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).

Bee Movie

Bee Movie is a candy-colored animated fable with an awkward mix of corny bee puns, clever sight gags, kid-friendly action and adult-oriented workplace humor, where a recent graduate bee Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) isn't thrilled at having just one option for a career, namely honey. After he befriends a human named Vanessa (Renée Zellweger) who saves his life, he finds out that humans eat lots of honey and decides to sue humanity for stealing from bees. I really enjoyed watching this extremely funny kids animated movie, which I believe to be entertaining to people of all ages. Watch scenes from "Bee Movie".

Broken English on DVD

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Parker Posey stars in Broken English as a witty Manhattanite in her thirties, stuck at a job she no longer wants and strikes out in love at every chance/ date she gets. She is stuck in a rut and going crazy and her overly helpful (nagging?) mother constantly reminds her of this. Don’t call her a spinster, no! She finds herself in a bit of freak-out time of her life, and then, by chance, she meets Julien. This charming Frenchmen adores Nora and she him, and they share a whirlwind weekend, but then he leaves for France. What is Nora to do? Do what any smitten girl would, do: try to find him. Please join Nora on her adventure to find peace of mind and someone to love. If you’re an overall fan of the adorable Ms. Posey- Party Girl, Best in Show and Fay Grim are must sees.

He Lost Control

Ian Curtis, frontman for the seminal '70s New Wave band, Joy Division, committed suicide at age 23, just as his band was peaking in popularity and nearing their first tour in the United States. Despite being a gifted lyricist and an electric performer, Curtis was wracked by guilt and depression, the latter being exacerbated by periodic epileptic seizures. Control, released in theatres in 2007, is the taut and unflinching biopic of the lead singer, based on the biography by Deborah Curtis, his wife. Filmed in stark black and white, Anton Corbijn's debut film will satisfy dedicated fans of Joy Division, while intriguing those less familiar with the band to give their minimalist sound a first listen. The AADL owns copies of this film, its soundtrack, and several of Joy Division's finest albums.

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