Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master'

Featuring an all-star cast of Academy Award-winning and -nominated actors Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Laura Dern, The Master is another fascinating film from Paul Thomas Anderson. Anderson’s previous films Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will be Blood have all been well received.

The Master is a striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post-World War II America. It unfolds with the journey of a naval veteran who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future, until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader. Believed by many to be based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, Anderson has said parts of the story were lifted from early drafts of the script for There Will Be Blood, as well as Navy stories that Jason Robards told him.

If you're drawn to The Master, you may want to check out the bestselling book by Lawrence Wright: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. The book features many interviews, including the infamous one with Paul Haggis featured in the February, 2011, New Yorker article THE APOSTATE Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology.

The X-Files turns 20!

This year marks the 20th anniversary of a cult favorite, The X-Files. Can you believe it?! In the fall of 1993 TV viewers were introduced to FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully and Sci-Fi television was forever changed.

Scully is assigned to work with Mulder on the X-Files, which works on unsolvable cases involving unexplained phenomena. Scully is sent to partner up with Mulder and use her medical and scientific background to keep “Spooky” Mulder’s conspiracy theories in check. His sister was abducted when they were children, and his belief in extraterrestrial life and her abduction haunts Mulder as he obsessively works to find answers to what happened to her, while also trying to solve day-to-day unexplained events. Scully gets more than she bargained for once she too has trouble explaining what she and Mulder uncover while working X-Files cases.

Hideous beasts? Check. Aliens? Check. Shape shifters? Check. Government conspiracy? Check. One of the biggest will-they-won’t-they questions in TV history? Check.

The X-Files featured the typical “monster of the week” episodes, as well as an overall mythology of a larger conspiracy that spanned the entire run of the show and was woven into many episodes. The show aired for nine seasons for 202 episodes, and eventually two X-Files films as well.

Last weekend some of the cast, writers, producers, and the creator reunited at the San Diego Comic-Con, and discussed favorite episodes, monsters, and the future of Mulder and Scully at a 20th anniversary panel. Their discussion begs the question: Will there be a 3rd film?!

Dennis Farina, cop-turned-actor, has died

Dennis Farina, a Chicago police officer for 18 years before becoming an actor, has died.

Farina picked up acting jobs on the side during his career as a Windy City cop. He had roles in several movies, including Get Shorty (1995), Saving Private Ryan (199), and HBO's Empire Falls (2005), based on the novel by the same name by Richard Russo.

But it was his role, for three season, as the crusty, snappy-dressed detective, Joe Fontana, that endeared him to the hit TV franchise, Law and Order fans. His years in the Chicago PD burglary division served him well and gave his performances wonderful authenticity.

Farina, who was 69, died from a blood clot in his lungs in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Helen Thomas, longtime White House journalist, has died

White House news correspondent, Helen Thomas, is dead at 92. Ms. Thomas will always be noteworthy in American journalism for having shattered the glass ceiling as the foremost White House correspondent of her generation. An iconic and prickly writer of conscience, she was always willing to speak her mind and was at her best when she once growled, Listen up, Mr. President. In 2009, we brought Ms. Thomas to Ann Arbor for a special event at the Michigan Theater cosponsored by Michigan Radio. We also had the good fortune to interview Ms. Thomas. We have both the video and interview available for streaming and downloading.

Described Video Service/DVS

AADL continues to grow its collection of films that have a Descriptive Video Service or DVS feature. More films are being produced for children and adults that are Described Video Recordings for L Card users to borrow. There are comedies, action, animation, horror and science fiction films available. Many can be sent by mail to our WLBPD patrons as Free Matter for the Blind. If there's a member of your family who has been missing out on movies due to low-vision, look at our list of described videos that you can watch together!

Twenty Feet From Stardom Returning to the Michigan Theater

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If you want to leave the Michigan Theater on Friday night with a smile on your face and a song in your pocket, check out Twenty Feet From Stardom, the delicious documentary about back-up singers. Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder and other stars talk about the amazing work of these talented artists but it’s the women themselves who stay with you. The film will run through Thursday, July 18th. The 26 year old editor of this film, Jason Zeldes, is a Michigan native who is working on directing his own film, Romeo is Bleeding. Full disclosure–he is my own nephew and I think he is a remarkable storyteller!

“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!”

In the mood for a throw back cartoon that will transport you to your days of youth? “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!” Underdog is an American animated TV series that ran from 1964-1973. It featured the mild mannered Shoeshine boy (dog!) who transforms himself into a super hero canine by eating a super energy pill he keeps in his ring. (Incidentally, when the series re-ran on the Nickelodeon channel the network chose to edit out the pill popping part.) Revisit this gem and watch Underdog fight villains the likes of Riff Raff and Simon Bar Sinister, all in the defense of his love, Sweet Polly Purebred. For a more modern version, check out the 2007 live action movie released by Disney that features Jason Lee, Peter Dinklage and Amy Adams.

Find us at the Rolling Sculpture Show!

This Friday, July 12 from 2 - 8 pm, drop by the AADL tent (on Liberty between Main and 4th Avenue) at the Rolling Sculpture Car Show to play Pictionary, get extra points for the Summer Game, and play with trucks in sand. We can tell you all about our programs and give you a rest before you take in more rolling sculptures!

He is Legend

The world-renowned author and screenwriter, Richard Matheson died last week. He is remembered for having written numerous episodes for the legendary TV series, the Twilight Zone, but also for his science fiction novels , many of which were made into movies, such as I am Legend (made into 3 different movies: the Last Man on Earth; the Omega Man; and, most recently, I am Legend with Will Smith); the Shrinking Man (made into the 1957 classic movie, the Incredible Shrinking Man); Bid Time Return (made into the movie filmed at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Somewhere in Time); and Steel (most recently made into the movie, Real Steel). He has a long list of screenwriting credits to his name including the classic Edgar Allan Poe movie adaptations directed by Roger Corman like the Pit and the Pendulum. For me the most memorable piece he ever wrote was an episode of the Twilight Zone called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet with William Shatner as the airplane passenger who sees a monster tearing apart the plane’s wings as they are in flight. This was also remade in Twilight Zone: the Movie. He was creative all his life, having been first published at eight years old and writing through his 80’s. He was 87 when he died.

"Women Who Make America" Details Struggle for Equality

Makers: Women Who Make America is a three-part PBS documentary narrated by Meryl Streep. The film delves into the story of the birth of the modern women’s movement and covers five decades of women’s struggle for equality at home, work and life. I expected to have this documentary on in the background as I worked on other things, but found the film so engrossing, I watched all of it in one sitting.

The story of activism, feminism and what became known as women’s liberation is told through old film footage and interviews with women who did more than stand by and watch; they brought about change one move at a time. The women come from social, economical, and political backgrounds that are as varied as their personalities. They are flight attendants, coal miners, mothers, politicians, secretaries, writers, actresses, telephone operators and executives.

With retro music and advertisements, "Makers" quickly pulls the viewer into the stories and lives of women such as Judy Blume, Sandra Day O’Connor, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Nora Ephron, Geraldine Ferraro, and Hillary Clinton.

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