Austenland

Austenland is a new movie based on the novel written by Shannon Hale. The novel’s protagonist is Jane Austen obsessed Jane Hayes. Jane is in her 30's when her great aunt dies leaving her a large amount of money. The catch is that the money must be spent on a vacation involving an English resort that panders to the Austen lovers of the world. During her vacation Jane searches for a Regency era gentleman to fall in love with and hopes to rid herself of her dreams of Mr. Darcy by the end of the vacation. The goal is to return to her life without comparing all men to Mr. Darcy. Will she succeed or will the insanity of this absurd vacation only further her obsession?

The twelve year old girl living inside of me giggled manically when she saw the preview for this movie. It has received mixed reviews and the negative ones are generally written by significant others who were dragged to a screening against their will. It will most likely be overly cheesy, but what can you expect from a movie centered on Jane Austen obsession. At that point isn’t the cheesiness part of the fun?

Blackfish on DVD & Blu-ray

Blackfish is a controversial documentary on a dark and controversial subject matter. The disturbing, engaging and mainly one-sided film focuses on the danger of keeping wild animals, namely killer whales, in captivity and the danger is poses to trainers who work with the animals. Much of the film is about Tilikum, an orca held by SeaWorld, and the incidents that happened involving the animal, including three deaths. It exposes SeaWorld, a lack of communication within the organization, and harmful accidents and fatalities involving various staff working with orcas in captivity. The film tells the story using archival footage and interviews with former trainers. While critically acclaimed and a hit at Sundance, the film was not nominated last week for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Oscar nods to films based on books


This year's Academy Award nominations include 5 out of 9 best pictures that are based on books, all of them non-fiction.

Have a read while you await the award show on March 2 (and don't miss AADL's Academy Awards Preview on Wednesday, February 26 at 7 pm at the Downtown Library).

12 years a slave based on the book by Solomon Northrup
American Hustle based on the book, the Sting Man: inside Abscam
Captain Phillips based on the book, A Captain's Duty by Richard Phillips
Wolf of Wall Street based on the book of the same name by Jordan Belfort
Philomena based on the book Philomena : a mother, her son, and a fifty-year search by Martin Sixsmith

Other award nominated movies based on books include:
Inside Llewelyn Davis based on the book Mayor of Macdougal Street : a memoir (nominated for cinematography & sound mixing)
Lone Survivor based on the book Lone survivor : the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL Team 10 (nominated for sound mixing)
Dirty Wars based on the book Dirty wars : the world is a battlefield (nominated for best documentary feature)

Lastly one play to film was nominated:
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts (Meryl Streep is nominated for best actress & Julia Roberts for best supporting actress)

Jon Stewart's movie based on this book


If you are a fan of the Daily Show, you probably know that host, Jon Stewart, has been in post-production on his movie directorial debut, Rosewater. But did you know that it is based on the book, Then they came for me : a family's story of love, captivity, and survival by Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari ? It is a harrowing story of imprisonment for over 100 days in Iran's notorious Evin Prison and the brutal interrogation he endured. One of the most bizarre reasons he was imprisoned was for an 'interview' he had with Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones who was pretending to be a spy (Jones plays himself in the movie). The segment called Behind the Veil: Minarets of Menace can be found on the Daily Show's website here. According to Bahari's interrogators, this was proof he was making plans to overthrow their government. Bahari later stated that the captors knew it was satire but were looking for anything to keep him locked up. An excellent interview between Jones and Bahari after his release can be found here. Award winning Mexican actor, Gael Garcia Bernal will be portraying Bahari in the movie.

Golden Globes 2014

Last night, amidst the glitz and glamour that is Hollywood at its most celebratory, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association hosted the 71st Golden Globe Awards which recognize the best that movies and television have to offer.

Hosted again by the popular duo Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, more than two dozen prizes were received with the usual mix of speeches that ran the gamut from eloquent to a stunned scrambling for coherence, from blink-and-you'll-miss-it brevity to gassiness that shouted over the 'stop, you're done' musical cues from the orchestra.

Among the winners were:

12 Years a Slave for Best Motion Picture, Drama -- based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup who was born a freeman in New York and then captured and enslaved in New Orleans.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama went to Cate Blanchett for her mesmerizing portrayal of a New York socialite who has lost it all and is forced to move in with her working-poor sister in San Francisco in Blue Jasmine, directed by Woody Allen, who took heat last night from his family and foes via Twitter, when he accepted a Lifetime Achievement award later in the evening.

Amy Poehler got to switch roles when she captured the category of Best Actress in a TV Series, Musical or Comedy for her portrayal of Leslie Knope in the NBC hit series, Parks and Recreation.

Check out the complete list of winners here.

Filmmaking 101

Do you consider yourself a filmmaker? Maybe not yet, but check out these brand new AADL teen nonfiction titles - as well as these film-related events!

Stop motion animation: how to make and share creative videos gives you guidance to create your very own stop motion film! You probably knew you could make your drawings animated by flipping Post-It-Notes, but did you know you could use whiteboards, paper cutouts, Legos, or even Smartphones? Ternan also gives tips on how to edit and share your videos once they’re ready for the world to see.

You can also check out the brand new autobiography by award-winning Andrew Jenks, My adventures as a young filmmaker. Jenks has created multiple documentaries and the YouTube series “It’s About a Girl.” In his book, he includes photos, opinions, lists, and other personal tidbits.

If you like viewing or making films, be sure to attend AADL’s great upcoming January events:

View the Sundance Film Festival Award-Winner: American Promise on Thursday, January 23 at the Downtown Library. This thorough documentary follows two African-American boys from kindergarten all the way through high school, and shows their triumphs and defeats along the way.

On Tuesday, January 28 at the Downtown Library, you can learn from Community Television Network staff how to make your own iMovie and edit the footage.

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.

Martin Bandyke's Moving Pictures: Academy Awards Preview With Special Guest Russ Collins!

Wednesday February 26, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Movie buffs!!!! Oscar fans and experts!!! Do not miss this event!!!

Will it be Cate or Sandra? McConaughey or Dern? Gravity or 12 Years A Slave? Will Jennifer Lawrence win twice in a row? Who was left out? Who did not deserve to be included?

Martin Bandyke, morning host and movie maniac at Ann Arbor's 107one, hosts a lively discussion with Russ Collins of the Michigan Theater about who should win and who will win the 2014 Oscars.

Martin & Russ will also take questions from the audience and give a preview of hot films coming to the Michigan in 2014.

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.

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.

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