Searching For Sugar Man on DVD

What a delightful film! The highly acclaimed and Academy Award nominated for Best Documentary Feature, Searching For Sugar Man tells the story of Rodriguez, the biggest 70s music icon that never was.

Discovered at a bar in Detroit, Sixto Rodriguez released two folk albums that did not sell well in the States and he was eventually dropped from his label. Meanwhile, bootleg copies ended up in South Africa where he became a much loved phenomenon, unbeknownst to him! Fans had no information about him, only his popular records. In the late 90s two South African fans set out to unravel the mystery and find out what really happened to Rodriguez. They discovered that he was in fact still alive, and their discovery changed both of their lives with magical results.

The film is beautifully shot and laced with a great soundtrack. Rodriguez seems like a humble and soulful human being and the search for the Sugar Man created a truly moving and inspirational film. Five stars!

Sleepwalk With Me on DVD

Mike Birbiglia directs and stars in the indie comedy Sleepwalk With Me. Loosely based on Birbiglia’s life, his best-selling book, and his off-Broadway show, the film tells the story of the aspiring comedian as he struggles with his comedy act, drags his feet in his relationship, and battles a severe sleep disorder that spins out of control as he continues to ignore it. While trying to avoid committing further to his girlfriend of eight years, Mike hits the road for several comedy gigs. Along the way he finds adventure, freedom, jokes that are actually funny (revolving around his girlfriend), and a bit of joy that was missing from his life. Reality hits when Mike has a sleepwalking episode one night while sleeping and jumps through a second story window -- an event which actually happened to him.

From the producers of the public radio show This American Life, the critically-acclaimed Sleepwalk With Me is both funny and heartwarming, with a comedy style that is similar to Woody Allen films -- a humor that is personal, self deprecating, and deadpan. It’s the kind of film that has you laughing at moments of this man’s life, but at the same time feeling sympathetic toward this character, is truly suffering. I don’t know about Birbiglia’s future as a stand-up comedian, but he definitely has a strong film presence and a wonderful mind for storytelling.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #381

Julia Strachey's slim novella Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (with a new preface by Frances Partridge) has recently been adopted into a feature film, starring no less than Elizabeth McGovern of Downton Abbey fame, for which the period drama has inevitably been compared.

With sharp eye and playful language, Strachey's slim novella, first published in 1932 depicts the upstairs-downstairs activities on Dolly Thatcham's wedding day as her oblivious mother bustles about getting her ready to marry the wrong man. Waylaid by the sulking admirer who lost his chance with her and her own sinking dread, the bride-to-be struggles to reach the altar.

A brilliant, bittersweet comedy which Virginia Woolf observed as being "an eccentric mixture of Katherine Mansfield and E.M. Forster".

Julia Strachey (1901-1979) was born in India to a Civil Servant. Educated in England, she later worked as a model/photographer and in publishing. Her two novels appeared in 1932 and 1951.

Readers might also enjoy other women novelists such as Elizabeth Bowen; Penelope Fitzgerald; and Alice Thomas Ellis, in particular, The Summer House: a trilogy.

Click here for the New York Times review and the official trailer of the movie.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Darcy!

It was 200 years ago this month that Jane Austen published her second, and perhaps most beloved, novel: "Pride & Prejudice." The official publication date was January 28, 1813.

Austen wrote it between October 1796 and August 1797, but publishers at first declined to look at it. After she went back and revised her manuscript, originally titled "First Impressions," nearly fifteen years later between 1811 and 1812, it was finally accepted for publication. Although she never married, Jane Austen loved her books like they were her family and was so excited when "Pride & Prejudice" arrived, she wrote to her sister Cassandra, "I want to tell you that I have got my own darling child from London."

The first edition sold out quickly and has been popular the world over ever since. It has been translated into dozens of languages and adapted for both television and the big screen. It's been given modern twists in Hollywood movies and Bollywood, too. It even has its own popular web series and been adapted into graphic novels and zombie apocalypse stories.

And of course, there are the books. From the original to all the adaptations and continuations, it's clear something about that story of misunderstandings and seemingly impossible happy endings still has a grip on us. It's easy to wonder what Miss Austen would have thought of the stages her "child" has gone through and how the world still holds such love for its characters even now, 200 years later.

Looking for more ways to celebrate Jane Austen? The library has a large collection of her other books or other movie adaptations of her work!

Film & Discussion: Award-Winning Documentary About A True "Horse-Whisperer": Buck

Thursday January 24, 2013: 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

The Downtown AADL screens the acclaimed 2011 documentary Buck. Meet Buck Brannaman, a man who overcame an abusive childhood and is now a successful "horse whisperer." He travels nine months of the year teaching people how to communicate with their horses.

