Monday, November 30, 2009

DVDs out December 1st

A Christmas Tale: An insightful study of one family's legacy of grief, by French director Arnaud Desplechin. Catherine Deneuve gives a devastating performance. Released as part of the Criterion Collection.
Find it in the catalog!

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian: A sequel to the popular 2006 family film. Ben Stiller returns, as does Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, and Owen Wilson. New to the cast is Amy Adams, in the role of Amelia Earhart.
Find it in the catalog!

Paper Heart: The jury is still out on this little-seen independent film, but fellow-blogger Danielle raved about it after seeing it this past October. For those of us who will be seeing Paper Heart for the first time on DVD, we can expect Michael Cera to be "awkward" and "uncomfortable" in all sorts of adorable ways.
Find it in the catalog!

Terminator Salvation: The fourth installment in this sci-fi franchise; with a budget of $200 million, an intense leading man, and an army of CGI Terminators. Christian Bale and Sam Worthington attempt to out-grimace each other. The results: unintentionally hilarious.
Find it in the catalog!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Free movies showing at the library in December

Come to the Dundee Township Public Library District to watch movies on the big screen for FREE! During December we are screening four movies-- two recent releases on DVD and two classics! Tickets for these movies are available at the Information Desk starting Tuesday, December 1. The audience is limited to 80 people, so don't wait to pick up tickets!

Star Trek
Thursday, December 17 at 6 PM
Doors open at 5:30 PM

Saturday, December 19 at 2 PM
Doors open at 1:30 PM

White Christmas
Tuesday, December 22 at 6 PM
Doors open at 5:30 PM

The Shop Around the Corner 
Tuesday, December 29 at 6 PM
Doors open at 5:30 PM

Movies are shown on the lower level in the Meeting Room. Free popcorn and refreshments!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Da da doo doot-n dance DVDs

A wise woman by the name of Lady Gaga once sang, "Just dance! / Gonna be okay / Da da doo doot-n." She sings the truth. You will feel better if you get up and move. Dance instruction DVDs, musicals, and movies with plot lines centered on dancers-- I dare anyone to stay seated while watching the selections from this dance-filled list.


Ballroom Basics. Volume 1, Foxtrot
DVD 793.33 BAL
Find it in the catalog!

Ballroom Basics. Volume 2, Waltz
DVD 793.33 BAL
Find it in the catalog!

Ballroom Basics. Volume 3, Tango
DVD 793.33 BAL
Find it in the catalog!

Latin Dances
DVD 793.33 LEA
Rumba, cha-cha, samba, mambo, and the tango.
Find it in the catalog!


Chicago (2002)
Based on the Broadway musical of the same name; starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta Jones (who won an Oscar for her performance), Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C. Reilly. 2003 Best Picture winner.
Find it in the catalog!

Easter Parade (1948)
Don (Fred Astaire) gets a new dance partner Hannah (Judy Garland) after his old partner Nadine (Ann Miller) goes off on her own. Also starring Peter Lawford.
Find it in the catalog!

Based on the movie that became a Broadway musical. Set in 1960s Baltimore, teenager Tracy Turnblad is excited to make it onto "The Corney Collins Show." Starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron, and Christopher Walken.
Find it in the catalog!

High School Musical series
High School Musical (1): Popular Disney made-for-TV movie that finds high school basketball player Troy (Zac Efron) and new brainy student Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) breaking the molds of their respective cliques as they audition for the school's musical. Find it in the catalog!
High School Musical 2: The students from East High School are working at a country club for the summer, where the annual talent show is approaching. Find it in the catalog!
High School Musical 3: Senior Year The students share their mixed feelings about leaving high school and friends and going to college in a spring musical. Find it in the catalog!

The Other Side of the Bed (El otro lado de la cama)
A romantic-comedy-musical about two couples who switch between different lovers. Starring Ernesto Alterio, Paz Vega, Guillermo Toledo.
Find it in the catalog!

Singin' in the Rain
The careers of matinee and silent film stars are affected during the transition from silent films to talking movies or "talkies." Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse, Douglas Fowley, and Rita Moreno.
Find it in the catalog!

West Side Story
A version of Romeo and Juliet set in New York during the 1950s. Winner of 10 Oscars in 1962, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. Starring Natalie Wood, Russ Tamblyn, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, and George Chikiris.
Find it in the catalog!


El Cantante
In 1970s New York City salsa singer Hector Lavoe rises to fame. Starring Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, and Christopher Becerra.
Find it in the catalog!

The Cheetah Girls
A singing group made up of four high school friends, dreaming of a record contract. Based on the Cheetah Girls books by Deborah Gregory. Starring Raven-Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams, and Sabrina Bryan.
Find it in the catalog!

The Cheetah Girls 2
The group travels to Barcelona, Spain, to perform at a music festival. Starring Raven-Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams, and Sabrina Bryan.
Find it in the catalog!

The Company
Behind the scenes of a dance company. Directed by Robert Altman and starring Neve Campbell, Malcolm McDowell, James Franco, and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.
Find it in the catalog!

