Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Who knew that Zoolander was banned in Iran?

We're in the midst of Banned Books Week (September 26-October 3). However, we don't discuss books on this blog-- we discuss movies (and music). So, wouldn't you know, I stumbled upon an online article that gives a rundown of mainstream movies banned in countries all over the world. Read up, then, celebrate your freedom to watch!

Monday, September 28, 2009

DVDs out September 29th

Away We Go: John Krasinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph star as a loving couple preparing for parenthood.
Find it in the catalog!

Management: A light romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston.
Find it in the catalog!

Monsters vs. Aliens: A popular and family-friendly animated adventure from DreamWorks.
Find it in the catalog!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Free movies at the library are back

Starting in October we'll be back to showing free movies downstairs in the Meeting Room. In addition to screening recently released films we will also screen some classics. Free popcorn and refreshments are available at each movie.

Movies in October
Tickets available October 1 at the Info. Desk

17 Again
Thursday, October 15 at 6 PM
Doors open at 5:30
Starring Zac Efron, Matthew Perry, Leslie Mann
Rated PG-13; 102 minutes

Hannah Montana
Saturday, October 17 at 2 PM
Doors open at 1:30
Starring Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus
Rated G; 92 minutes

The Wolf Man (1941)
Wednesday, October 21 at 6 PM
Doors open at 5:30
Starring Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Fay Helm
Not rated; 70 minutes

Coming in November
Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Race to Witch Mountain; Monsters vs. Aliens

Coming in December
The Shop Around the Corner, White Christmas, Star Trek, Up

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Summer movies coming out on DVD

Not able to get to the theater over the summer? Here are the release dates of some popular summer movies.

October 6: Year One
October 13: Land of the Lost, The Proposal
October 20: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
October 27: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

November 3: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3; I Love You, Beth Cooper
November 10: The Ugly Truth, Up
November 17: Bruno, Star Trek
November 24: Angels and Demons, Funny People

December 1: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What we're watching...

So You Think You Can Dance
(New season continues tonight at 7 PM on Fox)

This show auditions dancers from all styles (contemporary, hip hop, ballroom, jazz, etc.). They are supposed to master any style that is thrown at them: paso doble, cha cha, rumba, samba, hip hop, broadway, contemporary, Bollywood, jazz. Once the audition rounds are over the judges pick the top 20 dancers, who are then paired to make up the top 10 couples.

But the dancers aren't the only good thing about So You Think You Can Dance; host Cat Deeley is one of a kind. She cares about the contestants (she refers to the contestants as her "babies"), looks like she's having a blast, and is very genuine in her interactions with both the contestants and judges. The judging panel is comprised of head judges Nigel Lythgoe (the show's executive producer) and Mary Murphy (a ballroom choreographer). The third spot of the panel is rotated; much of the time this spot is filled by choreographers of the show, like Mia Michaels, Lil C, Tyce Diorio, or Tabitha and Napolean; filmmaker Adam Shankman and dance legend Debbie Allen are also frequent judges. While the judging panel can get crazy sometimes (Mary Murphy screams when she loves a routine), the judges are very specific in referring to steps and movements of the dancers.

I love watching the different styles of dance, especially when a dancer goes out of his or her comfort zone. The best examples of contestants who grew as dancers include hip hop dancer Ivan in season 2 (most notably in the Tyce Diorio choreographed contemporary piece with Allison set to "Why"), hip hop dancer and season 4 winner Joshua (he brought the house down performing the samba, contemporary, and Argentine tango, just to name a few styles), and salsa dancer Janette in season 5 (she made every dance look easy).

I especially love seeing a choreographer's ideas come to life. Husband and wife hip hop choreographing team Tabitha and Napolean always tell stories in their pieces, such as the "Bleeding Love" routine danced by Mark and Chelsea from season 4. Wade Robson is an absolute genius with his choreography. When street dancer Hok and contemporary dancer Jamie drew the style of pop jazz in season 3, Robson gave them what he called "a modern ballet" that is now known as the Hummingbird and the Flower routine. Contemporary choreographer Mia Michaels also has produced memorable routines, such as season 2's Bench Routine danced by Travis and Heidi and season 5's routine about addiction danced by Kayla and Kupono.

