New Hilarious TV Show: "Vicious"!

Fans of The Office, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Arrested Development will love the new TV show Vicious! Featuring star actors Sir Ian McKellan (The Lord of the Rings), Sir Derek Jacobi (Gladiator), Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones), and Frances de la Tour (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), this show is a sure-fire hit.

From the first minute of the show, viewers are thrown into the intimate lives of Freddie and Stuart, two brutally honest elderly gentlemen living in London. Freddie is an arrogant washed-up actor who sees himself as the epitome of beauty. His partner Stuart acts as a homemaker, hosting dinner parties and rushing through never-ending phone calls with his mother. Freddie and Stuart's close friends frequently visit the apartment, much to the displeasure of their hosts. They certainly make up a motley crew: Violet brags of her love interests, Ash shines with youthful optimism, Mason constantly complains, and Penelope can't remember what she had for breakfast. Viewers will even enjoy Balthazar, Freddie and Stuart's decrepit dog, who is often mentioned but stays out of sight.

Nearly the entire series is filmed in Freddie and Stuart's living room, but the show manages to maintain interest through witty dialogue. In fact, Freddie and Stuart seem to have a dialogue entirely their own; they never miss an opportunity to wickedly hurl insults at each other. Never has personal ridicule been so hilarious! This example from the first episode characterizes the show's sarcastic humor well:
"Stuart: Egg and cress sandwich, Mason?
Mason: Is that what that is? I thought it was a crumb surrounded by a toothpick!
Stuart: Well perhaps you'd like some of what you brought. I could always cut you a slice of nothing."

Be sure to check out AADL's other New TV Shows as well as the rest of the Comedy TV collection!

Royal Reads (and movies, too!)

The recent release of a great new imperial biography, Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts, got me thinking that nothing could be more intriguing this wintry season than a little courtly intrigue! You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy stories about rulers of old. So, here are some suggestions for other books and movies that compliment each other nicely.

Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey offers a terribly readable and riveting account of Elizabeth I’s early years – a fascinating chapter of history with a totally astonishing young ruler at its helm. For a stunning film experience, try Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett and it’s sequel Elizabeth, The Golden Age.

Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir, gives us a portrait of an educated, strong-willed ruler of her own lands as well as wife of two kings and a complicated family dynamic, to say the least. If you only have time for one film featuring this queen, The Lion in Winter is a must. With incredible performances from Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, this is a must regardless!

Turning to fiction books, why not try Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund – lush and yet attentive storytelling from the perspective of this most infamous of queens. The movie Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst offers eye candy galore in the form of sumptuous sets, costume, and cinematography, in addition to some experimental touches that keep things fresh. And, well, it’s hard to stick strictly to fiction here when the movie is based on such a good bio: Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser.

Last but definitely not least, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel chronicles the oh-so sticky politics of Henry VIII, seen through the sharp lens of his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Mantel endows this narrator with a bitingly intelligent voice that is exceedingly refreshing in the genre. I'm coming up short on films focusing on Cromwell’s perspective, but Anne of the Thousand Days focuses on the Boleyn side of the story, and A Man for All Seasons highlights Sir Thomas More’s role in the courtly goings on (both of which feature heavily in Wolf Hall).

Gravity Falls

If you haven’t seen Disney’s animated series Gravity Falls, drop everything you are doing and put a hold on a copy RIGHT NOW!

Inquisitive twelve-year-old twins Dipper and Mabel Pines are sent to spend the summer with their great-uncle (“Grunkle”) Stan, who runs a tourist trap attraction called The Mystery Shack. While the curmudgeonly, greedy, but strangely loveable Grunkle Stan hawks his phony-baloney “mysteries” to gullible tourists, Dipper and Mabel discover real mysteries and elements of the supernatural in the surrounding Pacific Northwest woods and the strange little town of Gravity Falls.

Full of adventure and humor and creepiness and silliness and homages to such disparate things as Twin Peaks and Street Fighter, Gravity Falls is sheer genius and a show that both kids and adults will like. If you like cryptography, don’t miss the ciphers included at the end of every episode during the credits!

Adult fans of Adventure Time and Regular Show looking for new animated series should give this a try.

New Years' Intention

Truth be told, I’m not big on New Years Resolutions. The holiday hype and excitement tend to make me feel exhausted and inadequate before February finishes. Instead, I prefer to set an intention for the year, as I have found that this is a much more successful and forgiving way to make long term and consistent improvements. Like many, my intention for this next year is to eat better. More specifically, my goal is to learn how to nourish myself rather than just feed myself, and examine how certain foods add or detract from my well being. Ayurveda is the foundation of this type of thought.

Ayurveda is the ancient yogic study of the effect of food on your physical constitution, while factoring in one’s emotional nature and individual spiritual outlook. Sanskrit texts dating back 5,000 years teach of the three body types, or “doshas,” and how to best balance your whole being. One good place to start is with Suhas Kshirsagar’s “Hot Belly Diet”. Here you’ll learn the basics on how to determine your dosha, and create the optimum diet to improve overall health, balance hormone levels, and kick start your digestive ‘fire.’ Whether you suffer from chronic disease or acute ailments, deciphering your own ‘diet code’ is crucial to creating a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Charming Film of Unlikely Friendship

Based on the beloved French picture book series, Ernest & Celestine is a charming tale of unlikely friendship between big bear Ernest and little mouse Celestine.