Dirty Dancing
The teenage Baby (Jennifer Grey) vacations at a resort in the Catskills during the summer of 1963 with her parents and learns about dance and herself. Also starring Patrick Swayze and Jerry Orbach.
Find it in the catalog!

Every Little Step
A documentary that reveals the audition process for the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.
Find it in the catalog!

Alex (Jennifer Beals) holds down two jobs: she works as a welder during the day and exotic dancer at night, all the while practicing her dance skills, hoping to get into a local dance company.
Find it in the catalog!

The Full Monty
Yorkshire steelworkers lose their jobs and decide to form a male stripper group. They practice for their one-night performance, hoping to earn some money and respect. What makes their upcoming performance different from other strip shows is the fact that they will strip down to "the full monty." Starring Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, and Mark Addy.
Find it in the catalog!

Honey (Jessica Alba) teaches dance classes at a community center and hopes to one day open a dance studio for the local kids. One night her moves are noticed at a dance club and she is hired by a hip hop video director to be a dancer (and later choreographer). But does the director want her for reasons other than her talent?
Find it in the catalog!

How She Move
Raya (Rutina Wesley) leaves private school and returns to her old high school after the death of her sister and gets back into competitive step dancing.
Find it in the catalog!

Set in London during 1914, a ballet dancer Terry (Claire Bloom) is saved from suicide by music hall clown Calvero (Charlie Chaplin), who is also depressed. Calvero then helps Terry to return to dancing on the stage. Also starring Buster Keaton, Sidney Chaplin, and Nigel Bruce.
Find it in the catalog!

Saturday Night Fever
Brooklyn teenager Tony (John Travolta) looks forward to dancing at the disco each week. When he meets Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) they decide to enter into a competition together.
Find it in the catalog!

Save the Last Dance
After her mother's death, Sara (Julia Stiles) quits ballet and moves in with her father on Chicago's south side. She meets Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas), who teaches her hip hop, and a romance develops.
Find it in the catalog!

Save the Last Dance 2
A sequel to the original, with different actors. Sara is attending Julliard but conflicted about dance styles (ballet or hip hop?). Starring Izabella Miko, Columbus Short, Aubrey Dollar, Ne-Yo, and Jacqueline Bisset.
Find it in the catalog!

Shall We Dance? (1996; in Japanese with English subtitles)
Entranced by a dance instructor he sees from the subway, Japanese salaryman Sugiyama signs up for ballroom dance lessons. He keeps the lessons a secret from his wife, even though he enjoys dancing so much he begins to discreetly practice everywhere. Sugiyama discovers that his co-worker Aoki also loves ballroom dancing because of how it allows him to feel the music and become a different person.
Find it in the catalog!

Shall We Dance? (2004)
Remake of the 1996 Japanese film of the same name; a Chicago lawyer starts to take dance lessons, hiding it from his wife, who thinks he is cheating on her. Starring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon.
Find it in the catalog!

Step Up
Tyler vandalizes Maryland School of the Arts with some friends; he is the only one caught and is sentenced to community service at the school. He meets ballet dancer Nora and shows off his street dancing moves. They pair their dance styles for a routine Nora hopes to perform for her senior showcase. Starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.
Find it in the catalog!

Stomp the Yard
At Truth University in Atlanta, D.J. (Columbus Short) and his dance moves are coveted by two rival African American fraternities who hope to win the national step show competition. Also starring Meagan Good, Ne-Yo, and Darrin Henson.
Find it in the catalog!

Take the Lead
Former professional ballroom dancer Pierre (Antonio Banderas) helps teach dance in a public school in New York. After initially rejecting the ballroom dance steps the students come around to the new moves; the result is a fusion of the styles of ballroom and hip hop. Also starring Rob Brown and Alfre Woodard.
Find it in the catalog!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DOOM, Pt. 1

Underground hip-hop has an evil genius, and his name is DOOM, a/k/a King Geedorah, a/k/a MF DOOM, a/k/a Metal Face DOOM, a/k/a Metal Fingers DOOM, a/k/a Viktor Vaughn, a/k/a Zevlove X, real name Daniel Dumile (pronounced /duːməleɪ/). Part comic book villain, part doomsayer.

Dumile debuted as a guest emcee on the 3rd Bass track "The Gas Face," on their 1989 LP The Cactus Album. At that time, performing under his Zevlove X alias, he was forming a small crew of his own, known as K.M.D. (which included his brother Dingilizwe). K.M.D. released the Mr. Hood album in 1991, but the DOOM story nearly ended before it began. In 1993, Dingilizwe Dumile was killed in a traffic accident, and Elektra refused to release K.M.D.'s sophomore album, due to concerns over its cover art (depicting a "sambo" character) and militant political stance. Faced with these personal and professional crises, Dumile essentially threw in the towel, finding a legit day-job and devoting himself to raising his son.

If the story had ended there, Daniel Dumile would be little more than a footnote, a bit of trivia for hip-hop aficionados. But, in 1999, Dumile released the album Operation: Doomsday, under the newly assumed nom de guerre MF DOOM. Dumile borrowed his DOOM persona from the Marvel Comics character Dr. Doom, a Stan Lee/Jack Kirby super-villain, best remembered for his masked visage and ongoing feud with the Fantastic Four. Dumile used this startlingly off-center back-story as a point of digression; upending the late-90s fly-guy rap image by utilizing arcane pop-culture references, bizarre slang, and wicked humor. Oh, and he started wearing a mask.

