The World of Television News

Longtime ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings has died at the age of 67. His death reminds us of the public's fascination with the world of television news and the men and women who inhabit it. There have been several quality films that have explored the high-pressured environment of television news. The library's collection includes: Network, Broadcast News, Control Room, Outfoxed, and The Insider. Of course, if you're in the mood for something much lighter, there's always Ron Burgundy.

The Yards

Every once in awhile a film slips through the cracks and goes unnoticed by the general public. The Yards, directed by James Gray and starring Mark "Don't Call Me Marky Mark" Wahlberg, is a prime example of a film that deserves an audience but never got one in its theatrical release in 2000. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert wrote that the film resembles both The Godfather and Mean Streets. Not bad company if you ask me.

The American Short Story Collection

Several titles from the original American Short Story Collection are finally available on DVD. First airing on PBS in the 1980s, this series features short story works by some of America's greatest authors, including Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Richard Wright and Willa Cather. Rappaccini's Daughter (left), by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the creepy tale of an 18th century scholar who falls in love with a beautiful, yet forbidden, girl who tends her father's poison garden. And who can resist a title like Bernice Bobs Her Hair, a wicked tale by F. Scott Fitzgerald about the transformation of sweet-but-dull Bernice (Shelly Duvall) into a smooth-talking man-trap during a visit to her vampish kin in the summer of 1919?

New DVDs: Sports and Games

We've recently added a few new titles on the topic of sports and games. There's the wildly popular Really Bend it Like Beckham, where soccer superstar, David Beckham, thoroughly dissects his technique. We also have Word Wars: Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Game Circuit, a hilarious look at four Scrabble fanatics as they advance to the North American Championship. And, finally, the recent film Nine Innings from Ground Zero: The 2001 World Series, which documents the important role the Yankees and Mets played in New York's recovery from the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001.

For All Mankind

With all the recent news of the Space Shuttle Discovery, now is the perfect time to check out a film like For All Mankind. This Oscar-nominated documentary by filmmaker Al Reinert features breathtaking film footage shot by NASA astronauts. For wannabe space cadets who want more, the library collection also includes Blue Planet (IMAX), Apollo 13, and Moonraker.

Those Wacky Artists

I think we'd all have to agree that there's something about art that makes people act a little crazy. If you've been enjoying the Ann Arbor Art Fair recently, I'm sure you've witnessed firsthand some of this "unbalanced" behavior of which I speak. Actors love playing artists because it allows them to portray very passionate, eccentric characters. Check out some recent films about famous artists like Jackson Pollock, Jean Michel Basquiat, Johannes Vermeer, and Frida Kahlo. You'll see some great performances.

Roman Polanski's Life and Films

Legendary film director Roman Polanski is making news headlines, and once again it has nothing to do with any of his films. Or does it? Polanski is one of those filmmakers whose personal life is so interesting that you just have to wonder how it all relates to his films. With a film like The Pianist, the link between Polanski’s personal life and screen is clear since it’s well known that Polanski is a Holocaust survivor. With other films, it’s less obvious. The library collection includes several of Polanski’s best films, including my personal favorite, Death and the Maiden. Here are some others: Knife in the Water, Macbeth, Rosemary’s Baby, and Chinatown.

'Scotty', Beamed Up

James Doohan, better known as 'Scotty', the chief engineer on Star Trek who famously responded to the command "Beam me up, Scotty," has died at 85.

Bob Newhart, 'American Master'

Legendary comedian Bob Newhart has been selected as a subject for the PBS American Masters series in a program that will air Wednesday night. At 75, Newhart is still performing regularly and appearing in films (most recently, Elf). Check out some of his other work, notably, his trademark one-sided telephone skit in Hell Is For Heroes. Check out other American Master subjects in the Library's collection.

RIP Ret. General William Westmoreland

The death Monday of retired General William G. Westmoreland closes yet another chapter in the controversial Vietnam era of American history. Check out these three award-winning documentaries that touch on different facets of that period's military history, politics and personal loss: Fog of War, Regret to Inform and Hearts and Minds.

Syndicate content