Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What We've Been Listening To: Admiral Fell Promises by Sun Kil Moon

Find it in the Catalog!

I am a big fan of Sun Kil Moon's previous albums, especially April.  Mastermind Mark Kozelek makes really pretty, melancholy music that is tranquil enough to play as background music for a dinner party, but complex enough to warrant listening to with headphones on.  Admiral Fell Promises is probably the barest and most delicate work by Kozelek yet.  The first few times I listened to the record, I thought the album was beautiful but excessively chill.  Then I turned up the volume about ten notches and was thoroughly impressed by Kozelek's guitar work and the album as a whole.

Admiral Fell Promises is a spare album; it's pretty much an hour of Kozelek's vocals and classical Spanish style guitar work.  Kozelek plays alone (all alone).  This sparsity makes the album perfect cold weather listening; in fact, it stayed in my car stereo pretty much all winter long.  However, Kozelek does manages to incorporate some warmth and brightness into the album, particularly in the almost joyful "You are My Sun."  So the album will probably hold up for some of the more bittersweet days of spring and summer too.

Standout tracks: "Ã…lsund", the aforementioned  "You are my Sun," "Admiral Fell Promises," and closer "Bay of Skulls."

Recommended for fans of:  Red House Painters, Jose Gonzalez, and the Kings of Convenience.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Doc Martin

My British obsession continues ... I have recently gotten hooked on the drama/comedy Doc Martin about a cranky doctor (Martin Clunes) that leaves his London surgeon gig to become the GP in small (fictional) town Portwenn, Cornwall, England. The idyllic setting contrasts with the eccentric, and often needy, characters that interact with the Doc. It's not just a place where everybody knows your name, but also your business. (If you're a fan of Northern Exposure you'll recognize the similarities: successful doctor goes to small town to practice, kooky characters, love interests that can't quite get it together, there's even a radio DJ on both shows.) Sort-of medical mysteries (not quite on par with House, though) are the general formula for each episode. However, this does not tire as it is the relationships that are the real emphasis.

Although the Doc is lacking a decent bedside manner, he is an earnest and talented doctor and comes through when it really matters. The local school teacher Louisa (Catherine Catz) recognizes this, and despite their first encounter, they quickly form a friendship and an awkward romance develops. Martin's Aunt Joan (Stephanie Cole) is also in his corner, whom he used to visit in Portwenn as a child. As the seasons progress you come to understand why Martin is so prickly (case in point: season two episode "The Family Way " where Martin's estranged parents come to visit and his mother has a very frank and brutal conversation with him).

Check out another great show from across the pond. Enjoy the quirky characters and the beautiful scenery.

Seasons 1-4
Find them in the catalog!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: 1932 - 2011

Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away this morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was 79. Considered by many to be the last link to Hollywood's so-called Golden Age, the much-loved actress led a passionate life both on and off screen. Married eight times (twice to actor Richard Burton), Taylor's personal life was often as melodramatic as that of the movie heroines she portrayed.

Elizabeth Taylor was quite literally raised in public; from her child acting days in Lassie Come Home and National Velvet, to her acclaimed performance opposite Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun, to her mature, complex performance as "Maggie the Cat" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. By the early 1960s, she was Hollywood royalty, commanding a cool $1 million dollars for her role as Cleopatra in the opulent 20th Century Fox biopic. Her gritty performance in the 1966 Edward Albee adaptation Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is, without question, one of the most fearless onscreen performances I have ever seen.

Taylor was twice awarded the Best Actress statuette by the Academy (for her performances in Butterfield 8 and Virginia Woolf). In 1992, she received the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award for her HIV/AIDS advocacy. Taylor was a notable gay rights activist, consistently stressing the point that the struggle for gay rights is the struggle for human rights. More than a mere actress, or one of the "most beautiful" women in the world, she was also a fiercely loyal friend and an advocate for those that society at large was not yet ready to help.

Selected film highlights:

Under Milk Wood (1971)

The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Cleopatra (1963)

Butterfield 8 (1960)

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

Giant (1956)

A Place in the Sun (1951)

Father of the Bride (1950)

Little Women (1949)

National Velvet (1944)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Young & The Restless: Pizza Summit!!

Tuesday, March 22, the Dundee Library's 20s and 30s group will meet for a gloriously indulgent celebration of pizza. We will sample different types of pizza - all of it delicious - from various local pizzerias. Come prepared to sample these succulent slices and share your thoughts on that most wonderful of all foods. Register for this event on the library homepage, or give us a call at 847-428-3661, ext. 308.

Date: 3/22/2011
Time: 7 PM - 8:30 PM
Location: Library Meeting Room, Lower Level

You might consider priming yourself for this event by checking out chow.com's great pizza moments in film. This hilariously inclusive list covers such disparate films as The Bicycle Thief, Dog Day Afternoon, Saturday Night Fever, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Wayne's World. All of which are available at your local library, natch.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Actor to Watch: Andrew Garfield

He may be sensitive, British and have wonderfully fwoopy hair, but Andrew Garfield is more likely to garner comparisons to a lovable fawn than Robert Pattinson.  Garfield is more charmingly gawky than smoldering.  He also has one of the most impressive film resumes around, especially considering he is only in his mid-twenties.