Dumile's myriad DOOM-related releases, and his ever-growing list of guest appearances, can be overwhelming. For neophytes, the ideal starting point would be Madvillainy (2004), Dumile's acclaimed collaboration with hip-hop producer Madlib. The Madvillain project was DOOM at his most accessible; an oddly endearing collaboration that was widely considered one of the best albums of 2004. (Adult Swim fans may recognize the track "Money Folder" as a bumper between commercials on the Cartoon Network's late-night lineup.) And, in true Dumile fashion, even the album's cover art is a playful pop-culture homage:

That same year, the ever-more-prolific Dumile released another solo album, MM..Food? (2004). This interrogatively-titled record expanded on the DOOM mythology, while simultaneously providing enough food-obsessed couplets to satiate Alton Brown. My personal favorite food-related non-sequitur: "Ignore Cordon Bleu, stand up, get up!"

Dumile's most high-profile collaboration was The Mouse and the Mask, his 2005 record with Danger Mouse (the super-producer best known as half of the duo Gnarls Barkley). Tellingly, this record heavily samples various Adult Swim cartoons: Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Harvery Birdman, Sealab 2021, and Space Ghost. It's difficult to imagine a musical artist more perfectly suited to the Adult Swim crowd than Daniele Dumile.

Stay tuned for more DOOM arcana!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What we're listening to: Strict Joy by The Swell Season

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the members of The Swell Season, previously appeared together in the movie Once and collaborated on its accompanying soundtrack, for which they won Oscars for the song "Falling Slowly." Since the movie wrapped they became romantically involved, toured, and broke up. They are still making music together and singing about the pain that goes with relationships.

On most songs Hansard takes the lead while Irglova adds background vocals. Their voices blend so well together and really complement each other. Singing about heartbreak and loss of love, many of the songs have a lovely haunting feeling to them. A good example is the chorus of "In These Arms." This haunting quality is also present in Irglova's vocals on "Fantasy Man:" "Let's put it down to life / The story of two lovers / Who danced both edges of the knife." Another Irglova-fronted song, "I Have Loved You Wrong," is told from the point of view of a lover who messed up a relationship but still can't get her ex out of her thoughts: "...this estranged organ in my chest / Still beats for you." On "Back Broke" Hansard sings about a broken-up couple, reunited: "I came on your command / Don't give me false hope." The ominous quality to Hansard's vocals and music suggest to the listener that while he's happy to be spending time with his ex-lover, he's just going to get hurt all over again once they part. Other highlights include "Love That Conquers," and the uptempo "High Horses."

Listen to The Swell Season for yourself by placing a hold on Strict Joy:
Find it in the catalog!

The Swell Season perform at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago on December 3!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens: What did you think of the movie?

Huge thanks to everyone who came to the library to watch Monsters vs. Aliens yesterday. 63 people showed up! After the movie there was a drawing to win a Night at the Museum 2 poster.

I think my favorite part of the movie was when B.O.B. (voiced by Seth Rogen) tried to be smooth and used pick-up lines on a green jello mold. Too funny. Later in the movie B.O.B. copies Susan's break-up with her boyfriend Derek and adds his own spin on it: "Derek, you're a stupid jerk, and guess what? I've met someone else. She's lime-green, she has 14 little chunks of pineapple inside of her, and she is everything I deserve in life! I'm happy now, Derek, without you. It's over!" Monsters vs. Aliens got a ton of laughs and I'm glad everyone had a good time! I missed most of the beginning of the movie because I was making popcorn, so I think I'll have to check it out from the library in the near future!

Have you seen Monsters vs. Aliens? What did you think? If you haven't seen it yet or would like to watch it again, put a copy from the library on hold for yourself:
Find it in the catalog!

I hope we'll see everyone at one (or all) of the four movies Dundee Township Public Library District is showing in December! More on those later!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Part two of New Moon opening night recap: The wait is over

During the break between Twilight and New Moon AMC Peter was back for further audience hassling; he asked if the ending of Twilight was the same or if it had changed since the last time we watched it. Hilarious stuff! He also wanted to see who had more support, Team Edward or Team Jacob. After a short screaming match Team Edward was deemed the winner in our theater, but it sounded like a tie to my ears.

Once midnight hit the waiting still was not over, as we had to sit through trailers (seven total). The trailer for Remember Me (starring Robert Pattinson) ignited freak-outs in a majority of the audience. The audience clapped and then screamed once the trailers ended. When the Summit logo appeared people started to shush each other.

New Moon focuses on Bella's (Kristen Stewart) relationship with her newly-buff friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who turns into a werewolf when he gets angry or hunts vampires. In much of the movie Bella is in a depressed state because her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) broke up with her. When Bella spends time with Jacob she feels better and isn't so down about everything. He cares deeply for her, but Bella only likes Jacob as a friend. Bella still cannot let go of Edward. She realizes that when she behaves recklessly she is able to see and hear Edward, so she rides motorcycles and participates in other dangerous activities. When she cliff dives she sets off a chain of events that leads Edward to believe Bella is dead. He then goes to Italy to offer himself to the Volturi, a group of vampires that uphold vampire laws.

