Films

  • 90s rom coms

     

    The 1990’s were a golden age for the romantic comedy. There were so many quotable lines, great couples and first kisses. These are some of my favorite romance movies that I could watch over and over again. Whether you’re spending this Valentine’s Day with your special someone or snuggled up on the couch by yourself, these movies are sure to get you in the mood for love.

    Sleepless

     

    SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
    (1993) PG
    Directed by Nora Ephron Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks    

    Annie Reed falls in love with a total stranger after hearing him confess his love for his recently deceased wife on a radio call-in show. This normally level-headed woman has the crazy impulse to travel across the country to meet him.

     

     

    IQ

     

    I.Q.
    (1994) PG
    Directed by Fred Schepisi Starring Meg Ryan and Tim Robbins

    This warm-hearted romantic comedy stars Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins and Walter Matthau. We all know that Einstein is a scientific genius but could he be a matchmaker too?

     

     

    Only You

    ONLY YOU
    (1994) PG
    Directed by Norman Jewison Starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.

    Faith lives her life believing that she is destined to marry someone named Damon, but he never appears, until she is about to marry someone else. 

     

     

    While You Were Sleeping

    WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
    (1995) PG
    Directed by Jon Turteltaub Starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman

    A lonely young subway employee is in love with a stranger she only sees from a distance. When she saves his life but is he is knocked into a coma, his family mistakes her for his fiancée and she doesn’t correct the mistake. The mix-up escalates when she meets and falls in love with the stranger’s charming brother. 

     

     

    Emma

     

    EMMA
    (1996) PG
    Directed by Douglas McGrath Starring Gwyneth Paltrow

    Emma Woodhouse imagines that she presides over the small town of Highbury but her incompetent matchmaking creates problems for herself and others. 

     

     

    My Best Friends Wedding

     

    MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING
    (1997) PG-13
    Directed by P.J. Hogan Starring Julia Roberts and Durmot Mulroney

    Jules has always been shy of making commitments but she finally realizes she is in love with her best friend Michael when he tells her that he is about to marry someone else. She will do just about anything to try to steal him back. 

     

     

    10 Things I Hate About You

     

    10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
    (1999) PG-13
    Directed by Gil Junger Starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger

    This adaptation of William Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew takes place in a modern day high school. A popular teenager girl is forbidden to go on a date until her ill-tempered older sister goes out too. 

     

     

    Never Been Kissed

     

    NEVER BEEN KISSED
    (1999) PG-13
    Directed by Raja Gosnell Starring Drew Barrymore and David Arquette

    A newspaper reporter goes undercover as a student to learn about today’s teens. She’s hoping this time she won’t be the geeky nerd who trips over her own feet. She never expects to fall for one of the teachers. 

     

     

    Notting Hill

     

    NOTTING HILL
    (1999) PG-13
    Directed by Roger Michell Starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant

    A small-time bookstore owner’s life is completely changed when he crosses paths with one of the most famous movie stars in the world.

     

     

    Youve Got Mail

     

    YOU’VE GOT MAIL
    (1999) PG
    Directed by Nora Ephron Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks

    Two business enemies, who loathe each other in real life, unknowingly fall in love through anonymous e-mails. 

     

     

     

  • back to school

    Last year we "back-to-schooled" in the 80s with big hair and neon colors. This year we are going to put on our grungy flannel, rock to Nirvana, and party like it is 1999. (There are three films on this list that came out that year).

    8.25ENCINO MAN
    Directed by Les Mayfield
    (1992)

    After two high school outcasts dig up a frozen caveman and thaw him out, they decide to teach him the ways of the 20th Century by bringing him to school and introducing him to the cool kids in hopes they will be included. This is back when Pauley Shore was funny and Brendan Fraser was good looking.

     

     

    8.25 CluelessCLUELESS
    Directed by Amy Heckerling
    (1995)

    In this modern retelling of Jane Austen’s EMMA, Beverly Hills teen Cher (Alicia Silverstone) befriends the new girl at school. She decides to give her a makeover to help her fit in, but inevitably Cher realizes that she needs to give herself a makeover on the inside. The quintessential 90's high school movie with its soundtrack, fashion, and catch phrases.

     

     

    8.25 Drive Me CrazyDRIVE ME CRAZY
    Directed by John Schultz
    (1999)

    Long time neighbors and once childhood friends come up with a plan to date each other in hopes of making their exes jealous. But as Nicole (Melissa Joan Hart) and Chase (Adrian Grenier) reconnect, they find they have more in common than they remembered and might not be too interested in their exes after all.

     

     

    8.25 10 Things I Hate About You10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
    Directed by Gil Junger
    (1999)

    In this modern remake of Shakespeare’s "Taming of the Shrew," younger, more popular sister, Bianca, is not allowed to date until her ill-tempered older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) does. Solution: pay school bad boy Patrick (Heath Ledger) to take Kat out on a date. What Patrick doesn't expect is to fall in love. Great movie soundtrack.

     

     

    8.25 Never Been KissedNEVER BEEN KISSED
    Directed by Raja Gosnell
    (1999)

    A newspaper reporter (Drew Barrymore) goes undercover at a high school for a story but is more excited for a do over since she was an outcast during high school. Things get complicated when she is attracted to her English teacher (Michael Vartan) who gets her intellectually, but she doesn’t want to blow her cover.

     

     

  • Documentary Rowing

    One of my favorite things we did at the library this last year happened last September when we held a screening of the wildly popular documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor.  More than 250 people filled our ballroom for the event, and together we laughed and cried over the memories shared of one of America’s most beloved people on television.

    Since 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a lot of information has come out about the man behind the puppets.  I’ve enjoyed learning more about one of my favorite people from my childhood, and doing so in multiple formats.  Following are some of my favorite examples of learning about true events in multiple formats:

    Subject: Mr. Rogers

    4.5 Wont You Be My NeighborWON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
    (2018)

    Of course I have to start off this list with the documentary that got me thinking about the topic.  This documentary interviews the friends, family, and coworkers of Mr. Rogers, and gives a great picture of the real Mr. Rogers.

     

    4.5 The Good NeighborTHE GOOD NEIGHBOR
    By Maxwell King
    (2018)

    This book is a great addition to the documentary and adds even more to the life story of Fred Rogers.  As a bonus, the audiobook is narrated by another favorite PBS television host, LeVar Burton.

     
     

    Subject: The Vietnam War

    4.5 The Vietnam WarTHE VIETNAM WAR
    (2017)

    This excellent ten-part documentary by documentary legend Ken Burns really takes viewers back to the time period, using all sorts of archival evidence to help make sense of a very confusing, divisive time in history.

     

    4.5 Boots on the GroundBOOTS ON THE GROUND: AMERICA’S WAR IN VIETNAM
    By Elizabeth Partridge
    (2018)

    There is an official companion book meant to coincide with Ken Burns’ documentary, but I really enjoyed this young adult nonfiction telling of the Vietnam War.  Each chapter tells to story of one person’s experience in the war, whether that’s the president of the United States, a machine gunner, or a protester.  These combined viewpoints made the complexities of the war really stand out to me.

     
     

    Subjects: Falconry, and Overcoming Grief

    4.5 H is for HawkH IS FOR HAWK
    By Helen Macdonald
    (2015)

    This award-winning best-seller tells the story of how the author, an experienced falconer, decided to try her hand at training a goshawk.  Her experiences with training help her deal with the grief she feels after the sudden death of her father.

     

    4.5 H is for Hawk DVDH IS FOR HAWK: A NEW CHAPTER
    (2017)

    Following the success of the book, PBS Nature worked with Macdonald to create a documentary about her work with goshawks.  This added view into Macdonald’s world adds another layer of insight into both Macdonald’s life, and her work with these fascinating predators.

     
     

    Subject: Underdog Sports Stories

    4.5 The Boys in the BoatTHE BOYS IN THE BOAT
    by Daniel James Brown
    (2013)

    This fascinating book tells the story of the University of Washington 1936 eight-oar crew team, who beat out other successful and well-known crew teams in their quest for an Olympic gold medal.

     

    4.5 The Boys of 36THE BOYS OF ‘36
    (2016)

    This documentary about the University of Washington 1936 eight-oar crew team expands on the story told in the book by showing more photographs, and by including newsreel clips and interviews with sports historians and surviving family members to round out the story.

     
     

    Subject: Activism/Malala Yousafzai

    4.5 I Am MalalaI AM MALALA
    By Malala Yousafzai
    (2013)

    This best-selling book about a girl who fought for her right to an education, and was shot by the Taliban is an inspiration that shows one person really can make a difference.

     

    4.5 He Named Me MalalaHE NAMED ME MALALA
    (2015)

    This documentary expands on the best-selling book, giving the viewer an inside look into Malala Yousafzai and her family, and on the effect Malala’s activism has had on her life.

     
     
  • Audrey Hepburn

    May 4th would have been Audrey Hepburn’s 90th birthday, so now’s the perfect time to celebrate her remarkable life. (When isn’t it, really?) We all know Audrey for her classic movie roles (ROMAN HOLIDAY, MY FAIR LADY, WAIT UNTIL DARK, CHARADE) and iconic fashion moments (the little black dresses in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, the post-Paris ball gown in SABRINA, The lace eye mask and sparkly eyeshadow in HOW TO STEAL OF MILLION, the entirety of FUNNY FACE), but she was so much more than that.

    Though she never thought much of herself, Audrey Hepburn was a woman of compassion, courage, humility, selflessness, intelligence and gentleness. She enjoyed her acting career, but throughout her life she was most passionate about children – both her own two sons and the impoverished children she advocated for through her work with UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund). Audrey spent the last years of her life tirelessly traveling the globe to meet with, serve, and fight on behalf of suffering children.

    Because I loved MY FAIR LADY, I wrote a report on Audrey my sophomore year of high school, and I was blown away by her goodness. Ever since, I’ve been joking that I’ll find a way to become her best friend in the afterlife. In addition to watching her films, I’ve read a number of books about her inspiring life over the years. Here are a few of my favorites: 

    5.1 Audrey Hepburn An Elegant SpiritAUDREY HEPBURN, AN ELEGANT SPIRIT
    By Sean Ferrer
    (2005)

    This biography, written by Audrey’s son Sean, is the one I most often recommend. It features personal memories and gorgeous family photographs that reveal her love for gardening, ballet, animals (she adored her dogs), motherhood, and a quiet life at her home in Switzerland. It also discusses her insecurities and the heartache she experienced when her father left the family and when she experienced miscarriages as an adult. Ferrer makes a special point to emphasize his mother’s work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in her later life, and he donated proceeds from the book to the Audrey Hepburn’s Children Fund.

     

    5.1 Audrey at HomeAUDREY AT HOME: MEMORIES OF MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN
    By Luca Dotti
    (2015)

    Audrey’s younger son, Luca, compiled this collection of memories, recipes, letters, and hundreds of previously unpublished photographs. It feels more like a scrapbook than a biography, which is why I recommend starting with Ferrer’s book first if you only know Audrey from a movie or two. If you’re already familiar with her backstory, though, AUDREY AT HOME is charming. I love how intimate it feels, particularly in sharing Audrey’s favorite recipes like Penna alla Vodka. I’m grateful that Audrey’s sons have been so generous in sharing their private memories with the loving fans who miss her.

     

    5.1 Dutch GirlDUTCH GIRL: AUDREY HEPBURN AND WORLD WAR II
    By Robert Matzen
    (2019)

    Though other biographies discuss Hepburn’s experiences living through the Nazi occupation of Holland as a teen, this is the first book to cover those years of her life in depth. Though her father and initially her mother were Nazi sympathizers, an uncle helped lead the resistance in the Netherlands, and as a teen Audrey carried messages for the underground movement and raised funds through secret ballet performances. Matzen reveals that Audrey and her mother even sheltered a downed English pilot for a time. Later in life, the memory of food and medical relief at the end of the war fueled Audrey’s passionate work on behalf of children. Matzen’s new book offers a fascinating glimpse at this formative time in Audrey’s life.

     

    5.1 Audrey and GivenchyAUDREY AND GIVENCHY: A FASHION LOVE AFFAIR
    By Cindy De La Hoz
    (2016)

    If you idolize Audrey for her fashion sense, it’s important to know the man behind many of her most iconic looks: Hubert de Givenchy. When Audrey, a Hollywood newcomer, first went to meet the young designer in the 1950s, he famously expected a different Miss Hepburn at the appointment. That mishap led to a forty-year friendship and collaborative working relationship, however. AUDREY AND GIVENCHY provides wonderful insight into their personal bond and the designs they made famous.

     

    5.1 Just Being AudreyJUST BEING AUDREY
    By Margaret Cardillo
    Illustrated by Julia Denos
    (2011)

    This sweet picture book provides a lovely overview of Audrey’s life, career, and charity work, and the beautiful illustrations by Julia Denos perfectly capture Hepburn’s personality and charm. Readers of all ages are sure to draw inspiration from JUST BEING AUDREY. 

     

    5.1 Gardens of the World with Audrey HepburnBonus: GARDENS OF THE WORLD WITH AUDREY HEPBURN
    Directed by Bruce Franchini
    (1999)

    This emmy-winning documentary series helped make Audrey one of only fifteen EGOT winners in history. She was a passionate gardener, in part because of the deprivation she experienced during World War II; her son Luca said “Her garden in Switzerland which has fruit trees was proof of this – it was beauty in the form of protecting your family.” GARDENS OF THE WORLD reflects her love for the topic. Beautiful shots of roses, tulips, and famous gardens combine with Audrey’s lilting voice for a very relaxing viewing experience. It’s practically ASMR.

  • dvd collection 01

  •  Eliza

    May 20th is a special day for me. No, it’s not because it’s World Metrology Day or the feast day of Saint Ivo of Chartres. It’s because it’s Eliza Doolittle Day!

    As any musical or classic film fan knows, Eliza Doolittle is the aspiring “lady in a flower shop” and star of Lerner and Loewe’s MY FAIR LADY. The original 1956 Broadway production won seven Tonys, with the 1964 film going on to garner eight Academy Awards, and a current revival is up for 10 more possible Tonys. It’s an almost guaranteed critic and crowd pleaser.

    MY FAIR LADY has been my favorite film for nearly 20 years now, and as an Audrey Hepburn obsessive, I have a soft spot in my heart for the song “Just You Wait.” Unlike most of the songs, which were dubbed by Marni Nixon, it features Hepburn’s actual singing voice with only a small section of dubbing. Skip to 1:31 for the establishment of this important international holiday.

     

    So here are a few options for celebrating Eliza Doolittle Day:

    Watch the film

    5.17 My Fair LadyMY FAIR LADY
    Directed by George Cukor
    (1964)

    Number 8 on the American Film Institute’s list of the Greatest Movie Musicals, Number 12 on their 100 Years … 100 Passions list, and number 91 on their list of the 100 Greatest American Movies Of All Time. It’s just that good. 

     

    Listen to the original cast recording

    5.17 SoundtrackMY FAIR LADY: ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING
    Music by Frederick Loewe
    Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
    (1956)

    Even half a century later, there’s still a surprising amount of controversy over the casting of Audrey Hepburn in the film over Julie Andrews, who originated the role. Luckily, you can still listen to the original Broadway cast recording in all its undubbed glory. 

     

    Play or sing along

    5.17 Piano VocalMY FAIR LADY PIANO/VOCAL/CHORD SELECTIONS
    Music by Frederick Loewe
    Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
    (2007)

    Why not try your own hand (or voice) at classic tunes like “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” I’d argue that Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics for MY FAIR LADY are some of the cleverest ever written for Broadway, and Loewe’s gorgeous, sweeping score stands the test of time. 

