New dvds from Amazon

great debatersgreat debaters

Following are dvds listed as "new releases" by Amazon that are currently on order at the Library. Get your name on the hold list now.

The Great Debaters is based on the true story of Melvin B. Tolson, a poet and professor at the all African-American Wiley College in Texas who led his 1935 debate team to victory. Denzel Washington gives a riveting performance as Tolson as does Forest Whitaker as James Farmer Jr's father. Farmer was one of the members of the debate team who went on to found The Congress of Racial Equality.

The Thief of Bagdad. A new 2 disc set of the visually stunning animated film about Prince Ahmad who is exiled from Bagdad by the evil Jaffar. He meets Abu, the thief, and together they take back the kingdom and Ahmad wins back the heart of the beautiful princess.

The South Beach Super Charged Workout. Dr. Arthur Agatston, the creator of the famous South Beach Diet has designed a new exercise program based on the latest research in exercise science so that people can lose weight and stay fit.

Sam Spade will never die.

Today, May 27 is the birthday of two great mystery novelists, Tony Hillerman who was born in 1925 and Dashiell Hammett who was born in 1894. Hillerman, a former journalist and past president of Mystery Writers of America is best known for his mysteries about the Navajo in which Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn chase down culprits in the often brutal sun of the Southwest.

Hammett was best known for his hard-boiled detective novels that featured cynical, fast talking characters who got things done. Hammett based some of his stories on work he had done with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. The movie, The Maltese Falcon was based on his book and starred Hunphrey Bogart as Sam Spade.

Director Sydney Pollack Dies at 73

Sydney PollackSydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack, the director, producer, and actor with a career that spanned six decades, died yesterday of cancer at the age of 73. Pollack's career was so varied and rich that few in Hollywood never worked with him and even fewer had less than the greatest of respect for him. Pollack is best known as a director, the guiding force behind such classics as Tootsie, Out of Africa, The Way We Were, and Three Days of the Condor (one of my personal favorites, about a bookish man whose very bookishness is the key to his survival). Pollack was often not just a director but a producer, even lending this talent out to other directors like Anthony Minghella and most recently Tony Gilroy, whose Pollack-produced directorial debut Michael Clayton earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

Pollack always seemed a little more human than most directors because of his willingness to act in films, both his own and others. I feel a little more like I know him from seeing his portrayals of Michael's agent George Fields in Tootsie and the mid-life crisis stricken Jack in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives. Most directors who appear in their own movies fall somewhere between being like Alfred Hitchcock (silent) or Quentin Tarantino (who we all wish was silent). Pollack was one of the few whose acting equalled his direction and made everything he was in better. He will be missed by all movie lovers.

Not Quite a Mop, Not Quite a Puppet, But Oh, Man…

Catchy songs, cute characters, funny voices, good versus evil, a wonderful moral of friendship and never giving up on dreams: The Muppet Movie works perfectly as a kids’ movie. But when I watched again as an adult, the moral remained just as relevant, the humour just as funny, and the songs remained just as catchy (I like “Movin’ Right Along,” a Fozzie and Kermit duet, as well as “Can You Picture That?” a psychedelic freak-out c/o Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.) The Muppet Movie, though, despite coming out the year The Muppet Show ended, is not a continuation of the sketch comedy show within a show. The movie is indeed the story of Jim Henson’s rise to glory.

Indy is Back!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens this Thursday, May 22nd, so you may want to start rewatching the old movies to get properly hyped! The library carries all three previous titles: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade. See you at the movie theatre!

In praise of mothers

In honor of Mother's Day, following are two books and one film that tell the stories of three remarkable mothers:

From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island by Lorna Goodison describes this local poet's mother, Doris who grew up in a privileged family in Jamaica but then married a chauffeur, moved to urban Kingston and raised nine children.

A Remarkable Mother by former President Jimmy Carter is his loving tribute to Lillian Carter, a nurse serving troops in World War I and in her later years a Peace Corps volunteer in India.

My Flesh and Blood is a documentary about Susan Tom, a single mother, who adopted eleven special needs children.

New DVD releases

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Check out these hot new releases from Amazon which are now available at the Library:

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. Based on a novel by Dick King-Smith, author of The Sheep Pig from which Babe was adapted, this sweet and often visually spectacular story is about the friendship of a lonely boy with the Loch Ness Monster.

Sense and Sensibility, BBC production, 2008.
This is a charming new adaptation of Austen's novel in which the eternal conflict between money, status and love again play out.

Six Degrees Could Change the World, National Geographic. (on order)
By some, this documentary can be seen as "a non-fiction counterpoint" to the feature film, The Day After Tomorrow. Based on Mark Lynas's book, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, this film, narrated by Alec Baldwin, shows scientists and ordinary people who are already experiencing the effects of global warming.

Star Dreams: Exploring the Mystery of Crop Circles

Crop circle

Huge, sweeping patterns of intricate, geometric shapes appear in fields of standing wheat and barley over night. No tracks appear leading to the shapes. The crop circles are perfectly formed - with mathematical precision and utilizing ancient symbols - they have created a following of “croppies” all over the world. Star Dreams investigates the phenomenon, interviewing true believers (in the other-worldly artists) and researchers, and providing dozens of aerial shots of the most breath-taking circles. Though you may argue about how they get here, there is no doubt they are mysterious and beautiful. Hundreds of circles appear in England every summer and you can track each one as it is reported. For more on crop circles try Secrets in the Fields: The Science and Mysticism of Crop Circles.

Would you like some pie to go with that movie?

Watching The Waitress made me want to eat pie. (Even more so than hearing Andie MacDowell sing about pie in Michael. And almost as much as the Double R Diner scenes in Twin Peaks.) The waitress is Jenna, played by Keri Russell. She's adorable, young, newly pregnant, and has a not-so-great husband who keeps her on a short leash. She's also really good at "inventing" pies and knocking peoples' socks off with them at the local diner. She dreams big and wants to enter a pie contest, but of course her husband puts a stop to that. Feeling stifled, alone and downright sad she falls head over heels for her doctor. As she tries to figure out what to do with her love affair, her mean husband and her unwanted pregnancy, she relies on her fellow waitress friends and the surprise "friendship" of a cranky diner customer to keep her afloat. Ultimately, when a new little life is born, Jenna is finally able to be born herself and live the life she always knew she wanted but could never have. So, be warned- this charming and sassy film may have you itching for a slice of marshmallow mermaid pie.

The Darjeeling Ltd.

About three minutes into The Darjeeling Limited, we watch a close up of a businessman running to the titular train pulling out of the station. All of a sudden, Adrien Brody’s character pops into frame and overtakes the man to the crunching opening chords of The Kinks’This Time Tomorrow,” and is able to throw himself aboard while the businessman falls into the distance, all in slow motion no less, and I knew I was going to love this movie already.

No one makes a film quite like Wes Anderson does. Bottle Rocket showed promise, Rushmore fulfilled said promise, and his unique filmmaking style culminated in The Royal Tenenbaums. And even though I actually liked The Life Aquatic (so much so that its cool reception actually surprised me,) I will admit it didn’t offer anything particularly new, and when a director releases a movie only every three years or so, especially a director so unconventional, one so-so movie will raise the questions, “Does he still have it in him, or is he just rehashing a formula?” making this next movie much more important.

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