Similar to the first Twilight film, Bella's dad Charlie (Billy Burke) and her friends from Forks High School provide some nice comedic moments. In one highlight Bella sits between Mike Newton (Michael Welch) and Jacob at the movies, and each guy has his hand upturned on the armrest while she keeps her hands to herself. In another, Jessica (Anna Kendrick) explains why she does not like zombie movies. Paul, Sam, Jared, and Embry of The Wolf Pack also get some comedic jabs in, although their personalities aren't as clearly defined as those of the Cullen vampire family. I wanted to see more done with the Quileute tribe and the members who turn into werewolves (aka "The Wolf Pack"). And not because they're shirtless most of the time! The movie only briefly touches on their abilities, one of which is how they are able to read each other's minds.

There's no question who got the most screams: Jacob. His first New Moon appearance prompts Bella to say, "Hello, biceps." During the scene where Bella confronts Jacob in the rain someone in the theater even took a picture. Jokes about his bulked-up physique aside, I think Lauter gives a fantastic performance in New Moon. He is such a sweetheart to Bella; audience members went, "Aww" whenever she rejected any of his advances. I admit it: I am switching to Team Jacob after seeing Lautner's performance.

New Moon tallies*:
The number of times...
... the audience screamed: 8
... the audience clapped: 12
... Edward appears shirtless: 3
... Jacob appears shirtless: 5 or 6*
... a member of the wolf pack appears shirtless: 17
... Edward appears to be in pain: 27
... Edward smiles and/or laughs: 10
... Bella mopes and/or has nightmares: 13
... Bella is rescued: 5
... Jasper has a hilarious look on his face: 10
... Edward's image appears before Bella when she is being reckless or in danger: 15

* At certain points my pen was running out of ink and I had to go back and forth over the paper several times. Looking at my tallies now it's hard to tell where I was trying to darken one tally mark or add an additional one (it was pretty dark in the theater, okay?). Can anyone fill in the gaps to these numbers? If not, I guess I'll just have to see New Moon a second time.

The third installment in the series, Eclipse, comes to theaters June 2010!
  • The Twilight Saga: New Moon is now playing at theaters everywhere
  • 2 hours and 10 minutes; rated PG-13

Part one of New Moon opening night recap: Twilight

Last night I caught a double feature of Twilight and New Moon at the AMC in South Barrington. Several theaters in the area screened last year's Twilight at 9 PM before screening the next installment, New Moon, at midnight. In anticipation of the craziness I bought the tickets online and then picked them before the actual date of the showtime. It was a good deal to do the double feature. My friend and I got to the theater around 8:30 and saw that there were already two holding pens of Twilight fans waiting for the midnight showing, but we were able to go right into the theater. Although I've seen Twilight twice before in the theater I thought it would be fun to see it with a packed crowd of hard-core fans. I didn't see many people dressed as the characters, but plenty of fans (including myself) were wearing Twilight-related shirts.

Shortly before 9 PM an AMC employee named Peter welcomed us and then proceeded to mock our decision to see Twilight in the theater again: "Everyone feeling satisfied you paid $6 to see a movie you already own on DVD?" (screams!) Perhaps he was also trying to give the audience's lungs a workout; he mentioned something about the new Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp (more screams!), and then asked if anyone watched the TV show True Blood (screams!). He asked the audience whether Twilight or True Blood was better (indistinguishable screams!). His response: "The correct answer is True Blood."

By the time the lights went out for Twilight, the screams started up again. I heard audible gasps erupt from the audience the first time we saw the Cullens walk into the school cafeteria. The first close-up of Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) provoked the loudest screams. Interestingly enough the only other character whose appearance caused screams was Carlise (Peter Facinelli). Yep, that's right, nobody was screaming for Jacob, played by Taylor Lautner (yet).

Seeing the movie this time around I noticed things I hadn't before. On Bella's (Kristen Stewart) first day at Forks High School she gets a prime parking spot right in front of the school. Not believable! And, why doesn't Emmett Cullen (Kellan Lutz) like to sit down when he rides in cars? He always stands or crouches. Also, what's with the monkey references? Edward calls Bella a "spider-monkey" and Rosalie (Nikki Reed) refers to Emmett as her "monkey man." Furthermore, the head cocking and air sniffing that Cam Gigandet brings to the role of James is also something he used in the movie Never Back Down. Finally, while I always paid close attention to the hilarious strained looks on Jasper's (Jackson Rathbone) face, I never realized he is doing a sort of jig when he and Emmett burn the body of James in the ballet studio. Dance, Jasper, dance! Things to think about. I also kept a few tallies going during the movie:

Twilight tallies: The number of times...
... the audience screamed: 3*
... the audience clapped: 5
... Bella is helped/rescued: 5
... Jasper makes a painful face: 11
... Edward appears as if he's in pain: 38
... Edward smiles and/or laughs: 33
... there were bad special effects: 8

* I didn't start counting until after the movie began. I wish I would have kept track of all the screams during AMC Peter's "welcome."

