More December's Books to Film

Steven Spielberg directs Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson and David Thewlis in War Horse (PG-13), based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo - a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War.

It begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets.

John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is adapted by Director Tomas Alfredson for Universal Pictures into a feature film starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy.

This international espionage action-thriller is set at the height of the Cold War when George Smiley, a disgraced British spy, is rehired in secret by his government in fear that MI-6 has been compromised by a double agent working for the Soviets.

Life In A Day, on DVD

Life In A Day is a documentary made up of footage submitted by YouTube users from around the globe. It depicts each user’s day as it happened on July 24, 2010. The independent film includes scenes selected from over 4,500 hours of footage in 80,000 submissions from 192 nations. Roughly 25% of the content is not from YouTube, but from cameras that were mailed to developing countries, as the filmmakers wanted it to be a representation of the whole world. Director Kevin Macdonald and producer Ridley Scott focused a single day, "because a day is the basic temporal building block of human life—wherever you are."

It is an amazing concept to use the giant online video-sharing community as a tool to capture a pool of co-directors to tell the story of human life. There are moments of happiness, sadness, and boredom as people are working, celebrating, mourning, and going about daily chores in a variety of cultures, from morning until evening. The film is a deeply moving story of a single day on earth that celebrates humanness.

Life In A Day received rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition to being released on DVD and Blu-ray, the film is viewable in its entirety for free on its own YouTube channel.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Spielberg

Today marks the birthday of American film director and producer Steven Spielberg. Famous for films such as Jaws, E.T., the Indiana Jones series, and Jurassic Park, his movies have been viewed and adored by many, and he is a stand-out film personality of his generation. His hands have worked on over two hundred films, as writer, director, producer, and actor.

Spielberg’s first feature film was 1974’s Sugarland Express, followed by the revolutionary blockbuster Jaws, which he made at the age of 27. A string of Best Director Academy Award nominations began in 1978 with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but he didn’t end up winning an Oscar for Best Director until 1994 for Schindler’s List, which also won Best Picture that year. He also won an Oscar for Best Director in 1998 for Saving Private Ryan.

His most recent films include War Horse, and The Adventures of Tintin, which comes out next week.

If you look back at the history of cinema, it would have been very different movie going experience if Spielberg hadn’t been around.

Film: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians- One Of The Worst Movies Ever Made

Thursday December 22, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Get into the true Holiday spirit as AADL presents one of the worst films ever made - "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" - the 1964 clunker that features one of the worst actresses of all time - Pia Zadora - in her film debut as Gilmar, the Martian Girl.

The storyline involves Martians kidnapping Santa because there is no one on Mars to give their children presents. And in a plot twist, the evil Martian Voldar believes that Santa is corrupting Mars children and plots against the kidnapped Claus!

Discover how a truly terrible movie becomes a hilarious film to watch!

Youth Holiday DVDs

The AADL has some great new and classic youth holiday DVDs that are perfect for kids and for the whole family! Check out Disney's Prep and Landing. It's a story about some high tech elves who make sure that all of the houses are ready for Santa's visit on Christmas Eve. One of the elves doesn't get promoted to the head of the Naughty List and instead, ends up working with a newbie elf. How will things turn out in the end? You'll have to check it out or get on the hold list to find out!

We also have Disney's Beauty & The Beast: Enchanted Christmas which tells another classic Beauty & The Beast tale in a special edition holiday DVD!

AADL also has Maccabees: The Story Of Hanukkah, which is an animated youth DVD that goes back in time to the second century BC and details the origins of Hanukkah. Or, take a peek at the newer Sesame Street DVD, Shalom Sesame. Chanukah, The Missing Menorah, which depicts all of the Muppet friends searching for a missing menorah in hopes to find it in time for Chanukah.

If you and your family are interested in learning about different holidays around the world, check out Elmo's World. Happy Holidays. In this special edition of Elmo's World, Elmo is getting ready to celebrate Christmas, but instead he ends up learning all about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas and more!

Or, if you are hoping for a classic, we have A Charlie Brown Christmas on DVD and on Blu-ray too!

Betrayal: History Repeats Itself

With the recent re-release of both the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as the three prequels on Blu-ray, interest in what has been called an "American epic space opera" has shot through the roof. Most people are familiar with the classic story of a band of rebels trying to overthrow an evil empire and bring peace back to the galaxy, but not many know much about the back stories of the characters or about the plethora of books, often referred to as the "expanded universe," that tell those stories.

