Screening of Emmy-Nominated PBS Documentary: In The Footsteps Of Marco Polo

Friday September 14, 2012: 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

Francis O'Donnell and his friend Denis Belliveau took a wild idea -- retrace Marco Polo's entire 25,000-mile, land-and-sea route from Venice to China and back! Join us for the screening of this amazing journey in the Emmy-Nominated 2008 PBS film that was made of their trip: "In The Footsteps Of Marco Polo."

Equal parts travelogue, adventure story, history trek and buddy movie, the 90-minute film weaves footage both from the duo's often perilous voyage and from Marco Polo's descriptions and experiences.

Unfortunately, Francis O'Donnell, filmmaker behind the documentary, will be unable to attend this event to discuss his film - but we hope you join us for the viewing of his extraordinary journey!

It's A Fact...

Wasn't The Kids in the Hall fantastic? Even thinking about some of their skits is enough to make me laugh. The Headcrusher, Cabbage Head, the Chicken Lady and all the rest are sure to put a smile on anyone's face. Not every act was was great and many people found their show off-putting, but hey, the same can be said of Monty Python's Flying Circus or Saturday Night Live. Being comic geniuses means taking risks, and take risks they did. If you missed out on the first run of The Kids in the Hall, do yourself a favor and put Season One on hold this very instant. Or indulge in some nostalgia and request this for a second viewing. Also, be sure to check out their movie debut Brain Candy.

Grown in Detroit

Detroit is a city that has been reviving itself for decades, as new generations bring new life to the city. With the city’s growth has also come growth in urban agriculture, as people are turning vacant lots into fertile land. Some call it the greening of a gray city.

The documentary film Grown in Detroit focuses on a group of students at Detroit’s Ferguson Academy for Young Women, a high school for pregnant teens, as they work in the school's urban garden and learn how to grow nutritious food for their children. One of only three schools in the country for this population, the curriculum focuses on helping these teens care for themselves and their children, and uses urban farming as a means to teach them.

The students featured in Grown in Detroit are at first underwhelmed by the amount of physical labor required for farming. The teen moms eventually realize that they can profit from the food they are growing, as well as provide nutritious food for their children and themselves, all stemming from the fruits of their labor. It’s a beautiful film that places an eye on this unique opportunity happening for these girls -- right here in Detroit.

In addition to being available on DVD at AADL, the film is also available for instant online streaming to logged-in AADL cardholders here! You can also watch it on the Grown in Detroit website, where you pay whatever denomination you want in order to view it.

William Windom, great character actor, has died

William Windom, whose television and silver screen acting career spanned decades, died August 16th at his California home.

Best known in more recent years as Dr. Seth Hazlitt in the popular Murder, She Wrote TV series (1984-1996), he also had roles in other hit TV shows, such as the original The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), The Farmer's Daughter (1963-1966), (in which he played a Minnesota congressman based loosely on his real life great-grandfather, William Windom, who was a Minnesota congressman and senator in the 19th century.)

Windom's first movie role was the prosecuting attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), starring Gregory Peck.

Mr. Windom, who was 88, died of congestive heart failure.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #350 - Remembering Marilyn

August marks the 50th Anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death but the appetite and obsession with this universal icon have never waned in the intervening years. Just in the past year, we saw the Hollywood adaptation of Colin Clark's memoir My Week with Marilyn and Smash, the 2012 successful television series (renewed for another season), a musical based on Marilyn's life.

Now we have J.I. Baker's The Empty Glass *, a "heartbreaking, pulse-quickening" novel that delves into one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century.

Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the scene of Monroe's death and finds her diary. The deeper Ben reads into the diary, the deeper he finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy far bigger than he can imagine. Then there were the photos taken of the night stand next to Marilyn's bed, where no water glass was found, contradicting a second set of photographs being used in the investigations.

Debut novelist James Ireland Baker is the executive editor of Condé Nast Traveler and had worked for various national magazines. He is a founding editor of Time Out New York.

If fact is more to your liking than fiction, then check out a new biography by Lois Banner Marilyn :The Passion and the Paradox *.