     

    Read the original

    5.17 PygmalionPYGMALION
    By George Bernard Shaw
    (1913)

    MY FAIR LADY is based on this classic play, inspired by Greek mythology. Nearly every clever line from the musical comes straight from George Bernard Shaw’s original, but be prepared for a very different ending. 

     

    Read about the Elizas

    Though many women have played Eliza, Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn are inarguably the women who defined the role. They are fortunately both exemplary role models in their own rights, and these biographies will give you wonderful insight into the women behind the role.

    5.17 HomeHOME: A MEMOIR OF MY EARLY YEARS
    By Julie Andrews
    (2008)

     

    5.17 Audrey HepburnAUDREY HEPBURN: AN ELEGANT SPIRIT
    By Sean Hepburn Ferrer
    (2003)

     
  • classicfilmsforkids 01

     

    In a recent conversation with a patron about films, I mentioned that I LOVE Classic Hollywood films; she responded, “Me, too! I love films from the ‘80s and ‘90s.” Chuckling internally—and feeling a bit old—I went to explain that the films I was talking about were made in the ‘40s-‘60s. This got me thinking about how so many great films have not been viewed because they are considered old and parents think their children being raised in the high-tech age would not enjoy them. Here are a few films I think will change your mind. I even made sure to pick films in color, so you can take baby steps to introduce kids or even adults who have missed out on these treasures.

    court jesterTHE COURT JESTER
    (1956)
    Directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama
    Starring: Danny Kaye, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury, and Glynis Johns

    In 12th century England, the infant king is usurped by the wicked King Roderick. Black Fox and his band attempt to restore the rightful king to the throne by having a member of their group infiltrate the court by posing as the jester. Danny Kaye, playing the jester, is at his comedic best. The supporting cast is really who’s who in character actors of the day and they all come together for a hilarious adventure that will have the family rolling in their seats.

    Singing in the rain posterSINGING IN THE RAIN
    (1951)  
    Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
    Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor

    A group of actors who have only done silent films before are caught in the very bumpy transition to talking pictures. Don’t shy away because this is a musical, remember Disney Animations are musicals, so your kids are used to people breaking out in song. Gene Kelly’s and Donald O’Connor’s physical dancing, using props and comedic style, will have you jumping out of your seats to join them in dancing—that is, if you’re not laughing too hard. Here’s a fun fact to share: they used diluted milk in the famous “Singing in the Rain” scene so the camera would pick up the raindrops better. Yeah, I felt kinda bad for Gene after hearing about that. 

    robin hoodTHE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD
    (1938)  
    Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley
    Starring Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, and Olivia de Havilland

    Rebel outlaw Robin Hood outwits the Sheriff of Nottingham and saves the throne for the absent King Richard I. This has something for everyone—action/adventure, comedy, a little bit of romance, and sword fights! This is the sword fighting film, the one that all the other films have tried to match but it was not until THE PRINCESS BRIDE (in my opinion) that another film achieved it. You do not want to miss this classic.

  •  Horror on the Silver Screen

    Looking for a movie to send chills down your spine? While the horror genre has had some great films in recent history—from the Oscar-winning GET OUT, to the John Krasinski breakout, A QUIET PLACE—there have been many classic movies that have scared the pants off audiences. Here are some hits from yesteryear to get you in the mood for Halloween. 

    10.26 The InnocentsTHE INNOCENTS
    Directed by Jack Clayton
    (1961)

    Based on the American novel, THE TURN OF THE SCREW, this British adaptation combines everything you’d want in Victorian horror — haunted estates, women in distress, and creepy children. A woman becomes the governess to a young brother and sister who may be much more than they appear. Are the apparitions she sees real? In this film, you can never really trust what people say—or what they see. If you are a fan of modern gothic films like THE WOMAN IN BLACK or THE OTHERS, check out THE INNOCENTS. 

    Fun Fact: The screenplay for this film was worked on by Truman Capote, who took a break from his true crime classic, IN COLD BLOOD, to finish the movie script. 

     

    10.26 Abbott and CostelloABBOT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
    Directed by Charles Barton
    (1948)

    If you are looking for some good scares and good laughs, check out Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Made after the heyday of monster movies like DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and THE WOLFMAN, this movie manages to put all of them into one story. The “Avengers” of Universal horror films, the film manages one of the first “crossover” plotlines, pitting each monster against one another or our protagonists.  

    Abbott and Costello both pull off one-liners with their usual skill, poking fun at the monsters while still allowing for some scary moments. The fear factor is helped by the fact that most of the creatures are played by their original actors—who are perfectly happy to howl, bite, and groan amid the jokes. My personal favorite is when Lon Chaney (the Wolfman) attempts to warn Costello over the phone about Dracula’s plot. Instead, Costello quickly becomes more and more irritated with Chaney’s “barking dog.” 

    If you enjoy this film, be sure to check out other Abbott and Costello horror crossovers, such as ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN. 

     

    10.26 Cape FearCAPE FEAR
    Directed by J. Lee Thompson
    (1962)

    This film was initially worked on by Alfred Hitchcock, before he passed it onto his colleague, J. Lee Thompson. One of the best thrillers of the 1950’s, it tells the story of how one ex-con terrorizes the family of the lawyer who sent him to prison. Robert Mitchum pits himself against the upright everyman, Gregory Peck—who was known for playing another famous lawyer in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  

    Mitchum manages to play both cold, calculating villain and out-of-control maniac. It is his personality that truly makes the audience fear for the lawyer’s family. This film would be made again in 1991 by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro in the ex-con role. However, if you are interested in other horror films that showcase Robert Mitchum’s talent, I recommend the beautiful and horrifying THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

     

    10.26 The HauntingTHE HAUNTING
    Directed by Robert Wise
    (1963)

    Based on the 1959 book by Shirley Jackson, THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, which is widely considered to be the scariest book ever written. Both the movie and its classic film adaptation tell the story of four people invited to investigate not a house that is “haunted,” but is rather “diseased,” with a mind of its own. We soon realize the disturbing effect it has on each person who stays there, including the poor, lonely Eleanor.  

    This film came out just 4 years after the book’s initial publication and was directed by Robert Wise—who had just come off a successful adaptation of WEST SIDE STORY (and would later go on to direct THE SOUND OF MUSIC). Don’t let the director’s background in musicals fool you, this movie will certainly keep you up at night. This film truly takes to heart the old adage that what you don’t see is scarier than what you do. From great acting, to terrifying sound design, this movie will drag you down into the madness that has enveloped the people staying at Hill House.  

    In addition to the 1963 film, The Haunting of Hill House has had plenty of adaptations. These include a recent Netflix adaptation, of the same name, and a 1999 film with Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. (Despite the star-studded cast, please do not subject yourself to this film.)

     
  • dance movies 1

    I’m a sucker for cheesy chick flicks, and dance movies are no exception. They are in their own category of favorite for me, probably because deep down inside I wish I was more of a dancer. I took a little here and there growing up, and even tried to get into it again in college, but to no avail. Unfortunately ballerinas don’t come in the 5’10” variety. When I took the accelerated advanced ballet class at BYU, I had a zeal that rarely emerged for coursework. My teacher saw this and really tried to mentor me. I was the same size as the two boys in the class (most of the girls barely passed the 5’ or 100 lbs mark) and because of my athletic background I could keep up with the boys with the bigger and double-time jumps. That bit was fun but I never felt like I could quite fit in with the other little dancers, no matter how graceful or accurately I moved. Watching dance movies gives me that little taste of a dancer’s life that I never had. I go to almost all of Ballet West’s major performances and listen to Tchaikovsky when I want to mellow out, but dance movies are a favorite because it combines chick flick rom-com with dance.  Here are a few that the library owns:

    Untitled 1STEP UP 
    Directed by Anne Fletcher
    (2006)

    Ballet meets the streets, traditional classical meets contemporary hip hop, and love unfolds as prejudices give way. Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan are a perfect pair because their chemistry is 100% real- they are now married and have a daughter! Even though the plot seems a bit unbelievable at times, a great soundtrack and awesome dancing make for an epic dance film. The step up franchise has continued with 4 other Step up movies, varying in acting ability, dance skills and chemistry between the main actors. My personal ranking of the 5 movies goes as follows: 1, 2, 4, 5, 3.

    Untitled 2TAKE THE LEAD 
    Directed by Liz Friedlander
    (2006).

    Antonio Banderas ballroom dancing...need I say more? That alone makes this movie worth watching. TAKE THE LEAD has an endearing plot where the friendship and love seem to grow organically as ballroom dance and ballroom etiquette becomes integrated into their lives. This has a nice take home message and entertaining, classy dancing.

     

    Untitled 3SAVE THE LAST DANCE 
    Directed by Thomas Carter
    (2006)

    There seems to be a trend of good dance movies coming out in 2006. I’m not sure why, but it’s interesting. This is another ballet meets hip hop movie in the streets of Chicago. Ballerina Kat has suffered a tremendous loss, and a new friend helps in the healing process as she strives to accomplish her dreams. This film gets into deeper things with divorce, race, death, gang violence and inner city culture all while telling the tale of a dancer as she grows up.

     

    Untitled 4FOOTLOOSE
    Directed by Craig Brewer
    (2011)

    This is the remake of the original FOOTLOOSE from 1984, also found here at the library, showing how dancing is a very good thing despite some rigid city rules. I think I like the new one better because I don’t see any chemistry between Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, whereas with Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, there is plenty of chemistry despite their relatively new acting chops. This is a fun movie showing teens' lives can be enhanced by good clean dancing and new friends.

     

    Untitled 5DIRTY DANCING 
    Directed by Emile Ardolino
    (1987)

    This is an old classic when it comes to dance movies. Try to ignore the age difference and sketchy relationships and focus on the fun latin dance moves. I admit the whole setup is odd with the family vacation summer camp vibe, but nevertheless this film is very entertaining. If you’ve ever wondered where the phrase “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” come from, or wondered what ‘the lift’ is that’s mentioned in so many rom-coms, then you need to watch this. Like #4 there was also a remake done, found here, but it’s not nearly as good as the original in my opinion.

     

    As far as dance movies are concerned there are definitely more than 5 good ones, so this list is just the tip of the iceberg. A few that the library doesn’t own that I also love include: CENTER STAGE, STREETDANCE, HONEY 2, A BALLERINA'S TALE, FIRST POSITION, and HIGH STRUNG. Enjoy and keep dancing!

    The library hosts various dance related activities that you can come to no matter your dance ability. Seriously any level, we don’t judge! We have a Learn It series with zumba and bollywood classes. It’s a great way to get some exercise and move to some good beats! September through May on first and third Mondays of each month, we host cultural performances which often include dance, theater and music groups- Wasatch ballet, legacy dance studio, WOFA afro fusion dance, and more!  Be sure to look out for and attend these events.

  • DSC 0355edit

     

    This is the time of year when the nation gears up to celebrate the 4th of July. In preparation, I thought it might be fun to share some popular patriotic movies the whole family can enjoy.

     

    Independence DayINDEPENDENCE DAY
    dir. Roland Emmerich
    (1996)

    This blockbuster is always high on any July 4th movie list. It tells the story of an alien invasion of Earth on July 4th and the ragtag group of humans trying to stop it. Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum.

     

     

     
    yankeedoodledandeeYANKEE DOODLE DANDY
    dir. Michael Curtiz
    (1942)

     

    This is a great family movie about the patriotic career of Broadway star and composer George M. Cohen. Jim Cagney gives a brilliant performance with songs and dance that will have you feeling very patriotic and ready to wave your flag.

     

     

    Apollo 13APOLLO 13
    dir. Ron Howard
    (1995)

    This biopic tells the story of NASA mission Apollo 13. It was America’s third attempt to land on the moon but an explosion on-board starts to deplete the ship of its oxygen and power and soon the only focus of the mission is trying to get the astronauts home. The film showcases the American spirit of discovery and the creed of never-leave-a-person-behind. Starring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon and Gary Sinise.

     

     

     

    mr smith goes to washingtonMR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON
    dir. Frank Capra
    (1939)

    America at its best, this movie is a great example of how Big Government will not crush the human spirit. This film is as relevant now as it was 75 years ago. Starring Jimmy Stewart.

     

     

     

    national treasure
    NATIONAL TREASURE
    dir. Jon Turteltaub
    (2004)

    Benjamin Franklin Gates is a historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a lost treasure. A lot of history is covered in this movie from Ancient Egypt, to the Knight Templar, to the American Freemasons, to the Founding Fathers and the American Revolutionary War. At one point he even sets out to steal the Declaration of Independence to get to the hidden map on the back. This fun, entertaining movie is great for the whole family. Starring Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Harvey Keitel and Christopher Plummer.

     

  • kidsdvds

    Are you looking for a fantastic movie for the entire family? Here's a list of my favorite too-often-forgotten DVDs that your entire family can enjoy!

    1THE IRON GIANT
    dir. Brad Bird
    (1999)

    Hogarth Hughes just rescued an enormous robot that fell from the stars to Earth. Now young Hogarth has one very big friend and an even bigger problem: how do you keep a 50-foot-tall, steel-eating giant a secret?  

    2JUMANJI 
    dir. Joe Johnston
    (1995)

    When Alan Parrish discovers a mysterious board game, he doesn't realize its unimaginable powers until he is magically transported into the untamed jungles of Jumanji! There he remains for 26 years until he is freed from the game's spell by two unsuspecting children. Now a grown man, Alan tries to outwit the game's powerful forces.    

    3KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE
    dir. Hayao Miyazaki
    (1989)

    On her 13th birthday, a young witch named Kiki must fly away from home to a new city to find her niche in life. Accompanied by her chatty cat, Jiji, she starts a flying delivery service and discovers lots of fun-filled escapades and meets plenty of new friends.  

    4BABE
    dir. Chris Noonan
    (1995)

    An orphaned piglet, Babe, is cared for by a sheepdog and soon thinks he is one too. The farmer senses something special in Babe and enters him in the National Sheepdog Championships.  

    5A LITTLE PRINCESS
    dir. Alfonso Cuarón
    (1995)

    An imaginative young girl is forced to be a servant at a boarding school after her father is killed in WWII.

  • films that dont get old
    theholiday
    THE HOLIDAY
    dir. Nancy Meyers
    (2006)

    Even though the entire premise of THE HOLIDAY is that the two leading ladies swap homes because they don’t want to be in their hometowns for the holidays, while watching it again, I forget that it’s a Christmas movie. It’s a film played year-round because it really doesn’t have the Christmas vibe, and every time I come across it on TV, I find myself stopping to watch it. What makes it so engaging? I think it is a combo of the nod it gives Classic Hollywood (which I love), the idea of just getting away from it all and heading to England, and—let’s be honest—I wish Jude Law’s character existed in real life. Watching it again got me to thinking what other films will I stop and watch even though I’ve seen them dozens of times? (I have excluded John Wayne films from my list because he probably wins for the most watched, and I thought you would like a variety.)

    North by NorthwestNORTH BY NORTHWEST
    dir. Alfred Hitchcock
    (1959)

    An advertising man, played by Cary Grant, is mistaken for a government agent and is on the run for his life. I’m a fan of both Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock, so putting the two together is a perfect combination. I love the mistaken identity, the music, the humor in the moment of danger, the dialogue (so many great lines to quote!), and having the adventure travel across the U.S. When I went to Mount Rushmore on a holiday, I made my group eat at the cafeteria because of this film.

