Elizabeth G.'s blog

The Way We Get By

ThImagee Way We Get By is a documentary that starts out focusing on the work of the “troop greeters” in Bangor, Maine.  This group of senior citizens goes to the Bangor International Airport at any hour of the day or night to greet outgoing and incoming US troops. Oddly enough, Bangor is the main departure and return point for those serving overseas . The greeters, some retired military themselves, offer service men and women a warm welcome, snacks and free cell phones to call their loved ones. Those arriving at 3 am receive the same enthusiastic greeting as those coming at  11 am, rain, sleet or snow. This seemingly small gesture has a big impact on those returning from overseas, many unsure of how they would be received or concerned about returning to life in the US.

But there’s another layer to the story, one that’s possibly even more touching- that of the lives of the greeters themselves. Focusing on three of the senior citizens the film becomes a study of aging, loneliness, and the universal search for a sense of purpose in our lives. Read more »

While You’re Waiting For… And the Mountains Echoed

ImageKhaled Hosseini’s new novel And the Mountains Echoed tells family stories of loss and love from multiple points of view. There is a long waiting list for this book at the library, so here are some ideas for other books you might enjoy reading while you wait.

The obvious first choices are Hosseini’s other popular and well received novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Both stories are set in Afghanistan, the author’s native land, and reveal the impact the country’s political turmoil has upon its people, while focusing on more intimate stories of friendship and family.

If you have already read Hosseini’s other titles you might try The Moonlit Cage by Linda Holeman. This novel is also set in Afghanistan and follows the difficult life of Darya in the mid nineteenth century in a small village.  This is a heart wrenching, yet ultimately redeeming story of a woman discovering her value.

An author that has much of the same appeal as Hosseini is Jhumpa Lahiri. Read more »

America in Primetime

"I think we are in a, indeed in a golden age of television. I think TV today, pound for pound, storytelling-wise is more interesting, dare I say it, than Hollywood movies."

Vince Gilligan , Producer, Breaking Bad

I stumbled across part 4 of this PBS documentary when I saw that they were featuring a segment including one of my favorite television characters- Omar Little  from The Wire.  This was episode 4- The Crusaders and the entire hour was engaging.  Other characters discussed in this episode include Hawkeye from MASH, Dr. Gregory House of House MD and Det. Frank Pembleton from Homicide: Life on the Street,  all characters whom I have found interesting. This part of the documentary examined characters who live by their own moral code and how that affected their lives. It also discussed why these types of characters are popular in American culture.

America in Primetime is a documentary focusing on the most compelling current shows on television, while looking at their evolution through the history of tv. It is comprised of four one hour episodes, each focusing on a very specific character type in television: the Independent Woman, the Man of the House, the Misfit, and the Crusader. These archetypes are discussed by the actors who play the characters, as well as the writers, creators and producers of the various shows. Characters discussed range from Mary Richards (the Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Jackie Peyton (Nurse Jackie) to Gomez Addams (the Addams Family) and Walter White (Breaking Bad). It's fascinating to hear the actors' insight into the characters they play, as well as the love they have for the characters they have created. The documentary also provides a unique way to look at the history of American television- through the creation and development of beloved (and sometimes hated) characters.  

Bernie

ImageBernie stars Jack Black in the title role based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, a man in his late 30s who was a funeral director in the small town of Carthage, Texas. Bernie, a beloved member of the tight-knit community, lends his musical talents to community theater and church, coaches children's teams, and helps out in any way he is able. He also befriends the grieving widows of the town. He attempts to console Marjorie Nugent (Shirley McLaine) the much despised recent widow of the town's richest man. Initially Marjorie shuns Bernie, but one day invites him into her home. From there the pair develops a very close relationship. They take trips together, enjoy musical performances and dine out- all on Marjorie's dime. Marjorie, who previously had no friends and was estranged from her family, becomes increasingly demanding of Bernie and his time. She also comes to depend on him to take care of her personal needs and finances. As time passes people start to realize Marjorie has not been seen for awhile and questions arise. Enter Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey), the local district attorney, who is especially suspicious of Bernie.

