A Surprise Winner

I was hesitant to step back into the ring for another Rocky film, but Creed was surprisingly done very well done. The film is the 7th film in the Rocky series, which began in 1976, all starring Sylvester Stallone. Here we meet Adonis “Donnie” Johnson, son of legendary boxer Apollo Creed. He never knew his father, and found out late who his father was, but boxing is in his blood. Rescued from a life of foster care and group homes by Apollo’s wife, he longs to become a boxing legend on his own without using his father’s name. He heads to Philadelphia and convinces his father’s rival-turned-friend Rocky Balboa to train him.

It’s enjoyable to see Donnie and Rocky’s interactions on screen, and to see Rocky in today’s world. Michael B. Jordan does an amazing job as Adonis, and Stallone won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, and was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his wonderful performance. This is the first in the series not written by Stallone, and while there was talk of ending the series here, there are plans for Creed 2 to be released in 2017.

Five Feet to the Left and Unhappy

Mistress America is a tour de force of brilliant comedy and wit. College literature student Tracy (Lola Kirke) is 18 and underwhelmed with her freshman year in New York City so far. Her classes are boring, she is slow to make friends, and she gets rejected from the prestigious lit society. Soon into the semester enters 30 year old Brooke (Greta Gerwig), her soon-to-be stepsister. Tracy immediately falls under Brooke’s spell, basking in her spontaneity and lust for life, and with wide eyes follows her around Manhattan seeking adventure, and immediately gains a subject for a short story. Through whimsy and reality friendship and sisterhood are tested. The film is full of amazing one liners, my favorite words being the title of this post – as spoken to Tracy by a psychic.

Gerwig is simply darling. Yet again she effortlessly and gently portrays a young woman that is quirky, honest, lost, and searching for more as she tries to figure out life. Gerwig's strong feminine voice and superb writing shine through in this film. It was co-written by Gerwig and her beau Noah Baumbach, who directed the film. Be sure to seek out more films starring, written and/or directed by Gerwig and/or Baumbach, as they sit pretty high on the stack of wonderful indie films.

The Whole Gritty City

If you missed AADL’s screening of The Whole Gritty City last month, fear not, it’s headed to our collection. This documentary film has been one of my favorite films so far this year and it’s well worth the view.

The film centers on three New Orleans school marching bands, who under the direction of their fearless bandleaders, prepare for Mardi Gras and parade season. From the elementary school kids to the high school students, these young people are full of heart and soul, and the emotion and struggle of their daily lives, in addition to prepping for parades, shines through in this film.

At times the kids are handed the camera and act as narrator, sharing bits of themselves both at home and in the band room. Some parts will make you laugh, others will make you cry. The music of New Orleans will surely jump into your ears and make your heart beat with an extra layer of delight while watching these kids and their leaders bring it to life in their gritty city.

PreK Bits - "E" is for EXCELLENT snow day!

Snow is Exciting !! When it snows, there are Excellent new things to do !!!
TEN ON THE SLED … slid, swerved, sped, squirted out, popped up, flipped over ... down the hill.
Ms. Rachel and Banjo Betsy led the action song “This Is The Way We Play In The Snow”. We made snow angels, snow people, footprints and skated.
PERFECT DAY showed an entire day of snow play … until the lamps went on at dusk.

If you want to get more ideas from EXCELLENT snow stories ... try the following favorites:
RED SLED … an almost wordless book with a clear story to tell in pictures.
The SNOWY DAY … the day Peter goes for a walk in the snow.
INTO The SNOW … sensory joys of winter
BEAR & HARE: SNOW …friends Bear and Hare go out and play in the snow.
The LITTLE SNOWPLOW … reminiscent of The LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.
KATY And The BIG SNOW SNOW …a classic story of a big snow day.
SUPER SNOW DAY SEEK AND FIND … find the clues in the pictures.
IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW IT CLAP YOUR PAWS … you know this song.
KUMAK’S HOUSE … an Inuit story of too much noise in the house.
OVER And UNDER The SNOW … beautiful illustrations show where wildlife lives in winter.
The HAT … Jan Brett’s marvelous illustrated version of a classic tale.
UNDER MY HOOD I HAVE A HAT … a sequential winter story.
Be sure to honor winter with a family watch together of … The SNOWMAN on DVD.
This short animation film is appropriate for all audiences including very young children; it has beautiful music; and the best non-Disney animation ever.

Oscar Winners!

Last night at the star-studded 88th annual Academy Awards, hosted by funny man Chris Rock, Oscar winners were announced for the best in film for the past year. Top honors went to Spotlight – Best Picture, Inside Out – Animated Feature Film, Amy – Documentary Feature, and Son of Saul – Foreign Language Film. Mad Max: Fury Road was the big winner with six Oscars in a variety of technical categories.

Individual Oscars went to Leonardo DiCaprio for Actor in a Leading Role in the The Revenant, Brie Larson for Actress in a Leading Role in Room, Mark Rylance for Actor in a Supporting Role in Bridge of Spies, Alicia Vikander for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in The Danish Girl, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Directing in The Revenant. (He also won Best Director last year for Birdman.)

Be sure to check out the complete list of winners.

Pride

A marvelously entertaining and uplifting film, Pride (Blu-ray here; DVD here) was released in 2014, but I missed it until a friend recently suggested it to me. You shouldn’t miss this one either, for: the amazing true story, the outstanding acting with a relatively young and unknown cast (notable exceptions would be Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton who are well-known, seasoned British character actors), the beautiful vocal selections, the hilarious interactions between Welsh villagers and gay activists, a dance number which will have you on your feet, and the ending which will have you cheering.

