In A World… on DVD & Blu-ray

In a world... where you can check out DVDs at the library... comes an original film that will make you laugh. In In A World... A struggling vocal coach looks to make it big in the world of male dominated movie trailer voiceovers. She uses her talent and takes on her father, who is the reigning top voiceover performer, and his competitive protégé.

The film is hilarious and Lake Bell’s performance is endearing. Critically acclaimed, it won Best Screenplay at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and is one of the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Independent Films of 2013. I got a huge kick out of listening to the voiceovers from the various characters and I was surprised that I enjoyed the film so much.

Queen to Play

Chess is a very popular pastime these days. We even have a large chess board in the youth department Downtown at which families can challenge their skills. This resurgence in interest has spawned a number of movies, and I think the French language film, Queen to Play, is one of the best.

On the island of Corsica, Helene is a hotel chambermaid. She becomes interested in, and then obsessed by the game, and wants to learn more. Enter Kevin Kline, as a retired American doctor (and speaking flawless French), who employs Helene as his house-cleaner, and is as cultured and skilled as Helene is naïve and unaccomplished. He is reclusive and sad and relishes the opportunity to tutor this bright, untested student of chess. No one can believe that Helene’s passion and natural ability for the game will amount to anything.

Oh, they are so wrong!

Blue Jasmine on DVD & Blu-ray

After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal, elegant New York socialite Jasmine moves into her sister’s humble apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again. With the lead portrayed fabulously by Cate Blanchett, she paints the picture of a woman with deep mental anguish as she talks to herself and Hal throughout the film while struggling living day to day in total denial. It is very intense to watch her cope with all the life changes in such a deep psychosis. Blue Jasmine and Blanchett’s performance are wonderful and read Academy Award buzz.

The Snowman

Every winter, when I was little, I would get out one of my favorite books, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. But I would not read this book – because there are no words – only pictures. These pictures tell a magical, yet simple story of a young boy who builds a snowman, only to wake up in the middle of the night and find that the snowman has come alive. The boy and his snowman get into all sorts of mischief during the night, from trying on his dad’s clothes to flying across the big night sky. This cozy story is ingrained in my memory to this day, and carries with it so much nostalgia!

This classic picture book is available in the AADL collection, not only in its traditional format, but now also in the reader format and as well as a movie on DVD.

Hollywood took a big hit this past week -- Peter O'Toole, Joan Fontaine, Tom Laughlin -- all gone

Three silver screen icons -- Peter O'Toole, Joan Fontaine, and Tom Laughlin -- all died within three days of each other.

Peter O'Toole, star of the classic Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Lion in Winter (1968), died on Saturday, December 14. He had an enormous body of work that, by his own admission, was performed while he was under the influence. His drinking tales with other famous imbibing actors (Richard Burton, Michael Caine, and Peter Finch), are legendary -- he once cut off a finger tip, sterilized it in his whiskey glass, and stuck it back on his finger. Backwards. He and Finch were denied entry to an Irish pub because it was after hours. O'Toole and Finch whipped out their checkbooks and wrote checks. To buy the pub. The actors and the pub owner (he never cashed the check), became fast friends. When the pub owner died, O'Toole and Finch were invited to the funeral and sobbed loudly. At the wrong gravesite.

O'Toole, a happily self-described hellraiser for much of his life, who was 81 when he died, was nominated for eight Oscars and yet only received an honorary Oscar in 2003 for "...[his] remarkable talents [that] have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters."

Joan Fontaine, whose personal life was as much a part of her celebrity as was her onscreen persona, died Sunday, December 15. Her lifelong public feud with her actor-sister Olivia de Havilland was the stuff of legends. Fontaine won her only Oscar in 1942 for her leading role in Suspicion (1941). A few years earlier, she had been offered the role of Melanie in Gone with the Wind (1939). Insulted by the offer, (she was aiming for the role of Scarlet), Fontaine said, "If it's a Melanie you want, call Olivia." The Studio did, and de Havilland became the darling of millions of movie-goers.

Ms. Fontaine's most famous role was as the unnamed second wife of Maxim de Winter, played by Laurence Olivier in the 1940 film, Rebecca, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.

Ms. Fontaine, who was 96, is survived by her sister, Ms. De Havilland

Last Thursday, December 12th, Tom Laughlin who created the Billy Jack franchise died of complications from pneumonia.

