Not far from the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu, now ruled by the religious fundamentalists, proud cattle herder Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed aka Pino) lives peacefully in the dunes with his wife Satima (Toulou Kiki), his daughter Toya (Layla Walet Mohamed), and Issan (Mehdi Ag Mohamed), their twelve-year-old shepherd. In town, the people suffer, powerless, from the regime of terror imposed by the Jihadists determined to control their faith. Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned. The women have become shadows but resist with dignity. Every day, the new improvised courts issue tragic and absurd sentences. Kidane and his family are being spared the chaos that prevails in Timbuktu. But their destiny changes abruptly in this stunningly rendered film from a master of world cinema.
MONK WITH A CAMERA chronicles the life and spiritual quest of Nicholas (Nicky) Vreeland, who for the past twenty-eight years has been a Tibetan Buddhist monk. The son of a United States Ambassador, grandson of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, and a photographer by trade, Nicky left his privileged life behind to follow his true calling. He moved to India, cutting his ties with society, photography, and his pleasure-filled world, to live in a monastery with no running water or electricity. There he would spend the next 14 years studying to become a monk. Then in one of life’s beautiful twists, Nicky went back to the worldly pursuit of photography in order to help his fellow monks rebuild their monastery, one of the most important of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. His journey from being a photographer to becoming a monk and, most recently, to being appointed as the abbot of the monastery he helped to rebuild, are the core of the story.
Taking place largely over the course of one tense night, Carol Reed’s psychological noir, set in an unnamed Belfast, stars James Mason as a revolutionary ex-con leading a robbery that goes horribly wrong. Injured and hunted by the police, he seeks refuge throughout the city, while the woman he loves (Kathleen Ryan) searches for him among the shadows. Reed and cinematographer Robert Krasker (who would collaborate again on The Third Man) create images of stunning depth for this fierce, spiritual depiction of a man’s ultimate confrontation with himself.
Pulsing with the rhythm of his greatest stand-up, Chris Rock’s TOP FIVE takes things to the next level, reveling in the high and the low, and blending a star-studded comedic romp with an irresistible romance. TOP FIVE digs under the surface of show business, politics, rap, and the exigencies of being black and famous today-holding it all up to the light in the way only Chris Rock can. Mingling echoes of Woody Allen and Dick Gregory with the energy of Kanye West and Jay Z, TOP FIVE is an original and radically new kind of American movie. Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, TOP FIVE tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career-and the past-that he’s left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah. The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. The Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West; the Executive Music Producer is Questlove.
In honor of the official start of summer this week, let’s throwback to 2001’s camp classic ode to the 80’s, Wet Hot American Summer. Netflix loved it so much they decided to create a newly rebooted Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp which will hit the streaming service July 17. But for now, let’s focus on the original since it’s Throwback Thursday. From Rotten Tomatoes,
The setting is Camp Firewood, the year 1981. It’s the last day before everyone goes back to the real world, but there’s still a summer’s worth of unfinished business to resolve. At the center of the action is camp director Beth, who struggles to keep order while she falls in love with the local astrophysics professor. He is busy trying to save the camp from a deadly piece of NASA’s Skylab which is hurtling toward earth. All that, plus: a dangerous waterfall rescue, love triangles, misfits, cool kids, and talking vegetable cans. The questions will all be resolved, of course, at the big talent show at the end of the day.
In 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.
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.
This isn’t your grandparents’ foreign film. From distributor Kino,
The first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave.
Two thumbs up from librarian Adrienne, find A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night 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.
The new Mad Max movie comes out May 15, 2015. Until then, catch up on the original franchise starring Mel Gibson. We have Max Max, Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome in the library’s movie collection.