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Movie of the Month: Looking for Richard

posted: , by Patti DeLois
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture

Al Pacino Looking for RichardAl 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.Al Pacino Cliff Notes

Highly recommended.

For more Shakespeare films and adaptations, click here.

 


PPL’s Choice Awards

posted: , by Patti DeLois
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Kids & Families | Seniors | Art & Culture
Oscar

 

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 Hrickman

Category: LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR BEST VOICE

Winner: This award is presented posthumously to Alan Rickman. RIP

 

Presenter: Patti

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.

 

Presenter: Thaddeus

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 se7enkiller 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.”

 

 

Presenter: Mary

Category: DOGS

“The international film critics got it right when they began to award The Palm Dog Award during the Cannes Film trampFestival.  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!”

Winners:

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A CANINE (live): Nikki in Nikki, Wild Dog of the North

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A CANINE (animated):  Tramp in Lady and the Tramp

BEST DOG FILM (comedy):  Best in Show

BEST DOG FILM (drama):  Greyfriars Bobby

 

Truman ShowPresenter: Hazel

Category: BEST PICTURE FOR INDUCING PARANOID MEGALOMANIA

Winner: The Truman Show

 

 

 

skeleton-twins-dvd-cover-50Presenter: Patti

Category: BEST LIP SYNCH PERFORMANCE

Winners: Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in The Skeleton Twins

 

 

Presenter: Kelley

Category: BEST FOREIGN FILM THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN REMADE FOR AN AMERICAN AUDIENCE

Winner: Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire)

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 Nicholaswings of desire 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.

 

 

 

jaguar hearsePresenter: Raminta
Category: BEST CAR
Winner: The 1965 Jaguar XK-E hearse in Harold and Maude
“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.”

 

 

Presenter: PattiJulie and Julia

Category: BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MOVIE THAT OTHERWISE WOULDN’T BE WORTH WATCHING

Winner:  Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie and Julia

 

 

 

United 93 Presenter: Patti

Category: BEST REENACTMENT OF EVENTS OF 9/11

Winner: United 93

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.

 

Presenters: Sonya and Patti

Category: BEST PRODUCT PLACEMENT

Winners: We have a tie!big blue bug

Sonya’s Choice: Big Blue Bug Solutions from Dumb and Dumber

 

 

what's love got to do with itPatti’s Choice: The Ramada Inn sign in What’s Love Got to Do With It

 

 

 

 

 Presenter: PattiFredo

Category: BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN EVERY MOVIE HE EVER MADE

Winner: John Cazale

You remember him as Fredo in The Godfather movies. You remember him from The Deer Hunter, and from Dog Day Afternoon. You remember him because every performance he gave was memorable. His friends remember him in I Knew It Was You.

 

That’s all for this year’s awards. Thank you to all our presenters, and we’ll see you at the after party.

 

For the latest Oscar news, click here.

For a list of Oscar winners from the Criterion Collection, click here.

 


Movie of the Month: Eve’s Bayou

posted: , by Patti DeLois
tags: Library Collections | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture

eve's bayou“The summer I killed my father I was ten years old.”

From this intriguing beginning, our narrator, Eve Batiste (played as a 10-year-old by Jurnee Smollet-Ball) weaves a dream-like story of memories and visions from the summer of 1962.

The story begins at a party at Eve’s home, hosted by her parents, the charismatic Dr. Louis Batiste (Samuel L. Jackson) and his wife Roz (Lynn Whitfield), “so beautiful men fought for the privilege of saying her name.”  They are clearly the It couple in their community, and while Dr. Batiste dances with his older daughter Cisely (Meagan Good), Eve runs away in a snit and hides in the carriage house, where she falls asleep. When she wakes up some time later, she witnesses something she was never meant to see and does not fully understand. She reports this experience to her sister, who persuades her that she has, indeed, misunderstood the situation. From here on, doubts, mysteries and misunderstandings abound, and these are exactly what make the story so compelling.

There’s also some voodoo, and some psychic visions, and a possible curse, all of which may or may not be real, and all of which contribute to the exotic atmosphere of the Cajun bayou. The story is dark, although not without humor, and the movie itself is beautifully shot–the landscapes are beautiful, the actors are beautiful–and while some critics have seen this as a black version of a family drama, I would simply say it is a good family drama, and a refreshing change from movies about pretty white people.

Other recommendations for Black History Month can be found here.

 

 

 

 

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