You can probably tell I could go on and on about this show. Season 6 just started its audition rounds, if you want to tune in and see some amazing dancing!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sad News

The death of Patrick Swayze was announced today. He passed away yesterday at the age of 57. I'm sure many of you remember him in Dirty Dancing and Ghost and his TV show on A&E The Beast.
Even while dealing with the cancer he kept his spirit high and kept going to the best of his ability.
He is survived by his wife of over 30 years.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to school: Two grade "A" DVD sets

Summer vacation is over and school is back in session. Here are two of my absolute favorite shows, available on DVD, which just so happen to be set in high school.

My So-Called Life
One season (19 episodes): 1994-1995
Starring Claire Danes, A.J. Langer, Wilson Cruz, Jared Leto, Devon Gummersall, Devon Odessa, Bess Armstrong, Tom Irwin, and Lisa Wilhoit

"People always say you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster, or something. Like you can even know what it is, even. But every so often I'll have, like, a moment where being myself and my life right where I am is, like, enough."

~voiceover of Angela Chase (Claire Danes)

Fifteen-year-old Angela Chase (Danes) is a regular teenage girl. No longer close with her childhood best friend Sharon (Odessa), she hangs out with the rebellious Rayanne (Langer) and sensitive Rickie (Cruz). Angela has a massive crush on Jordan Catalano (Leto), while her neighbor Brian Krakow (Gummersall) pines for her. Her younger sister, Danielle (Wilhoit), wants to be more like Angela, and their parents, played by Armstrong and Irwin, are dealing with their own problems in addition to raising two girls. This one-hour drama also deals with such issues as self-image, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, sexuality, teenage drinking, and homelessness. Angela narrates each episode (with the exception of "Life of Brian" told from the point of view of Brian) and in doing so shares the thoughts, fears, and worries that any teenager has. The quality of the writing, directing, cinematography, performances, and overall attention to detail of My So-Called Life cannot be matched. The honest portrayals of both teenagers and adults make this a series worth checking out or revisiting if you have not watched the episodes in some time.

My So-Called Life  Find it in the catalog!

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Freaks and Geeks
One season (18 episodes): 1999-2000
Starring Linda Cardellini, John Daley, James Franco, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Busy Phillips, Samm Levine, and Martin Starr

A one-hour comedy-drama set in a Michigan high school during the early eighties, Freaks and Geeks is about groups on the outskirts of the popular crowd. Junior Lindsay Weir (Cardellini), a model student her entire life, feels lost after the death of her grandma and starts to drift to the "freak" crowd that includes Daniel (Franco), Ken (Rogen), Nick (Segel), and Kim (Phillips). Lindsay's younger brother Sam (Daley), a freshman, is part of the "geek" crowd with best friends Bill (Starr) and Neil (Levine). These characters are real; we aren't watching models who have stepped out of the pages of fashion magazines. All the actors give genuine performances; I can never narrow down my favorite character. The show aired during my junior year of high school and I immediately identified with the way the characters felt about wishing to find where they fit in. I was so devastated when I heard about the show's cancellation. Creator and writer Paul Feig used many of his own embarrassing high school experiences as inspiration for story lines and characters (read his book Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence for even more stories). While Freaks and Geeks received low ratings during its run on television, over the years the show has added to its already devoted fan base as many of its cast members became successful in film and on TV.

Freaks and Geeks Find it in the catalog!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fall TV: What are you excited to watch?

Summer wasn't even over yet when the new seasons of Top Chef and Mad Men began. Now that the fall TV season is beginning, what shows have you been waiting all summer to see again (or for the first time)? Glee, Melrose Place, 90210, Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, and So You Think You Can Dance have recently premiered new seasons.

It's always hard to add new shows to watch. I've missed the first two episodes of Glee but plan to catch up by watching them online at Hulu. Last year I wanted to catch the well-reviewed cop show Southland, but I never had time to fit in a viewing. This year I'll definitely try out Community. It helps that this show airs right after one of my favorites, The Office. Community premieres this Thursday along with The Office and Parks and Recreation.

