Staff Picks: At the Movies

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The Staff Picks shelf is downtown on the first floor. Why not get ready for the long holiday weekend with a few movies?

Here is a sampling of what the Ann Arbor District Library movie loving staff members are currently recommending:

Not Quite Hollywood: “Murder! Mystery! Suspenders! Not Quite Hollywood, by Mark Hartley, has lots of all of them. It's a riot of bad taste and secret histories. A look back at 1970s and early 1980s Ozploitation, films from Down Under that, for a long time, were reviled by the country's movie critics and cultural gatekeepers as literally Down Under: cheap, bawdy, celluloid effluence. Partly, he uses them as a prism for exploring changing social mores in the 1970s, a decade when Australia relaxed its censorship laws and was slowly becoming more liberal.”—Telegraph UK

Le Fils d'Epicer=The Grocer’s Son "This small gem of a film, a surprise hit in France, is the second feature directed by Éric Guirado, who prepared for it by filming portraits of traveling tradesmen in southern and central France. For 18 months he focused on mobile grocers in Corsica, the Pyrenees and the Alps. As the movie affectionately observes the gruff, self-reliant customers, some of whom hobble to the van on canes, it has a documentarylike realism. You grow to respect these hardy, weather-beaten people who lived their whole lives close to the land.” —New York Times

Ben X “An avid computer gamer who can't grasp what it means to live in the real world finds his plans of seeking vengeance on his true-life tormentors complicated by the appearance of a beautiful girl in first-time feature filmmaker Nic Balthazar's topical psychological thriller.” —Flixster.com

L’Iceberg: “I defy you not to gasp at Gordon’s wordless ballet under a white sheet, legs and limbs shooting every which way until the very image of the iceberg rises up from her bed. Not every sight gag works, and there’s a brief stretch in the middle where the action becomes landlocked. But once we’re out to sea the movie goes swimmingly—its three protagonists fighting, flailing, and often on the verge of drowning as their tiny skiff surges toward the land of the Inuit.” —New York Magazine

Crazed Fruit: “How influential was it? If you charted Crazed Fruit's influence alongside its shock value you'd probably find a pretty strong correlation. And in 1956 it was an eyeful indeed. The film opens on two teenaged brothers, Haruji (Masahiko Tsugawa) and Natsuhisa (Yujiro Ishihara), as they create an ungentlemanly disturbance while racing to catch a train. (They do not buy tickets.)” —Filmcritic.com

Author Birthdays: Haggard, Remarque, Brown

June 22nd marks the birthday of authors H. Rider Haggard, Erich-Maria Remarque, and Dan Brown.

H. Rider Haggard, also known as Sir Henry Rider Haggard, was an English author, mainly known for his works featuring the character Allan Quartermain, most notably the novel King Solomon's Mines.

Haggard's writing and characters have been the basis for many things: Quartermain was the prototype for Indiana Jones; his character Ayesha influenced psychologists and other writers; and his adventurous story lines influenced the "Lost World" genre's later writers.

Erich-Maria Remarque was a German author. His best known work was the WWI novel All Quiet on the Western Front, which was also made into a film.

Remarque's other novels include The Night in Lisbon, which tells the story of German refugees during the beginning of WWII, and Arch of Triumph, which was also made into a movie (starring Ingrid Bergman).

Dan Brown is an American novelist, best known for his book The Da Vinci Code, and the other novels starring the character of Robert Langdon.

Brown's first novel was Digital Fortress, which, like The Da Vinci Code, features code-breaking, though the main character is a mathematician rather than a "symbologist." In 2007, Brown also published a memoir about his work as a New York teacher.

Top of the Park 2011!

Looking for something to do this summer?

Top of the Park kicked off this past Friday June 17th. Bands play every evening and movies show Sunday through Thursdays at dusk (10 pm), with the exception of Mondays. TOP will again be officially closed on Mondays i.e. no events/movies/music will take place on Monday evenings. Some of the movies featured this year include: Top Gun, How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Back to the Future, Footloose, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Phantom of the Opera Silent Film with Carillon Accompaniment & Guest Soprano.

Tomorrow's entertainment includes: Rock the Mall, a Teen Music Competition and the film The Social Network. This summer's TOP also includes wacky acrobatic troop Strange Fruit performing The Three Belles.

You can view the entertainment schedule at the Festival Website. For a printable Calendar, click here.

Top of the Park is located at Ingalls Mall, directly in front of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies on Washington Street near the Burton Memorial Tower.

