Mystery Science Theater 3000

If you enjoy watching bad movies and are unaware of Mystery Science Theater 3000 you are missing out. But don’t worry, AADL has a large number of MST3K films to keep you busy for a while. Along with his robot friends Joel (or Mike depending on the season) is shot into space and forced to watch terrible movies. They cope and retain their sanity by jesting throughout these terrible, terrible films. Here are just a couple of the nuggets that exist in the amazing history of this television show.

Volume 18, Disc 4: Jack Frost: In this unique Russian fairy tale, two lovers must conquer the most bizarre ordeals of the supernatural.

Volume 10.2, Disc 2: Swamp Diamonds: With an undercover cop in tow, a gang of female prison escapees hunts for hidden diamonds in a Louisiana swamp, kidnapping a geologist along the way. Includes short: "What to do on a date."

Volume 26, disc 2: Alien from L.A.: This is perhaps the bad movie to end all bad movies. In this 1980's twist on Journey to the Center of The Earth, Kathy Ireland plays an awkward teen in search of her missing archaeologist father, only to stumble into a deeply underground civilization unaware of life on the surface. Adventure ensues.

Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell, a documentary directed by the accomplished Sarah Polley, showcases the idea of storytelling as an art form. Intrigued by the life of her deceased mother, she interviews members of her family and others linked to Diane Polley to uncover the truth. Sarah was born to older parents, and her family often joked that she looked nothing like her father. While researching Diane's past as an actress in Montreal, she finds more than she bargained for... and opens the door to a new reality.

The film takes viewers on an emotional ride that gradually reveals the relationship of each storyteller to Polley, who layers their raw emotion with staged footage and family photos. Each person has their own version of the story that weaves into the others for a nearly complete tapestry. As said in the film, many of the best stories come from within one's own life rather than outside of it.

"Stories We Tell" first debuted at the Venice Film Festival, and has since played at the Toronto Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival. It was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2013. Sarah Polley directed Away from Her and Take This Waltz, and is known for her acting work in Splice, The Secret Life of Words, and My Life Without Me.

I'm so Excited

I’m So Excited is the newest movie by renowned Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (the genius who brought us Volver, The Skin I Live in, and Bad Education). Almodóvar describes his own latest work as "a light, very light comedy," and that is exactly what it is.

This film begins with two big name actors and a subplot that sets the scene for the main action of the film. The remaining time of the movie focuses on the crew and passengers on a flight from Madrid to Mexico City. The plane experiences technical difficulties once it takes off thus encouraging the flight attendants to distract and divert the passengers. As secrets are revealed and passenger histories are explained the narrative becomes more complicated, propelling the movie to a climactic end. Overall it was a fun movie and if you are familiar with and enjoyed Almodóvar's other films, you should enjoy this one.

52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival

Are you ready to feast on films this week?! The 52nd annual Ann Arbor Film Festival takes place Tuesday, March 25- Sunday, March 30 at the Michigan Theater. As the longest running experimental film festival in the country, the film festival celebrates the best in experimental film making featuring a ton of amazing films, including feature lengths, documentaries and short films-- all kicking off with an opening night reception prior to the opening screening on Tuesday. Amazing! Check out the full schedule, get your tickets, and why not hit one of the afterparties to soak in the scene?

Check out the Ann Arbor Film Festival DVD Collection at AADL, featuring some films from past festivals.

Also check out the wonderful Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive featuring photos, interviews, posteres, articles, programs from the history of the fabulous film festival.

Sound & Vision Film Series: A Band Called Death

Friday May 30, 2014: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Sound & Vision is a new AADL Friday evening film series, hosting screenings throughout the summer of both documentaries and features focusing on music and pop culture. Popcorn will also be served!

Tonight’s feature is the 2012 documentary "A Band Called Death," which focuses on the Detroit band by the same name.

According to Jason Buchanan of "All Movie Guide" "Filmmakers Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett profile obscure, early-1970s Detroit proto-punk outfit Death, who disbanded before releasing a single album, but who were vindicated nearly 30 years later when their 1974 demo tape was released to much fanfare. Formed by three Detroit siblings six years before the Sex Pistols stormed the airwaves with God Save the Queen, Death's blisteringly aggressive music was initially dismissed by record labels more interested in cashing-in on the glitzy disco craze.

As contracts were cancelled and debts mounted, the band that ushered in a dangerous new era of music vanished into obscurity. Three decades later, however, the discovery of Death's only demo reveals just how far ahead of their time the band really was."