Other shows that start new seasons this week include Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and The Jay Leno Show on Monday, Biggest Loser on Tuesday, and Bones and Fringe on Thursday.

I'm excited that So You Think You Can Dance is on during the fall after another amazing season this summer. I'm also looking forward to the new season of How I Met Your Mother. The architecture course Ted is teaching has the future mother as one of its students! This is a very creative and hilarious show; the cast has wonderful chemistry. Certain shows I love I won't be able to see until 2010; Friday Night Lights first airs on DirecTV this fall before playing on NBC in the winter. The show I absolutely can't wait for, Lost, doesn't return until 2010.

Are any of the the new TV shows premiering this fall on your radar? Or are you just excited that football is on the air again?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Scene stealer: Ken Jeong

Ken Jeong is an actor you have probably seen on TV or in movies. He has roles in new movies The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (still playing in some theaters) with Jeremy Piven and All About Steve with Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper. Jeong also shared scenes with Cooper in the summer hit The Hangover as Mr. Chow. This fall Jeong forms part of the cast of the well-reviewed new TV show Community, which stars Joel McHale and Chevy Chase.

Jeong steals the spotlight in other movies. In Role Models (2008), as King Argotron, he is one of the Medieval re-enactors who is hilariously protected by his followers. Perhaps he is most memorable in the role of Dr. Kuni in Knocked Up (2007). He is one of the many doctors rejected by expecting parents Ben (Seth Rogen) and Alison (Katherine Heigl). Dr. Kuni interrogates Allison: "Do you smoke cigarettes? Do. You. Smoke. Cigarettes?!" Later in the movie when the doctor they have chosen is out of town at a bar mitzvah, Ben and Allison end up with the intimidating Dr. Kuni delivering the baby. The two-disc edition of the Knocked Up DVD has an outrageously funny extra of Jeong improving has Dr. Kuni. You will laugh so hard you won't be able to breathe.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

The Friends of Eddie Coyle began its life in 1972 as a nasty little crime novel by George V. Higgins, a first-time novelist who at that time was Assistant U.S. Attorney for the state of Massachusetts. His debut made for quick and memorable reading (a mere 183 pages in its first edition, comprised almost entirely of dialogue), and immediately became something of a literary sensation. Eddie Coyle is a lifer in the Boston criminal underworld; not particularly successful or well-respected, but a reliable guy with "fingers in a lot of pies." His "friends" are a crooked local bartender/hitman, a gang of bank robbers, and an ice-cold gun-dealer with a flashy car. What these men do to make a living, and what they do to each other and themselves in the process, is frighteningly detailed in this powerful novel.

In 1973 The Friends of Eddie Coyle was released as a motion picture. Higgins himself helped to adapt the story; his brutal dialogue is kept intact, and is in fact elevated by the stellar ensemble cast (which includes character actors Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan, Steven Keats and Alex Rocco). Benefiting from its faithfulness to the novel's language and its excellent casting, The Friends of Eddie Coyle succeeds brilliantly as a film. What makes it an unsung classic is the superbly muted charisma of legendary Hollywood heavy Robert Mitchum. Mitchum portrays Coyle as a compromised "everyman" of the criminal underworld, adding pathos and weariness to a character that could easily have come across as bullying. Now available on DVD as part of the highly-regarded Criterion Collection, this one is not to be missed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What we're listening to...

Blackout and Circus by Britney Spears:

Twelve dance songs, leading off with "Gimme More," comprise Blackout (2007). My favorites on this album include "Break the Ice" ("I'm gonna hit defrost on ya / Let's get it blazing") and "Toy Soldier" ("This time I need a soldier / I'm sick of toy soldiers"). I have been listening to Blackout lately because the music is very fun to dance and move to; I put the songs on to get my energy pumped up before I leave the house on my daily run.

Circus (2008) includes the hit singles "Womanizer" and "Circus." I really like "Unusual You," which is from the point of view of someone hurt by guys in the past: "Baby, you're so unusual / Didn't  anyone tell you / you're supposed to break my heart / I expect you to / So why haven't you?" This album concludes with the sweet and heartfelt "My Baby." Britney still has her punch and swagger when she sings, and then on songs like "My Baby" reveals a vulnerable side. I have been a fan of hers for a long time and I'm still listening.

