SELMA - Because They Marched

SELMA the movie, is up for Academy Awards 2015.
The story began over 50 years ago.
I was twelve years old when the Selma story was taking place in 1965.
My father was a Lutheran Campus Pastor, and my mother was a "Social Problems" Lecturer, at Mankato State University in Minnesota.
Pope John XXIII had convened "Vatican II", creating momentous changes within the Catholic Church.
Many people felt compelled to support and participate in the changes and history was being documented.

History is an amazing thing, and witnessing legends decades later is a moving opportunity.
The subject is especially timely when it falls during African-American History Month.
I find movies, documentaries and youth non-fiction overviews to be my favorite way to review and remember.
If you also like to research an era, surrounding a major movie, the following lists are some my recommendations on this era:

From the DVD Movie Collection:
SELMA
SISTERS Of SELMA: Bearing Witness For Change, includes first person interviews of participants in the civil rights movement, and the march from Selma to Montgomery.
FREEDOM RIDERS, "an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth" ... "personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds."

From the Youth Collection:
BECAUSE THEY MARCHED: The People's Campaign For Voting Rights That Changed America, a new journalistic book covering the movement.
SELMA, LORD, SELMA a DVD movie, through the eyes of a child.
FREEDOM WALKERS: The Story Of The Montgomery Bus Boycott, the movement that produced a famous icon in Rosa Parks.
RUBY BRIDGES, a film of Ruby Bridge's story of integrating a grade school in New Orleans.

Significant biographies of little-known people who practiced for change:
The GIRL FROM The TAR PAPER SCHOOL: Barbara Rose Johns, a story that signifies common experiences leading up to the Civil Rights Movement.
CHILD Of The CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, Paula Young Shelton remembers the time.
AS FAST AS WORDS COULD FLY, a story based on personal experience of the author's father, Mason Steele.
The SCHOOL Is NOT WHITE! The Carter family stuggles to integrate an all-white school in Drew, Mississippi, in 1965.
LITTLE ROCK GIRL 1957 Nine African-American students made history when they defied a governor and integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957.
THROUGH MY EYES Ruby Bridges recounts the story of her involvement, as a six-year-old, in the integration of her school in New Orleans in 1960.

Chef on DVD

Jon Favreau directs and stars in Chef. In the film, Chef Carl Casper loses his restaurant job with help from a public scene that goes viral. He is struggling with finding time for his son while dealing with his ex-wife. He longs to cook creatively and finds himself in a rut. Casper eventually gets talked into heading to Miami to open up his own food truck making his own food his own way.

The truck ends up on a road trip across America with Carl, his son, and his soux chef played by John Leguizamo. The film is funny, touching, and foodilicious! Bring on the Cuban street food! The film also stars: Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, and Amy Sedaris. Fun!

TV Spotlight: The Fall

Another great police drama on BBC and Netflix, The Fall stars Gillian Anderson (Scully!) as cool DSI Stella Gibson, who is called in to help investigate a murder in Belfast. The murder is linked to possible political corruption, and she ends up sticking around to track down the killer of an inevitable string of serial murders of women. It was creepily entertaining to watch her investigation take place as the killer walked around a free man plotting his next kill after tucking his kids into bed at night.

Two seasons of The Fall have aired, and while the creator hasn’t formally announced a third season, they’re pretty confident it’s going to happen. And I hope so, because season two ended with such a cliff hanger. Check out The Fall if you’re into cop shows or well produced British television.

Birdman

Critically acclaimed and nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Birdman stars Michael Keaton as Riggan, a washed up actor best known for playing the superhero Birdman a decade ago. He struggles in relationships with his ex-wife and daughter and is caught up in trying to revive his career by writing, directing and staring in a broadway production, which is a huge undertaking for him. Add the fact that Riggan is haunted by the voice of Birdman who taunts him for being washed up and no good, and it’s a huge weight upon Riggan’s shoulders, and he does not handle it well.

The film is very dark, but has its funny moments. Keaton’s performance is phenomenal and worth the viewing - he's at his best here. What I found most intriguing is the fact that the film is shot almost entirely as one continuous take. It sounds like it would be tedious, but it works really well in this film, and it allows us to get closer to Riggan and his fading stability.

Birdman received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and acting nominations for Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone. It was also nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, where Keaton won Best Actor.

TV Shows! One Case, All Discs.

