Somewhere

Sofia Coppola, spawn of mega-talented director Francis Ford Coppola, has honed her own writing and directing talent over the years. The films she writes tend to be personal: with The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and now Somewhere, she has offered viewers her own view of the world. Her films are sparse in dialog and rich in analytical thought. She described Somewhere as the most low-stress, pleasant shoot she’s had.

In Somewhere, Stephen Dorff portrays Hollywood star Johnny Marco. He’s a hot, young actor, living in the star-studded Chateau Marmont in LA, and living the life, but not having much fun. After we get inside Johnny’s head we are introduced to his eleven-year-old daughter Cleo, played by Elle Fanning. The film focuses on the story of the two characters and their relationship, especially while living in the unique and lonely world of Hollywood and stardom. This surprise visit ultimately shakes Johnny and wakes him up. After Cleo leaves, he’s faced with the fact that he has to make a change, to go somewhere, he’s just not sure where.

Oscar-Nominated Film "The Illusionist"

Tuesday September 13, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Ready for magic and animation? Watch "The Illusionist" at the library! The film features an outdated, aging magician, forced to wander from country to country and city to city in search of a stage to perform his act. Along the way, he meets a young girl at the start of her life's journey. Their destinies collide, but nothing - not even magic or the power of illusion - can stop this voyage of discovery. The girl does not realize that she loves the Illusionist as a father. The Illusionist knows that he loves her as a daughter and is willing to stop at nothing to provide for her.

This movie was nominated for 2010's Oscar for Best Animated Film. Sylvain Chomet, the Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed creator of "The Triplets of Belleville," adapted the script by French comedy genius Jacques Tati and brought it to life in his distinctive hand-drawn animated style.

This compelling 80-minute animated film is rated PG.

Dance!!

In the last year AADL has had an influx of all things Dance! Starting with well known entertainer Michael Flatley, take a tour of AADL's recent additions in dance related materials.

Michael Flatley has a new DVD out for fans of Lord of the Dance.

Tap Dance History : From Vaudeville To Film contains rare dance footage from the 1930s and 1940s.

Also, the dancetastic film Burlesque was released this year, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. To read my review of the film, click here.

In books, dancer Cheryl Burke wrote the autobiographical Dancing Lessons : How I Found Passion And Potential On The Dance Floor And In Life

Check out these and more today!

What’s New: Horror Films. You Scared?

What’s nice about browsing DVDs in the catalog is that that you can also browse DVDs by genre. It’s helpful if you’re looking for a particular mood or theme, or want a very narrow list. After you pull up a list of just Westerns or Comedy, you can then sort the list to see the newest items listed first. Handy! How about some new-to-AADL horror flicks? Gotcha.

Triangle: "When Jess sets sail on a yacht with a group of friends, she cannot shake the feeling that there is something wrong. Her suspicions are realized when the yacht hits a storm and the group is forced to board a passing ocean liner to get to safety, a ship Jess is convinced she's been on before. The ship appears deserted, the clock on board has stopped, but they are not alone... Someone is intent on hunting them down, one by one." (Also available on Blu-ray.)

The Traveler: "Mr. Nobod (played by Val Kilmer) is a mysterious stranger whose past threatens to haunt the lives of six unsuspecting sheriff's deputies. The moment he arrives in their small town police station, confessing to multiple murders that have yet to occur, their lives are forever changed."

Rubber: "Robert, an inanimate tire that was abandoned in the desert, suddenly and inexplicably comes to life. As Robert roams the landscape, he discovers that he possesses terrifying telepathic powers that give him the ability to destroy anything without having to move. Content to prey on small desert creatures and discarded objects, his attention soon turns to humans, especially a beautiful and mysterious woman who crosses his path. Robert becomes a chaotic force to be reckoned with." (Also available on Blu-ray.)

Betty's Blue Valentine Crush... New Blu-rays!

AADL’s Blu-ray collection is ever-growing! If you’ve upgraded to a Blu-ray player, check out some titles. Here’s a few new blue titles on Blu-ray, if you want to place a hold. (Have no fears if you don't own a Blu-ray player... We have these blue titles on DVD as well!)

Blue Crush: In this Action film, “Ann-Marie, a big-wave surfer on the North Shore of Oahu, drives to make a comeback after nearly drowning in a surfing competition. Her life becomes more complicated by her romance with a handsome football player. Ann-Marie struggles between her need to prove herself and her desire to take the easy way out.” (Also on DVD.) If you dig the waves, also check out Blue Crush 2.

Blue Valentine: This drama is "An honest, moving and uninhibited love story. The uncompromising portrait of Dean and Cindy, a young married couple who have grown apart, taking one night away from their daughter to try to save their relationship. Highlighted by provocative scenes alternately intimate and intense, the film captured audiences and critics alike." (Also on DVD.)

Betty Blue: This French language film is “The story of Zorg, an aspiring novelist who gets by as a handyman, and Betty a beautiful, unpredictable temptress who turns his life upside down. As Betty's mental state turns dark, Zorg desperately attempts to comfort her. Even when ensconced in a dreamy rural town, Betty's fantasy world encroaches on her reality as she slowly spirals out of control.” (Also on DVD.)

Oscar-Nominated Documentary: Exit Through The Gift Shop

Monday August 29, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

Join us for a screening of one of the most acclaimed films of the past year! This 90-minute Oscar-nominated documentary about art is a fascinating study of criminality, comradeship and incompetence.

"Exit Through the Gift Shop" is the inside story of Street Art - a brutal and revealing account of what happens when fame, money and vandalism collide.