Race to Witch Mountain: What did you think?

Thanks to the 17 people who came out to watch Race to Witch Mountain at the library last night. I think it had some cool action sequences, especially those scenes with the taxi chase. Plus, the movie had many funny moments. I think Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) is a good combination of an action and comedy star!

Have you seen Race to Witch Mountain? What did you think about it?

If you are interested in watching this movie on DVD, just place it on hold from the library:
Find it in the catalog!

Hope to see you on Saturday, when we show Monsters vs. Aliens!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The 1984 documentary Marlene is both fascinating and frustrating; an essential part of Marlene Dietrich's legacy, in which she is noticeably absent. Directed by Maximilian Schell, a renowned German actor-turned-filmmaker whom Dietrich had previously worked with on the 1961 film Judgement at Nuremberg, this is very much Marlene's show. The reclusive 81-year-old star agreed to participate in the interview process, with the substantial caveat that she not appear on film. Schell's solution was to present these interviews as the documentary audio-track, and use film stills, vintage newsreels, archival concert footage and excerpts from the films themselves as the visual corollary to the interviews. The documentary touches on Dietrich's entire filmography, from her breakout performance in The Blue Angel (1930), and continued collaboration with director Josef von Sternberg, to her Hollywood genre pictures such as Destry Rides Again (1939) and Touch of Evil (1958). The interviews themselves are legendary. Dietrich routinely ignored Schell's questions, in favor of dismissive declarations ("I was an actress. I made films. Period.") and wry assessments of her fellow performers. These evasions prove to be far more revealing than one might imagine; creating a portrait of a complex, mercurial, personality. Marlene works as an intriguing case-study in how much an iconic film star can give of herself, and how much she needs to keep.

Recently released on DVD by Kino.

Find it in the catalog!

For a look at what made Marlene Dietrich such a fascinating subject, check these out:

The Scarlet Empress (1934)
Find it in the catalog!

Destry Rides Again (1939)
Find it in the catalog!

Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Find it in the catalog!

Touch of Evil (1958)
Find it in the catalog!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What we're listening to: Lines, Vines and Trying Times by the Jonas Brothers

I checked out the Jonas Brothers' CD A Little Bit Longer earlier this year from the library, not expecting much. I actually found myself enjoying the music and eventually went out and bought my own copy. So I had to check out this album, which definitely has a more mature sound as they deal with relationships and growing up. Kevin, Joe, and Nick write and perform their own music; all the songs save two are co-written by all three brothers (Nick is the sole writer on the other two songs).

"World War III" finds the boys complaining about a girlfriend who prefers to turn everything into a fight. On "What Did I Do To Your Heart" they wonder how they could break a girl's heart when "all I do is treat you with respect / All the best and nothing less." Lines, Vines and Trying Times also features cameos that are both predictable (Miley Cyrus on "Release the Storm") and surprising (Common on "Don't Charge Me for the Crime"). My favorites off the album include "Much Better" and "Black Keys." "Much Better" sounds like something out of the '80s, with its horn section and fun refrain of "You / I wanna fight with you / Make up tonight with / You / You're much better." This song is evidence of how the Jonas Brothers' music has reached beyond teen-pop. In the linear notes for this song they explain how they wanted to share their influences of the Bee Gees and Neil Diamond. "Black Keys," written by Nick Jonas, recalls the honesty and vulnerability of "A Little Bit Longer" (also written by Nick) from last year's album of the same name. I think Nick is the stand-out of this group, and I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually went solo. In addition to his role as a songwriter he also plays guitar. And the piano. Plus the drums. Oh, and don't forget the glockenspiel. The kid is only 17!

Reserve your own copy from the library and listen to Lines, Vines and Trying Times:
Find it in the catalog!

Monday, November 16, 2009

DVDs out November 17th

Brüno: Sacha Baron Cohen, creator/star of the hit comedy Borat, is back with another satirical comedy. Cohen stars as the title character, a fictional fashionista whose resolute shallowness is used as a tool to expose the shallowness of the fashion industry itself. Like Borat, the Brüno character was originally created for Cohen's television series Da Ali G Show.
Find it in the catalog!

Is Anybody There?: A young boy raised in a hospice for the elderly is preoccupied with death. His unlikely friendship with an embittered ex-magician (played by Michael Caine) is what drives this comedy/drama.
Find it in the catalog!

My One and Only: Renee Zellweger stars as a young mother who leaves her philandering husband (played by Kevin Bacon) and goes in search of a new father for her two sons. Based on the real-life childhood experiences of actor George Hamilton.
Find it in the catalog!

My Sister's Keeper: A drama based on Jodi Picoult's bestselling novel, adapted by screenwriter Jeremy Leven (The Notebook). Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric star as parents whose daughter suffers from leukemia. Their family dynamic is profoundly tested when they conceive another daughter in an attempt at saving the first. The critics agree: Do not watch this film without a box of Kleenex nearby.
Find it in the catalog!

