Ann Arbor Film Festival Just Around the Corner

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The 47th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival is a few months away (March 24-29, 2009), but that doesn't mean the AAFF has been resting on their laurels waiting for spring; rather, up until November 15th they've been receiving and evaluating this year's cutting-edge film submissions. The AAFF awards prizes in eighteen categories, including the Gus Van Sant Award for Best Experimental film and the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary film, with prize purses up to $3,000.

Additionally, from August to January the Festival's International Tour has been visiting world theaters and art houses showing the award winning films from last year's festival. The Tour has been rolling since 1964 and will be making continental stops in cities such as Providence, Winnipeg, and Portland before closing in Chicago. Want to check out last year's winners but you missed the Tour? The AAFF is selling the DVD collection through its website.

"M-I-C-K-E-Y.......M-O-U-S-E

Today, November 18, is the 80th birthday of Mickey Mouse, the brainchild of Walt Disney. He was actually "born" about six months before but the cartoons of a more sinister mouse weren't popular. The first successful cartoon showcasing Mickey was Steamboat Willie in which Minnie drops a paper with a song written on it that is eaten by a goat. The song comes out of his tail. Other animals act as instruments playing the music which is perfectly synchronized to the action.

Over the next ten years, Mickey appeared in over 100 cartoons and his face became more rounded and friendly. He was a great commercial hit even during the Great Depression. The name, "Mickey Mouse" has come to mean other things beside an heroic mouse. It sometimes is used to connote something foolish or amateurish such as a "Mickey Mouse class" in college. Mickey Mouse has also become a standard write-in name on election ballots as a protest vote. Mickey has been on every presidential ballot since he was born.

December Boys on DVD

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Maps, Spit, Spark, and Misty are four young boys living in an Australian orphanage who all happen to be born in December and are thus known as the December Boys. The December boys get word that they are the first group chosen to go on a summer holiday to the cove. What? A holiday? But we’re orphans. Wahoo! The four boys happily venture off to the beautiful seaside locale to stay with an elderly couple. After several days of hanging around the beach and enjoying themselves, Misty overhears his young couple neighbors talking about possibly adopting one of the boys, and he keeps this news to himself at first. Eventually the boys end up testing their bond of friendship and their own communal familial ties to each other as they “compete” to be the one chosen to stay on the island. The boys learn about honesty, hope, friendship, and family in this heartwarming tale.

*File under "little boy adventure movies"

November Books to Films

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Three days and counting... The MUCH MUCH anticipated film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight (2005) about two star-crossed lovers with one being a potential midnight snack for the other, will be @ the movies on November 21, 2008. It's going to be way too much fun to go alone. Send out some evites and check out the Twilight party kit.

John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas : a fable (2006) is set during World War II. Seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, his forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence is at once powerful and moving. Find out more about the book and the film.

Revolutionary Road is based on Richard Yates' "deft, ironic, beautiful" novel (1961). Frank and April Wheeler are a young couple trying to find fulfillment in an era of conformity. Trapped in a world of encoded convention, they dream without faith, as lies and self-deceptions build to explosive consequences. This Hollywood adaptation reunites the cast of The Titanic.

Vampires Galore

Vampires are all the rage lately. Twilight is in the news again because the movie comes out November 21. The movie’s basis is in the book of the same name by Stephenie Meyer. It is the tale of a teenage girl named Bella who moves to Washington, meets a vampire plus a few other interesting characters, and has an adventure or two. To get a sense of its popularity, search for twilight on the Internet and see how many hits you get!

Nonesuch Releases Philip Glass Box Set

In 1978, classical composer Philip Glass denounced Minimalism -- the term often applied to his work -- saying, "that word should be stamped out!" Thirty years later, as Nonesuch releases the ten disc set Glass Box: A Nonesuch Retrospective the composer may not have razed the word, but he has expanded his work in order to shed such trappings.

That said, Glass' most famous pieces are built around repetitive chord structures and stripped down instrumentation, where the most subtle changes become fault lines that resound in tonal shifts. The first four discs best exemplify this style, the standouts being his ambitious cycle Music in Twelve Parts and the solo piano elegy Glassworks. Also included are selections from Hydrogen Jukebox, his collaboration with poet-turned-librettist Allen Ginsberg, as well as the film scores for Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, and the indelible opera, Einstein on the Beach. Although each disc contains pieces previously available as stand alone recordings, hearing the spectrum of Glass' work from the early 1960s to today clearly demonstrates the depth and breadth of his singular compositional vision.

Mysterious Skin

This amazing movie is based on Scott Heim's novel Mysterious Skin. The movie is an exploration into the sensitive and painful issues of childhood sexual abuse. One word can sum this movie up, "Powerful". It is powerful in its message, rawness, emotionality, acting, and its truth.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, plays the main character Neil, an emotionally detached gay teen who uses sex for money. Brady Corbet, plays the role of Brian, who has so effectively blocked the memory of his sexual abuse, that he has come to believe he may have been abducted by aliens.

Ten years after playing on a little league team together, the boys reunite. When Brian finally finds Neil again, he also finds his chance to unlock life altering secrets that he has been repressing for so long.

This shocking journey of discovery brings some closure to the years of insecurity and wondering Brian has had to endure. However, it also brings bitterness, hatred, anger, and finally acceptance for a chance at a new beginning. These characters are unforgettable. This movie takes no prisoners, and makes no compromises.

New dvds from Amazon now at Library

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Following are descriptions of four dvds that are new releases on Amazon and that are now either in our collection or on order. Get your name on the hold list now!

Sold Out: A Threevening with Kevin Smith. Smith, director of Clerks I & II is back, telling all as he reveals the hilarious true stories behind the making of Clerks II and Live Free or Die Hard.

Flight of the Red Balloon. Inspired by the classic 1956 Academy Award®-Winning short, The Red Balloon, Flight of the Red Balloon, like the original, is a tale of a boy, Simon and his increasingly fragile mother played by Juliette Binoche. When a Taiwanese film student, Song, is hired to help care for Simon, they form an extended family but each is locked in their separate dreams symbolized by the red balloon.

Son of Rambow on DVD

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The Son of Rambow is young Will Proudfoot, who is living in early 80s England in a tight religious household where music and television viewing are not permitted. He gets caught up in a mini-caper with the “bad boy” of the school, Lee Carter, and he ends up accidentally seeing part of a bootleg copy of Rambo: First Blood, which ends up turning his world upside down in the most delightful way. Will is a quiet, quirky boy who sits and draws in his notebooks, and after seeing the action-packed Rambo, his imagination runs wild. He also finds himself owing Carter “a favor”, which is to help him make a film to be entered in a film contest. Will is intrigued and quickly agrees to this chance to make a friend and be creative.

The film ends up being Will’s screenplay taken from his sketch pad, is inspired by the original Rambo, and is full of fun antics. As Will and Carter make the film they both have family issues to deal with that tests their unlikely, yet budding, friendship. The tagline on the DVD says “Make believe. Not war”, Which is what this charming and funny film encompasses. It’s about being young and carefree and lost in your own little world.

La Escuela Monday November 10

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There’s always a lot going on at the AADL and today is no different. Join us for the POV film La Escuela in the 4th Floor Meeting Room at 7:00 PM. A discussion will be facilitated by Deborah Hollands Des Jardin from the UM English Language Institute and Mabel Rodriguez of the UM Residential College.

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