Getting Your High School Musical Fix

Are you or your children fans of the High School Musical franchise? The third movie is in theatres now, not to be released on DVD until sometime in the spring of 2009, but AADL has both Disney channel versions. High School Musical the original and High School Musical 2 are both rated G and though made for the tween audience, are engaging enough for parents to enjoy.

Another movie similar in spirit to HSM is the 2007 musical Hairspray, based on the Tony-award-winning Broadway stage musical (itself based on the 1988 John Waters' directed Hairspray). Set in 1967, it tells the story of teenager Tracy Turnblad as she tries to broaden the minds of her peers in racially volatile Baltimore. Much of the movie takes place on an after-school dancing television show, and features HSM's Zac Efron in a starring role. John Travolta is almost unrecognizable as Tracy's mother. The movie is rated PG.

Gods and Monsters

The rush is on at the AADL to get a few scary movies before Halloween night, but if you're in the mood for something topical that's more riveting and less frightening, then check out Gods and Monsters on DVD. Released to critical acclaim in 1998, actor Ian McKellen plays the aging horror director James Whale, of Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man fame, who is coping with the effects of a stroke when he befriends a young gardener, Clayton (played by Brendan Fraser), who sparks in him a reexamination of his life and work. Both an homage to Whale's pioneering horror films and a heartbreaking story of the deterioration of a brilliant mind, Gods and Monsters is a stirring film that sheds light on the early dark era of filmmakers.

More October Films

"The true-life tragedy of Evelyn Nesbit (1884-1967) supplies the framework for French director Claude Chabrol's latest romantic thriller" -A Girl Cut in Two, writes John Anderson of The Washington Post.

The story of Evelyn Nesbit is one of glamour, money, romance, madness, and murder. Famous by her sixteenth birthday in 1900, Gibson Girl Evelyn Nesbit was the most photographed woman of her era, an iconic figure who set the standard for female beauty. Women wanted to be her. Men wanted her. When her jealous millionaire husband, Harry K. Thaw, killed her lover--celebrity architect Stanford White, she found herself at the center of the "crime of the century" and the scandal that marked the beginning of a national obsession with youth, beauty, celebrity, and sex.

Author Paula Uruburu's American Eve : Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, the Birth of the "It" Girl, and the Crime of the Century (2008) is highly recommended for further reading on this sensational episode in our cultural history. Filmgoers might also want to check out the The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, a 2007 reissue of the 1955 film that dramatized the Nesbit/Thaw/White triangle.

The Promotion on DVD


The Promotion is a new hilarious workplace comedy. Doug (Seann William Scott) works as an assistant manager at a corporate grocery store and, according to his boss (Fred Armisen), is a “shoe in” to manage the new store that’s being built. That is until a do-gooder from Canada named Richard (John C. Reilly) shows up and gives Doug a run for his money. Loads of in-store antics take place as they compete for the promotion, while their eager wives (Jenna Fischer & Lili Taylor) look on, each convinced that their husband will take the prize in the end. Throughout the film both men are tested by corporate and by each other to play the game to come out ahead, with only minor tater tot throwing. A poignant line from the film is when Richard says to Doug, "We're all just out here trying to get food. Sometimes we bump into each other."

Happy Birthday Ang Lee!

Ang LeeAng Lee

Born October 23, 1954 in Pingtung, Taiwan, Ang Lee has become one of today's greatest contemporary filmmakers. Stop by the AADL and browse our collection of his movies. For laughs try The Wedding Banquet (1993). For love and relationships choose Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) or Lee's version of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1995). For drama try The Ice Storm (1997) or Ride With The Devil (1999). For action try Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) or Hulk (2003). For an Academy Award Winner, try Lee's heartbreaker Brokeback Mountain (2005). Fans of espionage and thrillers should check out Lee's most recent release Lust, Caution (2007). Taking Woodstock, Lee's latest project, is currently in production.