Star Trek: A prequel to the original Star Trek series, this 2009 adaptation features a younger crew and updated visual style. An entertaining - and occasionally touching - entry in the decades old franchise. Chris Pine stars as a young and untested Captain Kirk, but, this being Star Trek, it's all about teamwork.
Find it in the catalog!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Highlights of November movies out in theaters

Here are some movies I'm looking forward to seeing in November:

Pirate Radio (now playing): Attention Philip Seymour Hoffman fans! During the 1960s rock radio is banned in Britain and a group of DJs (including Hoffman) broadcast rock music from a ship in the Atlantic Ocean. Written and directed by Bill Curtis (Love, Actually). Also starring Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, and Kenneth Branagh.

Precious (now playing): Sapphire's book Push is the basis for this movie about an illiterate teenager who is pregnant for the second time by her father and living with an abusive mother. Comedian Mo'Nique plays the role of the mother in a performance many critics say is Oscar-worthy.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (November 20): The second novel in the popular vampire series by Stephenie Meyer comes to the screen. Teenage Bella's (Kristen Stewart) heart has been broken by her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson). She finds comfort in friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who is quite changed from how we saw him in the first movie.

Me and Orson Welles (November 25 in limited release): Teenage Richard (Zac Efron) is a last minute addition to the Orson Welles Mercury Theater Company's stage production of Julius Caesar in 1937. Claire Danes is the older woman he falls for and Christian McKay plays Orson Welles.

The Road (November 25): Based on the postapocolyptic novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, The Road stars Viggo Mortenson as a father traveling with his son through an eerily isolated and lifeless American landscape. My brother informs me that based on the trailer, "The movie looks exactly like the book."

What are some recently released or soon to be released movies you look forward to seeing?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mini-series to watch: Into the West

Recently, the cable channel TNT re-aired the 2005 mini-series Into the West. November being Native American Heritage Month, and since we're nearing Thanksgiving, I understand why TNT decided to re-run this enlightening series. A huge ensemble cast (Matthew Settle, Keith Carradine, Irene Bedard, Graham Greene, Skeet Ulrich, Keri Russell, the list goes on . . .) portrays the story that alternately follows a white family venturting out West, and the Native Americans already populating the region. Jacob Wheeler (played by Matthew Settle and John Terry) and Loved By The Buffalo (played by Simon Baker and Steve Reevis) seem to be the characters which all others basically revolve. Decades are spanned as characters experience struggle, betrayal, death and, occasionally, joy.

Unfortunately, some of the storylines do fall flat. The series tries to cover all angles: an African American family travels with the group of settlers out West and a Chinese immigrant helps to build the railroad. Of course, these things did happen, but they're a bit contrived and too insignificant in the plot to truly be representative of those particular expierences. The series' strong points lie in the portrayal of the conflict between white men and Native Americans. Ultimately, it is a fairly balanced look at the era in American history; not all white settlers were greedy opportunists and not all Native Americans were violent and opposed to outsider influence.

The miniseries is comprised of 6 episodes (approximately 90 mintues each) on 4 discs.
Find it in the catalog!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Search the catalog for New Moon items

We are in the last week of counting down to the midnight premiere of The Twilight Saga: New Moon on November 20. Here are a couple new Twilight-related additions to Dundee's catalog of items that you probably want to place on hold before the waiting list gets too long!

New Moon: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The soundtrack to the first Twilight film was hugely successful and included bands that inspired Stephenie Meyer during the process of writing the Twilight series. This time around all the featured songs are originals written for the film. Death Cab for Cutie's "Meet Me on the Equinox" immediately transports you to the moody Twilight world of vampires, werewolves, and teenage-angst. The soundtrack also includes songs from Thom Yorke, the Killers, Muse, Band of Skulls, Lykke Li, Anya Marina, and more.  No songs are contributed from actor Robert Pattinson, however.
Find it in the catalog!

Whether you're on Team Edward or Team Jacob you'll want to check out New Moon: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz. This book contains color photos from the movie plus information about the making of New Moon. And after looking at the photos I'd say Jasper's facial expressions in this movie are even more hilarious than the ones featured in Twilight. Don't worry-- the book includes plenty of photos of Taylor Lauter's biceps to go around, too.
Find it in the catalog!

Alice and Emmett Cullen in the suburbs!

Next week Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen) and Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen) from the Twilight films will be appearing in the suburbs at the Hollywood Palms Cinema and Hollywood Blvd Cinema.

Friday, November 20
4-9 PM: Ashley Greene at Hollywood Blvd Cinema
6:50-9:50 PM: Kellan Lutz at Hollywood Palms Cinema

Saturday, November 21
11AM-3:30 PM: Ashley Greene at Hollywood Palms Cinema
4-10 PM: Kellan Lutz at Hollywood Blvd Cinema

Sunday, November 22
12-6 PM: Ashley Greene at Hollywood Palms Cinema
12-6 PM: Kellan Lutz at Hollywood Blvd Cinema

For tickets and more information visit

Naperville, IL

Woodridge, IL

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Upcoming CD releases from American Idol alumni

Some of the most unique and creative singers to perform on American Idol are releasing CDs within the next month. Kris Allen, last season's winner, releases his self-titled debut November 17. I'm excited to see that his album includes his cover of Kanye West's "Heartbreaker" as a bonus track! Adam Lambert, the season 8 runner-up, releases his CD, For Your Entertainment, on November 23. And last but not least, Allison Iraheta's Just Like You comes out December 1. For their originality in song arrangement and just being crazy-talented, Allen, Lambert, and Iraheta were my favorite three contestants from season 8. They took risks with their song choices and made the songs their own.