This 96-minute film is rated PG.

Sound & Vision Film Series: Saturday Night Fever

Friday May 16, 2014: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

Sound & Vision is a new AADL Friday evening film series, hosting screenings throughout the summer of both documentaries and features focusing on music and pop culture. Popcorn will also be served!

First up is the award-winning 1977 dance movie classic Saturday Night Fever.

Nineteen-year-old Brooklyn native Tony Manero (Oscar Nominee John Travolta) lives for Saturday nights at the local disco, where he's king of the club, thanks to his stylish moves on the dance floor. Outside of the club, things don't look so rosy. At home, Tony fights constantly with his father and has to compete with his family's starry-eyed view of his older brother, a priest. Nor can he find satisfaction at his dead-end job at a paint store. However, things begin to change when he spies Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) in the disco and starts training with her for the club's dance competition. Stephanie dreams of the world beyond Brooklyn, and her plans to move to the big city just over the bridge soon change Tony's life forever. This 118 minute film is rated R.

Sit back and enjoy your popcorn and the classic disco music by the Bee Gee (the soundtrack for this film is one of the top-selling movie soundtracks of all time).

Hitler's Children

This moving documentary tackles what it means to have a negative family legacy, and how different descendants strive to overcome the guilt they feel for what their ancestors have done. It follows the children and grandchildren of Goering, Himmler, and Frank. They reminisce about their childhood and reflect on memories they have of their relatives. Their stories are riveting and have much to teach those of us who are familiar with history but may not have as much of a personal connection to the narratives that spring from that history.

Some descendants exile themselves like Bettina Goering, who now resides in the Santa Fe desert. The film shows her throwing a get together for friends and neighbors where she celebrates German heritage with traditional German food and music. One gets the impression that she is desperately trying to reclaim the good aspects of her cultural history. Others such at Niklas Frank (son of Hans Frank and Hitler’s godson), have devoted their lives to passionately speaking out against the crimes of their relatives. Frank travels around speaking about the atrocities his parents committed and fervently admonishes them.

If you are interested in this topic and wish to discover more stories and psychological effects of growing up with such relatives make sure to check out Hitler's Children the book, as well as Born Guilty and Legacy of Silence. Also, if you are interested in discovering more about your own family history be sure to check out the ancestry.com library edition that is available at your local AADL branch.

Veronica Mars on the Big Screen

A long time ago, we used to be friends…

And it’s time to think about old friends again, because your favorite teenage detective is back! Yes, she happens to be a marshmallow.

After a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, the sassy Veronica Mars heads to the big screen on March 14 with The Veronica Mars Movie. The Kickstarter raised a million dollars in the first four hours it was open, and reached the $2 million goal in less than ten hours, leading to funding for the film’s production.

The film centers around Neptune Highs’ ten year reunion, and of course there’s a mystery to be solved. The day it comes out, the film will also be available to rent and buy through video-on-demand and online platforms. The Veronica Mars Movie will be the first film distributed in theaters and for home viewing at the same time in the United States by one of Hollywood's six major studios.

The Veronica Mars TV show, starring the adorable Kristin Bell, ran for three seasons. The show was set in the wealthy town of Neptune where the rich kids (AKA the 09-ers) rule the school. But the fearless and smart Veronica is always there to outwit them and even date them. The teen private eye is always into everyone’s business solving the town’s mysteries. Each season had a mystery that lasted the season, while at the same time featured additional weekly mysteries that needed solving. It’s such a fun show and I can’t wait to see the film!

Oscar Winners on DVD & Blu-ray

Last night was the 86th Academy Awards and Hollywood put on a big show as usual. Ellen DeGeneres hosted and ordered pizza while Brad Pitt passed out plates, Benedict Cumberbatch photobomed U2, Jennifer Lawrence tripped again, and Lupita Nyong'o was simply adorable as she danced to Pharrell William’s song Happy.

Top honor went to Twelve Years a Slave for Best Picture, which was one of three awards for the film, including best supporting actress and best adapted screenplay. Gravity won seven awards, the most of any film, including a Best Director win for Alfonso Cuarón.

Frozen won for Animated Feature, Twenty Feet From Stardom won Documentary Feature, The Great Beauty won Foreign Language Film.

Here’s a list of Best Picture Winners from over the years, as well as a list of 2014 nominees for Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, and Foreign Language Film that AADL has in the catalog.

Get on the hold lists and prepare for happy watching!

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