The Trials of Muhammad Ali explores the extraordinary and complex life of the legendary athlete outside the boxing ring. From joining the controversial Nation of Islam and changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, from his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War in the name of protesting racial inequality to his global humanitarian work, Ali remains an inspiring and controversial figure.
A re-post from last July 4th. Happy Independence Day! Get your red, white and blue on!
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
Dazed and Confused
How the West was Won
Legally Blonde 2
Saving Private Ryan
The Best Years of Our Lives
The Right Stuff
To Kill a Mockingbird
Zero Dark Thirty
Thanks to Criterion, we have a brand-new remastered copy of the 1973 Czech animation Sci-Fi classic, Fantastic Planet. From Criterion,
Nothing else has ever looked or felt like director René Laloux’s animated marvel Fantastic Planet, a politically minded and visually inventive work of science fiction. The film is set on a distant planet called Ygam, where enslaved humans (Oms) are the playthings of giant blue native inhabitants (Draags). After Terr, kept as a pet since infancy, escapes from his gigantic child captor, he is swept up by a band of radical fellow Oms who are resisting the Draags’ oppression and violence. With its eerie, coolly surreal cutout animation by Roland Topor; brilliant psychedelic jazz score by Alain Goraguer; and wondrous creatures and landscapes, this Cannes-awarded 1973 counterculture classic is a perennially compelling statement against conformity and violence.
The international (Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina), film, Embrace of the Serpent releases on DVD this week. The movie features many languages including Spanish, Portuguese, German, Catalan, and Latin.
Embrace of the Serpent features the encounter, apparent betrayal and finally life-affirming friendship between an Amazonian shaman (the last survivor of his people) and two foreign scientists.
The new Sally Field film, Hello, My Name is Doris arrives on DVD and the critics love it. From Rotten Tomatoes,
When Doris Miller meets John Fremont, her company’s hip new art director, sparks fly-at least for Doris. In the cluttered house she shared with her late mother, Doris mines the Internet for information on her one-and-only, guided by the 13-year-old granddaughter of her best pal Roz. When Doris begins showing up at John’s regular haunts, she wins over his Williamsburg friends. Her new life brings Doris a thrilling perspective, but also creates a rift between her and her longtime friends and family, who believe she’s making a fool of herself over a guy half her age. Eager for all the experiences she has missed out on, Doris throws caution to the wind and follows her heart for the very first time.
The immensely popular and delightful film, Zootopia finds its way to DVD this week. From Rotten Tomatoes,
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together-a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia,” a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,” “Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”) and co-directed by Jared Bush (“Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero”), opens in theaters on March 4, 2016. Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), the very first bunny on Zootopia’s police force, jumps at the opportunity to crack her first case-even if it means partnering with fast-talking, scam-artist fox Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman) to solve the mystery.
A spellbinding mystery of identity, illusion, and deception unfolds against the turmoil of post-World War II Germany in the stunning new film from acclaimed director Christian Petzold (Barbara, Jerichow). Nelly (Nina Hoss), a German-Jewish nightclub singer, has survived a concentration camp, but with her face disfigured by a bullet wound. After undergoing reconstructive surgery, Nelly emerges with a new face, one similar but different enough that her former husband, Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), doesn’t recognize her. Rather than reveal herself, Nelly walks into a dangerous game of duplicity and disguise as she tries to figure out if the man she loves may have been the one who betrayed her to the Nazis. Evoking the shadows and haunted mood of post-war Berlin, Phoenix weaves a complex tale of a nation’s tragedy and a woman’s search for answers as it builds towards an unforgettable, heart-stopping climax.
Easy Rider recently got remastered and released by Criterion. We didn’t own a copy so we added the newly minted classic to our collection. From Roger Ebert’s website,
But it’s hard to identify with the Fonda and Hopper characters. So Hopper and his co-writers Fonda and Terry Southern write in a brilliant character, Old George (played magnificently by Jack Nicholson). And when this alcoholic, tragic ACLU lawyer from a small Southern town enters the picture, suddenly that’s us there on the bike with Fonda. And the movie starts to work.
If you follow the story closely in “Easy Rider,” you find out it isn’t there. The rough-cut of the movie reportedly ran over three hours, and Hopper edited it to a reasonable length by throwing out the story details and keeping the rest. So the heroes are suspended in an invisible story, like falcons on an invisible current of air. You can’t see it, but it holds them up.
All of this divests a motorcycle movie of its weak point (the story) and develops its strong point (the role of the self-proclaimed rebel in a conformist society). It’s not just bike freaks who get in trouble when they challenge the establishment — it’s everybody, even Old George.
And yet, “Easy Rider” suggests, it’s not as simple as that. We almost forget that the Fonda and Hopper characters have also sold out.
Does it hold up? Are you watching it for the first time?
Find Easy Rider in the library’s catalog.
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.