    Behind Enemy LinesBEHIND ENEMY LINES
    dir. John Moore
    (2001)

    Owen Wilson plays an American pilot shot down over Bosnia during a reconnaissance mission and it is up to his commander, played by Gene Hackman, to orchestrate his escape. This has got to be one of my favorite modern “war” films. It has the element that I love in my action films (and books): humor even in the moment of danger. I love when Wilson’s character is talking to Hackman’s character as he works on his escape and Wilson says, “You’re an optimist, Sir. I had you figured for a grouch.”

    Pride and Prejudice Kiera KnightlyPRIDE & PREJUDICE
    dir. Joe Wright
    (2005)

    I have a long saga to explain my experience with Pride & Prejudice, but to sum it up, when people found I was a librarian, they would talk about how great the book was and I would have to admit I have never read it, so I finally read it and found it frustrating. I even watched the Colin Firth film version and hated it. So when my friends all decided to go see the new Pride & Prejudice, I went along not thinking I would like it. I was so wrong. I LOVED IT! To this day anytime the Gazebo Scene comes on I stop whatever I am doing to watch it.

    Where Eagles DareWHERE EAGLES DARE
    dir. Brian G. Hutton
    (1968)

    Based on Alistair Maclean’s WWII novel by the same title, this is the story of an American general who is shot down over Germany and is captured; due to his knowledge of the D-Day invasion, the Allies have to go in to rescue him before the plans are compromised. This film was a vehicle to bring class to a young Clint Eastwood by pairing him up with Richard Burton and it gave Burton some brawn by teaming him with Eastwood. Great action sequences with lots of explosions.

  • backtoschool 

     

    It’s back to school time and to help you get into the mindset here are some classic 80s films that will help you get there. From the funny to the tearjerker, from inspirational to romance, school never had it so good as when the 80s brought it to the screen.

     

    FerrisBuellerFERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF
    dir. John Hughes
    (1986)

     “Bueller? Bueller?” The most popular kid in high school calls in sick and drags his best friend and girlfriend on an adventure through Chicago all the while the principle tries to catch him on the act. The essential film for teaching any kid how to fake being sick to their parents (not that we are encouraging that or anything).

     

     

    PrettyPinkPRETTY IN PINK
    dir. Howard Deutsch
    (1986)

    Classic Romeo & Juliet story but with a good soundtrack, awesome 80s fashion, and no one dies! Plus everyone needs a best friend like Duckie to remind them how awesome they are.

     

     

    DeadPoetsDEAD POET’S SOCIETY
    dir. Peter Weir
    (1989)

    “O Captain, my Captain.” Anyone who has seen the film will want to automatically jump on their desk with just those few words in tribute to English teacher John Keating, who teaches his students about life through poetry even to the chagrin of the stuffy leadership. One of Williams’s best films (you might want a hankie if you are a crier), and a very young Ethan Hawke makes this a film you don't want to miss.

     

    StandandDeliverSTAND AND DELIVER
    dir. Ramon Menendez
    (1988)

    Inspired by the true story of Jaime Escalante, a high school math teacher in inner city L.A., who helped his failing students achieve academic success. This is a great film to inspire students and teachers alike to not let other people dictate what their potential is. Plus, who can forget Lou Diamond Phillips wearing the stylish 80s hairnet!

     

     

  • baseball movies

    It’s that time of year again! The crack of the bat, the cheering crowd, the smell of the ballpark; it is baseball season. In tribute to our national pastime, here are 5 great baseball movies that you can check out from the library!

    The SandlotTHE SANDLOT  (PG)
    directed by David Mickey Evans
    (1993)

    I haven’t watched this movie for years, but I can still quote so many memorable lines. This movie takes place during one summer where a bunch of neighborhood boys play baseball in an empty dirt lot. They face challenges, try to figure out girls, and learn about life as they play ball together. The whole family can enjoy this one.  

     

     

    Field of DreamsFIELD OF DREAMS (PG)
    directed by Phil Alden Robinson
    (1989)

    Iowa famer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice telling him to build a baseball field in his cornfield. As crazy as that sounds, it is a voice that he can’t ignore. He meets some interesting people along the way of turning his dream into a reality. This is a heartwarming film that has been inspiring viewers for over 25 years.  

     

     

    The RookieTHE ROOKIE (G)
    directed by John Lee Hancock
    (2002)

    Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) always dreamed of making it to the big leagues, but a shoulder injury ended that dream. He did the next best thing and became a coach. Years down the road he made a bet with his losing baseball team that if they won the district championship, he would try out for the majors. The team shocked everyone and went from the very worst to the first and Jim had no other choiceother than to go after his dream one more time. This movie is based on a true story, and it just makes you feel good.  

    The Perfect GameTHE PERFECT GAME (PG)
    directed by William Dear
    (2011)

    This movie didn’t get a lot of attention, but my family loved it. It is about a rag-tag bunch of boys in poverty stricken Mexico. They love baseball and eventually convince a man who had once hoped to make it in the major leagues himself to be their coach. They have a dream of playing in the Little Leagues and end up defying the odds and having an unprecedented winning streak which leads to the Little League World Series in America. This is a feel-good movie that will leave you thinking anything is possible.  

    A League of Their OwnA LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (PG)
    directed by Penny Marshall
    (1992)

    Based on a true story, this movie tells of a time when most of the major league players were away at war. Tom Hanks stars as Jimmy Dugan, a washed-up ballplayer, who is hired to coach in the All-American Girls Baseball League of 1943. He is slowly drawn back into the game as he witnesses the heart and heroics of his all-girl team. Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell  also star in this fun movie about a little-known time in American sports history. 

     

  • christmas movies 1

    We all… well, at least I personally, have a list of Christmas Movies where it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without them. I have many fond memories of movies recorded onto VHS tapes with the commercials in them and everything. It is crazy how nostalgic I can be over an old television commercial.

    Here is a list of my five favorite Christmas films. So have fun, snuggle up with a comfy blanket, pop your favorite style of popcorn, and enjoy.

    12.15 A Christmas CarolA CHRISTMAS CAROL
    Directed by David Jones
    (1999)

    This is my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. I love Patrick Stewart, I love the Ghosts, and I love the score. The only thing I like better on any other edition is the song “Thank you very much” from the musical Scrooge.

     
     

    12.15 The Santa ClauseTHE SANTA CLAUSE
    Directed by John Pasquin
    (1994)

    This is my favorite out of all the following sequels I loved Charlie and the line where he accuses his dad of killing Santa. I love when Tim Allen shaves and it immediately grows back and he looks in the mirror and just says “I’m in big trouble mmhmmm”. 

     
     

    12.15 Home AloneHOME ALONE
    Directed by Chris Columbus
    (1990)

    The first two in this series are my favorite; I actually watch them both every year. Three and four I pretend don’t exist.

    Can you tell I am a 90’s child yet?

     
     

    12.15 How the Grinch Stole ChristmasHOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
    Ron Howard
    (2000)

    I love the story HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS by Dr. Seuss - it is one of my favorites.  I love both the animated version as well as the live action version.

     
     

    12.15 Miracle on 34th streetMIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
    Directed by Les Mayfield
    (1994)

    I like this story a lot. I love the relationship between Kris Kringle and all of the other characters. It is so much fun to watch the magic between them.

     
  • halloween films

    AcfrankBUD ABBOT & LOU COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
    Directed by Charles T. Barton
    (Universal, 1948)

    A comic horror film in which Abbott and Costello encounter Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, and a mad scientist.      

     

     

     

     

    arsenicARSENIC AND OLD LACE
    Directed by Frank Capra
    (Warner Bros, 1944)

    An easy going drama critic (Cary Grant) discovers that his kind and gentle Aunts Abby and Martha have a bizarre habit of poisoning gentlemen callers and burying them in the cellar.      

     

     

     

     

    the uninvited movie posterTHE UNINVITED
    Directed by Lewis Allen
    (Paramount, 1944)

    A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past.      

     

     

      

     

    House on Haunted HillHOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
    Directed by William Castle
    (William Castle Productions, 1959)

    Millionaire playboy (Vincent Price) hosts a party for his wife at the "House on Haunted Hill," a house that has seen seven murders. Fredrick invites five guests and will offer each of them $10,000 to spend a night.      

     

     

     

     

    hauntingTHE HAUNTING
    Directed by Robert Wise (Argyle Enterprises, 1963)

    Adapted from Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, this psychological thriller tells the story of four people who come to the house to study its supernatural phenomena. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  •  summer movies

    Summer is approaching, and while Utah weather makes you want to hold off on putting your jackets away just yet, you can check out some awesome movies to get you ready for a great summer. Here are some of my favorites:  

    Summer MagicSUMMER MAGIC
    directed by James Neilson
    (1963) 

    A widow (Dorothy McGuire) moves her family to a farm house in Maine only to find it’s not quite like she pictured. Hayley Mills shines as the teenage daughter and I rank this film right up there with Pollyanna and The Parent Trap

     

     

    State FairSTATE FAIR
    directed by Walter Lang
    (1945) 

    A family takes their annual trip to the Iowa State Fair, determined that this year it will be different and that they each will find what they are looking for. There are many renditions of this film, but this is my favorite, not only because it has Dana Andrews, who makes the perfect rugged leading man, but because the entire cast play their characters well, bringing out the subtle humor that just makes this film delightful.  

     

    Blue HawaiiBLUE HAWAII
    directed by Norman Taurog
    (1961) 

    Chad (Elvis Presley) returns home to Hawaii from the Army and decides to go into business for himself as a tour guide instead of working in the family’s pineapple business. You might think, really an Elvis film? But this film is at the peak of his career (and his looks) so there is actually plot and a great soundtrack that includes the hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Plus, you do not want to miss Angela Lansbury playing Elvis’s mother, which is hilarious.  

     

    Mr. Hobbs Takes a VacationMR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION
    directed by Henry Koster
    (1962) 

    Mr. Hobbs (James Stewart) decides to plan a quiet getaway with just his wife (Maureen O’Hara)--but she decides that it should be a family vacation with all the kids and grandkids. Mr. Hobbs will need a vacation from his vacation as things go wrong with so many people crammed into a rundown rental home. There are many memorable scenes, but my favorite is when the family goes to a community dance and Stewart figures out a way to get his shy teenage daughter dancing. 

     

    The Music ManTHE MUSIC MAN
    directed by Morton DaCosta
    (1962) 

    When Professor Harold Hill (Robert Preston) hears that no salesman can make a profit in Iowa he decides to take his con as a boys’ band leader to one of their small towns. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with the town librarian (Shirley Jones) and having to account for himself. Great musical to get your feet stomping, and seeing Ron Howard so young is a plus.  What are some of your summer favorites?

  •  dance movies

    February 24th is National Dance Day! Whether you’ve got two left feet or you’re the twinkle toes of your squad, you can celebrate with these great dance flicks this weekend: 

    2.23 The Red ShoesTHE RED SHOES
    Directed by by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
    (1948)

    THE RED SHOES is the Mother of All Dance Films. Gorgeously filmed, this movie tells the tale of a talented ballerina torn between her love of ballet and love for a gifted composer, as her unyielding mentor will not allow her both. Nominated for five Oscars, winning the award for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction, this film broke ground in film editing and cinematography. This wasn’t the first film to feature dancing, musical films having hit the scene decades before, but it was the first to of what today we call a dance film. While it only had a limited release in the United States, its success is linked to movie studios’ revamping the then-stale musical film genre, which had exploded in the 1920s and with the exception of some major hits (thanks Ginger and Fred), had exhausted audience interest with formulaic, unoriginal productions. Think of some classic musical films right now. Chances are, most of the ones springing to mind feature fabulous dancing and were made post-THE RED SHOES.

     

    2.23 Step UpSTEP UP
    Directed by Anne Fletcher
    (2006) 

    After a dry spell in the 90s, dance movies made their way back to the box office with offerings like CENTER STAGE, SAVE THE LAST DANCE, SHALL WE DANCE (see Honorable Mentions below). But 2006, ah, that was the year that heralded the dance movie renaissance – and the arrival of Channing Tatum. Tatum and his wife Jenna met starring in this story of a street-smart boy and a high-achieving girl brought together by chance when her dance partner gets injured, and how dance brings them together. STEP UP combines classic dance/musical film elements with timeless coming-of-age themes creating a movie that’s entertaining and has got some meat. Sure, it’s still another teen movie that spawned a multitude of sequels, each more corny and ill-conceived than the last (plot wise only, the dancing is still TOP NOTCH), but STEP UP will make your heart dance – and the rest of you, too.  

     

    2.23 Strictly BallroomSTRICTLY BALLROOM
    Directed by Baz Luhrmann
    (1993) 

    The first of Baz Luhrmann’s “red curtain trilogy,” STRICTLY BALLROOM is strictly delightful. Watch Scott, a champion ballroom dancer, defy convention and take the Australian Pan Pacific Championship by storm with the help of a new, less experienced partner. Although a lighter, more heartwarming offering than his later films ROMEO + JULIET  and MOULIN ROUGE, this film has all the trademarks of Luhrmann’s signature style. With fantastic acting, vibrant colors, stunning editing, and incredible music, STRICTLY BALLROOM is a veritable feast of entertainment.  

     

    2.23 FootlooseFOOTLOOSE
    Directed by Herbert Ross
    (1984) 

    Don’t worry, I could never forget this masterpiece. I mean, you gotta cut loose. The one and only Kevin Bacon stars in this dance/musical flick as a city-boy suddenly stuck in a small town where dancing has been – gasp – banned!  It’s the age-old struggle of young versus old, and extreme protective measures actually encouraging the very behavior they meant to avoid. You might notice some familiar sights while you watch, since FOOTLOOSE was filmed right here in Utah County! After watching, take a pilgrimage and visit all the sites. Locations include the Lehi Roller Mills, Springville and Payson’s high schools, and most memorably, Geneva Steel as the stage for the best anger-dance montage in movie history. And if you’re so inclined, do a double feature and compare the original to the 2011 remake.  

     

    2.23 Take the LeadTAKE THE LEAD
    Directed by Liz Friedlander
    (2006) 

    Antonio Banderas teaching teens to do ballroom? Yes please! Better yet, TAKE THE LEAD is based on the true story of dance teacher Pierre Dulaine, who saw an opportunity to help at-risk teens learn trust, confidence, and teamwork using ballroom dance. While it plays out like many classroom parables, I love that this film stresses that trusting and respectful relationships contribute to fulfillment and success. You’ll love the characters, the dancing (Jenna Dewan Tatum wowing us again), the warm fuzzy-feels – everything. Like I said earlier, 2006 was the great year of dance movies, so don’t miss this. And if you find yourself needing more, check out the documentary MAD HOT BALLROOM, about participants in Pierre Dulaine’s dance program for fifth graders in New York City.  

     

    Honorable Mentions:

    LEAP 

    SAVE THE LAST DANCE 

    SHALL WE DANCE   

    Available at Orem Public Library:

    CENTER STAGE   

    BILLY ELLIOT

    BLACK SWAN

    FLASHDANCE

  • earthy films

     

    As I’m out and about exploring nature in the blissfully scorching summer months, I find myself reflecting on this amazing planet with a heightened sense of wonder. I often turn to documentary films to learn more about a subject that has peaked my interest and as I explore the outdoors, I like to supplement my learning by discovering unique films about our natural world. As a kid, I remember watching those slow moving, nature documentaries in school, and man could they be boring! Well, these nature documentaries are of an entirely different ilk, one that includes adventure, captivating narration, and exciting locations and themes. Now, that’s the way I like my documentaries!