Don't forget to check out the performaces at the Mainstage as well. Artist/Comedians that are performing at the Power Center include: Steve Martin, Los Lonely Boys, k.d. lang, The Capitol Steps, and Tom Tom Crew.

Before you go, make sure to check out Festival Rules and Regulations for helpful tips to make everyone's experience more enjoyable.

Check out the Ann Arbor Summer Festival on facebook!

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival runs till July 10th, so come prepared to dance, sing along and have a good time!AASF2011AASF2011

Ben Franklin on Video

The Ben Franklin exhibit continues!

Obviously, there are many documentaries on Ben Franklin. One from the History Channel not only features Ben, it also has a snippet from the series Save our History. Another from the History Channel includes a small printed study guide. Ben is even the main subject of one of the discs of the channel's The Founding of America series.

There are also some more interesting DVDs we have that include Ben. Liberty's Kids, a chidlren's TV series from 2002 has Ben as one of its main characters. There is also a short Disney production based on the book Ben and Me.

Two characters that have been named after the real Ben are Benjamin Franklin Pierce, from M*A*S*H, and Benjamin Franklin Gates, from National Treasure.

My personal favorite is either the "Ben Franklin" episode of The Office, or the musical film 1776, starring Howard Da Silva as our beloved Ben.

June's Books to Film

Green Lantern is based on the grahic novel series by DC Comics. In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force call the Green Lantern Corps has been dependent upon as protectors of peace and intergalactic order. When a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power, the fate lies in the hands of Green Lantern's newest recruit, the first human ever selected to wear the ring that grants them superpower.

In Submarine, 15 year-old Oliver Tate has two big ambitions: to save his parents' marriage via carefully plotted intervention and to lose his virginity before his next birthday. Worried that his mom is having an affair, Oliver forges suggestive love letters from his Mom to his Dad. Meanwhile, Oliver attempts to woo his classmate, Jordana, a self-professed, bossy, pyromaniac who supervises his journal writing --- especially the bits about her. I look forward to this delightful adaptation from Joe Dunthorne's humorous and imaginative novel (2008).

Based on the The X-Men comics created by Stan Lee, the current box-office smash X-Men, First Class is set up as a prequel. Before mutants had revealed themselves to the world, and before Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men, closest of friends, working together to prevent nuclear Armageddon.

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What’s New: Dramatic Films

Jolene: At the age of fifteen, Jolene, a free-spirited orphan, embarks on a decade-long cross-country adventure, where she experiences life, love, heartbreak, and freedom. Based on the short story Jolene: A Life, by E.L. Doctorow (Also available on Blu-ray).

A Summer in Genoa: A man moves his two daughters to Italy after their mother dies in a car accident, in order to revitalize their lives. As the family is responding to the tragedy, the move ends up changing everyone that summer. (Starring Colin Firth, Catherine Keener)

Mao’s Last Dancer: Based on a true story, this emotionally powerful crowd-pleaser emerged as one of the year's most talked about independent films. It's the fascinating and epic tale of Li Cunxin, a peasant boy from rural China who beats impossible odds to become a world-renowned ballet dancer. (Also available on Blu-ray).

Author Birthdays: Lorca, Scarry, Drabble

June 5th marks the birthday of authors Federico García Lorca, Richard Scarry, and Margaret Drabble.

Federico García Lorca was a Spanish poet and playwright who is believed to have been killed during the Spanish Civil War. Some of his unpublished poems and essays were collected in a volume in 1998, A Season in Granada; the overall theme of the collection is Granada, where Lorca was supposedly killed.

Lorca's works also include: In Search of Duende, which describes theories on dance, music, and bullfights; the play Yerma, which was made into a Spanish language film; and a collection of his letters, which gives a sort of autobiography of his life.

Richard Scarry was an American author and illustrator of children's stories. His most well-known works include those about Busytown, a place inhabited by animals.

Scarry wrote for many ages; we have board books, picture books, and readers. We even have some of his works in Chinese.

Margaret Drabble is an English writer of novels and biographies, as well as some other assorted non-fiction subjects. Of these non-fiction works, AADL has a biography of Angus Wilson (a fellow novelist), and a book on jigsaw puzzles, The Pattern in the Carpet.

Drabble's novels include: The Red Queen, which details the story of a London woman who receives an unpublished memoir of a Korean princess; The Seven Sisters, which Library Journal noted as having "a character who describes herself accurately as having 'much to be ashamed about'"; and The Millstone, set in 1960s London.