Laughlin wrote and starred in four Billy Jack movies: Born Losers (1967), Billy Jack (1971), The Trial of Billy Jack, and Billy Jack Goes to Washington (2009). Billy Jack is half caucasian, half Indian martial arts expert who sets out to fight racism. Laughlin is credited with creating the concept of 'blockbuster' movie. Laughlin eschewed the standard release protocol for new movies (opening in a few cities, with rolling releases), and released The Trial of Billy Jack nationwide, accompanied by promo ads which aired during the national news. It was a smashing success and studios adopted the model from that day on.

Laughlin died in California. He was 82.

New TV Shows @ AADL: That 70s Style

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new series at AADL that got their start during the 1970s:

Laverne & Shirley – Season 1
Laverne & Shirley are a hilarious duo who are roommates and work together as bottlecappers at the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. See the sidesplitting situations the girls get themselves into - between themselves and with friends Lenny & Squiggy and Mrs. Babish and Carmine "The Big Ragu." (Aired 1976-1983)

McMillan & Wife – Season 1
Revisit TV's favorite husband and wife detective duo as they take on crooks, murderers, and the windy streets of San Francisco in this first season. (Aired 1971-1977)

Eight Is Enough – Season 1 & 2
For fans of the family-based dramas of the '70s here is the first season of this top-rated dramedy. The series chronicled the lives of a columnist Tom Bradford, his wife and their eight children, and their sometimes-comic, sometimes-dramatic exploits. (Aired 1977-1981)

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

Great Library Collections At Your Fingertips!

If you've always been curious about the treasures hidden deep inside the Vatican Library or the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, wonder no more! The two libraries are in the midst of a four-year project to digitize many of their most important works, including various Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and Gutenberg Bibles. Accessing the digitized content can be done by visiting http://bav.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/.

And if you've always wanted to check out the Vatican and Bodleian Libraries in person but just can't find the time, you're in luck! From DVDs about the collections, to Books about the buildings, to Audiobooks about the people who have shaped them, AADL has you covered!

Performance Network Theatre: Jerry's Girls

Ann Arbor's Performance Network Theatre is showing Jerry's Girls, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, through Jan. 5. Herman worked on the concept with Larry Alford and Wayne Cilento. From the theatre's webpage: "Fabulous, flamboyant and fun for the whole family, 'Jerry's Girls' is the larger than life musical revue of Jerry Herman. Winner of four Tony Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement of Theatre, Jerry Herman and his music are synonymous with some of Broadway’s biggest hits – Hello Dolly!, La Cage Aux Folles, Mame, Mack and Mabel, Dear World, and more. Complete with large scale production numbers, tap dancing, and a little bit of drag – this is the perfect holiday excursion . . . " Ticket information is here.

The Hobbit Returns

December 13th is the big day! The day where Lord of the Rings fans put on beards and march their furry feet over to the nearest theater to check out The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second in the film trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit: Or, There and Back Again.

The book and films tell the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who heads off on an epic quest to reclaim Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. Along the way is high adventure and many encounters with other creatures, namely the band of dwarves that he travels with. It is on this journey that Bilbo meets the creature Gollum, and where he first lays hands on “the one ring” that changes his life, and that of Middle Earth, for all time.

Perhaps you’ve caught the trailer before a recent new film, or have watched it online. SMAUG! To get yourself in gear, why not check out the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, to see just where things left off. It's available on DVD, Blu-ray, and a special 2-disc DVD set.

It might also be worth checking out some of the new books related to the new film! AADL has The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide and The Hobbit : the desolation of Smaug : visual companion for your viewing and reading pleasure. See you at the theater!

Like Downton Abbey? Try Call the Midwife!

If you are eagerly anticipating Season 4 of Downton Abbey but can’t bear to wait until January for it to air in the United States, the British drama Call the Midwife is a great show to make the waiting easier! Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the show also originally aired in Britain and is set in London in the mid-twentieth century, a few decades after the setting of Downton Abbey. The show centers around main character Jenny Lee, a newly qualified midwife who works with other midwives in a nursing convent on London’s impoverished east side. The midwives and the nuns are kept very busy delivering babies and caring for newborns in and around the London area, and each episode typically also features a healthy dose of humor, romance, and interpersonal struggles.

Like Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife experienced huge success when it was first aired on the BBC in 2012, winning the Best New Drama TV Choice Award. It was then aired in the United States on PBS in the fall of 2012. The second season was also wildly popular, and the third season will be airing in 2014 in Great Britain and the United States.

You can check out the complete first and second seasons of Call the Midwife (as well as the first three seasons of Downton Abbey!) at the AADL.

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