     

    So if you’re in the mood to learn about our amazing planet, the creatures that inhabit it, and even the impact that humans have on the earth, these films will be right up you alley!

     

    encounters at the end of the worldENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
    dir. Werner Herzog
    (2008)

    Famed documentarian Werner Herzog visits Antarctica and the McMurdo research station to document the life of the people who work there and the volatile and beautiful landscape of the remote region. Penguins also make an appearance, and who doesn’t like a penguin?

     

    planetearthPLANET EARTH SERIES
    prod. British Broadcasting Company
    (2007)

    With 40 camera teams shooting at over 200 different locations all over the world over the span of five years, this series truly uncovers some rare and wonderful scenes of nature and animal life unlike any other nature documentary. Some of my favorites sections include those on caves and deserts!

     

    racing extinctionRACING EXTINCTION
    dir. Louie Psihoyos
    (2016)

    In a moving and well-crafted documentary, Academy Award-winning filmmakers expose the forces that are leading our planet to its next mass extinction, potentially resulting in the loss of half of all species. Without implementing change, this film argues that creatures that have survived for millions of years may be wiped from Earth in our lifetime.

     

    chasing iceCHASING ICE
    dir. Jeff Orlowski
    (2013)

    In the style of an action film, nature photographer James Balog and crew set up time lapse photography stations at various glaciers to capture the receding and calving of glaciers around the world as evidence of global warming and climate change. The images are equally visually stunning and shocking and the story has a fast paced feel.

     

    If nature documentaries are not your cup of tea, we’ve surely got a different nonfiction film to suit your interests! With topics from ancient history to atoms, dance to dinosaurs, or literature to local government, we’ve got a little something for everyone!

  • football films

     It’s football season! So if you need some on-field inspiration or just a good cry (why are so many football films tearjerkers?), then here are some titles to check out at the library. *Trivia: four of the five movies listed here depict events that happened during the 1970s.

    12.8 Brians SongBRIAN’S SONG
    Directed by Buzz Kulik
    (1971)

    This movie is about the unlikely friendship between two real life Chicago Bears football players, Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers, and the adversity that bonded them together. Pull out your hankie: This is always on top ten lists of films that make men cry. The library also has the 2002 remake.

     

    12.8 We Are MarshallWE ARE MARSHALL
    Directed by McG
    (2006)

    The incredible story of how Marshall University rebuilt their football program and helped heal the town a year after the tragedy on November 14, 1970, when the chartered jet carrying Marshall University's football team, coaches, and some fans crashed, killing all aboard. 

     

    12.8 Remember the TitansREMEMBER THE TITANS 
    Directed by Jerry Bruckheimer
    (2000)

    When a high school in Alexandria, Virginia in 1971 is integrated, white football coach Bill Yoast is demoted and replaced by African-American Herman Boone. As the two coaches overcome their differences, they help the football players overcome their resentment and build a championship team.

     

    12.8 RudyRUDY 
    Directed by David Anspaugh
    (1993)

    Rudy let no one stop him from fulfilling his dream of playing on the Notre Dame Football team even when everyone said he was too small and not good enough. You will cheer along with the crowd as Rudy gets a chance to play and makes a sack against Georgia Tech.

     

    12.8 The Blind SideTHE BLIND SIDE 
    Directed by John Lee Hancock
    (2009)

    Michael Oher is a homeless African-American teenager who is who is taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family. They help him fulfill his potential on and off the field and, in return, he changes their lives for the better.

     

     

  • BW Comedies

     

    In the words of Uncle Albert in MARY POPPINS, “I love to laugh”. Comedies are some of my favorite films to watch. I remember being a little kid and just loving to watch the Three Stooges on my dad’s lap. I think this is where my love of black and white films and comedy started. So in the spirit of April Fools and April being National Comedy Month, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite black and white comedies.

    Arsenic and Old LaceARSENIC AND OLD LACE
    Directed by Frank Capra
    (1944)

    This comedy follows the story of Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), a confirmed bachelor who has written many books on the evils of marriage, on his wedding day. He comes home to find his two old maid aunts have killed a Mr. Hoskins and hidden him in the window seat until they could hold a proper Christian funeral in the basement where they keep the other bodies. 

     

     

    Malice in the PalaceMALICE IN THE PALACE
    Directed by Jules White
    (1949)

    MALICE IN THE PALACE is a beautiful slap stick comedy where the Three Stooges are running a restaurant in the middle of the Arabian Desert. My favorite scene of the entire short is when they are trying to eat sausages and there is a cat and a dog under the table coincidentally reacting perfectly with what is going on in the room. It makes me laugh every time.

     

     

    Duck SoupDUCK SOUP
    Directed by Leo McCarey
    (1933)

    Freedonia goes bankrupt so who better to run the country than Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx)? All mayhem ensues when Chicolini and Pinky are unable to find incriminating evidence against Firefly. DUCK SOUP is a beautifully ridiculous comedy, and as honestly as I love Groucho Marx, for me Harpo is the one who steals the show in this particular case. He never has any lines, but he does a beautiful job making a crowd laugh based only on his antics.

     

    Some Like it HotSOME LIKE IT HOT
    Directed by Billy Wilder
    (1959)

    This is the story of two musicians who see too much of a mob hit so they join an all female jazz band bound for Florida. This story is so funny as you watch these two men trying to behave like women. Of course they have the classic scenes where they have a rich gentleman who finds one of the guys attractive. The other snag is one of the musicians is trying to get Sugar ( Marilyn Monroe) to fall in love with him. Such a funny movie.

     

    HarveyHARVEY
    Directed by Henry Koster
    (1950)

    HARVEY is the story of a gentleman, Elwood P. Dowd, who insists that his best friend is a six foot tall white rabbit. EIwood lives with his sister Veta and his niece. Veta is trying desperately to get her daughter married and so she is trying to get her brother committed to get him out of the way. This story is so fun  and one of my favorite scenes is when they have the cab driver look up the definition for a Pooka. 

     

     

     

  • informational dvds family 1

    It’s a new year and a great time to learn something new! Did you know that we have informational DVDs just for kids? Here are a few titles just added to the Children’s collection that your whole family might enjoy:

    2.2 Shark LadySHARK LADY: THE TRUE STORY OF HOW EUGENIE CLARK BECAME THE OCEAN’S MOST FEARLESS SCIENTIST
    (2017)

    Jess Keating’s picture book comes to life in this video about the real life adventures of Dr. Keating, who studied sharks and other sea life. DVD includes read along subtitles.  

     

    2.2 Drawing with MarkDRAWING WITH MARK
    (2014)

    In this series of videos, former Disney illustrator Mark Marderosian takes kids on adventures, showing them how to draw the things they see. Mark and the gang visit museums, zoos, and more. Check out all six DVDs in the series.  

     

    2.2 Good Night YogaGOOD NIGHT YOGA: A POSE-BY-POSE BEDTIME STORY
    (2017)

    This film adaptation of Mariam Gate’s picture book demonstrates yoga poses to help children calm down in preparation for bedtime. You can also try GOOD MORNING YOGA to start the day.  

     

    2.2 Born in ChinaDISNEYNATURE: BORN IN CHINA
    (2017)

    Disney’s annual Earth Day film celebration follows the lives of a panda, a golden monkey, and a snow leopard in China.  

     

    2.2 Six DotsSIX DOTS: A STORY OF YOUNG LOUIS BRAILLE
    (2017)

    This animation of Jennifer Bryant’s book shows the determination of a blind boy who wanted to read so badly that he invented his own alphabet.

     
  • bookfilms

    The book is better than the movie. We book-lovers all accept this as an almost universal truth. But every once in a while, a movie comes along that does justice to—and maybe even rivals—the book it was adapted from. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does the combination of seeing a book I absolutely love brought to life in front of my eyes just like it did in my mind is pretty magical. So here is my list of magical movies that were just as good as and maybe even better than the book they were based on.

    nocountryforoldmenNO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
    by Cormac McCarthy
    (2005)

    Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, finds men shot dead, a load of heroin, and more than $2 million in cash. Only after two more men are murdered is Sheriff Bell lead to the carnage out in the desert, where he realizes how desperately Moss and his young wife need protection. This is a harrowing story of a war that society is waging on itself, and an enduring meditation on the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies. In 2007 the Coen brothers adapted this book into an Academy Award winning film. The complete lack of a soundtrack and the haunting performance by actor Javier Bardem—who plays the unforgettable, unrelenting antagonist Anton Chigurh—made this adaptation as mesmerizing as it is unsettling. The Coen brothers are fantastic directors, and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN just might be my favorite movie of all time.  

    themartianTHE MARTIAN
    by Andy Weir
    (2014)

    Stranded on Mars by a dust storm that compromised his space suit and forced his crew to leave him behind, astronaut Mark Watney struggles to survive in spite of minimal supplies and harsh environmental challenges that test his ingenuity in unique ways.   This adaptation was released just last year. The production design and special effects brought this science fiction story to life even more completely than my own imagination could. I thought the pieces of the story that the filmmakers cut out were understandable and forgivable, and I liked that the film gave the audience a little more resolution than the book did.  

    the helpTHE HELP
    by Kathryn Stockett
    (2009)

    In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, three women start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way women—black and white, mothers and daughters—view one another.   This movie came out in 2011, and although it is a bit older than some of the others on my list, it is still one of my favorites. The acting in this film is what really sets it apart. Emma Stone was the perfect casting decision for the spunky and stubborn Skeeter Phelan, and Octavia Spencer definitely earned her Academy Award for such a heartbreaking and inspiring performance. This movie was also one of the first standout roles for Jessica Chastain, who just gets better and better in each role I see her in.

    i am not a serial killerI AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
    by Dan Wells
    (2010)

    Dead bodies are normal to John Wayne Cleaver. He actually likes them. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.   This book is one of the most unique and fantastic horror stories I've ever read, and Billy O'Brien's film adaptation is no less chilling. Anyone who has read the book knows that this story contains quite a twist, and I was so pleasantly surprised at how well the movie portrayed it. My only criticism of this film is that I missed the insights into John's mind that I got through the book, but I give a lot of credit to the actor who played John for portraying so many of those complex thoughts through actions alone.

    sleeping giantsSLEEPING GIANTS
    by Sylvain Neuvel
    (2016)

    A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top-secret team to crack the hand's code.   I’ve kind of cheated on this final entry. SLEEPING GIANTS hasn’t yet been made into a film. However the movie rights were sold to Sony Pictures before Neuvel even got a publishing deal. Because of the completely unique and intriguing plot, I’m predicting this will be an excellent movie—but I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see. 

  • chapter books to films

    Children who can read chapter books independently open up a whole new world for themselves—and provide enjoyment for the whole family. I remember thinking that when my oldest son learned to read, it was equally as magical as when he learned to speak. As a family you can have extended activities that go along with reading. It can add some variety to the normal routine or inspire a child who doesn’t particularly love reading. You can create a family book club where each child reads the book, and after having a discussion about the book, everyone can watch the movie. You can also choose a fun read-aloud and as a family when you finish the book, watch the movie. Of course, the book and movie might be very different, but the discussion that comes will be enjoyable, and everyone can participate because they read the book or had the book read to them! Last year I wrote a post on movies inspired by picture books. Consider today’s post a follow-up with a list of our family’s favorite longer chapter books that have inspired movies.  

    3.9 Charlottes WebCHARLOTTE’S WEB
    By E. B. White
    (1952)

    Fern saves the runt of a litter of pigs and cares for it as her baby. When Wilbur, the pig, gets big enough, she takes him to her uncle’s farm. It’s easy to fall in love with both Wilbur and Fern. She is easy to relate to and the reader can feel happy and sad right along with her. Wilbur has to find a way to prove to the farmer it is worth keeping him around and he finds a true friend to help him on his quest. 

     

    3.9 Charlottes Web DVDCHARLOTTE’S WEB
    (1973)

    This cartoon classic is perfect for younger chapter-book readers. There is some sadness, but children can gain empathy for future experiences from both books and film. There is also humor throughout. The characters are lovable and it is an inspiring story of friendship children can learn from as they go through their elementary school years. 

     

    3.7 The Tale of DespereauxTHE TALE OF DESPEREAUX
    By Kate DiCamillo
    (2003) 

    This Newbery winner begins when a kingdom famous for its marvelous soup encounters tragedy. A rat falls into the queen’s soup, causing her to have a heart attack and die. Soup and rats are then outlawed. A smaller-than-average mouse with large ears, a big heart, and incredible bravery starts his adventure to return happiness and peace to the land, save a princess, and do other heroic things brave mice usually end up doing. 

     

    3.9 The Tale of DespereauxTHE TALE OF DESPEREAUX
    (2009)

    It seems that children identify with small creatures that defy the odds and are courageous in fighting for what they believe in. Despereaux is just such an inspirational character. Adults and children will enjoy this family friendly adventure. 

     

    3.9 HolesHOLES
    By Louis Sachar
    (1998)

    Yet another Newbery winner is perfectly crafted to include a mysterious curse that spans generations. Stanley Yelnats is framed for a crime he did not actually commit, but he serves the time at a camp for troubled youth. The campers dig holes to help build their character. Stanley meets a fellow camper who helps him solve the mystery of Kissin’ Kate Barlow and the real reason they spend every day digging those holes. 

     

    3.9 Holes dvdHOLES
    (2003)

    The film has something for everyone. It can be tricky to find a movie that everyone in the family truly enjoys, but this is it. Mystery, romance, and humor are all there and well done. There is seamless transition from present to past and back again. All the characters are well-developed and my favorite, of course, is Sam the onion seller. 

     

    3.9 The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeTHE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
    By C. S. Lewis
    (1950)

    Four siblings are sent to live with their uncle. They play hide and seek one day and find a mysterious world, Narnia, on the other side of the wardrobe. The people of Narnia are under the terrible reign of an evil queen. The children go on a crusade to bring peace back to the land. 

     

    3.9 The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe dvdCHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
    (2006)

    It seems every child has an inner hope to enter a magically secret world and escape the mundane regular world. The characters, costumes, scenery, and especially the music of this film bring to life the land of Narnia. It truly feels magical. 

     

    3.9 The BFGTHE BFG
    By Roald Dahl
    (1982)

    I remember reading this in the fifth grade, and it’s a classic that continues to make my kids laugh. Dahl has created characters that readers can really relate to. He understands what school-agers find hilarious. The detail he uses really helps the reader create a picture in their mind. 

     

    3.9 The BFG dvdTHE BFG
    (2016)

    There are some amazing things about technology. Creating a computer-generated Big Friendly Giant is definitely one of them. The giant really comes to life in a way that previous technology would not allow. My favorite is definitely the scene where the giant visits the queen. The magnitude of having a giant come to dinner is so fun to be a part of.

     
  • period dramas

    Although I am working to expand the type of books I read, my favorite place to be is always in a Historical Fiction or Historical Memoir book. It gives me the ability to time travel a little and appreciate the qualities of another time without having to deal with an outbreak of disease or not having indoor plumbing.

    Naturally, my favorite shows to watch are Historical Period Dramas. As a result of watching these I have read the books they are based on and have found some that I love. Here are the best 4 adaptations I have seen and read:

    3.23 Lark Rise to CandlefordLARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD: A TRILOGY
    By Flora Thompson
    (2009)

    Adaptation: LARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD
    Directed by Susan Tully
    (2008- 2011)

    This show is based on the semiautobiographical series from Flora Thompson. She grew up in a small hamlet, but she begins the memoirs as she moves to a nearby village for her first job in a post office around 1899. Both the show and the books are focused on the changes that occur during this pivotal time, and the difficulties that can draw village and country together.