Britney performs tonight at 8 PM at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

Blackout Find it in the catalog!
Circus Find it in the catalog!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

DVDs out September 8th

Crank 2: High Voltage - Jason Statham returns for another reliably over the top entry in the Crank franchise.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: The Complete First Season - An adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's bestselling series. Starring Jill Scott as detective Precious Ramotswe.
Find it in the catalog!

The Office: Season Five - Television's most acclaimed comedy series.
Find it in the catalog!

Silent Light - An art-house masterpiece by director Carlos Reygadas.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What we're addicted to...

"I Want to Know What Love Is" by Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey's new CD, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, is due out September 29. The single "Obsessed" has already been released. The next single is a cover of the Foreigner song "I Want to Know What Love Is." I listened to this song on YouTube and I love Mariah's version. The beginning has minimal accompaniment, with piano and snapping to go along with the vocals. You can tell she deeply feels the lyrics. By the time I post a link to the song on YouTube it will probably be taken down, but if you perform a Mariah Carey search you should be able to find it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cool movies to see in September

Extract (September 4): The title refers to a flavor extract company run by Jason Bateman's character. Written and directed by Mike Judge, with an excellent ensemble cast including Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, and J.K. Simmons.

Coco Before Chanel (September 18) tells the story of the designer Chanel's life before she found success. In French; starring Audrey Tatou.
***Oops! Turns out this movie won't be released until October 9!

The Informant! (September 18): Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) is collecting evidence for the FBI at the company where he works. He says he calls himself Secret Agent 0014 "because I'm twice as smart as 007." The trailer for this movie is laugh-out-loud funny. Director Steven Soderbergh once again teams with actor Matt Damon. I can't think of anything in recent memory that Damon has been bad in... to borrow from Food Network cook Guy Fieri, Matt Damon is "money."

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (September 25): Written and directed by John Krasinski, this movie is based on the David Foster Wallace novel of the same name.

Bright Star (September 25) brings to life the romance of poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his "bright star" Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Have you seen the trailer? Paul Schneider speaks in a Scottish brogue!

Fame (September 25): This is a new version of the 1980 film of the same name. I am such a sucker for dance movies. As far as I'm concerned it's just icing on the cake if a dance movie has a decent plot because I watch for the choreography. If you are a fan of TV's So You Think You Can Dance, you will recognize season 4 contestant Kherington Payne as one of the students at the New York City High School of Performing Arts.

The Invention of Lying (September 25): The world of this movie is one where no one is able to lie. Mark (Ricky Gervais) suddenly discovers he does have the ability to lie, which he uses to his advantage. Also starring Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, and Tina Fey.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ang Lee is Taking Woodstock

Acclaimed director Ang Lee began his career in his native Taiwan, but he's helmed several of the most popular and critically-admired Hollywood films of the past decade. His latest effort is Taking Woodstock (now in theaters), a view of the landmark 1969 music festival.

Here are some earlier Ang Lee movies you may want to check out:

Lust, Caution
Find it in the catalog!

Brokeback Mountain
Find it in the catalog!

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Find it in the catalog!

The Ice Storm
Find it in the catalog!

Sense and Sensibility
Find it in the catalog!

Eat Drink Man Woman

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What we're listening to...

Right Place, Wrong Time - Otis Rush

Chicago blues-man Otis Rush has influenced everyone from John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers to Led Zeppelin, but he's always been true to the blues. The south-paw guitarist's first hit came in 1956 with "I Can't Quit You Baby," the first of a string of legendary singles for the fledgling Cobra Records. His masterpiece Right Place, Wrong Time was originally recorded in 1971, but was inexplicably shelved for five years due to hesitance on the part of Capitol Records, his new label. Eventually released by the small label Bullfrog Records, Right Place, Wrong Time has survived to become a central part of Otis Rush's blues legacy. Give this record a listen, and the last thing on your mind will be its tumultuous history. You'll be caught up in a swaggering masterpiece of Chicago blues.