Jason Castro, from season 7, releases his debut on January 26, 2010. Many fans remember his versions of songs like "Hallelujah," "What a Day for a Daydream," and Mariah Carey's "I Don't Wanna Cry" (one of my favorite Idol performances ever).

Other CDs by former American Idol contestants that have already been released:
Heartbreak on Vinyl by Blake Lewis
Christmas from the Heart by David Archuleta
Play On from Carrie Underwood

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book to Film: Dick Powell's Marlowe

Hollywood was good to Raymond Chandler, but not always so good to Phillip Marlowe. Chandler, the middle-aged crime novelist, found creative success and financial security as a screenwriter, making a niche for himself in a competitive environment that valued his talent and was willing to tolerate - and often accommodate - his severe alcoholism and frequent bouts with depression. Marlowe, the tough-talking, hard-living private detective, didn't always fare so well. Of the seven completed novels that feature Phillip Marlowe, all have been adapted for film and/or television. These adaptations are of wildly varying quality; some inspired, some pointless.

The most enduring of these adaptations is, without doubt, The Big Sleep. Humphrey Bogart, one of Hollywood's greatest and most-beloved actors, gave an iconic performance as Marlowe in the 1946 Howard Hawks picture. His performance in many ways established the "tough guy" template that countless Hollywood actors (and some actresses) would follow. But, the Marlowe of the The Big Sleep has more in common with Bogart's earlier private detective role, that of Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. He takes a beating and gets double-crossed, but without an appreciable change in his demeanor. As novelist/critic Megan Abbott writes: Bogart's Marlowe "is a man who remains consistently in control of himself and the situations in which he finds himself. This Marlowe bears minimal relation to the hero of Chandler's novels." Two years earlier, audiences had seen a very different Marlowe.

Dick Powell was a popular song-and-dance man who had distinguished himself in a number of Hollywood musicals (Gold Diggers of 1933, On The Avenue), but by the early 1940s he wanted to expand his range. He accomplished this transition with his lead role in the 1944 adaptation of Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely. (Powell was so identified with musicals that producers changed the film's title to Murder, My Sweet, so movie-goers would know not to expect a light-hearted romp.)

Powell's voice-over narration, lifted entirely from Chandler's work, is an essential component of the film's success. The ensemble cast, which includes Claire Trevor as the predatory Helen Grayle, Esther Howard as an alcoholic widow, and Mike Mazurki as the hulking Moose Malloy, add depth - and, in Esther Howard's case, pathos - to characters that could easily have been painted in broad strokes. But what makes Murder, My Sweet truly distinctive is the vulnerability of the film's protagonist, the extent to which he can be affected by the predatory characters he encounters. In an extended, and at the time unprecedented, sequence in the film, we witness Marlowe's disorientation after being poisoned and imprisoned. Marlowe struggles to get dressed, overpowers a guard, and clumsily makes his escape. When confronted by his captor, he waves a gun, struggles to remain standing, and nonsensically declares: "I want to go dance in the foam. I hear the banshees calling."

I would argue that Dick Powell's Marlowe is not only the more accurate portrayal of Chandler's private detective, but also the more interesting performance. There are moments in Murder, My Sweet where Powell and the character he's playing are beautifully symbiotic. I'm thinking of the light little dance he does on the marble floor of the Grayle house, seemingly for his own sardonic amusement. You won't find that in the novel, but the spontaneous irony of that moment is very Marlowe.

To his credit, Powell continued to challenge himself professionally. His subsequent roles were weightier, often in crime melodramas. One particularly noteworthy performance was in Pitfall (1948), a powerful What's-behind-the-American-dream? film starring Jane Wyatt and noir icon Lizabeth Scott. In the 1950s he began working behind the camera, directing several films with Robert Mitchum in the lead role, among them The Enemy Below (1957), considered a classic in the submarine/underwater combat genre.

Find it in the catalog!

For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend the essay "Nothing You Can't Fix": Screening Marlowe's Masculinity by Megan E. Abbott.

Monday, November 9, 2009

DVDs out November 10th

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard: A new comedy from the producers of Step Brothers and Talladega nights. Jeremy Piven (Entourage) stars as a foul-mouthed car salesman attempting to save his dealership from bankruptcy. The real attraction here is the supporting cast, which includes Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Ving Rhames, and Craig Robinson.
Find it in the catalog!

The Ugly Truth: A battle-of-the-sexes comedy from the director of Legally Blonde. Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler find "true love." Which takes about 96 minutes.
Find it in the catalog!