     

    3.23 Call the MidwifeCALL THE MIDWIFE: A MEMOIR OF BIRTH, JOY, and HARD TIMES
    By Jennifer Worth
    (2012)

    Adaptation: CALL THE MIDWIFE
    Directed by Emma Sullivan
    (2012 - )

    Many have probably heard of CALL THE MIDWIFE. A fair warning, if you read the books you will shed even more tears after all the ones that have poured out from this show. Along with the birth stories, I appreciate Jenny’s focus on the aftermath of the workhouse in her memoir and series.   

     

    3.23 North and South DVDNORTH AND SOUTH
    By Elizabeth Gaskell
    (2003)    

    Adaptation: NORTH AND SOUTH
    Directed by Brian Percival
    (2004)

    NORTH AND SOUTH was written a few years after the Great Exhibition of 1851, so the setting is very accurate even though Milton is a fictional place. The focus is on social classes, and although this took place long ago it is good to remember these social injustices still exist. We also own a book club set of this, so read it with your friends!

     

    3.23 PoldarkROSS POLDARK
    By Winston Graham
    (2015)

    Adaptation: POLDARK
    Directed by Edward Bazalgette and Will McGregor
    (2015 - )

    There is a whole series from Winston Graham that Poldark is based on, but I have only read the first. Ross is returning home from the American Revolutionary War, and things are very different back home. He has to now cope with his father dying while he was away, and the woman he loves is married to his cousin. His political views along with his reflections from the war are wonderful to read.

     
  • picture book films 01

    It’s exciting when a movie is announced that’s about a book you have read. Often, people are eager to criticize a movie for not being “as good as” a book. My husband has a film degree and loves movies, so in our family there is less of a debate between which is better. He brings up the fact that each is a different art form; so instead of debating, we discuss how the story was portrayed differently. What had to be changed for the story to make sense in a new medium? What details had to be described in the book in detail, but were easily portrayed in film? Either way, it’s possible to enjoy both formats, book and movie, no matter who you are. It’s fun to see how someone else interpreted the book you enjoyed. 

    In our family, even the youngest loves watching movies that were made from books. Young children can have a picture book read to them, and then enjoy a family-friendly movie. You can easily make a family activity out of reading the book, watching the movie, then discussing which elements were the same or different. Even though a full-length movie can only be inspired by a picture book, it’s fun to see what elements are still present. Here are a few of our favorites . . . 

    11.3 JumanjiJUMANJI
    By Chris Van Allsburg
    (1981) 

    This is the Caldecott winner for 1982. The illustrations have amazing precision and detail. They look like black and white photos. The idea is so clever and imaginative, a game where the creatures and plants appear in real life when it falls on your turn. 

    11.4 Jumanji movieJUMANJI
    1995

    I grew up watching this movie and have always enjoyed it. We recently watched it as a family and it’s nice to find a movie that the parents enjoy watching as much as the kids. It does involve action an adventure, with some intense jungle scenes, but it also has a lot of comedy weaved throughout. 

     

     

     

    11.4 The Night at the MuseumNIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
    By Milan Trenc
    (1993)

    Larry is excited for his new job as a night guard at the Natural History Museum. His first night on the job his duties end up being different than he expected! This story is fun with cartoon drawings and geared for even the youngest children. 

     

     

    11.4 Night at the Museum movieNIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
    (2007)

    This is a movie I didn’t realize was inspired by the book! There are so many fun characters and lots of fun and adventure. Again, it is fun to watch with the whole family and the kids will laugh out loud. 

     

     

     

    11.4 ShrekSHREK
    (1990)
    By William Steig

    Shrek is an ugly, fire-breathing ogre, who encounters a witch who predicts he will go on a journey and find a princess who is even uglier than he, and he will marry her. There is poetry throughout his epic journey. The story is funny, but more suited to older children who will understand the humorous situation. 

     

    11.4 Shrek movieSHREK
    (2001)

    This will forever be my sister’s favorite movie! Some of the jokes will go above the heads of children, but the message in the end is positive, and it’s fun that it is different than the normal “happily ever after”. 

     

     

     

    11.4 Curious GeorgeCURIOUS GEORGE
    By H. A. Rey
    (1941)

    I have linked to the library’s copy of a collector’s edition printed from H. A. Rey’s original watercolors, with an introduction that discusses the life and experiences of H. A. and Margaret Rey. They had to escape During World War II and come to the United States where they were able to publish the classic Curious George books. 

     

    11.4 Curious George movieCURIOUS GEORGE
    (2006)

    The whole family can go on an adventure with fun, lovable George.

     

     

     

     

    11.4 Cloudy with a Chance of MeatballsCLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS
    By Judi Barrett
    Illustrated by Ron Barrett
    (1978)

    A grandfather tells a tall tale to his grandchildren that involves a world filled with food that falls from the sky instead of rain. It works at first, but it starts to be overwhelming and the people of the town eventually have to leave their town of food. 

    11.4 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movieCLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS
    (2010)

    Inspired by the book there is a town that has food come from the sky, but it is because one of an inventor’s many machines gets stuck up in the clouds and drops food from the sky. This is exciting at first, until the machine starts malfunctioning and has to be stopped! This one is definitely more fun for the kids, lots of silliness and jokes meant for them.

     

     

     

  • romance classics

     Romantic classics you might not have heard of but should give a try this Valentine’s Day.

    random harvestRANDOM HARVEST
    Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
    (1942)

    The story of an amnesiac WWI war casualty (Ronald Colman) who is nursed back to health by a lovely showgirl (Greer Garson). They marry and share three years of happiness until he is in accident and his memory returns. If you are crier, you might want a hankie handy. My favorite film of Greer Garson’s; I like it even more than her Oscar winning film MRS. MINIVER.

     

     

    enchanted cottageTHE ENCHANTED COTTAGE
    Directed by John Cromwell
    (1945)

    After a crash disfigures WWII pilot Oliver (Robert Young), he hides from his family and friends in a seaside cottage where he befriends the homely maid Laura (Dorothy McGuire). Along with Random Harvest, this is my all-time favorite romantic film. Great supporting cast—Mildred Natwick is a gem in whatever film she does—a wonderful music score, and a plot that describes how love truly is blind, in a good way. A must watch film.

     

     

    ghost and mrs muirTHE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR
    Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    (1947)

    At the turn of the century, a young widow (Gene Tierney) and her daughter move into a cottage on the English coast. The cottage is haunted by the ghost of the previous owner (Rex Harrison), a former sea captain, creating a humorous and romantic storyline. Look for a young Natalie Wood playing the daughter.

     

     

    major and minorTHE MAJOR AND THE MINOR
    Directed by Billy Wilder
    (1942)

    Frustrated with living in the city, a young women (Ginger Rogers) decides to return home to the country. She realizes she doesn’t have enough money for the train fare so disguises herself as a youngster in order to get a cheaper ticket. What she doesn’t count on is finding herself in a whole heap of grown-up trouble when she hides out in a compartment with Major Kirby (Ray Millad), and he insists on taking her to his military academy after the train is stalled. You have to suspend belief a bit to think Rogers is younger than she appears, but it is entertaining fun! Great moments like the parable of the light bulb and new takes on how to use military strategy as a pick up line make this film memorable.

     

    come live with meCOME LIVE WITH ME
    Directed by Clarence Brown
    (1941)

    When beautiful Austrian political refugee "Johnny" Jones (Hedy Lamarr) is about to be deported, her married lover comes up with the solution of a marriage of convenience to a flat-broke writer Bill Smith (James Stewart). But before Stewart grants her the divorce, he asks her to accompany him to his grandmother’s house out in the country. You will never look at fireflies the same way again.

     

     

     

  • downton

    Does anyone else have a Downton Abbey-sized hole in their heart? [If you are really into the Downton Abbey thing PCL has made a pinterest board for you- list upon lists specifically inspired by the lives and drama around that famous place.] I definitely miss that show, so I have to be content with rewatching and discovering other similar shows that fit my fancy. These are a few that I have really enjoyed. I’m still working on my husband and close friends to fully appreciate these kinds of shows; they are my top favorite genre, with RomComs in a close second. I probably got into this genre because my parents like these sorts of books and always encouraged me to read the classics. They are not big movie or TV watchers, but when they do it’s usually a period piece.  Do you have more recommendations for me, (I need them please!)? How did you first fall in love with the PBS/BBC/Masterpiece Collection/ period pieces?

    8.11 Far from the Madding CrowdFAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
    Directed by Thomas Vinterberg
    (2015)

    This film is absolutely stunning. The music, acting, countryside landscapes, and cinematography.  I love the spunk, independence, and feminist thinking of the character of Bathsheba Everdeen and Carey Mulligan brings her to life.  I hadn’t heard much about the film when it came out and a friend sent me the trailer, inviting me to go. As I sat in class,  I couldn’t watch the trailer with sound, but even just the short trailer without sound got me hooked.

     

    8.10 North and SouthNORTH AND SOUTH
    Directed by Brian Percival
    (2005) 

    The tension between English northern and southern traditions and personalities during the Industrial Revolution, mirrored in John Thornton and Margaret Hale’s relationship, is awesome. When you watch it, I dare you to try to NOT hum along to the swelling intro music. 

     

     

    8.11 Pride and PrejudicePRIDE AND PREJUDICE
    Directed by Simon Langton 
    (1995)

    Now this is the looooong one, so you really have to commit. If you are a first timer or new to the P&P cult, then brace yourself. Colin Firth is an amazing Mr. Darcy. This Elizabeth is not my favorite but she does a good job. It follows the book closely which I like, since so many movies do a poor job representing the book. Since P&P fans tend to be very judgemental on that front, I think it speaks for itself that the film has been so beloved for so long. I think Jane Austen would be proud. What’s your top P&P rendition?

     

    8.11 Jane EyreJANE EYRE
    Directed by Susanna White
    (2006)

    The first time I saw this film it was with my classics-loving parents during a really terrible thunderstorm in Colorado. Much of the film is also rather emotionally volatile, accompanied with turbulent, dreary weather and, you guessed it, thunder and lightning storms! So as I watched the film and got more into it, perplexed by the characters’ behaviors (hoping against all hope that there would be a happy romantic ending...), the actual storm got worse outside. Right during a thunderstorm scene in the film the power went out at our house! It was SO ironic and hilarious because we all wanted to finish the film!

    8.11 The Young VictoriaTHE YOUNG VICTORIA
    Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée 
    (2010)

    I’m not sure why there has been such a surge of Victoria shows over the past few years, but I’m not complaining. This was the first I ever saw of her, and Emily Blunt with Rupert Friend is phenomenal. They totally capture the beauty and romance between Victoria and Albert. With so many Victoria shows out and more on their way, be sure to check them out here and here! PS that second one- I’m really excited about the movie coming out because Judi Dench is such a powerful actress! Which one is your favorite version?

     

     

  • True Confessions of Carla: While I do appreciate an occasional Shakespeare play along with any movie version involving Kenneth Branagh, I most love William Shakespeare when I’m watching 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU or SHE’S THE MAN.

    This is not an impressive confession, but it is the truth.  

    Wonder of WillFortunately, this Saturday I have an opportunity to improve my understanding and appreciate of Shakespeare’s contributions to our language and culture by participating in an exciting live streaming event.   April 23rd is the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.  To commemorate his amazing contribution to our world C-SPAN will broadcast The Wonder of Will Live.  This presentation will include a diverse array of actors, community leaders, artists and scholars all sharing their connection to Shakespeare through compelling performances and personal stories.  For the Shakespeare enthusiast, this is an amazing opportunity to celebrate and learn.

    In my own attempt to observe this anniversary, here is a list of my favorite Shakespeare adaptations and why I love them.

    10 Things10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
    dir. Gil Junger
    (1999)

    Based on THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, this classic teen drama features young Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  I could never put my finger on exactly why this movie spoke to me but every time I hear Sinatra sing "I Love You Baby", I picture adorable Heath lip-syncing in the bleachers.  And thus, a celebrity crush was born.

    Shes the man posterSHE’S THE MAN
    dir. Andy Fickman
    (2006)

    My sister and I have a strange obsession with this adaptation of TWELFTH NIGHT.  Starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, this is a high school drama of the most cliché sort.  And I absolutely love it!  I can watch it over and over and I really don’t know why.  The critics hated it and I’ll admit a bit of the humor is slapstick and silly.  Still love it. 

    McLintockMCLINTOCK!
    dir. Andrew V. McLaglen
    (1963)

    I cannot count the numbers of times I’ve watched John Wayne chase Maureen O’Hara around the small town of McLintock.  We watched it frequently growing up and I don’t think I realized it was based on THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.  I think Shakespeare would have appreciated The Duke’s hat tossing prowess.

     

    Kiss Me KateKISS ME KATE
    dir. George Sidney
    (1953)

    While some of these adaptations may not be obvious, KISS ME KATE certainly is.  This is a Cole Porter musical version of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW and I can still sing some of the songs even though I haven’t seen it in years.  The sign of a great musical!

    warm bodies final posterWARM BODIES
    dir. John Malkovich
    (2013)

    Shakespeare and zombies.  Doesn’t get better than that.  In WARM BODIES, zombie R saves Julie from certain death and falls in love with her, possibly because he eats her boyfriend’s brains, but you can’t blame him…he was hungry.  I thought this movie was pretty charming and I think I liked the ending better than Shakespeare’s tragic original.

    Thanks Will!  Happy anniversary!! 

  • frozen

    I spend a little time babysitting for my niece each week. She is happy, fun, really cute, and I love spending time with her. The only downside is that, like many kids her age, she could easily spend the whole day watching FROZEN. I love Disney movies, but even I can’t bear to listen to “Let it Go” as many times as she would like. 

    Here’s how the library helped me (and how it can help anyone else with little Disney Princess fans) to get a break. 

    1. Find a different Disney movie. The Provo City Library has a ton of great options, including older films that are harder to find (anyone else remember THE RELUCTANT DRAGON? Just me? Cool). Give yourself a break and see what hidden gems you can find on the shelf.

    2. Branch out from movies and look into some original source material. If this solution seems blindingly obvious, I apologize. But really, if you’ve gotten a little tired of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Sven, consider reading THE SNOW QUEEN. The story is different, but some fans might like seeing how different the story used to be.

    3. Take a craft break. Always a good solution, consider checking out one of the many kids craft books in our collection. I’m a fan of ICE PRINCESS CRAFTS, to stick with the FROZEN theme, but there are plenty of other options to spark creativity.

    4. Learn to draw! If crafting isn’t your strength, try your hand at learning to draw – we even have LEARN TO DRAW DISNEY FROZEN if you want to stay on-brand.

    5. Grab a snack. Really this should be my first solution, because who doesn’t love food? Plus, our fairly sizable collection of children’s cookbooks is a real highlight of the J Informational section. There are a ton of fun ones to pick from like SWEET TOOTH!: NO-BAKE DESSERTS TO MAKE AND DEVOUR which has a tons of yummy treats, including some that are frozen (Forgive me. I had to do it).

    6. Check out a Discovery Kit. If you have preschoolers who are into themed fun (with, I promise, fewer bad jokes than this list) look into borrowing a DISCOVERY KIT from the Children’s Department. These kits are filled with books, toys, and a binder full of fun ideas all focused on a particular topic. 

