MCPL Sights and Sounds

America in Primetime

"I think we are in a, indeed in a golden age of television. I think TV today, pound for pound, storytelling-wise is more interesting, dare I say it, than Hollywood movies."

Vince Gilligan , Producer, Breaking Bad

I stumbled across part 4 of this PBS documentary when I saw that they were featuring a segment including one of my favorite television characters- Omar Little  from The Wire.  This was episode 4- The Crusaders and the entire hour was engaging.  Other characters discussed in this episode include Hawkeye from MASH, Dr. Gregory House of House MD and Det. Frank Pembleton from Homicide: Life on the Street,  all characters whom I have found interesting. This part of the documentary examined characters who live by their own moral code and how that affected their lives. It also discussed why these types of characters are popular in American culture.

America in Primetime is a documentary focusing on the most compelling current shows on television, while looking at their evolution through the history of tv. It is comprised of four one hour episodes, each focusing on a very specific character type in television: the Independent Woman, the Man of the House, the Misfit, and the Crusader. These archetypes are discussed by the actors who play the characters, as well as the writers, creators and producers of the various shows. Characters discussed range from Mary Richards (the Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Jackie Peyton (Nurse Jackie) to Gomez Addams (the Addams Family) and Walter White (Breaking Bad). It's fascinating to hear the actors' insight into the characters they play, as well as the love they have for the characters they have created. The documentary also provides a unique way to look at the history of American television- through the creation and development of beloved (and sometimes hated) characters.  

Benji

ImageBenji is a new ESPN documentary covering the legendary rise and fall of high school basketball star Benjamin Wilson. In 1984 Benjamin "Benji" Wilson was ranked as the number one high school basketball player for that year. There seemed to be no doubt about his ability to succeed as one of the greatest basketball players of that time.

Having grown up on the tough streets of Chicago's south side, Wilson faced formidable challenges such gang violence, drugs and poverty. Despite it all, it was rumored that Bob Knight had traveled to Illinois to recruit the teen for Indiana University. As you could imagine there were many other competitive offers. All seemed well as Wilson was set to go to college and perhaps end up in the NBA but all the changed on November 20th, 1984.

This is a documentary takes you on a trip down memory lane as you go back in time to the 1960's. If you love basketball and its rich history, then you'll love this documentary. The ending is both sad and hopeful. The library has one copy of Benji available for check-out.

Allegro Non Troppo

ISBN: 
037429186527

Almost all of us are familiar with Walt Disney's Fantasia. The premise of this movie was simple to state if not to carry out; turn a group of Disney animators loose interpreting classical music into a vibrate visual style. Walt Disney animators did this with elegance and style.

Enter Italian film producer Bruno Bozzetto. He gives us a fictional director who aspires to share with us his truly original idea; to take classical music and force an animator he has kept locked away for years upon classical music and interpret it into a vibrate visual style. Read more »

Chronicle

ISBN: 
024543767770

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 »

Bronson

ISBN: 
876964002752

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

ImageBernie 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.

 

My Personal Top Ten + list of "must see" Holiday Films.

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

Image"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

ISBN: 
876964004671
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.

Crossroads

ISBN: 
9781404954687

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 »

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