Today in History: August 25, 1984 - R.I.P. Truman Capote

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Today marks the anniversary of the death of American icon Truman Capote whose short stories, novels, plays and non-fiction are recognized literary classics. The AADL is bursting at the seams with Capote reading materials including his first novel Summer Crossing (1943), his bestseller/semi-autobiographical novel Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), possibly his best-known novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a "non-fiction novel". In our DVD department, try Humphrey Bogart in Beat the Devil (1953 screenplay), yummy Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and In Cold Blood (the original 1967 version, filmed at the actual home of the murdered family).
For those of you not familiar with Capote's jet-set, controversial, and often reckless celebrity lifestyle (think "southern gothic homosexual meets Andy Warhol's Studio 54"), check out George Plimpton's Truman Capote : in which various friends, enemies, acquaintances, and detractors recall his turbulent career or Infamous, the film adaptation of the book. True Capote fans will also appreciate his uncredited cameo in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (listen for Allen's character to say something like "Oh, there goes the winner of the Truman Capote Look-Alike Contest" and watch for Capote himself to walk by).

Fearless Vampire Killers... on DVD

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In the tradition of old-school capers and sleuths let me present to you a chestnut from 1967- Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, Or Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are In My Neck. Professor Abronsius and his bumbling Assistant Alfred (played by Roman Polanski himself) are off to a remote Transylvanian village to prove their theory that vampires really exist. Soon Alfred falls for the innkeeper’s daughter Sarah (played by Sharon Tate), who of course ends up being kidnapped by a vampire count. (The film marks the beginning of the real-life Polanski-Tate romance.) Abronsius and Alfred set off to rescue her and prove their theory at the same time. In doing so… they move into the count’s castle, freeze up when trying to kill him, chase vampires on skis, lose the cherished suitcase containing their supply of garlic and crucifixes, and the count’s son falls in love with Alfred. Talk about fun. Do they get to prove their theory? Do they get out of Transylvania with their necks intact? There’s only one way to find out…

New Collection: Blu-ray Discs

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The Ann Arbor District Library is pleased to announce the establishment of a new collection, Blu-ray movies. Blu-ray Discs are similar to DVDs, but display their content in stunning high-definition resolution, which is up to 5 times as detailed as standard-definition DVDs. A Blu-ray player is required to view Blu-ray discs, however since most Blu-ray players also play standard DVDs, you don’t have to worry about replacing your DVD collection anytime soon. Stop by any AADL location to check them out, or click here to browse the collection and place holds online. The Blu-ray discs are categorized by genres, providing a more rewarding browsing experience.

August 13th - Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

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Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899, in Leytonstone, London, England. One of the best-known and most popular filmmakers of all time, he pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. Here at the AADL our DVD department is stocked with lots of classic Hitchcock films and television shows for your viewing pleasure. Watching Psycho, probably his best known film, will always make your next experience in the shower one to remember. My personal favorite has always been The Birds (love that schoolyard scene!), but we also have lots of other faves like Dial M for Murder, North by Northwest, Rear Window, Rebecca, which won an Oscar for Best Picture in 1940, Spellbound and Vertigo. Fans of Hitchcock's old television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents will find season one and two on our library shelves and, for anyone not familiar with Alfred Hitchcock, check out the Dick Cavett Show where he was featured as a guest way back in 1972. Hitchcock died from renal failure in April 1980, just four months after he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in the New Year's Honours.

McCarthy's The Road Coming to Theaters

Before film production began on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road, there must have been a rather interesting debate over the city that would provide a suitable backdrop for the desolate, ruined landcape so critical to the story. How does one decide between Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, or the many other crumbling post-industrial cities? Perhaps the final vote came down to abandoned coal mines versus abandoned auto plants, so as coal is a fossil itself, Pittsburgh won the crown. Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron will star in the film that is set to be released this November. Check out pictures of the upcoming movie, or borrow the book or the audiobook from the AADL before the film hits the theaters this fall.

