DVD Genre Spotlight: Silent Films

The AADL owns over 100 silent film DVDs, and now this high-quality collection has a DVD genre shelf for easier browsing. To the novice silent film viewer, some tropes of these films can seem stilted, but become rather seamless as you grow familiar with them. For example, the musical score is an omnipresent and integral component as it must perform several functions. The music must reflect a character's emotions, advance the action in a sequence, and set the tone for a scene. Also, intertitles appear frequently as brief frames of textual narrative or dialogue that help deliver the story.

Filmmakers during the silent film era (1888-1927) embraced several types of feature films, including comedy, drama, and fantasy. Some primers for silent film fandom that the AADL owns are the surreal Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for those interested in the darkly psychological, The Birth of a Nation, a perennially controversial drama, and almost any film from comedic geniuses Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin.

MAY

This 2003 movie is a sleeper. MAY is an awesome movie with great acting.

Tha main character, May, who is shy and quirky, is wonderfully played by Samantha Adams. May has been an outcast since childhood due to her lazy eye. She turns into the neighborhood joke because her mother insists she use a "pirate patch" to cover her lazy eye. Instead of making things better, it actually makes the situation worse. For her birthday, in order to cheer her up, May's mother gives her a doll that she cannot take out of the case and play with. Even though she cannot hold her new friend, she ultimately becomes best friends with the inaccessible doll in the box.

As May grows into an adult she stays best friends with her doll. She works at the animal hospital, and sews her own clothes in her spare time. One day she sees Adam, played by Ken Davitian, and instantly falls for him. They run into each other in the town's laundry mat, and soon begin a friendship. Through heartaches that follow, she begins to realize that only certain parts of people are perfect. May snaps, and her "macabre fix" of her disappointing life ensues.

Terrifically terrifying

Ready for a scary book for those cold winter nights? Get your hot chocolate and jammies on, you will need them since this book will NOT make you any warmer! International Horror award winner, the Terror by multiple award winning author, Dan Simmons, brings the reader up close to the trials of the 1840s Franklin Expedition to the Canadian Arctic. The expedition, while searching for the famed Northwest Passage, was besot by foul weather and eventually became lodged in the ice, never to be seen again. Simmons takes these true events and adds some horror and a touch of the supernatural. It is a very suspenseful book and extremely well-written. You won't have to go outside to get the feeling of the freezing Arctic temperatures, Simmons does it all for you!

The Graveyard Book: Audiobook

When a family is murdered only their baby son escapes, crawling away from his house and into the local graveyard. The boy is taken in by the ghosts and named Nobody Owens, otherwise known as Bod.

Even though he is alive, the ghosts and Bod's mysterious guardian Silas, teach him all the ways of the dead and make sure the graveyard is the safest place for him. But one day the man who killed Bod's family comes back to find him...

Neil Gaiman is both the author and audio performer of The Graveyard Book, a beautiful and gripping tale inspired by Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book. Gaiman's voices for his characters are spot on. You haven't lived (or perhaps had a fulfilling afterlife), until you've heard his rendention of Nehemiah Trot, the graveyard's very own poet. Each CD also begins with a superb musical rendition of the Danse Macabre. If you like this audiobook, you might also enjoy Coraline, another scary book for children read and written by Gaiman and soon to be a major motion picture.

Braaaiinninsss....

Fall is upon us and that means colder weather, cider mills, changing leaves, and Halloween! With the season of spooks nearing I thought it an appropriate time to warn you all about the upcoming invasion. That's right, on October 26th, 2008, Ann Arbor will be overrun by zombies!! No need to worry though as these zombies have better intentions and motives behind their staggering than the typical zombie. 10/26/08 is the 40th anniversary of Night of the Living Dead and World Zombie Day and to help celebrate people are asked to bring non-perishable food donations to the zombie walk. All donations for the Ann Arbor walk will be given to Ann Arbor’s food bank Food Gatherers.

The walk will start at Espresso Royale

Twilight: Audiobook

You may have noticed the buzz when Stephenie Meyer's fourth book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn, just came out this August or when the Twilight film grabbed Harry Potter's original release date of November 21st (it's not Twilight's fault, don't get mad at them). All this publicity also means that the original Twilight novel is still in hot demand here at the library. But if you're like me and you enjoy audiobooks, then there's a significantly shorter holds list on the Twilight audiobook.

As for the story and audio themselves, for any who've managed to avoid the media, Twilight is a vampire teen romance novel. For personal reasons Bella Swan (the name kinda makes me think of a certain Pirates of the Caribbean character) arrives in the small town of Forks to live with her father. Used to the warmth and sun of Arizona, Bella languishes in the dreary gloom of Washington state until she meets a strange boy at school...

Portishead: Third

In spare moments, I dream of the horror film I'd like to produce: harrowing, soul-piercing work that leaves viewers devoid of hope in 90 short minutes. The soundtrack is always the same; Beth Gibbons, lead vocalist of Portishead, sings unaccompanied, warbling in despair and moaning in her peerless croon. Portishead's first release in eleven years, Third, is not far from this vision, especially in Gibbons' contributions, but its sound is sharply different than their trip-hop prototype of the late '90s. The lush textures and high-production remain, but the breakbeats have been outmoded, morphing into experimental percussion more Steve Reich than Tricky. Plenty of surprises, each darker than the last, await the listener throughout this record, so take a listen today.

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…

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.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #116

Lauren Groff's "exuberant" debut The Monsters of Templeton* is a "fantastically fun read, a kind of wild pastiche that is part historical novel and part mystery, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in for good measure".

Pregnant and troubled, archaeology student Wilhelmina (Willie) Upton slinks home to Templeton, N.Y., after a disastrous affair with her professor, on the very day a long-feared sea monster surfaces in Lake Glimmerglass, quite dead. When Vi, Willie's flower-child mother let slip that Willie's father is in fact a respected citizen in town rather than a nameless hippie from Vi's commune days, Willie dives headlong into untangling the roots of the town's greatest families and her father's identity.

Brilliantly incorporating accounts from generations of Templetonians — as well as characters borrowed from the works of James Fenimore Cooper, who named an upstate New York town Templeton in The Pioneers, Groff, a native of Cooperstown(on which Templeton is based), will delight readers with Willie's sharp wit, literary/historical references and lore.

* = Starred Reviews

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