As one of the founders of the field of women's history, Lois Banner (Scholar/Faculty, USC) appreciates the complexities of Monroe's personal life in the context of her achievements as an actor, singer, dancer, comedian, model, and courtesan. In the research, she gained access to material no one else has seen (personal papers, interviews with Kennedy's Secret Service detail). The new information she unearthed is nothing short of revelatory.

"A passion for precision and truth fuels Banner's electrifying portrait of an artist caught in a maze of paradoxes and betrayals. Here is Marilyn as we've never seen her before."

* = starred review

The Five Year Engagement on DVD

The much talked about and read about film, The Five Year Engagement, contains many scenes filmed last summer around Ann Arbor. The local movie-making created quite a flurry of celebrity sightings of the movie's stars, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, and John Krasinski, and plenty of mid-summer snow scenes on the streets of downtown Ann Arbor.

The romantic comedy features Blunt and Segel as a couple whose engagement is continually delayed as changes happen in their lives. From the producers of The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Knocked Up, this film will have you in stitches, too. Not only was The Five Year Engagement filmed in Ann Arbor, but Ann Arbor is also the setting for the story. True, it’s not the most amazing movie, but it’s funny, and definitely fun to see so many Ann Arbor landmarks on the big screen, especially since the University of Michigan and Zingerman’s play big roles in the couple's lives.

The Safety Dance, Time After Time, Etc.

Have you read Ready Player One yet? If you haven’t yet, you should! For everyone finished with the book, did you catch yourself humming those 80’s hits or wanting to rewatch any sweet 80’s flicks? Immerse yourself in the OASIS easter egg hunt with the help of your trusty library!

Here are lists of the Movies, Music, Anime, TV Shows, and Books referenced by Parzival and his friends.

Game + Watch: Electron Event

Sunday July 29, 2012: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Is there anything better than playing video games? Playing video games while watching the perfect movie! Join us for a lazy afternoon of games, movies, soda and popcorn. Prizes awarded for best theme-related costume and game play-related contests.

This month's games might include racing light bikes and disk battles. Can you guess what we'll be watching?

This event is for Grade 9 - Adult.

July's Books to Film

The Amazing Spider-Man ( PG-13) is based on the Spider-Man comics

Peter Parker, an outcast high schooler, abandoned by his parents as a boy, struggles to figure out who he is. When Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents’ disappearance --- leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors’ alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

Killer Joe (NC-17) is adapted from Tracy Lett's play (1993) about a small-time drug dealer who hires a hit man to murder his mother for her life insurance money. Starring Emile Hirsch, Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon and Thomas Haden Church.

Savages (R) is based on the novel by Don Winslow (in audio)

Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben and Chon run a lucrative, homegrown industry raising some of the best marijuana ever developed, until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands a partnership.

Based on the Batman comics, The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13) opens eight years after Batman vanished into the night. Turning fugitive and assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for the greater good.

But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist with ruthless plans for Gotham.

"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey"

I’ve never been a fan of Elmo; I felt he overshadowed the awesomeness of Grover. But after watching the documentary Being Elmo I can’t dislike Elmo anymore, because then it would seem as though I disliked Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind that famous red face. The film is a wonderful look behind the iconic character and makes you think that maybe dreams can come true.

A gentle natured man, Clash embodies the spirit of Elmo. He grew up in Baltimore in the 60s and 70s as a fan of Sesame Street and all things Jim Henson. He fell in love with puppetry at a young age and started making his own puppets and performing puppet shows for neighborhood kids. While it was clear that he had skill, his “playing with dolls” was frowned upon by fellow high school students. But in the end, he was voted "Most Likely to be a Millionaire."

Clash stuck with it, and eventually landed a job on “Captain Kangaroo” and “The Great Space Coaster.” This lead to his ultimate gig, Sesame Street, made possible after he met Muppet designer Kermit Love and got the official Henson connection.

In theory, Elmo represents love, childhood, and innocence. After seeing the film, it’s easy to see why small children fall in love with the Muppet. The bottom line is that Elmo loves every single one of them unconditionally, and what kid doesn’t want that?

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