The Hobbit Returns

December 13th is the big day! The day where Lord of the Rings fans put on beards and march their furry feet over to the nearest theater to check out The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second in the film trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s book The Hobbit: Or, There and Back Again.

The book and films tell the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who heads off on an epic quest to reclaim Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. Along the way is high adventure and many encounters with other creatures, namely the band of dwarves that he travels with. It is on this journey that Bilbo meets the creature Gollum, and where he first lays hands on “the one ring” that changes his life, and that of Middle Earth, for all time.

Perhaps you’ve caught the trailer before a recent new film, or have watched it online. SMAUG! To get yourself in gear, why not check out the first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, to see just where things left off. It's available on DVD, Blu-ray, and a special 2-disc DVD set.

It might also be worth checking out some of the new books related to the new film! AADL has The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide and The Hobbit : the desolation of Smaug : visual companion for your viewing and reading pleasure. See you at the theater!

The Bling Ring on DVD & Blu-Ray

Inspired by actual events, The Bling Ring tells the story of a group of fame-obsessed teenagers living in the suburbs of Los Angeles who use the internet to track celebrities whereabouts in order to rob their empty homes.

Directed by Sofia Coppola, the film is an interesting take on the events that happened, and how tech savvy teens can use their skills in such ways. One of the homes the teens burgled multiple times was that of Paris Hilton, who has a cameo in the film, and part of her home was actually used as the location. There is also a book, The Bling Ring: how a gang of fame-obsessed teens ripped off Hollywood and shocked the world by Nancy Jo Sales, that recounts information related to the misadventure.

Holiday Books-to-Movies Releases

Frozen
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, this family-friendly musical comedy-adventure entertains without the original tale's darkness.

The Wolf of Wall Street
This "morality tale for our time" is adopted from Jordan Belfort's gritty memoir that "dishes up the dirty details of his company and his life - from his days as a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption, and the federal govt. (Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey)

The Book Thief
Based on the 2006 runaway bestseller, and Printz-Honor Award winner, by Australian author Markus Zusak, it is the unforgettable story of the ability of books to feed the soul. It is 1939. Nazi Germany. Liesel, a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

The Hunger Games : Catching Fire
"A class-divided postapocalyptic world, teenage gladiators suffering from post-traumatic stress, and a fiery love triangle collide" in the film adaptation based on Suzanne Collins second book in the wildly successful series.

Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Parkland is based on author Vincent Bugliosi's book which recounts the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas's Parkland Hospital on November 22, 1963, following a handful of individuals forced to make split-second decisions that changed their lives and the world.

Therese
Based on Emile Zola's famous novel, Therese Raquin (English translation on order) tells the story of Therese and her lover Laurent who plot to murder Camille, Therese's sickly husband. Set in 1860's Paris, this classic tale of passion, betrayal and tragedy is a tantalizing erotic thriller.

Stories We Tell on DVD

Sarah Polley is amazing and adorable, as both an actress and a director. Stories We Tell is a documentary she directed and stars in as interviewer. The film shares the process of how Sarah learned she was the product of an extramarital affair, and relies heavily on her father Michael Polley’s memoir. The story is told through multiple interviews with her father, siblings and other family members, which creates a touching portrait of the life and stories of one family, and how stories change depending on who the storyteller is.

The talking heads are artfully interrupted with the recreation of Super-8 footage in the style of home movies reenacting moments in the lives of Sarah and namely her parents, Michael and Diane. This creates a lush backdrop for the thoughtful and intimate interviews.

In December, this surprisingly delightful film was included in the Toronto International Film Festival's list of "Canada's Top Ten" feature films of 2012.

Marcia Wallace, a.k.a. the voice of The Simpsons' Edna Krabappel, has died

Marcia Wallace, actress in stage, screen, and TV, and most recently the voice of 4th grade teacher, Edna Krabappel, on The Simpsons, died October 25th.

Ms. Wallace's acting gifts were apparent in high school, after which she won a full-ride scholarship to the now-defunct Parsons College in Iowa. From there, she moved to New York, performing in night clubs, on Off-Broadway, and appearing dozens of times on The Merv Griffin Show.

In 1972, after Ms. Wallace had moved to California, TV producer, Grant Tinker created a role for her on the sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show. She played the sharp-tongued receptionist, Carol Kester.

In 1990, she began her most notable career as the voice of Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, which won her an Emmy in 1992. She charmed audiences with that role until her recent bad health caused the producers to decide to 'retire' Ms. Krabappel forever.

In 2008, Ms. Wallace was in the movie, Tru Loved, in which she played a high school drama teacher who helps students start a Gay Straight Alliance Club.

