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.

Here Come the ABC's

A host of animators and puppeteers illustrate the wonderfully wacky Here Come the ABC's, a recent children's DVD (also on CD) from the band They Might Be Giants. Highlights include the psychedelic "Pictures of Pandas Painting", "C is for Conifer," and "The Alphabet Lost and Found." TMBG, purveyors of whimsical experimental pop, celebrated their 20-year anniversary in 2002 with the release of their first children's CD, No!

Remaking Gene Wilder

Poor Gene Wilder: Two of his films, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and The Producers (1968), are getting remade this year. First, Johnny Depp stars as Wonka in the upcoming Tim Burton film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which Burton is careful to claim is not a remake--but we know better), then Matthew Broderick takes on Leo Bloom in the upcoming film version of The Producers.

Triplets of Belleville

As this year's Tour de France heats up, check out the The Triplets of Belleville, the 2003 animated film about a bicyclist kidnapped from the Tour, a film Roger Ebert calls "creepy, eccentric, eerie, flaky, freaky, funky, grotesque, inscrutable, kinky, kooky, magical, oddball, spooky, uncanny, uncouth and unearthly....It's one of those movies where you keep banging your fist against your head to stop yourself from using the word 'meets,' as in Monsieur Hulot meets Tim Burton, or the Marquis de Sade meets Lance Armstrong."

Ingmar Bergman turns 87

Just when you thought it was safe to back to the movies, Ingmar Bergman, the great Swedish film director (Wild Strawberries, left, Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal) is back with a new film (actually it was shot years ago, but nevermind) Saraband, a sort of follow-up to his 1972 Scenes From a Marriage.

Today Salon.com considers the relevance of the soon-to-be (on Thursday) 87-year old director...

The Murder of Emmett Till

It's been 50 years since the brutal murder of Emmett Louis Till, a fourteen-year-old black Chicago youth who was slain in Money, Mississippi, in 1955. On July 14, the Library will hold a screening and discussion of the PBS American Experience documentary The Murder of Emmett Till. More library materials on Emmett Till.

More information on the story and the program...<\a>.

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