This film was nominated for several awards recognizing independent films. All of the stars give excellent performances, especially an understated Jack Black who was nominated for a Golden Globe. In a stroke of genius, director Richard Linklater intercuts the story with interviews featuring the actual townspeople of Carthage, who without exception like and trust Bernie. This film is oddly touching and darkly humorous. Be sure to watch through the credits at the end to see photos of the real Bernie and Marjorie, as well as footage of Bernie talking with Jack Black.

 

African American History Month

ImageFebruary is African American History Month! Celebrate all aspects of African American history in MCPL's Movies and Music area. We currently have a special display of DVDs featuring related titles. These DVDs range from documentaries, like Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and The Jack5ons: A Family Dynasty, detailing the rise of the Jackson family, to feature films including Malcolm X and Amistad. You might also enjoy some films by these African American directors: Spike Lee, John Singleton or Kasi Lemmons. There are many other DVD titles about African American history in our catalog.

Don't forget we also have a huge number of music CDs by African American artists. This wide variety includes artists like Robert Johnson, Nicki Minaj, David Baker, and Billie Holiday. You can also find numerous African American musicians on Freegal. These artists include Usher, Aretha Franklin, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Beyonce, Bessie Smith, Marvin Gaye, and many more. With Freegal you can download their songs for free! 

Band of Brothers

ImageBased on the book by Stephen Ambrose, Band of Brothers is a 10 part mini-series focusing on Easy Company of the 101st Airborne division of the Army during WWII. This true story follows the young men who volunteered to join this division from basic training through the end of the war. Easy Company took part in some of the most intense battles of the war, including the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. The length of the mini-series allows focus on historical detail and procedures, as well as an in-depth look at the varied responses of the men to the horrors of war- running the gamut from fear and compassion to confusion and cruelty. Read more »

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton

Lock ArtistRecently I decided to read a mystery that was either nominated for or won an Edgar Award. I chose The Lock Artist, 2010 Best Novel winner, because it sounded interesting. I was not disappointed. The story is narrated by Mike, a "boxman"- someone who can open any lock without a key whether it's on a safe, a door, a window or a padlock. We know this talent has landed him in prison at the age of 18 and that from there he writes his life story. We also know Mike is known as "Miracle Boy" because he survived a family tragedy that is hinted at throughout the book. This tragedy rendered him unable to speak, which brings an interesting facet to the tale. When he falls in love he is only able to communicate with the object of his desire through his other talent- drawing. The Lock Artist is not just one mystery, but many within the life of Mike- which job finally landed him in prison, what happened to the girl he loves, who is the dangerous and mysterious man who employs him, what happened to him as a child? Each chapter jumps to a different point in time in Mike's life with many ending as cliffhangers.

Nature: A Murder of Crows

You can always count on the PBS Nature series to be interesting and have beautiful videography. But I was especially captivated when I recently watched A Murder of Crows. It didn't sound that interesting- a documentary about crows, but when I read the description of crows as "apes with feathers" I was intrigued. I had no idea how intellligent these birds are.
 
 

Martial Arts Films

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I watched a fun movie yesterday, The Warrior's Way, a recently released DVD that is a martial arts/western mashup. Starring Dong-gun Jang, Kate Bosworth and Geoffrey Rush this visually striking film follows Yang (Jang), a warrior assassin who goes on the run to the American West after disavowing his clan by refusing to kill a baby- the last surviving member of an enemy clan. Read more »

The Fall

This visuaImagelly stunning film isn't just a pretty picture, it has an excellent story (actually there are two storylines) to go with it. Set in a Los Angeles area hospital in the 1920s The Fall stars Lee Pace (of the wonderful Pushing Daisies) as Roy, an injured stuntman who befriends Alexandria, a young girl with a broken arm. Depressed over the loss of his lover Read more »

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