The film, which is rated 'R' for language, follows an eccentric shop-keeper turned amateur film-maker as he attempts to capture many of the world's most infamous vandals on camera, only to have a British stencil artist named Banksy turn the camcorder back on its owner with wildly unexpected results.

Chasing the Taiga's Tale

I just finished The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, an Orion Book Award finalist about the hunt for a man-eating tiger in remote eastern Siberia in 1997. On one level, it's your basic hair-raising thriller about a rogue beast and the brave and frightened men who track it. There's plenty of grisly forensic evidence, a few spine-chilling moments, and on more than one occasion the hunter becomes the hunted. Along with the trackers, the reader is drawn into the physical and psychological realm of this near-mythic and elusive creature whose calculating intelligence and patience allows it to outmaneuver its captors while remaining virtually invisible in the forest.

But it's the forest itself, the tiger's domain, the strange land of the Siberian taiga and the people who live there, that elevates this story from man vs. beast to an intimate exploration of the natural world and its relationship with contemporary culture. By drawing attention to their interdependence, author John Vaillant renders the setting every bit as compelling a character; the tiger and taiga are indivisible. The land defies conventional description, so he dubs it a "boreal jungle" to evoke its exotic mix of flora and fauna. It's the sort of ragged wilderland you might expect to wander through in Middle Earth, but instead of elvish villages it's dotted with hunting shacks and charmless Soviet-era outposts, an aesthetic of metal boxes at odds with nature where villagers are laid low by poverty and the lawlessness wrought by perestroika. And the occasional man-eating tiger.

Capturing the strange beauty of this region has been a goal of some of our greatest filmmakers. Werner Herzog, always on the hunt for the strange and beautiful, recently teamed up for a documentary about the hunters of the taiga titled, of all things, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, which I hope to see on DVD soon. Further back, in 1975, Akira Kurosawa brought this haunting landscape to life in one of my all-time favorite films, Dersu Uzala, which was adapted from the writings of the well-known Soviet explorer, Vladimir Arseniev, about his friendship with the trapper he hires to accompany him.

In 2014, The Tiger (and the taiga) will come to the big screen again, with no less than Darren Aronofsky at the helm and a screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga, who also wrote Amores Perros and Babel. The lead tracker will be played by Brad Pitt, whose film choices have gotten more and more interesting lately. His is not the sort of face you expect to find in the Siberian wilderness, but then I felt the same way about Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson and got over it fast.

Until then, your can discover more about the taiga and its tigers in Peter Matthiessen's Tigers in the Snow and National Geographic's Tigers of the Snow.

August's Books to Film

The adaptation of actor-novelist-screenwriter David Nicholl's One Day hits local theaters this week.

It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself. This summer's best date night movie.

Needing no introduction is the much anticipated star-studded-summer-blockbuster : The Help, a Hollywood adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's debut novel.

In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, three women start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way women--black and white, mothers and daughters--view one another.

All the hoopla aside, if you have thus far resisted reading this bestseller (or gush over it) and couldn't quite articulate why, read Martha Southgate's piece "The Truth about the Civil Rights Era: Martha Southgate on The Help " in the latest Entertainment Weekly.

The darling of this year's Traverse City Film Festival and the World Documentary Jury Award winner, Project Nim is based on Elizabeth Hess's Nim Chimpsky : the chimp who would be human.

Project Nim, the brainchild of a Columbia University psychologist, was designed to refute Noam Chomsky’s claim that language is an exclusively human trait. Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee chosen to realize this potentially groundbreaking experiment, was raised like a human child and taught American Sign Language while living with his “adoptive family” in their elegant Manhattan town house.Over the next two decades he was exiled from the people he loved, put in a cage, and moved from one facility to another, including, most ominously, a medical research lab. But wherever he went, Nim’s humanlike qualities and his ability to communicate with humans saved him. A creature of extraordinary charm and charisma, Nim ultimately triumphed over a dramatic series of reversals and obstacles. His story, both moving and entertaining, also raises the most profound questions of what it means to be human—and about what we owe to the animals who enrich our lives. Limited showing at the Michigan Theater, Friday, August 19. Don't miss it.

Hot Youth DVDs

Have you been waiting to watch some of the newest youth DVD releases? Has your family been wanting to see Rio and other popular movies that were in theaters recently? Well, the AADL has some great new and popular youth DVDs! Stop in at the downtown youth department or at any of our branch locations to check out or put a hold on some of these awesome titles. Here are just a few of them:

Rango
Tangled
Gnomeo & Juliet
The Chronicles of Narnia. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Author Birthdays: Potter, Ashbery, Davis

July 28th marks the birthday of authors Beatrix Potter, John Ashbery, and Jim Davis.

Beatrix Potter was an English author known for her children's books, most notably The Tale of Peter Rabbit. There are actually over 20 tales of Peter Rabbit and his fellows, like Mrs. Tittlemouse and Mr. Tod.

Potter's other works include The Fairy Caravan, about a guinea pig who runs away from home to join the circus, and the sort-of-autobiography Letters to Children From Beatrix Potter, edited by Judy Taylor.

John Ashbery is an American poet. According to the Academy of American Poets, he has won nearly every major American award for poetry, and has quite a few other awards as well.

Ashbery's collections include the Griffin Poetry Prize winner Notes From the Air, and the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle and National Book Award winning Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

Jim Davis is an American cartoonist. You've probably at least heard of his most famous strip, Garfield. In addition to the actual strip, he also helped to write and produce the many TV shows, specials, and CGI movies starring the lazy cat.

While his main cartoon is Garfield, Davis also wrote U.S. Acres, also called Orson's Farm, which you still might recognize if you have ever watched the animated series Garfield And Friends.

If you're looking for Summer Game points, try taking a look at some of those titles!

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