Up: The star of this week's new release lineup, Pixar's Up is an exceptional family film that easily stands up to the hype surrounding it. The 3-D animation is impressive, the characters are compassionately drawn, but what you'll really be left talking about is the evocative opening montage.
Find it in the catalog!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Silent film and live music at the Chicago Cultural Center

The 1920 silent film The Golem: How He Came into the World - considered a masterpiece of German Expressionism - will be screened Friday at the Chicago Cultural Center. Accompanying music will be performed live by The Fulcrum Point New Music Project. The score is a new work by Israeli composer Betty Olivero.

This event is FREE.

Friday, Nov 6, 7 pm

Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., Claudia Cassidy Theater
Chicago, IL 60602

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What we're listening to...

Now & Forever: The Hits by TLC

This CD brings together hit singles and an unreleased track from the R&B trio TLC. TLC is a girl group unlike any other. Each member has her own distinct sound; to hear a group change up a song's vibe several times within the course of three or four minutes is awesome. T-Boz's vocals are raspy and soulful, Left Eye raps with a hyperactive intensity, and Chilli contributes smooth and seductive vocals.

Not only is TLC's sound very unique, but for me their music is definitive of the '90s and early '00s. You can practically see the neon-colored outfits while listening to early hits like "Hat 2 Da Back," "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" and "What About Your Friends" from their 1992 album Oooooooh!... On the TLC Tip. TLC's more grown-up sound and image are reflected in cuts including "Creep," "Red Light Special," and "Waterfalls" from 1994's CrazySexyCool. I remember those songs dominating radio stations and the music videos, especially "Waterfalls," airing continuously on MTV (does that make me old if I can remember watching music videos on MTV?). 1999's FanMail brought the even more ubiquitous singles of "No Scrubs" and "Unpretty." I remember sitting in my sophomore English class when out of nowhere we heard a girl loudly singing "No Scrubs" in the hallway. That song was absolutely inescapable. This collection also includes songs from 3D, released in 2002 not long after the death of member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who is irreplaceable.

Definitely check this CD out. You can hear R&B/pop fused with rap on plenty of songs on the radio today, usually featuring guest rappers or vocalists. Those songs don't hold a candle to the "CrazySexyCool" sound of the three women of TLC that joins together R&B, rap, pop, and soul.

Find it in the catalog!

Monday, November 2, 2009

DVDs out November 3rd

Aliens in the Attic: A family friendly sci-fi/comedy. Worth watching for the slapstick involving a smarmy boyfriend forced - via remote control - to beat himself up and generally humiliate himself. Stars: Ashley Tisdale and Saturday Night Live alumni Tim Meadows and Kevin Nealon.
Find it in the catalog!

Food, Inc.: An acclaimed exposé of America's industrialized food system. An important - and harrowing - documentary film.
Find it in the catalog!

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: An effects-heavy update of the popular 1980s animated television series. Stars: Channing Tatum as Duke and Christopher Eccleston as the villainous Destro. Surprisingly, this movie does not star Megan Fox.
Find it in the catalog!

I Love You, Beth Cooper: An adaptation of Larry Doyle's high-school bildungsroman. Starring Hayden Pannettiere (NBC's Heroes).
Find it in the catalog!

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3: A remake of the 1974 crime thriller; Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw having been replaced with Denzel Washingon and John Travolta. A fun, albeit gentrified, take on the original. James Gandolfini gives a fine performance as the New York City Mayor.
Find it in the catalog!

For the earlier, grittier - and frankly better - version of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3:
Find it in the catalog!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Moon premiere-planning madness

The premiere of The Twilight Saga: New Moon is 18 days away and we Twilight fans must figure out our premiere plans, if we haven't already!

Several theaters are showing last year's Twilight before the midnight premiere of New Moon. Local theaters where you can catch this double feature include AMC South Barrington, Marcus Elgin Fox Ultrascreen Theatre, Kerasotes Lake in the Hills Theatre, and the Streets of Woodfield. Other theaters are taking the Twilight madness a step farther. The Pickwick Theatre in Park Ridge is offering the Twilight/New Moon package deal. It's only $25 for admission to Twilight (9 PM) and New Moon (Midnight), a drink, popcorn, and souvenir New Moon cup. Plus, you get free refills on pop and popcorn. And. And! November 20 and 21 they will celebrate the premiere with Twilight celebrities. So far Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen) is the first cast member announced as attending. For more information see the Pickwick Theatre website. And if you were just interested in seeing New Moon at the Pickwick, it's only $7 (Twilight is $5)! Try to find a cheaper opening night admission price than that!

There's more! On November 10 Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen) will be appearing at the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora. They will do a Q & A with fans. Fans who lined up at the mall's Hot Topic store yesterday at 8 AM were given wristbands (and also had to buy a $30 New Moon tour t-shirt) so they could receive one of 500 autographed posters.

Do you have New Moon premiere plans?

UPDATE (Nov. 12): The Twilight Premiere Party and Kellan Lutz's appearances schedule for November 20-21 at the Pickwick Theatre have been cancelled. The Twilight/New Moon package deal is still available for the midnight premiere. $5 for Twilight and $7 for New Moon! $25 for the complete package!