The Savages on DVD

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The Savages features Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jon and Wendy Savage. The two self-absorbed siblings don’t have much to do with each other until they get a call informing them that the girlfriend of their estranged father has died and he can no longer take care of himself. This leaves Jon and Wendy with the difficult task of finding an appropriate home for him, which ends up being a nursing home. It also forces the siblings to reflect on their familial past (including the abandonment and abuse of their parents) and to also interact with each other on an emotional level, something they haven’t done in years. So the siblings are sorting through all this and dealing with the inevitableness of old age and death, in addition to dealing with their own struggling relationships, mid-life crises and writers block. The Savages really is a touching, truly human story that makes you laugh and cry. (Surprisingly, this film comes almost ten years after writer-director Tamara Jenkins' The Slums of Beverly Hills.)

Ann Arbor, with a Twisp

West Liberty turned into a California street Tuesday as a Hollywood film crew shot scenes for Youth in Revolt, a comedy scheduled for release in December. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film stars Michael Cera (Juno) as Nick Twisp, a 14-year old who sets his sights on a dream girl, hoping she'll be the one to take away his virginity. The film, based on the work of author C. D. Payne also stars Justin Long, Steve Buscemi, and Fred Willard. The shoot will include a car chase that crashes into a building, which explains that weird facade going up on the corner of First and Liberty. Read more in the Ann Arbor News.

I Want to Believe

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After years of “issues” and "negotiations", this weekend marks the return of Mulder and Scully in the second X-Files movie, The X-Files: I Want to Believe. It’s been six years since the TV show went off the air and ten years since the first X-Files movie, Fight the Future. The plot synopsis for the new movie is pretty hush-hush with co-writer and director Chris Carter keeping a lid on things so that the fun “doesn’t get spoiled.” He says he likens it to Christmas morning where you may have an idea, but you still don’t quite know just what you’re going to get. He does admit that, unlike the first film, this one is a stand-alone film and moviegoers will understand and enjoy it even if they’ve never seen an episode of The X-Files. If you’re in the mood for more of Mulder and Scully, check out the first two seasons of the show on DVD here at AADL. See you at the theater!

"Gonzo" on "Gonzo"

If you're familiar with the writings of journalist Hunter S. Thompson, you'll want to see "Gonzo", a new documentary film by Alex Gibney. Coincidentally, today is Thompson's birthday. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937. He was known as a troublemaker in high school and arrested for robbery and vandalism. After time in the Air Force, he was asked to write an article about the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang which when expanded became his first book. He went on to describe his hallucinogenic experiences in Las Vegas (both drug and city induced) in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He also wrote articles for Rolling Stone Magazine, most of which were scathing portraits of American political figures. No one, Republican or Democrat, could escape his poison pen. Known for his irreverance and ego-centered approach to journalism, i.e., having no fear of inserting his own opinion, Thompson became increasingly disenchanted with American politics and culture and basically dropped out of public view for the last twenty years of his life. He committed suicide in 2005.

He cooks, but does he read?

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You know who I am talking about, don't you? He's been sighted feasting at a picnic table at Zingerman's, rubbing shoulders with Michael Moore at the Traverse City Film Festival, and never without his signature orange crocs.

That's right - celebrity chef Mario Batali - that's who - who, bless his heart, has made Northern Michigan his summer home for many years, and had the good sense to marry a Michigan grad. On top of that, he READS!. Here is a list of Mario's Summer Reads. (Frankly, I am impressed!)

Speaking of the Michigan connection - you will also see a list of Ruth Reichl's Summer Reads, cookbooks she is cooking from, and her audio books of choice.

BTW - Madonna's movie, I Am Because We Are is a new documentary that she wrote, produced, and narrates. It will be shown as part of the fourth annual Traverse City Film Festival on August 2, at 8:00 p.m. at the State Theatre. Madonna will introduce the film (we'd been told).

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