Al Pacino spent four years making this film, the purpose of which is to share his feelings about Shakespeare, and to make one of the Bard’s most difficult plays accessible to a modern audience.
And what are Pacino’s feelings about Shakespeare? He loves him, he’s passionate about him, because the plays are all about human emotions, which are the same no matter the time or place. Pacino believes the legacy of Shakespeare’s plays belongs to actors, who must find the feelings in the words of their characters and transmit them to the audience.
And so he assembles a troupe of American actors to discuss and parse and act out scenes from Richard III. He talks about the relationships among the characters–the Yorks, the Lancasters, the brothers and nephews and wives who all have their own ideas about who should wear the crown. He talks to British actors like Derek Jacobi and Vanessa Redgrave and Kenneth Branagh about whether Americans can do justice to Shakespeare, whether we have perhaps become estranged from the language, or lack the knowledge of British history. He does man-in-the-street interviews to find out whether people think Shakespeare is relevant to them, and why or why not. He explores various settings, and films scenes from the play, and the entire film becomes an experiment in Shakespeare.
Sometimes described as “video Cliff notes,” this film can reawaken a passion for Shakespeare, or introduce the reluctant student to his timeless revelations about the human condition.
For more Shakespeare films and adaptations, click here.
It’s Awards Season, culminating in the big Academy Awards ceremony on February 28th.
In keeping with the season, we at the Portland Public Library have put on our finest clothes, walked the orange carpet, and selected a few of our own favorites to receive the following awards:
Presenter: Elizabeth H
Category: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR BEST VOICE
Winner: This award is presented posthumously to Alan Rickman. RIP
Category: BEST MOVIE ABOUT THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE
Winner: The Madness of King George
This movie won three BAFTA awards (the British equivalent of the Oscars) including Best Picture and Best Actor (Nigel Hawthorne as King George.) Videoport owned this as part of their collection, and soon it will be circulating at the Library.
Category: BEST THING IN A BOX
Winner: “My prestigious award for “Best Thing In a Box” is from the 2008 movie Se7en, with Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Pitt plays Detective Mills, a brash, passionate crimesolver who is roped into working on a serial killer case with weeks-from-retirement Detective Somerset, played by Freeman. Someone is killing people who have committed the Seven Deadly Sins, and is always one step ahead of Mills and Somerset as they follow his clues to an ultimate, gut-wrenching showdown. The brilliant movie is full of twists and turns and an intensity that has been lost on more modern thrillers, and comes to a heart-stopping climax when Mills, near the end of his sanity, screams to Somerset “What’s in the box?!” that the killer had delivered right to their feet. And what is in the box? Why, the winner of my award.”
“The international film critics got it right when they began to award The Palm Dog Award during the Cannes Film Festival. Begun in 2001, this award goes to the best performance by a canine (live or animated.) Look at all of the great performances that came before that date!”
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A CANINE (live): Nikki in Nikki, Wild Dog of the North
As a Teen Librarian, I have heard many an adult dismiss works of young adult fiction without having read them. My hackles go up, my feathers get ruffled - how can you criticize something you haven’t taken the time to experience? So, it is with just a tiny bit of shame that I say to you that I have never and will never watch the movie City of Angles starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan BECAUSE IT SHOULD NOT EXIST. There should be a law about remaking films this good. You know you agree with me.
I have an undergraduate degree in German (long story). In 2001, I was going to school in Berlin, and there was a movie theater in the center of the city that played Wings of Desire on a continuous loop throughout the day. This made total sense since the film was shot in Berlin just a few short years before the Wall came down, and captures a divided city in flux and decay. What an amazing experience it was for me to (1) skip school and sit alone in a dark theater watching this masterpiece, and (2) then be able to walk through the historic and changed city I saw so beautifully captured on film.
One of my favorite scenes shows an elderly gentlemen, Homer, wandering through a deserted field on the site of Potsdamer Platz near the Brandenburg Gate. In 2001, Potsdamer Platz was once again a thriving, modern business and shopping center. In the film, it is an abandoned wasteland around the Wall. Through the medium of his guardian angel, we hear and see Homer’s stream-of-conscious thoughts and memories of this place. This and many other scenes in the film will leave you hollow and aching with the solitude of the human experience.