Staff Picks: At the Movies

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The Staff Picks shelf is downtown on the first floor. Here is a sampling of what the Ann Arbor District Library movie loving staff members are currently recommending:

I am Cuba “The island of Cuba has never looked as fantastically exotic as it does in "I Am Cuba," a nearly 2 1/2-hour swatch of cinematic agitprop that aspires to be the "Potemkin" of the Cuban Communist Revolution. Completed in 1964, during the headiest days of the romance between the Soviet Union and Cuba, this Russian-Cuban co-production is a feverish pas de deux of Eastern European soulfulness and Latin sensuality fused into an unwieldy but visually stunning burst of propaganda. Supervised by the great Russian director Mikhail Kalatozov, who is best known for "The Cranes Are Flying," it suggests Eisenstein filtered through "La Dolce Vita" with an Afro-Cuban pulse.”—New York Times

Bad Day at Black Rock “American isolationism has rarely been so caustically handled as it is in John Sturges's muscular and magnificent Bad Day at Black Rock, an 81-minute sucker-punch of a movie that has not aged a day since its release over a half-century ago. The film was the first to confront Japanese internment and subsequent xenophobia following Pearl Harbor, and it doesn't gloss over the psychological toll of the era's ubiquitous distrust. In the town of Black Rock, not a soul wanders without the weight of post-war guilt slung over their shoulders.” —Filmcritic.com

Ride Around World “A film to discover the amazing 1200-year global history of the cowboy. Rope wild bulls on one of the most famous American ranches. Swim with horses through the watery Argentine backcountry. Stage an attack on the casbah with Moroccan mounted warriors. Gallop over mountaintops in spectacular British Columbia. Journey on horseback through these exotic landscapes and many more as you RIDE AROUND THE WORLD!” —dvdtalk.com

Panic in the Streets “A classy thriller, much less laden with significance than most Kazan movies. Film noir and the Method go remarkably well together as the panic-stricken manhunt gets under way when a victim of a gangland killing is found to be riddled with pneumonic plague.” —London Time Out Film Guide

Le Deuxième Souffle “Taken as a series of bravura showcases for the director's unparalleled modulation of tone, rhythm, texture and mood, however, Le Deuxième Souffle smolders, its portentous fatalism generated from hyper-composed camerawork and an experimental jazz score that help couch the proceedings in a nowhere-world situated between dream and reality.” —Slantmagazine.com

Lady With the Dog “Filmed in 1960 to commemorate the centenary of Anton Chekhov's birth, "The Lady With the Dog" does him full honor. This Soviet-made drama does not deviate from the Chekhov canon. Cleaving to his classic style, it should prove a delight to his admirers since it speaks quietly but with eloquence and compassion of the frustrations of Czarist Russia's uneasy middle class.” —New York Times

Summer Flicks @ the Michigan Theater

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Summer is the time to relax at the Michigan Theater with the cool A/C and some cool movies after a long day of enjoying the sun.

Check out the 2011 Summer Documentary Film Series, which features a hand-picked selection of some of the best from the past few years. Documentaries such as Marwencol, Winnebago Man, Waste Land, Nenette, and more, will be shown on Mondays at 7pm. See here for full list of movies and dates for the Documentary Series.

Not into documentaries? Then check out the 2011 Summer Classic Film Series, showing on Sundays and Tuesdays through mid-September. View films such as The Godfather, Alien, Amelie, Psycho, and a sing-a-long The Sound of Music, all on the big screen. See here for full list of movies and dates for the Classics Series.

Both series start this weekend at the Michigan Theater!

Author Birthdays: Chesterton, White, Ehrlich

May 29th marks the birthday of authors G. K. Chesterton, T. H. White, and Paul R. Ehrlich.

G. K. Chesterton was an English author. He wrote mysteries, essays, biographies, and general fiction. His works on Father Brown, a Catholic priest and detective, were even adapted for television in the 70s.

Chesterton also wrote a biography of his friend and "rival" George Bernard Shaw, and the novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which involves seven anarchists in London who give themselves the names of the days of the week.

T. H. White was an English author best known for his Arthurian works The Once and Future King and The Sword in the Stone. The musical Camelot and the Disney film The Sword in the Stone were based on his works.

White also wrote the children's story Mistress Masham's Repose, about an English orphan and her interactions with Lilliputians, a race of people described by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels.

Paul R. Ehrlich is an American writer and biologist, as well as a professor at Stanford University. His works focus on the environment and population growth. His latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution And The Environment, published in 2008, examines the relationship between the two.

Ehrlich's first big work was The Population Bomb, which discussed overpopulation and its effects on society. His later book, The Population Explosion, considers the topic further, more than 20 years afterward.

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