    These ideas should buy you at least one Elsa-free afternoon. Go make the most of it!

  • not original

    Unless you live off-grid, it’s no news to you how sequels, spin-offs, remakes, and reboots seem to dominate the box office, TV schedules, and even bookshelves. According to an article written in June 2015, only 39% of the high-grossing films released between 2005 and 2014 were fully original, non-derivative content. Three years later, it seems like the trend has only grown. But I’m not here to bash remakes, adaptations, spin-offs, etc. because if truth be told, there are plenty of great ones that deserve to be celebrated. 

    I’ll share some of my favorites from the library’s shelves with you in a series of posts, of which this is the first. Today’s list will focus on movies whose plots are actually adapted from/inspired by classic literature - and you may not have even noticed: 

    10.10 10 Things I Hate About You10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
    Directed by Gil Junger
    (1999) 

    Adapted from William Shakespeare’s THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
    Starring Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt.

    This modern take on Shakespeare is anything but a bland teen rom-com. Along with the mishaps of teenage romance, this film offers much more, exploring coming-of-age themes such as forming identity, evaluating priorities, navigating social and familial expectations, reputation/image, and the importance of self-respect. Oh, and Heath Ledger does a musical number, in case you still needed persuasion. 

    10.10 CluelessCLUELESS
    Directed by Amy Heckerling
    (1995) 

    Adapted from Jane Austen’s EMMA.
    Starring Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, and Paul Rudd. 

    Really! Austen gets a 90’s makeover in this film, where the English countryside society is swapped for the 90210 – Beverly Hills, that is. And for those of you who have a hard time liking the meddling Emma in the original story, her antics are more endearing coming from a pampered 16-year-old. Which of us didn’t think we knew everything at that age, right? Despite the peak 90’s styles, tech, and culture, the movie still holds up; you’ll envy Cher’s closet-organizing software - I sure do! And then there’s the question of how Paul Rudd hasn’t seemed to age since 1995…  

    10.10 O Brother Where Are ThouO BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
    Directed by Joel Coen
    (2001) 

    Adapted from Homer’s THE ODYSSEY.
    Starring George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson (all with honey-sweet southern drawls).

    Mythical adventure gets down-to-earth in this adaptation of Homer’s epic poem. Hilarity ensues as three jailbirds in in 1930’s Mississippi dodge the law, unsavory folk, and more as they seek “The Treasure.” This is one of my all-time favorites for several reasons; you’ve got loveable scamps on a passionate quest, rich historical setting, flawless soundtrack (featuring the stars themselves), and laughs galore. It pulls you in so well you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Homer even gets credited as co-writer! 

    10.10 Shes the ManSHE’S THE MAN
    Directed by Andy Fickman
    (2006) 

    Adapted from William Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT.
    Starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum.

    I make no apologies for including another Shakespeare play on this list, particularly when Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum are involved. Bynes is at the top of her game in this hilarious tale of love triangles (seriously there’s about five…five and a half…I tried to chart it out once, it’s a mess) and mistaken identities. While definitely a comedy, there’s also a good dose of warm fuzzies with themes of going after your dreams and being yourself. 

    10.10 The Scarlet PimpernelTHE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
    Directed by Clive Donner
    (1982)

    Adapted from Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL and ELDORADO.
    Starring Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, and Sir Ian McKellen. 

    I know this may seem like a stretch, but hear me out – this movie totally belongs on this list. The reason I’m including it here is…drumroll please…The Scarlet Pimpernel is not just a book, it’s a series! Okay, that is a bit of a stretch, but I for one had no idea there was a whole series of the Scarlet Pimpernel’s adventures. This film version is based on two books in the expansive series written by the Baroness, mostly drawing from the book Eldorado rather than The Scarlet Pimpernel. Mainly though, this made the list because it is a great flick; it’s just plain fun and ever so quotable. “Sink me,” I love it so!  

    What titles would you have put on this list? Stay tuned for more adaptations and remakes worth your time!

     

  • Rom Com 

    There are certain things I will never apologize for and one of those is my unabashed love for romantic comedies. I grew up watching and re-watching favorites like LEGALLY BLONDE, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, and YOU’VE GOT MAIL and as a grown-up I will jump to watch any movie described as “the best rom-com since 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU.” But, if I’m being honest, there are just not a lot of rom-com movies out recently to sufficiently scratch an itch. There are dozens of online news stories about the decline (and recent resurgence) of romantic comedies since the golden age of rom-coms. Here are my suggestions for book – to – movie romances (because no one wants a CLUELESS reboot. 

    5LANDLINE
    By Rainbow Rowell
    (2014)

    Fans of the genre will know that the best rom-coms are able to bring a tear to your eye (I’ll refer again to 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU) and this one balances the emotions of a failing relationship with all the tingly, giggly laughter of young love. It’s clear that Georgie’s marriage may be at its end when her husband heads to Nebraska for Christmas with her kids and without her. Then, Georgie discovers she has a chance to reconnect with her husband Neal – through a magical rotary phone that calls the Neal of 15 years earlier. Speaking with younger Neal the week before he proposes may be just the ticket to save their marriage. It is one of life’s greatest injustices that there is no screen adaptation of this deeply satisfying romantic comedy. 

     

    5.13 Twenties GirlTWENTIES GIRL: A NOVEL 
    By Sophie Kinsella
    (2009)

    I will put Sophie Kinsella on booklists as long as I am making booklists because she is queen. And because our world is unfair, only two of her books have been adapted for the screen: CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC and the still-in-production CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? This book, TWENTIES GIRL, is the story of Lara and the ghost of her great-aunt Sadie who won’t rest until her treasured necklace is returned to her. As Lara – busy with relationship drama, a struggling business, and a busy life in London – helps Sadie to find peace, Sadie is more concerned with setting Lara up with the dreamy (but living) American named Ed. Seeing ghost-Sadie decked out in flapper wear on the streets of modern London as she meddles in Lara’s personal life (for the better) is the movie we all deserve – please, someone, make it. 

     

    5.13 The Hating GameTHE HATING GAME: A NOVEL
    By Sally Thorne
    (2016)

    This one doesn’t quite belong on this list, because a film version is currently listed as “in development” on IMDB – but until I have a cast-list and trailer I’ll be begging for a movie of this book. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman are top-notch executive assistants to the CEOS of the new Bexley-Gamin Publishing company and they each hate everything about the other. Things start to really come to a head when both Lucy and Josh are put up for an executive level promotion and Josh takes advantage of the new tension to explore some other more romantic tension. Be advised that this book is not the “cleanest read” on this list, but it is a banter-filled riff on a classic love story - one totally ready for the Hollywood treatment. 

     

    5.13 Tell Me Three ThingsTELL ME THREE THINGS
    By Julie Buxbaum
    (2016)

    After her father elopes, Jessie is uprooted from Chicago to live in “the Valley.” Jessie is still mourning the death of her mother two years earlier when she suddenly has to cope with a stepfamily, a giant mansion, a new prep school, and mean girls at school. When she receives an anonymous email from “Somebody/Nobody” (“SN”) offering to guide her through the ins and outs of her new school Jessie is suspicious at first, until she accepts she might need help. This book lays its cards out pretty quickly, but even this familiar teenage rom-com ground is filled with heartfelt lessons about love and loss. In the same vein as SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA or YOU’VE GOT MAIL this tale of young online love would be fun to see playout on screen. 

     

    5.13 Vinegar GirlVINEGAR GIRL: THE TAMING OF THE SHREW RETOLD
    By Anne Tyler
    (2016) 

    In this retelling of a classic romantic comedy, Kate Battista is the daughter of a scientist who is convinced he is nearing a breakthrough but only if he can hold on to his research assistant Pyotr. Pyotr’s visa is about to expire and Dr. Battista is desperate to keep him – desperate enough to propose a green-card marriage between his older daughter and his thickly-accented Russian assistant. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW is familiar rom-com territory, but this laugh-out-loud-able reimaging deserves its day on the silver screen.

     
  • movies worth waiting

     Did you know that our library has over 14,000 DVDs in our collection? Even if you don’t, I’m sure you do know that you can check out 8 DVDs at a time, including new releases, classics, mind-blowing documentaries, and all of your guilty pleasures. The best part? You can, of course, borrow these DVDs for free!  

    With so many different movies in our collection, it isn’t hard to walk in and find something to suit your movie night fancy. But, just like some of our favorite books, there are some movies that seem like they’re ALWAYS CHECKED OUT – even if they aren’t new releases!  

    Sometimes the sweetest things in life require a little bit of patience.   So, the next time you stop by the Provo City Library, consider asking your friendly neighborhood librarian to put one of these movies on hold for you (because you know that every copy will be checked out):  

    Singin in the RainSINGIN' IN THE RAIN 
    (1951)  

    The movie that needs no explanation. It’s classic, it’s funny, it’s romantic, and best of all it’ll be stuck in your head for a week. It doesn’t surprise me that we have a hard time keeping this movie on our shelf—It’s worth the wait.

     

     

     

    Star Wars a New HopeSTAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE 
    (1977)  

    If you are surprised that this movie is always checked out, you probably haven’t seen it. Because even though all the STAR WARS movies are pretty popular, there is something special about the first one.  

     

     

     

    A Little PrincessA LITTLE PRINCESS 
    (1995)  

    I was on hold for this movie when I thought about writing this post. It’s pretty different from the book, but is a classic for a reason—I used to beg to watch this movie every weekend when I was little, and I’m not surprised that it is still in high demand.  

     

     

     

    Shes the ManShe’s the Man 
    (2006)  

    This adaptation of W. Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT is much funnier than you might think. It’s insanely quotable, laugh-out-loud funny, and will be even more enjoyable once you finally get to check it out.  

     

     

     

    If you’ve never put an item on hold before, ask a librarian to help explain the process. It’s pretty convenient, and I think it is so rewarding when you finally get to check out a movie or book you have been waiting for. (I won’t compare it to Christmas morning… but if you think that comparison is apt then I wouldn’t disagree.)

     

  • Cozy Fireplace Remote

    Post-Christmas blues? After the 25th, it can be hard to let go of the holidays. Here are a few not quite Christmas movies that still keep that December spirit alive.  

    1.7 The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeTHE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
    Directed by Andrew Adamson
    (2005)

    A great take on the C.S. Lewis book, the wintery setting (and the fact that Santa Claus actually shows up in this film) make it a great pick for Christmas. Though for most of the movie it’s “always winter, but never Christmas” there are plenty of festive characters to enjoy. So sit down with some turkish delight and enjoy this reimagining of an old classic. 

     

    1.7 While You Were SleepingWHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
    Directed by Jon Turteltaub
    (1995)

    A romantic comedy, this film takes place actually takes place over several holidays. Sandra Bullock pretends to be the fiancee of the comatose man she saved, all while slowing falling for his brother. The fun family dynamics make this a great film to watch any time of the year. 

     

    1.7 Harry PotterHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
    Directed by Chris Columbus
    (2001)

    This movie takes place, of course, throughout an entire school year. But some of its most memorable scenes take place over the holiday break: from the delicious Christmas feasts, to Harry discovering his invisibility cloak and the Mirror of Erised. It also helps that television networks have made the movie a Christmas staple over the past few years. 

     

    1.7 Little WomenLITTLE WOMEN
    Directed by Gillian Armstrong
    (1994)

    Though this takes place over several years, its most enduring moments happen during Christmas. Enjoy this heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking, story of an American family as they experience life during and after the Civil War.

     
  • Movie Theater Chairs

    At this point, it’s hardly a surprise that some of the Greatest Films of All Time have been based on books. The Oscars even gives an award to the Best Adapted Screenplay every year—because movies based on books are awesome. This year I was surprised that more of the Oscar nominations for Best Picture aren’t based on books. It’s easy to guess that as long as movies are being made and books are being written, we’ll see book adaptions winning Best Picture. As we approach the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4th, here is a look back at some of the great books that have gone on to become Oscars’ Best Picture winners. 

    2.28 Oliver TwistOLIVER TWIST
    Charles Dickens
    (1837)

    It’s not surprising that one of the greatest novels of all time would be adapted into a Best Picture winner, it’s more surprising that that film is OLIVER! – a larger than life, musical retelling of the classic Victorian novel featuring songs such as “Food, Glorious Food.” 

     

    2.28 Out of AfricaOUT OF AFRICA
    Isak Dinesen
    (1937)

    Often counted as one of the greatest nonfiction books of all time, OUT OF AFRICA tells the true story of Karen Chistentze Dinesen and her life on a Kenyan coffee plantation. The film adaptation, also called OUT OF AFRICA, stars Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in a sweeping romance filmed on location outside Nairobi. 

     

    2.28 Million Dollar BabyMILLION DOLLAR BABY: STORIES FROM THE CORNER
    F.X. Toole
    (2005)

    This collection of short stories, originally published as ROPE BURNS, is based on the real-life experiences of boxing trainer Jerry Boyd (using the pen name F.X. Toole), and was adapted into the Best Picture winner MILLION DOLLAR BABY. The film, directed and produced by Clint Eastwood, is an emotional story about a female boxer and the bond she forms with her coach. 

     

    2.28 The Return of the KingTHE RETURN OF THE KING: BEING THE THIRD PART OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS
    J.R.R. Tolkein
    (1965)

    This beloved and larger-than-life epic fantasy series was given the Hollywood treatment in the early 2000s with films that have become legendary in their own right. Though the first and second installments in the series were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, only the third – LORD OF THE RINGS, THE RETURN OF THE KING clinched the win. 

     

    2.28 Forrest GumpFORREST GUMP: THE NOVEL
    Winston Groom
    (1986)

    Maybe this is more common knowledge than I thought, but I was surprised to learn that FORREST GUMP was a book before it became a Best Picture winner. The fictional story of a kind man with a low IQ who happens to be present for the most significant moments in 1960s, 70s, and 80s without realizing the significance of his actions. FORREST GUMP is a heartwarming look at modern American History. Oh, and the movie stars Tom Hanks.

     
  • Read to Travel

    Once again I’m back to talk about places I have traveled because of books that I have read—or places that I loved going to visit  because of the literature that was written there. Hannibal, Rome, London, and Concord have all made my list. Today I’m going to talk about my second favorite place(s) to go on vacation due to books I have read. And yes, if you noticed, this place is really two places. It would have been three  dream places if my time hadn’t been so short. 

    Bath & Chawton, England

    I know I already mentioned London earlier—and I still love that choice. But I seriously took two major detours when traveling in England for one author: Jane Austen! So yes, London is amazing; however, Bath & Chawton—specifically Chawton—were places that I went specifically because of reading (and I was not disappointed!). 

    The only reason I went to Bath was because of Jane Austen’s PERSUASION (and if pressed possibly because of Northanger Abbey as well). Without Jane and her novels I probably wouldn’t have been persuaded to go visit Bath. And to be completely honest without this adaptation of the movie PERSUASION, I probably wouldn’t have recognized just how beautiful Bath is and wouldn’t have had such a desire to go and see where Anne Elliot lived and finally got her happily ever after. While in Bath we visited the Roman Baths and the Royal Crescent (yes, that one spot that every movie set in Bath uses because it is that beautiful). I swear Anne Elliot must have been just around the corner while we were there… 

    classic Bath

    Joella at the Roman Baths in Bath

    bath

    I couldn’t travel to Jane Austen country without actually going to Chawton, England—the place where the Jane Austen Museum is. It was here that Jane wrote and/or revised all six of her completed works: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, MANSFIELD PARK, NORTHANGER ABBEY, EMMA, and PERSUASION. Not only that, but at the museum you can see the writing table where Jane wrote everything. The. Desk. Where. All. The. Things. Were. Written! Plus you can see Jane’s ring—the ring that lived on her finger! This is the vacation spot for all of you who wish to geek-out about all things Jane Austen! 

    chawton

    When walking around Bath or in the gardens at the Jane Austen Museum, I truly got a feel for what it might have been like for Jane Austen to live there and write there. These two locations had some of the most fan-girl-like moments to connect one to Jane Austen. It truly felt like I made some sort of pilgrimage to be in my favorite books written by my favorite author (and for a librarian who likes SO MANY books, this is quite the confession)!

