolf hallAdapted from Hilary Mantel’s best-selling Booker Prize-winning novels: Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, BBC and PBS Masterpiece release the mini-series Wolf Hall on DVD. From PBS,

A historical drama for a modern audience, Wolf Hall tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, played by Mark Rylance (Twelfth Night)—a blacksmith’s son who rises from the ashes of personal disaster, and deftly picks his way through a court where ‘man is wolf to man.’ Damian Lewis (Homeland) is King Henry VIII, haunted by his brother’s premature death and obsessed with protecting the Tudor dynasty by securing his succession with a male heir to the throne. The cast also includes Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) as the future queen Anne Boleyn.

Told from Cromwell’s perspective, Wolf Hall follows the complex machinations and back room dealings of this accomplished power broker who must serve king and country while dealing with deadly political intrigue, Henry VIII’s tempestuous relationship with Anne Boleyn, and the religious upheavals of the Protestant reformation.

Find Wolf Hall in our library catalog.
Join us for two library program events in June, The World of Wolf Hall: Two Women, One King with our resident historian, Dr. Mona Garcia:
Register for Part 1.
Register for Part 2.

Sep 18

Throwback Thursday: Queen Margot

queen margotThe 20th Anniversary DVD of Queen Margot arrived in the library this week. From Rotten Tomatoes,

The historical novel by Alexandre Dumas was adapted for the screen with this lavish French epic, winner of 5 Césars and a pair of awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Isabelle Adjani stars as Marguerite de Valois, better known as Margot, daughter of scheming Catholic power player Catherine de Medici (Virna Lisi). Margot is an heiress to the throne during the late 16th century reign of the neurotic, hypochondriac King Charles IX (Jean-Hugues Anglade), a time when Protestants and Catholics are vying for political control of France. Catherine decides to make an overture of good will by offering up Margot in marriage to prominent Protestant Huguenot Henri of Navarre (Daniel Auteuil), although she also schemes to bring about the notorious St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, when tens of thousands of Protestants are slaughtered. The marriage goes forward but Margot doesn’t love Henri and takes a lover, the soldier La Mole (Vincent Perez), also a Protestant from a well-to-do family. Murders by poisoning follow, as court intrigues multiply and Catherine’s villainous plotting to place her son Anjou (Pascal Greggory) on the throne threatens the lives of La Mole, Margot and Henri.

Find Queen Margot in our library’s catalog.
In French with English sub-titles.

Aug 04

Here Are 9 Great WWI Movies In Honor of the War’s 100th Anniversary (Indiewire)


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.