While the other mice are all afraid of hungry bears, Celestine is a lonely dreamer who fills her notebook with sketches of bears and mice as friends. Then one day Celestine meets Ernest. Ernest, too, is an outsider, and it isn’t long before the two become friends. When a scrape with the law forces the friends to flees, they only grow closer while hiding out through the winter. Elegantly balancing lighter scenes of growing friendship and delightful comic gags with heavier scenes of the fear and prejudice that threaten to keep these friends apart, this movie offers a fresh take on a classic tale of friendship. Its gorgeous watercolor style, which gives the film the flavor of the original picture books, is another reason to watch. The animation style is like no film I’ve seen before and was definitely one of my favorite things about watching it.

This film was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. It is rated PG for a few scary moments.

Free Holiday Classic Film Series at The Michigan Theater!

The Michigan Theater is topping off the holiday season with a series of FREE holiday movies shown on Sundays at 1:30pm. The State Street Area Association Holiday Classic Film Series presented by Sesi Lincoln and Old National Bank. The films start showing this Sunday!

This year’s classic holiday films shown will be: Home Alone on 11/30, Miracle on 34th Street on 12/7, Elf on 12/14, and It’s a Wonderful Life on 12/21. How fun! It’s a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season and sit down for a free movie in a beautiful theater! Want to just stay home? The library has you covered with the DVDs of the films.

New TV Series @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Good news comes with these particular new DVDs! You can now get the entire season in one check-out! Hello, binge watching! All the discs are in one case with an extended check-out period. Here are some new-to-AADL series on order:

The Strain, Season 1
When a freak virus kills all but four passengers on an airplane at JFK, Ephraim Goodweather, head of the Center for Disease Control's "Canary Team," is immediately called to the scene. With help from a mysterious Holocaust survivor, "Eph" and his colleague uncover the outbreak's ties to vampirism. Now, the only way to stop the terrifying disease from wiping out mankind is to face its source, a sinister supernatural creature known as "The Master."

Intruders, Season 1
A chilling paranormal tale about an evil secret society devoted to chasing immortality by taking refuge in the bodies of the living. Add to this a sinister agent bent on executing the unlucky to cover his crimes and a ten-year-old girl who picks the most dangerous moment to run away from home.

Drunk History, Seasons 1 & 2
Historical reenactments from A-list talent as told by inebriated storytellers. Based on the award-winning and wildly popular web series, this follows the drunken and often incoherent narration of historical moments.

Looking, Season 1
The series revolves around three thirty-something friends living in San Francisco, who explore the exciting, sometimes overwhelming, options available to a new generation of gay men. Patrick is a 29-year-old video game designer, aspiring artist Agust’n, 31, questions the idea of monogamy, and the group’s oldest member, Longtime waiter Dom, 39, is facing middle age with dreams still unfulfilled.

Black Sails, Season 1
1715. New Providence Island is a lawless territory, controlled by notorious pirate captains. The most feared is Captain Flint. As the British Navy returns to exterminate Flint and his crew, another side of him emerges. He allies himself with Eleanor Guthrie, daughter of the local kingpin, to ensure their survival. Many opponents stand in their way: rival captains; Eleanor's father; and John Silver, recently recruited onto Flint's crew, who constantly undermines his captain's agenda.

AADL has also ordered new DVDs of seasons that we already own, but now all in one box ready for binge watching -- For shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, The X-Files, Arrested Development, and more!

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

Boyhood on DVD

Director Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is one of my favorite films of 2014. People seem to either love it or hate it, but it’s been one of the most talked about films of the year.

Boyhood follows a young boy named Mason through ages 5 to 18. The film was shot over 12 years using the same cast. So not only do we see the boy grow up over those years, we see his parents, sister, and the rest of the cast grow and change as well. They filmed for a few weeks per year every year during the film’s making, often writing the script as they went from year to year.

It’s a groundbreaking concept and it was truly maginificent to see on the big screen. To watch a precious 5 year old turn into an awkward teen and then into an adult right before our eyes. Normally after a 3 hour film, I’m ready to go. But once we see Mason at age 18 and off on his next adventure… well, I wanted to keep following him.

Surviving Hitler: A love story

Directed by John Keith Wasson, Surviving Hitler: A love story is an inspiring account of war, resistance, and survival in Nazi Germany. Jutta is a teenager in a country that is on the threshold of war when she discovers that she is Jewish. Struck by this discovery, and faced with the atrocities of war, she joins the German resistance and meets a wounded soldier named Helmuth. The two quickly form a romantic attachment and join the Valkyrie plot to assassinate Hitler. Though there are tragic elements to the story (inevitable when it is set in Nazi Germany), there is a happy ending.

This film is a combination of interviews with Jutta and original 8mm footage shot by Helmuth. According to GQ magazine, these “home movies, which miraculously survived the war in Helmuth’s mother’s apartment, are reason enough to watch Surviving Hitler, providing a rare and intimate glimpse of relatively ordinary life carrying on in Berlin despite the encroaching horror.” (read the whole review here)

Surviving Hitler premiered at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and has won 3 awards including the Full Frame Inspiration Award, Ojai Festival Theme Award, and the Kroll Fund for Jewish Documentary Film.

TV Spotlight: Pee-wee’s Playhouse

Mekka-lekka-hi, Mekka-hiney-ho! Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Seasons 1 – 5 are now available at AADL! This cult classic stars Paul Reubens and aired from 1986-1990. Created by Reubens, it was designed to be an educational show for children and adults and was influenced by 1950s television shows such as Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody. With its quirky characters and colorful playhouse set, the show was a hit and remains a classic. The show features the zany Pee-Wee Herman and his many silly friends, including Cowboy Curtis, Conky the Robot, and Reba the Mail Lady. For more Pee-Wee, check out Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway.

Syndicate content