     Jane Austen s writing table

    Joella at Jane Austen s House

    The only thing that would have made this literary vacation even better was if I could have gone up to see the Pemberley location from the 1995 movie version of Pride and Prejudice. That would have possibly sent this vacation to the very top of my read to travel list. Alas, with only so much time over the pond it didn’t happen…but there is always next time, eh? 

    Joella reading on a beach while traveling

    So there you have it, my penultimate literary vacation spot. Only one more left. Where do you think it will be? 

  • Read to Travel

    So here is the thing, I like to read AND I like to travel. And it is a sweet spot when both things happen at the same time (meaning, sometimes I pick where I travel based on a book I read or sometimes I read books based on places that I have traveled to or will travel to). If you love to read and love to travel, this series of posts is for you. I'll be sharing my top six destinations that hit the sweet spot of good books and great location, where the place has as much personality as the characters in the books. Granted, due to my being a little long-winded, it might take a few posts to get through all my favorites… 

    6. Hannibal, Missouri, USA

    I will confess, the first time that I went to Hannibal .…I didn’t choose to go. I was nine and my mother made the decision for a family vacation. So we went. But I liked it so much that I went two more times - that is saying something, right?

    Basically this is the literary travel spot for all things Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens). Think TOM SAWYER and HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Think of all the cave spelunking and riverboat rides. In Hannibal you can tour the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum Properties. I loved looking at the white picket fence and thinking about how Tom tricked everyone else into white-washing it for him. When I was in Hannibal (many years ago) I also toured around other museums and saw where “Becky Thatcher” would have “lived."

    8.6 tom sawyer statue

    There is something to be said for skipping rocks and having a picnic next to the mighty Mississippi River, the very river that Huck Finn and Jim sailed down on a raft. In fact, there are a lot of places in Hannibal where you can just sit and watch that river. And possibly contemplate all of those many big things that Mark Twain leads you to think about when reading Huckleberry Finn. 

    8.6 Mark Twain Cave with Joella

    But the highlight for this area is the Mark Twain Cave Complex. There you can explore where Becky and Tom got lost. And if you happen to have an older brother the way that I do—perhaps you might jump every now and again due to said older brother’s shenanigans. Seriously. There's nothing quite like going inside just after reading the scary chapters about Tom and Becky being lost in that same cave (the very one!) and then having your brother do his best to scare the heebeegeebees out of you. Literature definitely came alive for me in that moment!

    8.6 Mark Twain Cave

    And with festivals and theater performances giving nods to all things Mark Twain, this is a travel destination totally connected to all things literary. 

    Bonus: There is also a movie and a graphic novel adaptation of Tom Sawyer and not one but two different graphic novel adaptations for Huckleberry Finn. 

    8.6 Tom Sawyer TwainTHE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
    By Mark Twain
    (1876)

     

    Tom Sawyer FilmTOM SAWYER
    (1986) 

     

    8.6 Tom Sawyer HallTHE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER: A GRAPHIC NOVEL
    By Margaret Hall
    (2014)

     

    Huckleberry Finn TwainADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
    By Mark Twain
    (1884)

     

    8.6 Huckleberry Finn RatliffTHE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
    By Tom Ratliff
    (2008 

     

    8.6 Huckleberry Finn SilvermoonADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
    By Crystal Silvermoon
    (2017)

     
    Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for other literary vacation destinations that I have loved!   
  • Read to Travel

    Last timeI talked about the good ol’ literary home of Tom Sawyer on the Mississippi. My number five pick for literary vacations takes us abroad…to Italy! And really, I could have included the WHOLE COUNTRY on this literary smorgasbord. But I was good and I narrowed it down to one city—Rome!

    5. Rome, Italy

    This location is one hotbed of history—and thus literature! Think about it, how many times do people reference JULIUS CAESAR? Or Roman Mythology? Or parts of the Bible that took place in Rome? There was so much that happened here. “Et tu, Brute?” 

    colosseum1

    When I visited Rome, one of my favorite things was going to the Roman Forum. There I saw where Julius Caesar and Mark Antony delivered their famous speeches. I don’t think I would have appreciated this attraction as much if I hadn’t read the great Shakespeare classic Julius Caesar or studied various Roman Mythology in middle school. (Plus there are a plethora of other books like Rick Riordan’s THE MARK OF ATHENA or Jennifer Nielsen’s MARK OF THE THIEF—both of which I better understood because I had traveled to this ancient land and saw the Roman Forum.) 

    For those who are really into art, history, and mysteries, touring around the various churches in Italy brought to mind Dan Brown’s book ANGELS AND DEMONS. I mean, if you are enjoying art work by some of the world’s masters—you might as well think of a suspenseful mystery book… right? 

    For those moments when I wondered about the various people that lived in Roman history—including children—I thought of THE THIEVES OF OSTIA (a kid’s mystery book that takes place in ancient Rome)—because walking on all the cobblestone streets reminded me of passages in the book where kids have to go from place to place to figure out a mystery.   

    Basically, there are a bunch of books that have portions of history that take place in ancient Rome. And having traveled there I feel like I understand the literature just a little bit more. Not to mention there is the famous Colosseum across the street, the great Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon that all have a lot of history—and make their way into various books and movies that take place in Rome. I know it isn’t literature, but I couldn’t help myself—when visiting the Colosseum I pictured all that happened there in BEN HUR. And I smiled at the memories of watching ROMAN HOLIDAY when going to the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon. 

    colosseum2

    Thankfully I also had my RICK STEVES’ ITALY tour book so not only could I think of great literary masterpieces as I toured around Rome, I could also find the best place to eat gelato and create my own Roman memories! 

    So there you have it, my #5 literary destination pick (a city with a zillion book and movie references). Keep an eye out for my next pick for a literary destination vacation.  

    Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for other literary vacation destinations that I have loved!   

  • Streaming video

     

    I love awards season. I love the pageantry and pretty dresses and people. Also, I like movies. 

    Not that I know enough about movies to know what makes a good one, I just like it when movies I like are liked by people who like movies. I just feel so justified when a movie I love has those little laurel brackets that prove to all the world I do indeed have good taste in movies. 

    Many of these award-winning movies are available through Overdrive to stream for free with a library card. So I compiled a list of 9 must-see favorites (Okay, some of them are only nominated for an Oscar but won plenty of critical acclaim). 

    magnificent sevenTHE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
    Dir. John Sturges
    (1960)

    An oppressed Mexican peasant village hires seven gunfighters to help defend their homes.


     

     

    psychoPSYCHO  
    Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
    (1960)

    A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.



     

    african queenTHE AFRICAN QUEEN
    Dir. John Huston
    (1951)

    In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.



     

    man on wireMAN ON WIRE
    Dir. James Marsh
    (2008)

    A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."

     

     

    imitation gameTHE IMITATION GAME 
    Dir. Morten Tyldum
    (2014)

    During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

     

     

    lady vanishesTHE LADY VANISHES
    Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
    (1938)

    While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train.

     

     

    the butlerLEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER
    Dir. Lee Daniels
    (2013)

    As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.

     

     

    philomenaPHILOMENA
    Dir. Stephen Frears
    (2013)

    A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

     

     

    iron ladyTHE IRON LADY
    Dir. Phyllida Lloyd
    (2011)

    An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.

     

     

     

  • austen ranking

    Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

    I've been lucky enough to meet a lot of incredible authors through our AuthorLink events, but there’s only one I’d completely geek out over. Unfortunately, she’s been dead for nearly 200 years.

    I’m one of those people. Janeite, Austenite, actual crazy person, nerd – whatever you want to call me, I have to confess that when it comes to Jane Austen, I’m more than a casual fan. After reading each of her novels countless times, researching her life extensively, poring over Austen scholarship, and writing a master’s thesis about Austen adaptations, I’ve come to two conclusions:

    1. I’m WAY too invested in the life and writings of a dead person

    2.  Austen 100% lives up to the hype

    If you’ve never read an Austen novel, I’m begging you to do it, even if you’ve seen the film adaptations and think they’re not your thing. The humor, rhythm, and genius of her writing never completely transfer to the screen, and you don’t quite know Austen if you’ve never read her books.

    That being said, Austen adaptations are prolific, ranging from the merely okay to the brilliant, and most of them are worth watching at least once. Fortunately for you, I’ve seen them all, with one notable and a few not so notable exceptions, so I can save you time in choosing where to start.

    Austen nerd that I am, I’ll spend the next few weeks sharing my favorite and not-so-favorite Austen adaptations (except for PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and a handful of obscure adaptations from the 50s and 60s that I still haven’t seen. Whoops.) 

    Miniseries, films, and YouTube adaptations are all up for grabs, but there are a few films I won’t be ranking. Here's why:

    4.26 Death Comes to PemberleyDEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY
    Directed by Daniel Percival
    (2013)

    Because it’s a sequel, not an adaptation of the original. It is on Netflix, though, if you like your Regency period drama with a dash of murder.

     

    4.26 Becoming JaneBECOMING JANE
    Directed by Julian Jarrold
    (2008)

    Because it’s a (romantic, but not terribly accurate) biographical film, not an adaptation of an Austen novel.

     

    4.26 Miss Austen RegretsMISS AUSTEN REGRETS
    Directed by Jeremy Lovering
    (2008)

    Because, again, it’s a biopic, not an Austen adaptation. Maybe it's good that it's not on the list, because our library doesn't own it, and neither does the Orem Public Library. I definitely don't own it, so how did I ever watch this in the first place?

    It's a mystery.

     

    4.26 AustenlandAUSTENLAND
    Directed by Jerusha Hess
    (2014)

    Because, though this film is a joy, it's a Shannon Hale Adaptation, not a Jane Austen adaptation. It is, however, a hilarious homage to Austen, Austen fans, and people who think Austen fans are ridiculous. You should watch it.

     

    4.26 The Jane Austen Book ClubTHE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB
    Directed by Robin Swicord
    (2007)

    Because, though it draws on Austen in its plots, it's in that fuzzy territory between Austen-inspired and a full-fledged adaptation. Feel free to disagree.

     

    4.26 EligibleELIGIBLE
    TBA

    Because, regrettably, I am unable to time travel into the future, even for a modernized Austen adaptation. In the meantime, the book is available.

     

    So, with those banned from the competition, now’s the time for guessing. I'll try to be diplomatic in my analysis, but you don't have to be. Which adaptation do you think deserves the number one spot? Which adaptations are an abomination, defiling all that is good and holy and Austenesque? Let us know in the comments.

     
  • austen ranking 1

    Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

    Now that we've covered the not-so-great adaptations of Jane Austen's classic novels, it's time to move on the the merely okay! Ummm... yay?

    Whether it's altered characters, terrible kisses, or unfortunate placement of manholes, each of these adapatations had something about them that was just a little off. They aren't the worst, but they definitely aren't the best. Here's why.

    6.27 Mansfield Park 200720) MANSFIELD PARK
     Directed by Iain B. MacDonald
    (2007)

    Billie Piper's performance is such an odd take on Fanny. She never quite meshes with the historical setting, and the hair and costume choices don't help (why does she keep wearing her hair down?!?!). Though the 1999 adaptation, which we'll get to later, makes serious departures from the book, those alterations at least feel intentional and carefully thought out. The changes to the characters here, particularly in making Fanny lively and playful, just don't make sense. Plot points are also rushed or skipped over entirely. While MANSFIELD PARK is certainly Austen's most serious and difficult novel, this adaptation feels frothy and frivolous.

    To be honest, I probably should have put this on the "Not So Good" list, but I temporarily forgot it existed and have since had to renumber everything in that post. Whoops.

    6.27 I Have Found It19) KANDUKONDAIN KANDUKONDAIN (I HAVE FOUND IT)
    Directed by Rajiv Menon
    (2000)

    This Tamil film, the first Indian adaptation of an Austen novel (correct me if I’m wrong), is a movie I wish I liked. The tone is uneven, with a jarring mix of war scenes and music video-style montages of dance and song. And then there’s the unintentionally hilarious fact that (spoiler!) instead of falling ill near the end of the story, the Marianne character instead falls into a manhole. Nevertheless, the songs are fun, Aishwarya Rai is lovely as ever, and it’s the film that eventually led to BRIDE AND PREJUDICE, so I can’t complain too much.

     

    6.27 Pride and Prejudice18) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A LATTER-DAY COMEDY
    Directed by Andrew Black 
    (2003)

    AKA “the Mormon one.” This movie isn’t quite good enough to stand on its own as a film or an Austen adaptation, but if you’ve ever experienced an LDS singles ward, it resonates. The transition of an early 19th century England to early 21st century Provo is surprisingly smooth, given the shared obsession with early marriage. It’s mildly entertaining in a slapstick sort of way, and I’ll never stop thinking the scene with heartbroken Lizzie and Jane in the grocery store is funny: “Triple choc-choc-choc-chocolate chunk? Or Uncle Bubba’s Big Belly Batter Brickle?”

     

    6.27 Bridget Jones17) BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY
    Directed by Sharon Maguire 
    (2001)

    Is it fair to call this an Austen adaptation when it’s already the adaptation of another book? I’m not sure, and I struggled with its placement since it’s so popular but not a personal favorite. It’s funny and satirical and very British, and it makes some clever nods to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (including the casting of Colin Firth as Mark Darcy). I think my main hang-up with this one is Bridget as the main character. Where Elizabeth Bennet was clever, charming, and witty, Bridget is a lovable hot mess. It’s easier for me to like her and the film if I separate it from Pride and Prejudice altogether.

    I know that fidelity is a nebulous, unattainable goal, or whatever, but don’t mess with my favorite characters (I’m looking at you, every LITTLE WOMEN adaptation I've ever seen).

     

    6.27 Persuasion16) PERSUASION
    Directed by Adrian Shergold
    (2007)

    This movie would have been much, much higher up the list but for one thing: MINUS ALL THE POINTS FOR THE WORST KISS IN CINEMATIC HISTORY. Anne’s out of breath from running through the streets of Bath, and she’s left with her mouth gaping open like fish while Wentworth waits an absurdly long time to bend down and meet her kiss. *shudders*  

    I need to watch the final scene from NORTH AND SOUTH as a palate cleanser after even thinking about it.

     

    6.27 Pride and Prejudice 194015) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
    Directed by Robert Z. Leonard
    (1940)

    If you’re obsessed with fidelity, this is not the adaptation for you, but as a stand-alone film and piece of cinematic history, it’s charming. Released in 1940, producers worried that the film would make our British allies seem stuffy and prejudiced, so certain characters (*cough* Catherine de Bourgh *cough*) were significantly altered. The time period was also moved forward to capitalize on the popularity of GONE WITH THE WIND in its flamboyant costume design.

    So, the storyline is a far cry from Austen’s original, but Lawrence Olivier was destined, both in appearance and manner, to play Fitzwilliam Darcy. In fact, I think he may actually be Darcy. Can a fictional character be reincarnated as an iconic movie star?

