DVD Genre Spotlight: Film Noir

Literally meaning 'black film', film noir is a niche genre of mostly 1940s-1950s Hollywood movies typified by their antihero male protagonists and mercurial femme fatales. Absent are the Capra-esque feel good tales of hope; rather, these films center on murderous plots and deceptive individuals acting out of self-interest and roiling in dirty money. Seedy characters derived from pulp magazines thrive in the urban underbelly settings, and private eyes like Philip Marlowe toe the line between the cops and the gangsters.

Classic performances from this genre include Humphrey Bogart's turn as Marlowe in The Big Sleep, and Orson Welles as the titular character in Sir Carol Reed's magnum opus, The Third Man. The AADL now has a DVD section devoted entirely to film noir for more great browsing choices at all of our locations.

The Michigan Theater is showcasing a film noir every Monday in April, with Sunset Boulevard, The Maltese Falcon, Body Heat, and Chinatown, but if you can't make these screenings the AADL owns copies of all of these films.

Nina Simone Compilation Reveals Depth of Catalog

It's a voice that sounds ages old, a deep undulation from an ancient bayou. Her songs are stories at once universal, yet deeply personal. When Nina Simone (1933-2003) tells you, "my back is strong / strong enough to take the pain / inflicted again and again," in the touchstone track Four Women (click this link to hear the song now), it is with tremendous, unarticulated context -- a single page out of a volume on America's penchant for violence -- that gives her words the power to silence a room, to make you stop for a moment and admire the depth of expression that this artist wields.

Last year, RCA/Legacy released To Be Free, a 3-CD compilation of Simone's work, which best serves as an introduction to the singer's unparalleled musical style. For the seasoned fans of her music, this album also contains live recordings from club shows during the late 60s and a 23-minute DVD of a television special she did in 1970.

Because her delivery is both deep and piercing, and her musical style blends folk, soul, jazz, and blues on nearly every recorded track, Simone has few contemporaries; that said, newcomer indie artist Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons has a strikingly similar, fault-line shaking vibrato, and Andrew Bird -- who plays the Michigan Theater tonight -- often crosses genre lines in his music. Check out all of these artists from the AADL's extensive music collection today.

Twilight on DVD!

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Twilight is now officially on DVD! Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) doesn’t expect much when she moves to the small town of Forks, Washington, until she meets the mysterious and handsome Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson)— who happens to be hiding a dark secret: he’s a vampire. As their worlds collide, Edward must battle the bloodlust raging inside him as well as a coterie of undead that would make Bella their prey. The movie is comparatively close to it's book counterpart and has action, comedy and romance. While it can get melodramatic at parts and some scenes are funny without meaning to be, over all it's a fair representation of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel. The two-disc copies AADL acquired features: Audio commentary by Director Catherine Hardwicke, Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson, music videos by Muse, Paramore and Linkin Park, five extended scenes with director introductions, five deleted scenes with director introductions and the seven-part documentary: "The Adventure Begins: The Journey from Page to Screen"

Request your copy today!

Where is journalism headed?

With the Ann Arbor News closing in July, many people are talking about the future of journalism here and across the country. Already the new venture, Ann Arbor.com, has set up community meetings in April, asking readers to help shape their upcoming product, which will include daily reporting on the web and a bi-weekly print edition. In this environment, we all may want to check out books such as What Would Google Do? with cutting-edge ideas on information technology management, journalism, and creativity in business.

47th Annual Ann Arbor Film Festival Begins!

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The 47th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival kicks off today, 3/24, after a winter of anticipation, with a full schedule of events and a wide range of ground-breaking films for audiences to experience. Tonight's main screening starts at 8:00pm and features 12 shorts, including the intriguing Oh Great Now Look What Happened, and the startling Team Taliban. From Wednesday through Friday, the festival will show the majority of films between the hours of 7pm and 11pm in the Michigan Theater's Main Theater and Screening Room. As a festival finale, Saturday and Sunday (3/28 and 3/29, respectively) are packed with events and screenings all day, from 10am to midnight.

Battlestar Galactica and the United Nations

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Last night marked the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, the Sci Fi channel’s critically acclaimed TV series. In Battlestar Galactica, a nuclear war sends the last survivors of the human race drifting through the universe, fleeing from the Cylons (a race of machines identical to humans in almost every way) and searching for a new home, a legendary planet called Earth. BSG has been praised for its extremely relevant commentaries on different social and political issues, the main one being moral relativism in a time of war.

On Tuesday, March 17, the United Nations hosted a panel of UN representatives and the creators and cast of Battlestar Galactica to raise awareness about humanitarian concerns. The panel used episodes of the TV show to exemplify and discuss issues of human rights, terrorism, children and armed conflict, and interfaith reconciliation and dialogue.

Chick Corea Reunites with John McLaughlin

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On Saturday, April 4, at the Hill Auditorium, Chick Corea and John McLaughlin lead a phenomenal jazz combo called Five Peace Band, showcasing the talents of alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade. Any of these artists alone is worth the price admission, but all of them playing together is sure to be a spectacular evening of live music. The performance is a University Musical Society event, and is likely to feature tunes from the early 70s fusion era -- when Corea and McLaughlin played with Miles Davis' Bitches Brew lineup -- in addition to more recent pieces from these artists. The AADL owns recordings of all of these musicians, and through our recently updated Picture Ann Arbor gallery, aadl.org also has pictures of Corea / McLaughlin from the early 1970s and from their reunion tour this year.

U2 Releases 'No Line on the Horizon'

U2 released their twelfth record, No Line on the Horizon, on March 3 to mixed reviews, ranging from Rolling Stone's five star accolade to Allmusic's tepid 3 star review, and all the way down to Pitchfork's scathing 4.2/10 diatribe. Reuniting with producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, this U2 record features several longer, more sonically reaching songs rather than the tightly anthemic cuts off 2000's All That You Can't Leave Behind and 2004's How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb. The only songs on the latest release that directly point to the band's most recent singles are "Get on Your Boots" and the long-winded "I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight." The hold list for AADL's copies of No Line on the Horizon is growing quickly, so if you're a fan be sure to get on that list today.

"Encore" may deserve an encore!

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Check out the new on-line magazine, Encore Michigan, which covers professional theater in southeastern Michigan. There's a wealth of information here, from a calendar with links in it to the productions, blogs, reviews and news features. It covers theater in the Detroit area, Flint, Ann Arbor and more. Barton Bund, director of the Blackbird Theater in Ann Arbor is one of the contributors. To get an in depth view of what's happening in theater in this area, including edgier, offbeat productions, read Encore Michigan.

Press Play @ Your Library during Teen Tech Week 2009

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Think the library is all about books? Think again. Libraries are chock-full of CDs, DVDs, access to on-line databases, and a great place for gaming events too.

Teen Tech Week (March 8-14) is a national initiative of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). This Survey will tell YALSA what your technology preferences are; so go ahead, it only takes a few minutes. So whether it's Dark Knight or a Ry Cooder Anthology go ahead and 'press play' today.

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