Bonus awards: as if this film isn’t excellent enough in it’s own right, Wings of Desire wins extra credit for featuring the following: Colombo (Peter Falk), Nick Cave (performing! hot!), a traveling French circus, and the amazing interiors of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (State Library), where every reader is watched over by invisible angels.
“The car was a first in its stylishness and form, despite being dropped off a cliff.While these types of car mash-ups were happening across the globe, no movie has done it in a way with such class and style. Sadly the car truly was one of kind and was actually destroyed during filming.This car paved the way for all other car mash-ups including the whole fleet of mash-up cars in Mad Max: Fury Road, all of which had multiple clones as the cars kept getting destroyed during that movie’s filming.”
Category: BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MOVIE THAT OTHERWISE WOULDN’T BE WORTH WATCHING
Paul Greengrass directed this account of the ill-fated flight of United 93, using people who were actually working at the National Air Traffic Control Center to reenact events as they happened. On the plane, there are no recognizable stars to root for, just ordinary-looking people who reenact events as best we can reconstruct them. What makes the film so compelling and heartbreaking is that we in the audience know how it will end, and the passengers don’t.
The Read to ME Challenge is a public awareness campaign to promote childhood literacy in Maine. The Portland Public Library invites you to take the challenge by reading aloud to a child for at least 15 minutes, capturing a photo or video of the event and then posting it on social media using #ReadtoME or #ReadaloudME. The statewide challenge began in the beginning of February with a kick off at the Blaine House – but you still have time to participate!
Why a campaign about reading aloud to children? Research has shown that the single most important activity for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. Reading aloud is important from infancy through high school and perhaps the greatest benefit is that it associates reading and books with warm and pleasant experiences. Parents, caregivers and teachers who read aloud to children are role modeling enthusiasm for reading and books. The more adults read aloud to children, the larger their children’s vocabularies will grow and will allow them to make sense of printed words when they begin to read independently. Reading aloud also introduces children to the language of books – which is different than the language used in our daily conversations. And yet another important reason to read aloud to a child is that it sparks and lets them use their imaginations.
PPL has a strong commitment to early literacy and is a participant in Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library ® a project of the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association (divisions of the American Library Association). It is a parent education initiative that stresses that early literacy begins with the primary adult in a child’s life. Developing early literacy skills has a long-term impact on children’s reading achievement and academic success. Early literacy is what children understand about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Being interested in and enjoying books is key! Reading, playing, talking, singing, and writing are the five practices that stimulate the growth of a child’s brain and make the connections that will become the foundation for reading.
Do you have questions about the types of books that are best to read to children at various ages and stages? Visit the library and the staff at the Sam L. Cohen Children’s Library at the Main Library or the staff at our branches will be happy to help you in making appropriate selections. For early childhood teachers, the Children’s Library offers over 40 different “totes” – boxes filled with 15-20 books (with many containing puppets and flannel boards children can use to retell the stories) built on common curriculum themes that check out for six weeks.
The Early Literacy Play Room in the Children’s Library provides a great space to explore and play with your young child. It is stocked with quality toys which are developmentally appropriate for children aged birth-6. It also has handouts to take home, with more suggestions for playing, reading and singing with your child!
Check out all the programs we offer for children! https://www.portlandlibrary.com/highlight/september-programs-sam-l-cohen-childrens-library/. We offer regular story times each week for specific age groups – birth through age 5 as well as a weekly story time in French. We have monthly programs such as creative movement and family yoga. And for children who need a furry, non-judgmental reading buddy, Grace our library reading dog, visits the Children’s Library twice a month.
These are just a sampling of the programs we offer, so check out our Kids & Families page as well as the calendars at your local branch library.
The Read to Me Challenge continues through the beginning of March. Take the challenge today and read to a child. And visit the library to learn and explore the different ways you can promote early literacy with the young children you know.