Aaron Allston's Star Wars : Legacy Of The Force, Betrayal, book one in a series of nine, takes place 35 years after Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and follows some of the characters from the movies, as well as introducing some new faces. Han Solo and Princess Leia have married and are the parents of three children. Luke Skywalker has married Mara Jade (reformed smuggler and aid to Emperor Palpatine) and they have a son. Betrayal follows these characters as they deal with trouble within the Galactic Alliance, resistance from The Corellian system, and a rift in the Jedi Order. The series also contains a side plot involving the bounty hunter Boba Fett and his culture's (Mandalorian) role in the Galactic conflict.

With well-known characters and an exciting plot, Betrayal is a good read and an easy entrance for those looking to get into the huge world of the Star Wars expanded universe.

When Popular Books Become Popular Movies

You’ve probably heard many folks say, “the book is always better.” I won’t speculate as to whether that is true or not, but there’s definitely chatter. Sometimes it’s quite fun to see how a book is translated into a movie. At times it’s pretty true to the book, while other times it seems like more of an adaptation with added elements for dramatic flare. Then there are the instances where the book gets butchered and we declare “what have they done?!” It’s quite common for Hollywood to take bestselling books and turn them into blockbusters. Two adaptations recently released on DVD include the love stories Water for Elephants and One Day.

Water for Elephants, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, is the story of a veterinary student and a circus performer who fall in love during the Great Depression while sharing an interest in an elephant. The film is not only a love story, but also the tale of the circus people surrounding the couple.

In One Day, Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) begin a friendship that spans two decades after spending one day together, July 15, 1988. We catch a glimpse into their lives every so often on the anniversary of that day. Over the course of ups and downs and many life changes, Em and Dex realize they were meant to be together.

December's Books to Film

Steven Spielberg directs the animated film adaptation of The Adventures of TINTIN. This first of a planned triogy is base on a very popular comic book series created in 1929 by a Belgian artist who called himself Hergé. Clever and ever-curious, TINTIN is a reporter-turned-detective whose pursuit of villains, criminals, treasure and the occasional artifact takes him all over the world, along with a colorful cast of friends. Hergé based his stories on real-world events and cultures - from space exploration to Arab oil wars.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer's critically acclaimed novel in which 9 year-old Oskar Schell embarks on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York in order to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

I was perfectly happy with the original film adaptation of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first in his Millennium Trilogy. But I could be persuaded to take in the American remake coming this month with some irresistible big names (Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer) and a sizzling newcomer (Rooney Mara).

Benjamin Mee's memoir is adapted in the feature film We Bought a Zoo. Benjamin Mee, a former newspaper columnist, known for his humorous "Do It Yourself" column in the UK’s Guardian Weekend moved his family to an unlikely new home: a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside. Mee had a dream to refurbish the zoo and run it as a family business. Nothing was easy, given the family’s lack of experience as zookeepers, and what follows is a magical exploration of the mysteries of the animal kingdom, the power of family, and the triumph of hope over tragedy.

Super 8, on DVD

It’s the summer of 1979 and six young friends witness a train crash while making a super 8 film. The crash is epic as it is, and then the story turns into a mysterious adventure when the boys discover what was on the train and that it has escaped into the night. A series of unexplainable events start wreaking havoc on their small town and Joe, the local deputy’s son, and his pals are keeping their secret and dealing with the consequences.

If you take the science fiction element of E.T., the adventure of The Goonies, young boys fighting evil on their own, as in The Monster Squad, and the thriller element of Cloak and Dagger, all mixed with today’s technology, you might get Super 8. It’s your classic little boy adventure story on a modern scale.

The fact that it’s written and directed J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg makes it all the more credible, but it’s still not a perfect film. It has its plot flaws here and there, but it’s cinematically beautiful, and still a fun watch if you’re into those kinds of films. I loved learning that Abrams, the cinematographer, and another producer were friends when they were young and shared a love of movie making and super 8 films. It was fun watching the special features on the DVD and learn of the dream behind the film and their own film ambitions in the late 70s.

White Christmas Sing-a-Long

Do you like old movies? Do you sing along with musicals in your living room? Well, if you have been bitten by the holiday spirit bug, and answered “yes” to the previous two questions, then the Michigan Theater has the event for you! On Sunday, November 27th, at 4:00 p.m., the Michigan Theater will have the event, “Irving Berlin’s Sing-a-Long White Christmas.” Yes, you can sing along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen in the pernially popular 1954 musical, “White Christmas,” with music by Irving Berlin. Lyrics will be provided on the big screen, and good bags will be provided too! If you were wondering what to do after the turkey and Black Friday shopping madness, you have found your answer.

Cost is $15 for adults
$12 for children, students (with i.d.), seniors, and U.S. veterans
$10 for Michigan Theater Members

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