     

    6.27 Emma Approved14) EMMA APPROVED
    Directed by Bernie Su
    (2013-2014)

    Bernie Su’s creative follow-up to THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES is unfortunately not quite as good, though I still enjoyed watching it. The production quality is better (this is a very pretty adaptation) but the setup feels forced. Where Lizzie was a vlogger, Emma is simply recording videos for posterity, and it stretches credibility a little too much. The storytelling isn't as clever and insightful as THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES and the characters felt less real, but the series grew on me over time.

    Why? The chemistry between Alex Knightley and Emma is a major redeeming quality. The rest of the plot struggles initially, but the sexual tension is A+.

     
  • austen ranking 1

    Part 1, Part 2Part 3Part 5

    Well, my friends, the Austen obsession continues, and this week we move on from the tolerable to the amiable. This adaptations are good, but they just missed being included among the best of the best. Here’s why.

    7.13 2008 Emma12) EMMA
    Directed by Jim O'Hanlan
    (2009)

    I found this adaptation enjoyable, but forgettable. Bonus points for Johnny Lee Miller playing his second Austen hero and bonus, extra, super points for casting Ramola Garai, who is a gift to us from the period drama gods.

     

    7.13 Bride and Prejudice11) BRIDE AND PREJUDICE
    Directed by Gurinder Chadha
    (2004)

    I think the bland male leads and a slightly disjointed storyline are what hold me back from loving BRIDE AND PREJUDICE completely, but the film is still a whole lot of fun. The best known cross-cultural Austen adaptation, it’s frothy and colorful and a little bit whacky, and it’s hard not to enjoy it. And it’s a MUSICAL, which few other Austen film adaptations can claim. Plus, Aishwarya Rai is a delight.

     

    7.13 Persuasion10) PERSUASION
    Directed by Roger Michell
    (1996)

    We're finally getting to the point where I feel guilty ranking the adaptations, because from here on out, I love them all deeply.

    This is a quiet adaptation that doesn’t get as much fanfare as many of the others, but it’s lovely nonetheless. Amanda Root is absolutely perfect as Anne – her subtle performance manages to capture Anne’s pain, her exasperation with her relatives, and her quiet determination as well as her shyness.

    I do have to confess something, though. As a teenager watching this movie for the first time, I found myself wondering where all the pretty people were. The cast of this film is surprisingly normal looking, which is a refreshing change from typical Hollywood casting and seems particularly appropriate for the time period.

     

    7.13 Mansfield Park9) MANSFIELD PARK
    Directed by Patricia Rozema
    (1999)

    A lot of people hate this adaptation (my mother among them), but I’m a fan. Fans of other Austen adaptations are sometimes thrown by just how dark and gritty this version is, and by, well, the brief nakedness (there’s understandably not much nudity in most Austen adaptations). In addition to showing that Fanny was pulled out of serious poverty by her not-always-kind cousins, this version also addresses MANSFIELD PARK’s elephant in the room: the Bertrams earned their money in the West Indies, which means that slaves earned it for them. It’s not always a pretty adaptation as a result, but that honesty adds a depth and context to the adaptation that I really appreciate.

    I’ll add that Fanny Price is the only Austen heroine I don’t like very much, so I don’t really mind that the film turned her into a completely different character.

     

    7.13 emma8) EMMA 
    Directed by Douglas McGrath
    (1996)

    This adaptation of Emma and the adaptation of Mansfield Park I just wrote about are a study in contrasts, and I love them for completely opposite reasons. Emma holds a special place in my heart for simply being so PRETTY. The costumes, the sets, the hairstyles, the script - they're just so fluffy and beautiful and charming, much like Emma herself. Gwyneth Paltrow annoys me as a human being, which is probably why I adore her as Emma.

    If you enjoy period dramas, it’s hard to hate this one. And the score by Rachel Portman is delightful. All the fluff, very little of the substance.

     

    7.13 Sense and Sensibility7) SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
    Directed by John Alexander
    (2008)

    This adaptation didn’t get as much attention as I think it deserved, and I hope you’ll watch it if you haven’t already, as it's certainly the best of the 2007 and 2008 ITV/BBC Austen reboots. The opening scenes are surprisingly scandalous for an Austen adaptation, but don’t let them scare you away from the miniseries.

    It pains me not to include this as one of the best of the best, since it's a personal favorite. As great as Emma Thompson is, Hattie Morahan is exactly how I pictured Elinor, and Charity Wakefield is lovely as Marianne. It's a full-length miniseries, which allows it time to cover plot points that the 1995 adapation didn't have time for. And it does it so very well.

    Note: For fans of the "Darcy emerges from the pond" scene in in the '96 Pride and Prejudice, this Sense and Sensibility gives you Downton Abbey's Matthew revived from the dead and angstily chopping wood in the rain. Enjoy.

     

    Join us soon for the best of the best!

  •  Austen ranking

    We're finally here, reader. The time has come to declare the best of the best Austen adaptations, and I'm wordier than ever. What can I say? I get a little effusive when talking Jane.

    Missed the earlier posts? You can find them here, here, here, and here.

    These final adaptations aren't necessarily in the order I most enjoy watching them, but I stand by my claim that they're the best. Why? Each of these final six revolutionized Austen adaptations in one way or another, influencing adaptations to come in profound ways. They've defined Austen in our popular imagination more than anything besides the novels themselves.

    8.10 Pride and Prejudice 20056) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
    Directed by Joe Wright
    (2005)

    You either love this adaptation, or you hate it, and I’m mostly on the loving it side. I was wary of Keira Knightley playing Elizabeth Bennet, and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it, but I am a fan of Matthew McFadyen’s vulnerable take on Darcy. Social anxiety is an interesting and plausible explanation for the character’s behavior. In general I LOVE the casting, especially Rosamund Pike as Jane and Judy Dench as Lady Catherine de Bourgh (that woman can play uppity old lady like no one else). And it even has a baby Carrey Mulligan!

    This film is in the running against the 1995 Sense and Sensibility for most gorgeous cinematography, and I think it ultimately wins. And that score! The shot of Elizabeth standing on the cliffside, skirts billowing in the wind while "Liz on Top of the World" plays is seared into my memory in the best way possible. I also love that it brings a little bit of the grit back into period dramas – pigs and dirt and a recognition that the obsession with marriage was born out of a legitimate fear of poverty.

    This version does dumb down the language in places and spends a little more time explaining Regency culture than some other adaptations, which the egalitarian in me approves of and my inner snob is annoyed by. BUT for that very reason, if you ask a millennial about Austen films, this is the one they're most likely to have watched. It's accessible for period drama lovers and period drama newbies alike.

    Why it earned a top spot: for bringing Austen to a new generation.

     

    8.10 Love and Friendship5) LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP
    Directed by Whit Stillman
    (2016)

    In general, I feel like modernized adaptations have done a better job than period dramas of showing just how funny and biting Austen was, but this one is the exception. It’s a darkly hilarious period piece, and it perfectly captures the social awkwardness and subtle human cruelty that Austen delighted in laughing at. If you enjoy THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST and the novels of P.G. Wodehouse, you'll likely enjoy this comedy of manners.

    The novella on which the film is based is Austen at her meanest and also her cleverest, turning the stories of Samuel Richardson on their head by depicting the scheming libertine as both a woman (shocking!) and the most engaging character. LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP glories in that subversion, and Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan is my favorite casting in any Austen adaptation, hands down. 

    Side note: watch this movie and then the Beckinsale version of EMMA and then try to tell me the woman isn’t Benjamin Buttoning the heck out of life. I suspect she actually became a vampire for her role in VAN HELSING. Method acting at its finest.

    Why it earned a top spot: for embracing Austen's satirical side.

     

    8.10 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries4) THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES
    Directed by Bernie Su
    (2012 - 2013)

    I’m a little biased in favor of this series, having spent two years researching it for my master’s thesis, but I’ll stand by my claim that it’s a brilliant modernization. The series breaks with Austen on certain plot points as a way to remain faithful to her feminist themes, social commentary, and humor in a modern setting. It modernizes the characters in compelling ways. It's funny and fresh and revolutionized online, immersive story telling as well as the world of Austen adaptations. If you’d like to hear all my thoughts on the subject (and really, who wouldn’t?), I’d be happy to loan you a copy of my super hard-hitting, very important, not at all frivolous master’s thesis.

    Since it’s a Youtube series, it’s not something you can check out the library, but we do have a novelization by the series creators, THE SECRET DIARY OF LIZZIE BENNET.

    Do yourself a favor and go watch THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES on Youtube. You can return many hours later to thank me.

    Why it earned a top spot: for bringing Austen into the digital age.

     

    8.10 Clueless3) CLUELESS
    Directed by Amy Heckerling
    (1995)

    Unless you’re a super nerd like me and read articles like “The Surprising Fidelity of Clueless” for fun, this one might surprise you, but hear me out. Austen novels, though often marketed as romances, are first and foremost satires. I’ll say it again, louder for the people in the back – AUSTEN WROTE SATIRE, NOT JUST ROMANCE. She was insightfully commenting on and criticizing the world in which she lived, and it’s freaking hilarious.

    CLUELESS is one of the few adaptations to bring that satire to the forefront, and it brilliantly critiques modern life. It exaggerates human behavior just enough to make us laugh, but not so much that it’s unrecognizable. It pokes holes in the self-importance of the rich and socially elite. It's not just the story of a rich, meddling girl; it's a commentary on consumerism, wealth, teenage culture, and more.

    Why it earned a top spot: for modernizing Austen, wit intact

     

    8.10 Sense and Sensibility2) SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
    Directed by Ang Lee
    (1995)

    For me, the 1995 Sense and Sensibility has the best screenplay of all Austen adaptations, and Emma Thompson (who also starred as Elinor), made excellent calls about what to cut and include in a film-length storyline. Along with a fair amount of humor and romance, she captured Austen’s social commentary about the limitations placed on women by Regency society in a compelling way. And she even won an Oscar for it.

    Beyond that, the film is visually gorgeous, the score is one of my favorites of all time, and the casting is excellent. More than any adaptation before it, Sense and Sensibility goes beyond just repeating Austen's words on camera to instead explore how visuals can tell the story when the script alone can't. That moment when Marianne, Mrs. Dashwood, and Margaret all go sobbing into their rooms and Elinor sits down to calmly drink a cup of tea perfectly encapsulates who the characters are. It gets right to the heart of the plot in a few moments of screentime. It's perfect.

    Premiering just a few months after my number one pick aired on television, the 1995 Sense and Sensibility shares the honor of ushering in an era of excellent Austen adaptations. More than 20 years later, it still doesn't feel dated.

    Why it earned a top spot: for bringing Austen to the big screen, in a big way.

     

    8.10 Pride and Prejudice 19951) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
    Directed by Simon Langton
    (1995)

    Okay, okay, you knew this would be number one, didn’t you? I’m not sure it’s actually my personal favorite, but it takes the cake because it’s the one that started them all. It defined Austen adaptations as a genre, and I really didn’t have a choice but to give it the top spot.

    Though earlier Austen adaptations had been produced for TV and film, this BBC/A&E made-for-TV miniseries launched the “Austen Renaissance” of adaptations that beautifully blended fidelity to the original novel with general viewer appeal. Lovely cinematography, a great score, good acting – it set the standard for every Austen adaptation to follow.

    And it also brought us Colin Firth, so...

    Why it earned the top spot: for showing us how to do Austen right.

     
  • witchy films

    A couple of weeks ago on the blog, I admitted my love for all things witchy and shared my favorite recent books about witches. To continue that theme and honor the Halloween spirit, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite movies starring witches.  They’re certainly bewitching, if I do say so myself.

    10.26 I Married a WitchI MARRIED A WITCH
    Directed by René Clair
    (1942)

    During the height of the Salem witch trials, Jennifer (Veronica Lake) and her father Daniel (Cecil Kellaway) are burned at the stake. As her final act, Jennifer curses her Puritan persecutor, Jonathan Wooley, and his descendants to always marry unhappily. When the father and daughter escape their spiritual imprisonment centuries later, Jennifer vows to torment Wallace, the latest in a long line of Wooleys, but love gets in the way. With a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this romantic comedy is an absolute classic. The Provo Library doesn't currently own a copy, unfortunately, but the Orem Library does!

     

    10.26 MatildaMATILDA
    Directed by Danny DeVito
    (1996)

    I don’t know that Matilda Wormwood is ever actually referred to as a witch, but I think her telekinesis and last name qualify as witchy. This film is delightful. A brilliant and magical young girl, deliciously wicked villains, and plenty of shenanigans – what more could you want? So why not whip up a Matilda-inspired chocolate fudge cake and discover the magic of Roald Dahl on film?

     

    10.26 Bell Book and CandleBELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE
    Directed by Richard Quine
    (1958)

    Greenwich Village witch Gillian (Kim Novak) has had a long-running feud with Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule) since college. When Gillian finds out that her handsome neighbor Shep (Jimmy Stewart) plans to marry Merle, she simply has to intervene. Her love spell has unintended consequences, however, ultimately forcing her to choose between love and magic. With hints of BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE and starring the talented duo from VERTIGO, BELL, BOOK, AND CANDLE is an awful lot of fun.

     

    10.26 BewitchedBEWITCHED
    Directed by Nora Ephron
    (2005)

    I’ll be honest, in a lot of respects, this movie isn’t great. It had so much going for it – A Nora and Delia Ephron screenplay, Nora Ephron as the director, Nicole Kidman, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, the nostalgia of the original Bewitched series -  it should have been amazing, right? Unfortunately, the writing and acting fall a little flat, and the film was panned by critics. And yet I watch BEWITCHED about once a year anyway.

    On an intellectual level, I know this movie isn’t very good, but on another level I really enjoy it. The plot is okay, but the movie is just so pretty to look at! Isabel is the kind of witch I’d want to be. Her bungalow cottage is perfectly adorable, and as I watch the parts of the film that are set there, I spend most of my time analyzing the furniture (I seriously want her floral sofa), kitchen cabinets, and windows. And then there’s Isabel’s/Samantha’s/Nicole’s clothes in the film – so many adorable cardigans! It’s a librarian’s dream. Roughly 30% of my current wardrobe is inspired by this not-so-great movie.

    You think I’m kidding, right? I’m not kidding.

    10.26 Practical MagicPRACTICAL MAGIC
    Directed by Griffin Dunne
    (1998)

    BEWITCHED wasn’t the first time Nicole Kidman played a witch. Based on the book by Alice Hoffman (and now there’s a prequel!), PRACTICAL MAGIC tells the story of the Owens sisters, practical Sally (Sandra Bullock) and wild child Gillian (Kidman), whose magical family is cursed in love. This is another film with envy-inducing set design. Rumor has it that Barbra Streisand was so taken with the Victorian Owens house that she tried to buy it, only to find out that it was a temporary shell instead of a real house. This 90s romantic comedy gave me the heebie-jeebies when I first saw it as a tween. It’s just creepy enough to be a perfect Halloween movie, but it has plenty of romance, lightheartedness, and magical charm for the scaredy-cats (ahem, me) among us.

    10.26 Hocus PocusHOCUS POCUS
    Directed by Kenny Ortega
    (1993)

    I feel like I don’t even need to talk this movie up. We all love HOCUS POCUS, right? As evil as they might be, could there be three more hilarious and winning witches? If you're looking for a Halloween activity, join us on Tuesday at 7:00 for a HOCUS POCUS screening in the Shaw Programming Room, #260.