During the miners’ strike in Great Britain in 1984, which lasted a full year and pushed miners and their families to the edge, a group of lesbian and gay activists in London decided to express their support for the miners by raising much needed funds. They felt a common bond with the oppressed miners against a common adversary: prejudice. (Neither group was overly fond of Margaret Thatcher either.)

Gay liberation had not advanced very far in the early eighties and the miners’ union rejected help from the gay community. But, undeterred, the young and idealistic group took their buckets of money straight to a small village in Wales to give to the miners and their families directly. How they were received there is partly predictable and partly pure magic. Suffice to say that every person involved was changed by encountering the other.

Enjoy the Welsh accents, but I suggest you have on the subtitles so you don't miss a single, hilarious line.

New TV Shows @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new-to-AADL series:

Casual, Season 1
A bachelor brother and his newly divorced sister living are under one roof again. Together, they coach each other through the crazy world of dating while raising her teenage daughter.

Z Nation, Seasons 1 & 2
Three years after the devastating ZN1 virus gutted the country, a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of a zombie attack, and humanity's last hope to develop a vaccine, from New York to California. However, he's hiding a secret that could endanger the mission.

The Last Kingdom
The re-telling of the valiant story of King Alfred the Great and his desire to unite many separate kingdoms into what would become England. Combining real historical figures and events with fictional characters, it is the story of how a people reclaimed their land from the invading Vikings and built a place they call home.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 1
Rescued after fifteen years in an underground doomsday cult, Kimmy decides to rebuild her life in New York City armed with only a fifth-grade education and a firm belief that truly anything is possible. She quickly finds a roommate, a job working for a spoiled Manhattan mom, and a new beginning.

19-2, Season 1
Revolves around the day-to-day life of two unwilling partners of the Montreal Police Department, Officers Nick Barron and Ben Chartier. These two beat cops patrol the urban sprawl of downtown's 19th district, in cruiser No. 2. The show is about the tensions and bonds that develop between two incompatible men of very different temperaments and life experiences.

Humans
In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - a highly-developed robotic servant that's so similar to a real human it's transforming the way we live.

Lost Girl, Seasons 1-5
For years Bo had no idea what she was or why every new lover died in the throes of passion. She fled one corpse after another until a chance encounter with the puckish thief Kenzi exposed Bo's existence to the Fae. This ancient society of supernatural beings exists outside the realm of mere mortals. Within their world, there are only two sides: Light and Dark. Each member of the Fae must choose who they will serve. But not Bo. Driven to discover who she really is, Bo vows to live on her own terms even if it means existing in the abyss between darkness and light.

Midwinter of the Spirit
Follows country vicar Merrily Watkins, who is one of the few women priests working as an exorcist in the UK. When a grisly murder takes place in her local area, the police come calling for her assistance.

The Expanse, Season 1
A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens all humanity.

Prisoner’s Wives, The Complete Series
Gemma's perfect life comes crashing down when her husband is arrested for murder. As Gemma learns to navigate the prison system, she starts to think the unthinkable.

Forever, the Complete Series
Henry has a vested interest in studying the dead: He is immortal, and only his best friend and confidant, Abe, full of life at age 75, knows Henry's secret. Henry hasn't aged at all since the clock stopped 200 years ago, but he's managed to be discreet without anyone finding out his affliction. That task becomes increasingly difficult when he meets NYPD detective Jo Martinez, who is fascinated by Henry after learning he was the sole survivor of a horrific train crash.

The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Season 1
In 1959, Dr. Lucian Blake returns to his Australian hometown to continue his late father's medical practice, but it is his additional responsibility as the town's chief medical officer that leads him to investigating cases of suspicious death.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival on DVD

We are nearing that special time of year… it’s nearly time for the ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL! Beloved by locals, the AAFF is also internationally recognized as the “longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America.”

If you are curious about the festival, or perhaps looking to reminisce over previous editions, AADL can help! You can check out the festival’s DVD collection, which showcases award-winning and popular films from previous festivals. Cool, right?

Ann Arbor Film Festival 53 : Volume 8 (newly added!)

Ann Arbor Film Festival 52 : Volume 7

Ann Arbor Film Festival 51 : Volume 6

See the full list of DVD’s here.

And of course, you can visit the AAFF website for more information regarding the festival, which runs March 15-20th, 2016.

Pretty in Pink 30th Anniversary!

Pretty in Pink will be back on the big screen in theaters next week! The movie will be shown in select theaters nationwide, including Ann Arbor, on February 14 and 17 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film. How cool is that?! Yes, it’s been that long since the film’s release.

The 1986 film is a classic 80s flick directed by John Hughes. It stars Molly Ringwald in pink as Andie. Jon Cryer wonderfully portrays her male BFF Duckie, and her hunky crush Blaine is played by Andrew McCarthy. It’s a classic high school love triangle in classic 80s fashion -- just a bit more pink. Add in more quirky friends, a rich vs. poor social dynamic, a popular bully, and a stellar soundtrack… and you’re all set! The film version shown in theaters will include the alternate ending where Andie ends up with the other guy.

It's Blind Date with a Book season!

Stop by any of the AADL locations for a sweet February surprise! Adults and teens will find Blind Date with a Book displays, where one can hopefully find the mysterious book of their dreams! Books (and movies!) wrapped in butcher paper have a short description of what the material inside contains… but you’ll have to check out the item and take it home to unwrap to find out if it’s really meant for you!

Kids aren’t left out either! There are Surprise Book displays at every location too, where kids will find mystery books and movies wrapped up with only hints written on them to imply what’s inside. These displays will be up for the entire month of February, so don’t miss your chance to find your match.

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