In 2007, The Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, awarded Ms. Wallace their Gilda Radner Courage Award for her tireless efforts educating American men and women on the importance of early detection of breast cancer, which she herself successfully beat for more than twenty years.

Ms. Wallace, who died of complications from pneumonia, was a week shy of her 71st birthday.

The Monuments Men

One of the most anticipated movies this fall is The Monuments Men, based on the book The Monuments Men : Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history by Robert M. Edsel.

The Monuments Men, a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of them volunteers, who were museum directors, curators, art scholars and educators, artists, architects, and archivists. These mostly middle-aged family men, walked away from successful careers into the epicenter of the war, risking—and some losing—their lives. They raced against time in order to save the world’s greatest cultural treasures from destruction at the hands of Nazi regime.

A little known fact is that one of these brave men lived among us quietly for decades - Charles Sawyer, a member of the Roberts Commission, established by President Roosevelt on June 23, 1943, charged with promoting the preservation of cultural properties in war areas, provided this mission did not interfere with military operations. Professor Sawyer was the Director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art from 1957-1972.

The Charles Sawyer Center for Museum Studies at the University of Michigan Museum of Art was founded in his honor in 2003. “Charlie” Sawyer passed away after a brief illness on February 25, 2005. Here are the Old News articles on Charles Sawyer.

The Way Way Back on DVD & BluRay

The Way Way Back is the coming-of-age story of 14 year old Duncan as he sets off for summer vacation with his mother Pam, her boyfriend Trent, and Trent’s daughter Stephanie. They head to a beach house in Cape Cod for a summer of beachside fun. Duncan doesn’t get along with Trent at all, is tired of being treated like a child, and just doesn’t feel like he fits in. All of this hits its peak while at the beach house. Soon enough Duncan finds an old bike and uses it as a source of escape. Through his adventures he ends up landing a job at Water Wizz, the local water park, under the tutelage of the laid back park manager Owen. He finds confidence in this new space with new friends, but ultimately it does not solve his familial problems. The dramatic-comedy film is hilarious and warm-hearted and you really do root for Duncan.

Amazon Teen Bestseller: The Book Thief

The Kindle edition of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak currently is #5 on Amazon's Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Books. First published in 2007, the bestselling book was made into a movie that will be in theaters in November. In the novel, Death tells the story of Liesel, a German girl during World War II whose storytelling and book thefts help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding.

Tom Clancy, king of techno-military thrillers, has died

Tom Clancy, author of nail-biting military suspense novels, known for their eerie prescience, has died.

Mr. Clancy turned a lifelong obsession for all things military-and-technological into instant success with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October (1984), published by the Naval Institute Press, housed at the U.S. Naval Academy. It was the NIP's first novel -- Clancy's detailed military descriptions caught their attention. It also captured then-President Ronald Reagan's interest as well; thus Mr. Clancy's instant rise to bestsellerdom.

Clancy's unerring accuracy with details had many convinced that he had connections inside the Pentagon. He adamantly denied all such charges, but did say, "I've made stuff up that's turned out to be real, that's the spooky part."

His series character, Jack Ryan, first seen in The Hunt for Red October, has made fourteen more appearances over the past three decades, the latest in Threat Vector which was published last year. The last Jack Ryan novel, Command Authority, will be released at the end of this year.

Several of his thrillers starring Jack Ryan (who morphed, during the course of the series, from U.S. Naval Academy instructor to CIA spy/Director to U.S. President) were turned into successful movies.Alec Baldwin, played Ryan in the 1990 release, The Hunt for Red October. Harrison Ford did the honors in the next two Jack Ryan films, Patriot Games (1992), and
Clear and Present Danger (1994). Ben Affleck appeared as Ryan in The Sum of All Fears in 2002.

Mr. Clancy, who died in a Baltimore hospital, was 66.

Before Midnight...The denouement of the "Before" Trilogy

This popular film series with its dead-aim at Generation X concludes with a thoughtful and intense meditation on marriage and relationships in Before Midnight. The trilogy was written and directed by Richard Linklater along with its two stars, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. This collaborative effort is what has made this film series so authentic and relatable. Both Hawke and Delpy are writers themselves and this shows in the dialogue and the acting in all three films. Before Midnight reveals that Jessie and Celine have finally gotten together after the last two films and now married they have twin daughters. We find them on holiday in Greece and the conversations and relationships while just as intense are wholly different and more complicated than in the past. Like the two previous films the realistic feel engages the viewer and pulls you into the moment. What began in Before Sunrise as a bittersweet romance about two entrancing, ambitious twenty-somethings having a one-night stand, and then took on humbled but still hopeful shadings (he unhappily married, she still single) for the thirty-somethings in Before Sunset, has now been deepened immeasurably. Watching this triptych back to back is a must.

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