I think there are very few of us who haven't at one time or another dreamed of being a superhero. The chance to fly, manipulate objects with our minds and be nearly invulnerable would be wonderful. I'm sure we'd all like to think that we would be noble and use our power for good. Chronicle is the record of three teenage boys who after encountering a strange object underground begin to develop special powers. They start slowly at first but over time their powers develop. Having such new powers invites mistakes, accidents, and failures. Read more »
Charles Bronson, aka Michael Peterson, robbed a small post office in Britain and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He spent 37 years of that time in solitary. Was he forgotten about? No, he wasn't. Bronson was rightly considered the most violent man in Britain's prison system. The film Bronson is his story. Read more »
Bernie 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.
The holidays are here and the library's Christmas and holiday films are flying off the shelves. Every year I go on a personal marathon of Christmas film watching. I set aside my Netflix que, put my TV watching on hold, with the exception of the Doctor Who Christmas Specials, and settle back to watch some of my favorite Christmas films. Below are the ones I must see or I feel like my holiday season is incomplete. Read more »
“Ghost Town” takes the M. Night Shyamalan movie,” The Sixth Sense” and stands it on its head. The tagline for the film says it all; “He sees dead people … and they annoy him.” After a near death experience, Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) finds he has the ability to see dead people. The dead want his attention so that they can close out the incompleteness in their lives and move on. Pincus is a very good dentist but very inept as a human being and the type of character Gervais plays well. The role of a competent loser suits him. His sudden ability to see the dead doesn’t leave him impressed nor does it fill him with fear. Instead, it seems to annoy him. He would much rather be left alone to be the perfect loser. Read more »
Sound of Noise is an odd, quirky Swedish comedy about 'musical terrorists' (with ideas taken from this Futurist manifesto). I remember missing it at the Ryder film series awhile back, so it caught my eye when I found it on a cart here. The film revolves around a collective of misfit musicians who decide to stage forced public performances for each of the four movements of their 'genius work' entitled "Music for Six Drummers and One City". The plot involves a tone-deaf policeman (from a family of musicians) trying to catch them. This involves a lot of hard-to-believe situations with a lot of amusingly not-quite-laugh-out-loud moments, but the interesting part comes from the choreographed performance pieces. These are all made with found objects as instruments (an oxygen tank, a paper shredder, a bulldozer, etc.). The musician characters have the same names as the actors playing them, presumably because they really performed the music. If you enjoy the clip below, you might like the movie. The DVD extras include several other short performances made outside of the film.
There is a legend about blues guitarist Robert Johnson- that he sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play blues guitar like no other. Is it true? Perhaps, perhaps not; it's a legend that surrounds other bluesmen and many a struggling musician has gone in search of "the crossroads" to see if they can also have the skills and influence of Robert Johnson. Crossroads is not about that search, Read more »
When compact discs first came out they were proclaimed to be almost indestructible. I still remember watching the Today Show and being amazed as the new media storage for music was demonstrated. Part of the demonstration was taking a small hammer and hitting the CD disc with it. A wonder of wonders; the disc still played. Looking back on this event today I wonder if the disc would have played all the way through. The Idea that digital disc storage was indestructible has been more than a little overblown. Digital discs need the same care and sometimes greater care than the old vinyl recordings. I would like to share with you some guidelines for caring for your digital discs. " Read more »
Raccoons are smart. If you’ve ever had to deal with them then you’ll probably agree that they are some of the smartest creatures on Earth. In 2011, PBS did a one-hour documentary on raccoons and their nocturnal behavior. The raccoons were tagged with GPS collars and studied for three months. The information gleaned from the researchers begged the question, “Are humans making raccoons smarter?” It seem as though every attempt to keep them out of our trash bins present them with a new and interesting puzzle to solve which in turn creates smarter raccoons that survive and pass on their genes. It sounds like a ridiculous theory but take look at the documentary before you make any judgments. The library owns one copy at the main branch.
I lie back on my bed while listening to Janis Joplin's album Pearl. It contains one of many versions of the song "Me and Bobby Magee" that I've heard over the years. Janis is my favorite. I love how her grating bluesy voice sounds on this song, more than any other song she has recorded. As she sings the lines, "Windshield wipers slapping time, I's holding Bobby's hand in mine and we sang every song that driver knew," Read more »