Many of the television shows that are popping up the in catalog may be series or seasons you’ve seen or heard of before, but the good news is that the complete season of the series is in one case and there’s an extended check out period! So there’s no juggling your holds list making sure you get disc 2 before disc 3 of that show you’re dying to see what happens next on. Some are Blu-ray, some are DVD.

This is a great opportunity to binge on some shows you may have missed out on, not had time to watch yet, or just need to see again. Shows like Seinfeld, Six Feet Under, Doctor Who, Northern Exposure, The Good Wife, Battlestar Gallactica, Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls, Freaks and Geeks, and many more. So many shows! Check out the list for more shows featuring complete season sets. Something in the collection is sure to help you get through February.

Blind Date with a Book at your library!

Looking for a good book to read?

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, why not go on a blind date with a book?! Over the next three weeks, you’ll see displays at all the AADL locations (usually near the NEW teen and adult books) featuring unknown books wrapped in butcher paper, with a short hint description written on each one.

You won’t know the ‘identity’ of your date until you get home: it could be fiction or non-fiction, funny, informative, a mystery… but all of these books were recommended by one or more AADL staff members who personally enjoyed them. We hope we’ll introduce you to a book you’ll love!

Happy Valentine’s Day, and enjoy your “date!”

(And, if a book is too much “commitment” for you, we have blind date movies too!)

We also have “surprise” books and movies for kids, located where you find NEW kids books!

Stop by your nearest AADL location and check out these fun displays!

Best Documentaries of 2014

Blockbusters and TV get all the attention, but tucked away on our DVD shelves in the non-fiction section, where truth can be inspiring, scary, and a whole lot stranger than fiction, are some really wonderful documentaries from last year. Below are just three, but here's a longer list of the notable and award-winning non-fiction films we bought in 2014.

In The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden Darwin meets Hitchcock in this true-crime tale of paradise found and lost when filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Godfine revisit a strange 1930s murder mystery that begins when a Berlin doctor and his mistress start a new life on the uninhabited Floreana Island in the Galapagos.

Life According to Sam is the heart-rending but stirring story of Sam Berns, a 16-year-old born with the rare and fatal rapid-aging disease progeria, who is nevertheless determined to play in his school's band.

Freedom Summer traces the passion and anguish of ten weeks in the summer of 1964 known as Freedom Summer, when 700 student volunteers joined local organizers and African Americans to face violence and death in Mississippi.

Foxcatcher

In this true story, Olympic wrestling champion brothers, Mark and Dave Schultz, join Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 Olympic games. Foxcatcher tells the story of du Pont’s madness and how it inevitably negatively impacts the brothers, their success and their lives. Foxcatcher is based on the novel written by Mark Schultz about his brother and their time with du Pont.

In a change of pace, funnyman Steve Carell offers an amazing dramatic performance as the mentally ill du Pont, and it’s quite intense to watch, but fascinating and cerebral at the same time.

Foxcatcher was nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture. And is also nominated for five Oscars, including a Best Actor nomination for Carell, Best Supporting Actor for Mark Ruffalo and Best Director for Bennett Miller.

Skeleton Twins

The indie comedy-drama Skeleton Twins made its way through film festivals across the country last year with much acclaim. The film stars SNL alums Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig with phenomenal performances as fraternal twins Maggie and Milo.

They are both in their 30s, live in different states, and haven’t talked to each other in ten years. Unbeknownst to each other, they both plan to end their lives on the same day, and they each end up foiling the others plan, which forces a reunion. They spend the film getting reacquainted and trying to sort out their messed up lives. The movie is darkly funny, and the characters are so deeply flawed and loveable.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

The film that almost wasn’t has now finished. After the legal battle the prevented The Hobbit trilogy from being made closer to when the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed, fans wondered if Peter Jackson’s adaptation would ever set foot in theaters. This many years later, so completes the film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

The third and final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, completes the (essential) story that was told in Tokien’s lone novel The Hobbit.

It’s the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who heads off on an epic quest to help the dwarves reclaim Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. Along the way is high adventure and many encounters with other creatures, namely the band of dwarves that he travels with. It is on this journey that Bilbo meets the creature Gollum, and where he first lays hands on “the one ring” that changes his life, and that of Middle Earth, for all time. This third film picks up right where the second film left off, after the introduction of Smaug. So make sure you watch The Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug first.

As a super fan of LOTR and The Hobbit, I loved seeing both trilogies, and am sad that this is the last(?!) time it’ll be on the big screen as we now know it. With the credits rolling in the last film, with Billy Boyd singing a last goodbye, well it may have caused me to well up.

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