A post-film discussion will be led by Kimberly Cardeccia of Hidden Promise LLC., a Licensed Professional Counselor who has been involved with horses for 30 years.

Cinema Night Special: Discover Something Different

Somers TownSomers TownLooking to discover something unusual in the world of film? Start your weekend off with something different!

From 7-9pm on Friday, January 18, at the Downtown Library, Cinema Night Special offers you a chance to catch a 70-minute feature, a shorter experimental film, and live music in between, along with free popcorn!

The evening will start with the area premiere of the suspense-filled 2012 German short film Pro Kopf (The Maid). Ann Arbor's No Excuses Band then take the stage to play a set of originals and covers ranging from classic rock to folk and pop.

2008's critically-acclaimed Somers Town, a Best Film nominee at the British Independent Film Awards, will round out the night. This warmhearted portrait of an unlikely friendship between two boys which Empire Magazine called "beautifully modulated" with an "improvised feel, sparky comedy and interest in the truth of youth (that) services a story that's both winning and winsome."

Don't miss this special evening of experimental film and live music!

Wonderful World Languages # 1

Movie goers, musical fans, and book lovers alike have fallen in love with the new film “Les Miserables,” which premiered on December 25 of this past year. Already “Les Mis,” as it is affectionately called by fans, has earned 8 Oscar nominations. To complement seeing the film, try checking out some related materials, including other movie adaptations, broadway performances, complete and abridged books, and sheet music. If you have the gift of understanding French, AADL even has the original novel and a French version of the movie.

For more information about the new movie, please visit their website for photos, production notes, trivia, videos, and more.

We're Not Broke and Other Free Streaming Films from Sundance

Whether it's discussion of the Fiscal Cliff or debates over local governmental priorities, money matters are on the minds of many citizens.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival documentary, "We're Not Broke" argues that multibillion-dollar American corporations like Exxon, Google and Bank of America are making record profits via "non-taxation through extraordinary representation."

Variety calls this film a "well-researched, brightly presented and provocative argument that the U.S. isn't overtaxed and profligate, but rather a paradise for corporate tax cheats," and now Sundance's Artist Services Program and Hulu have teamed up to make the film available for free online.

The Sundance Artist Services site keeps an updated list of this and other "Now Playing" titles accessible for free via various streaming platforms.

Books in the Oscar Spotlight

The 2013 Academy Award nominations have been decided and it's clear that movies based on books are garnering a lot of attention this year. But which books will prove they are oscar-movie-making material? Many of the award categories have multiple book-based films running against each other. Best Picture nominees alone include Argo, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook. That's some tough competition! How do you compare, Argo (a secret-ops/hollywood masquerade movie) with, say, Les Miserables (a musical version of Hugo's historical epic)? The selection of book adaptations on the ballot offers book-to-movie lovers a variety of genres to choose from. If CIA rescues and revolutionary France aren't your cup of tea, perhaps revisiting the timeless fairy tale, Snow White, sounds more appealing. The brothers Grimm classic is working double-time this year, with two separately produced films, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman, both appearing in the list of nominees.

2013 Oscar nominated movies based on books:

  • Anna Karenina - based on Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  • Argo - based on Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, by Antonio J. Mendez
  • The Hobbit - based on The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Les Miserables - based on Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
  • Life of Pi - based on Life of Pi, by Yann Marel
  • Lincoln - based on Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  • "Mirror Mirror" & "Snow White and the Huntsman" - both films are based on Snow White, by the Brothers Grimm
  • Silver Linings Playbook - based on The Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick
  • The Sessions is not based on a book technically. However, it is based on a short work published by Mark O'Brien in The Sun Magazine.
  • Last, but certainly not least, Skyfall is not based on a single work, like many of the other Bond films, but is nonetheless derived from the Bond series by Ian Fleming.

    For a complete look at Oscar nominees click here.

  • On This Day in History--January 8th: Elvis Presley was born in 1935

    Elvis Presley was born today on January 8th, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Known to many as the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis got his start in the music industry singing for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, in 1954. Phillips, who had hoped to find someone who could do justice to the songs and sound of African-American musicians and provide those songs with a broader audience, took Presley under his wing and had him record a few cover songs that made their way onto the radio. They were an instant and overwhelming hit.

    Elvis went on to become one of the most important artists in 20th century pop culture and the best-selling solo artist in the history of popular music, releasing dozens of albums and singles, including From Elvis in Memphis and Elvis's Christmas Album. His unique voice, style, and his interpretations of songs from African-American sources made him a wildly popular and highly controversial figure. He made his film debut in Love Me Tender in 1956 and continued to appear in many other films in the years following. Nominated for 14 Grammys, he won three, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at age 36. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.

    Follow the links and you'll find many of Elvis's albums (and a few biographies!) in AADL's collection.

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