Garfield's first big role was in 2007's Boy A, where he played Jack Burridge, a rehabilitated young man who committed a horrible crime as a child.  It would be easy to demonize Jack, but Garfield's portrayal makes you root for the troubled young man.  Garfield does a great job of showing the difficulty Jack has adjusting to society and everyday life after basically growing up in a prison.  Post- Boy A, Garfield shined in supporting roles in films like Lions for Lambs and the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which gave him the opportunity to act against heavyweights like Robert Redford, Heath Ledger, and Christopher Plummer.  Last year, Garfield played Eduardo Saverin (Marc Zuckerberg's long suffering best friend and Facebook co-founder) in the Social Network; his performance received a nomination for a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe.   

Next-up, Garfield will take on the role of Spider-Man in the Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) directed The Amazing Spider-Man.  Personally, I'm not all that crazy about superhero pictures (minus the original Iron Man), but I have high hopes for any movie with both Garfield and Emma Stone!

Check out one of Andrew Garfield's films:  

Boy A (2007).

Lions for Lambs (2007).
Cast against type, Garfield plays a cocksure frat boy who stopped attending his Poly-Sci class even though his professor is a charismatic, Chambray-sporting Robert Redford. 

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009).
A funny performance as a theater geek named Anton who has a crush on Doctor Parnassus's scrumptious daughter Valentina (Lily Cole). 

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009).
Garfield plays perpetually shirtless ace reporter Eddie Dunford, who attempts to take on the corrupt Yorkshire police and track down a serial killer.

I'm Here (2010). 
This Spike Jonze-directed short film stars Garfield as a robot who listens to Sleigh Bells and falls in love with a lady robot.  So many great things packed into a 30 minute film!

Never Let Me Go (2010).
An English room boarding drama mixed with a sci-fi dystopia.  It didn't quite live up to Ishiguro book or the stellar cast, but I still cried for the last fifteen minutes (and not just because of what they did to his hair!).

The Social Network (2010).
My pick for the best movie of last year.  It's smart, both tense and hilarious, almost as quotable as Anchorman, and has great performances all around. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Get stuck in "The Middle"

The Middle is a comedy about the Heck family set in the small town of Orson, Indiana. The characters are among my favorite on TV, and the cast is extremely talented and funny. Parents Frankie (Patricia Heaton), a car salesperson, and Mike (Neil Flynn), manager of a limestone quarry, face the everyday madness and exhaustion of raising three kids. Sixteen-year-old Axl (Charlie McDermott) lounges around the house in his boxers and is in a phase where "everyone and everything is lame." Even though he is almost always picking on his younger siblings, he occasionally shows how much he cares for them-- giving Sue his old football jersey, or telling Brick how much he loves him when he briefly loses him in a corn maze. Thirteen-year-old Sue (Eden Sher) is in junior high and very enthusiastic about school clubs, even though she never makes the cut. A running joke throughout the series is how nobody, from teachers to fellow students, is able to remember her. Eden Sher does a great job of portraying Sue's awkwardness, and you can't help but admire her positive attitude and root for her. Nine-year-old Brick (Atticus Shaffer) is happiest buried in a book and doesn't try to hide or apologize for his antisocial personality. "Okay. I'm done talking to you now," he tells a boy his age. He often whispers the last word of a sentence to himself, which everyone else finds really weird but he thinks is soothing (soothing!).

In one of the special features, "Raising a Sitcom Family," co-creators Eileen Heisler & DeAnn Heline talk about how the show is their "love letter to the Midwest." I think they did a great job on these season 1 episodes. Axl, Sue, and Brick actually look like kids you'd see in the neighborhood. Their near constant bickering is almost too real, as it reminds me of when I fought with my younger sister and brother over the tiniest things. I love Mike's honest reactions to the often ridiculous drama of teenagers. The relationship between Frankie and Mike is great to watch because unlike many shows where the husband and wife whine about each other's shortfalls, this is a marriage where they try to solve problems together. I also appreciate the details in the show's set design, with its messy kitchen table and counters. You know, I think it is the messiness of The Middle that makes the show so easy to relate to and so entertaining to watch. If you haven't already checkout out this show, now in its second season on ABC, I recommend you watch these season 1 episodes!

The Middle - Season 1
Find it in the catalog!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Movies playing in March at the Dundee Library

Hud (not rated)
Thursday, March 17 at 6 PM
Catch a Classic at the Library: Paul Newman Films
Attend one of our classic screenings and see for yourself how nothing compares to watching movie stars such as Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, or James Dean on the big screen. In our classic film series for March through May, we are focusing on the career of Paul Newman. Newman received a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Hud Bannon in the 1963 film Hud. Melvyn Douglas won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Patricia Neal won for Best Actress, and James Wong Howe won for Best Cinematography (black and white).

Shrek Forever After (PG)
Saturday, March 19 at 2 PM
The fourth and final installment in the Shrek series.

The Social Network (PG-13)
Wednesday, March 23 at 6 PM
Named best film of the year by countless critics associations, from the Chicago Film Critics Association to the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association, and one of ten Best Picture nominees at this year's Academy Awards. The Social Network took home Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), Best Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), and Best Editing. Featuring award-worthy performances from up-and-coming actors Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Armie Hammer.

Just for Teens: Spring Break Movie Marathon
Monday, March 28 at 1:30 PM
Watch 3 movies recently released on DVD, answer movie trivia, and eat popcorn! Vote for which movies you want to watch on the Teen Blog or fill out a voting slip from the book display in the teen department.