Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New York Public Library's "Mad Men" Reading List

If you are a dedicated fan of AMC's Mad Men (and I'm just going to assume that you are), you know that the characters frequently reference books and films specific to the show's 1960s milieu. One of the more notable examples would be Don Draper's  moving voice-over recitation of a poem by Frank O'Hara in the second season. But even the more casual glimpses of what books the characters are interested in can be revealing. Don's daughter, Sally, reads age-appropriate Nancy Drew mysteries. Bert Cooper, not surprisingly, extols the virtues of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's 1100-page love letter to the free market. The ladies of the secretarial pool whisper about Lady Chatterley's Lover, the genuinely racy D.H. Lawrence novel that was the subject of an influential obscenity trial in 1959. These are just a few of the many literary works that have been spotted on Mad Men. And, for that reason, we can thank the fine librarians at the New York Public Library for compiling a fairly extensive list of the books cited throughout the show's run. Needless to say, you can search our catalog for any of the titles that interest you.

The 'Mad Men' Reading List - New York Public Library

Friday, March 16, 2012

Get your Irish on

Get your Irish on with some films and music from the library. I highly recommend the Magdalene Sisters and Once.

Hunger (see Heather's post about Michael Fassbender)

To also get you in the Irish mood, try one of our CDs:
The Red Crow - Altan 
Believe - Celtic Woman
Leahy - Leahy
Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band - Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band 
Multiple albums - The Pogues

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!: The Films of Michael Fassbender

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, check out a film by Ireland's finest countryman- Michael Fassbender: 

300 (2006):  Does the thought of lots of ancient Greeks and Persians fighting sound like fun?  Then you are the perfect audience for this movie.  Warning though, you'll probably feel really self-conscious about your abs after watching it.

Angel (2007):  This is definitely a strange movie to watch.  It reminded me of a melodrama from the 1940s.  There's lots of lavish scenery and swelling music, but with an unlikeable protagonist, Angel- a snotty and overly self-assured romance author.  Fassbender plays Esmé- a struggling  and self-involved artist with gold-digger tendencies.  

Hunger (2008):  Fassbender gives an impressive performance as IRA prisoner Bobby Sands who goes on a hunger strike.  This is a pretty brutal movie to watch, but a good one.  Director Steve McQueen (not of Bullitt fame) also worked with Fassbender on Shame

Fish Tank (2009): In this gritty, British slice-of-life drama, Fassbender plays Connor, the boyfriend of Mia's (the protagonist) mother and the only person whom seems to look out for Mia.  Connor does some detestable things in the movie, but Fassbender brings out the charismatic and sympathetic elements of the character too.

Inglourious Basterds (2009):  Quentin Tarantino's World War II masterpiece.  Fassbender plays a Scotch-drinking British film critic turned spy against the Germans.  If you only have time to watch one Fassbender movie, this is the best!

Centurion (2010):  If 300 didn't give you enough a chance to ogle Fassbender's abs, here's your second chance. Evidentially ancient warriors were allergic to shirts. 

Jonah Hex (2010):   I haven't seen this, so no word on whether it's so bad it's good...or just sleep inducing.  Definitely not the best movie with Fassbender and Christoph Waltz though.

Jane Eyre (2011): Fans of the book may prefer the BBC version, because it is a more faithful adaptation.  But this adaptation has the handsomest Rochester ever. 

X-Men: First Class (2011):  This is a well-done adaptation of a comic book.  But more importantly- it has Fassbender and James McAvoy in one movie!  Now if only they could make an Austen adaptation together!

Coming Soon: A Dangerous Method (2011).  David Croenberg's drama about Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Jung (Fassbender).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The movies that got away

The Oscar's underwhelmed this year, and for me it was because none of the movies I liked from 2011 were nominated in the major categories. There were enjoyable moments throughout the broadcast, and Billy Crystal can be funny, but when he made the bar mitzvah and Flomax jokes, I inwardly groaned. The Oscars seem to be becoming irrelevant. Case in point: when the biggest surprise of the evening is that Meryl Streep won, we've got a problem. The highlight of my night was when Bret McKenzie (one-half of the brilliant Flight of the Conchords) picked up the Best Original Song Oscar. The Best Original Song award was my highlight, people! So, the Academy needs to find the fine line between good and popular and walk it with expertise. They won't always get it right and they will still take slack for not recognizing the more popular fare (such as Bridesmaids), but I do believe they try to select the best of the bunch, unlike other award shows which will remain nameless.

Okay, back to the point, the nature of art is that it is subjective, so here is my list of films from the past decade or so that I wished had been nominated in the major categories. Here goes ...