Old Joy on DVD: Experience the joy of independent films

Old JoyOld Joy

Old Joy is a wonderful, subtle independent film that is based on a short story and was featured at The Sundance Film Festival. It features two old friends who decide to meet up for an impromptu night of camping in Oregon's Cascade Mountains. As they set out on the trip the uncomfortableness of two old friends who don't have much in common anymore becomes the silent third person on the trip. Will Oldham (Bonnie "Prince" Billy) perfectly plays the aging hippie, Kurt, who is attempting to "lead" them to a hard to find hot spring oasis that is supposed to awaken the senses and the mind. Mark is along for the ride, to get away from his own awkward relationship and to find something within himself. Original music by Yo La Tengo paints the natural landscape of the film and wonderfully fills in gaps where the communication isn't flowing. The film brings us to ponder: When you grow up do you really grow apart, how much of the past are we longing for, and better yet, how much of it just nostalgia for simpler times? What's worth holding to?

Dying Gaul

Robert Sandrich, played by Peter Sarsgaard, is a vulnerable and promising screenwriter living in Hollywood. He finds his life goal coming to fruition when he is offered a million dollars for his latest screenplay. The screenplay titled "The Dying Gaul", is a personal, raw, and heart wrenching account of his lovers' death.

However, Robert soon learns there is a catch to sealing the deal on his screenplay. The studio executive making the offer, Jeffrey Tishop, played by Campbell Scott, demands that Robert change his dead lovers' character to a woman instead of a man.

Robert, not caring if the change would make the screenplay more commercially viable, is demanding the writing be left as it is. He refuses to change the character so as not to compromise the authenticity of the screenplay. The manipulative Jeffrey Tishop turns out to be ruthless, and seduces Robert using his power, influence, and money.

Robert begins to confide in Jeffrey's wife Elaine Tishop, played by Patricia Clarkson. Elaine meets Robert in chat rooms anonymously, and they build an online relationship. As their online dialogue unfolds she discovers that Robert and her husband are having an affair. Elaine sets her sights on revenge, and begins plotting what will be an amazing ending.

Noteworthy October Biopics @ a Theater Near You


Based on the biography of Georgiana (Spencer), Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman, The Duchess is the story of an extraordinary woman who rose to fame by staying true to her passion in a world of protocol, gossip, and social rules - and paid the price. (The New York Times review)

Flash of Genius is adapted from a 1993 New Yorker article by John Seabrook, about a lone crusader doing battle with the big bad establishments - in this case, Ford and Chrysler.

In 1967, Dr. Robert W. Kearns, an electrical engineer and college professor invented and patented the intermittent windshield wiper, only to watch Ford steal the idea two year later for its redesigned Mustang. Read an early review from the Traverse City Film Festival's sneak preview of this Oscar-worthy film, starring Greg Kinnear.

Buddha of Suburbia on DVD

Buddha of SuburbiaBuddha of Suburbia

BBC’s four episode series based on Hanif Kureishi’s book of the same name, The Buddha of Surburbia is a lovely journey into the life and mind of Karim. A young man growing up in 1970s London with an English mother and an Indian father, he deals with clashing cultures, racism, unkind peers, family issues, and his own identity crisis and coming of age. As Karim struggles to find who he is and where he belongs, those he shares company with are doing the same thing. The characters are well developed and they add a sweet element of comedy to the drama. The episodes are laced with a lush 1970s aura of free love, fashion and music, with a soundtrack featuring all the David Bowie you could ask for.

Dig Into a Good Film


Diggers is set in a small town on Long Island the 1970s. It follows the story of four close-knit working class friends who are trying to get by and make a living as clam diggers. Their boats are small, the clams are harder to come by and a larger digging company is threatening the waters they’ve always called home. The death of Hunt’s father throws him and the rest of the gang for a loop. Hunt tries to deal with the death and find a proper way to let go of his father and also of his predictable small town life. A night in jail together ends up being the best medicine any of them could ask for, eventually thrusting them, namely Hunt, to a new place as friends and in life.

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