And the Award for Most Annoying Film Character Ever Goes to...

...Jar Jar Binks, according to a poll of 5,000 movie fans on the UK movie rental site LoveFilm.com. Mr. Binks beat out many other contenders, including Andie MacDowell's Carrie from Four Weddings And A Funeral. Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean took third place, Jim Carrey's Ace Ventura: Pet Detective came in fourth, and Ben Stiller's White Goodman in Dodgeball came in fifth.

Just in time for summer

It was 31 years ago on June 20, 1975, that the movie Jaws was released. With its tagline, "Don't go into the water," Steven Spielberg's thrilling and terrifying movie put fear into the hearts of swimmers for years to come. The movie, based on the book by Peter Benchley, used great special effects to show attacks by a great white shark on beach goers in New England. It won three Oscars and was a huge success at the box office.

To allay (or increase) your fears about these beasts, learn more about sharks in the recently published Sharks of the World by Leonard Compagno, which one reviewer on Amazon excitedly describes as "...the DEFINITIVE and COMPLETELY...EXHAUSTIVE shark guide."

Lost in the Woods

In this critically acclaimed film version of Carl Sams and Jean Stoick’s bestselling children’s book, a lost raccoon, Fernando Hernandafandavez--voiced by AADL staff member, Diego Ascani!--is confused by the signs of spring until he finally gets a little help from a wise old box turtle named Shirley. Using live action nature footage and photographic stills, filmmakers Laura and Robert Sams carefully match up the characters' dialogue and movements on screen for a fun and clever way to teach young viewers about animal behavior and their environment.

A great weekend watch!

Boondock Saints is a great movie for anyone who enjoyed Pulp Fiction, or my personal favorite, Reservoir Dogs. This strangely religious tale is about two brothers who kill two mofia "bad guys" in self defense, and are seen as heroes. They then see it as a calling by God and start killing off mofia members one after another. Willem Dafoe play the detective trying to catch these killers, however the closer he gets to catching them, the more he starts to believe they may be doing the right thing. If you are looking for a thrilli

Finally available on DVD...

...author Jonathan Weiner's talk about Beak of the Finch
...the film where Fred Astaire cuts the rug with a drum set
...Sally Field's, um, multi-faceted, Emmy-winning 1975 performance as Sybil
...the acclaimed PBS American Experience Presidents collection, including LBJ, TR and Truman.
...and Hallelujah!, the first all-black sound movie from 1929.

X-Men Extravaganza

Loved the new movie and want more? Didn't care for it and want something different? Somewhere in the middle? Wherever you fall, the AADL is here to help.

Ultimate X-Men, a guide to the universe, covers the original Dark Phoenix saga. Astonishing X-Men Volume 1: Gifted contains the story of the "cure" for mutancy, as written by Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame.

One thing is certain: for better or for worse, none of the books feature Kelsey Grammer in a Cookie Monster suit.

Jane Kenyon- 1947-1995

Today, May 23, is the birthday of Jane Kenyon. She was born in Ann Arbor in 1947 and attended the University of Michigan. Her first book, Let Evening Come was published in 1990. Kenyon's poetry is known for its quiet yet profound reflections and in her years with her husband, Donald Hall, on her life with him at their farmhouse in Wilmot, New Hampshire.

Her final poems describe her struggle with depression and the leukemia which finally took her life in 1995. Shortly before her death, she and Hall were interviewed by Bill Moyers for a television documentary, A Life Together. Following is a poem that pays tribute to her dog, Biscuit:

In the Cannes

Pedro Almodóvar's Volver, starring Penélope Cruz, and Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are currently the critics' favorites to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this Sunday. But Marie-Antoinette has yet to show (it's scheduled for Thursday) and some are holding out for this highly-anticipated new film by Sofia Coppola, starring Kirsten Dunst. To get a feel for each director's style, try Almodóvar's Bad Education or All About My Mother; Iñárritu's Amores Perros or 21 Grams (he also has a compelling segment in 11'09"01 - September 11); and Coppola's Lost in Translation or The Virgin Suicides.

Deconstructing the 'Mommy Myth'

If you are interested in feminism, motherhood and the ways that the popular media are portraying and shaping the image of mothers be sure to watch Susan J. Douglas speak on her book The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined Women on Ann Arbor's Community Television Cable Channel 17. Douglas, Professor of Communications at the University of Michigan, examines how the mass media have promoted a conception of motherhood which result in unrealistic demands on women. Based on extensive scholarly research, the book is an accessible (and occasionally humorous) look at popular magazines, radio and television and their portrayals of the 'ideal' mother. The program, part of the Library's Sunday Edition author lecture series can be viewed on Tuesday, May 23 at 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, May 25 at 1:30 p.m.; and Friday, May 26 at 5:00 p.m. Video recordings of the program are also available to be borrowed from the library in both VHS and DVD format.

Anniversary of a famous crime

On May 23, 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, bank robbers accused of twelve murders, were gunned down by a law enforcement posse in Gibsland, LA.. Romanticized by the film, Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the real life criminals grew up in poverty striken families in rural Texas. When the Depression came, they hit the road, devoted to each other and knowing their ultimate demise was death. Cult heroes like Robin Hood or Jesse James, they embodied a fantasy of freedom for the downtrodden.

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