Serving Life (DVD) is probably one of the best documentaries I have watched in a long, long time. The title is deceptive, because the movie is based in a Louisiana state prison. It follows four men who have committed serious crimes and are serving life sentences, some without hope of parole. At first you think the film is going to focus strictly on their adjustment to prison life – until you see the hospice ward in the prison, set up for prisoners who are terminally ill. The four men apply to be volunteers in this hospice unit and the title “serving life” takes on an entirely different dimension. I never dreamt I would be moved to tears watching a documentary set in a prison – I challenge you to stay dry-eyed watching this one. This would make a challenging subject of discussion for church groups and film discussion gatherings.
I love reading a good movie, or is it watching a good book? Either way you prefer to phrase it, I’m always excited, anxious and nervous when one of my favorite books is made into a movie. I usually start out hopeful that the story will come to life on screen, exactly as I have envisioned it. The next step is to carefully scrutinize the cast, and start making my wish list of which actors I think would have been better in each role. Then, I tell myself that I will give the film a chance to live up to my expectations (all while hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst). Finally, I grab the family and some popcorn, and am thrilled to see beloved characters and locations brought to life.
This spring, catch these movies, based on books:
Marvel’s The Avengers, out May 4th – Marvel comic books, including the characters Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow come alive.
Read “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” before seeing it onscreen this May, starring Dame Judi Dench. The story is about British retirees relocating to India. They find the Marigold Hotel less than the advertisements promised.
Since its original publication date in the 1980’s, women have been consulting this pregnancy guide (now in its 4th edition). Starting May 18th, you can watch an all-star cast in What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron star in Snow White and the Huntsman, starting June 1st. This film is described as an epic action-adventure based on the Snow White fairytales.
Movie Bonus: Okay, this wasn’t really a book, but it was so delightfully campy that I felt I couldn’t possibly mention spring movie releases without including it. Dark Shadows! Yes, kids, we had vampires before Edward and Stefan. Don’t believe me? Check out Dark Shadows on dvd, the popular late 60’s and early 70’s gothic soap opera. Johnny Depp stars as Barnabas Collins in the big-screen remake hitting theaters May 11th.
Sunday, April 22 marks the 41st Earth Day. Whether it is learning about the number of bags American use every minute or journeying across the earth or learning about the demise of the electric car, I am a fan of documentaries. Grab your library card so you can place holds on the following list of Earth Day-related documentaries!
Bag It – Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes that we then throw away. But where is ‘away?’ Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to our environment, marine life and human health? Follows ‘everyman’ Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics.
Earth – A remarkable story of three animal families on a journey across our planet – polar bears, elephants, and humpback whales. An astonishing and heartwarming film filled with adventure, suspense, and humor as it captures rare footage of nature’s wildest and most elusive animals.
Dive! – Inspired by a curiosity about society’s careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, the multi award-winning documentary Dive! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets. In the process, they salvage thousands of dollars worth of good, edible food, resulting in an eye-opening documentary that is equal parts entertainment, guerrilla journalism, and call to action.
Fresh – Celebrates the farmers, thinkers, and businesspeople across America who are reinventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for the future of our food and our planet.
Frozen Planet – The Arctic and Antarctic remain the greatest wildernesses on Earth. The scale and beauty of the scenery and the sheer power of the elements, the weather, the rough ocean, and the ice is unmatched anywhere else on our planet. tells the compelling story of animals such as the wandering albatross, the adelie penguin, and the polar bear, and paints a portrait that will take your breath away, at a moment when, melting fast, the frozen regions of our planet may soon be changed forever.
Human planet – Following in the footsteps of Planet Earth and Life, this epic eight-part blockbuster is a breathtaking celebration of the amazing, complex, profound, and sometimes challenging relationship between humankind and nature. Humans are the ultimate animals – the most successful species on the planet. Each episode focuses on a particular habitat and reveals how its people have created astonishing solutions in the face of extreme adversity.
The last mountain – The fight for the last great mountain in America’s Appalachian heartland pits the mining giant that wants to explode it to extract the coal within, against the community fighting to preserve the mountain and build a wind farm on its ridges instead. Robert Kennedy Jr. joins the fight to preserve the mountain
Plastic Planet – The effects of plastics and their manufacturing on human health and the environment are discussed by scientists, manufacturers, consumers and government officials.
Revenge of the electric car – By 2006, as many as 5,000 electric cars were destroyed by the major car companies that built them. Today, the electric car is back with a vengeance. Without using a single drop of foreign oil, this new generation of car is America’s future: fast, furious, and cleaner than ever. It’s not just the next generation of green cars that’s on the line, it’s the future of the automobile itself.
Solartaxi – The story of an epic, 18-month adventure that spans the globe in a homemade car powered exclusively by the sun. Louis Palmer and Solartaxi meet princes, movie stars, politicians, and scientists, but most importantly they encounter ordinary people and show them that locomotion using only the power of the sun is possible.
Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and somewhere the crack of the bat can be heard. With each puff of smoke from the mitt optimism for the upcoming baseball season abounds.
Around here, the Cincinnati Reds opening day may as well be declared a holiday. This is the time of year when any team can win the pennant, at least in the eyes of their fans. For me its a time to break out the sunflower seeds. There is nothing better than sitting in the dugout or bullpen with a couple dozen sunflowers in your mouth while the salty taste permeates as you shuck each one and separate the tasty insides from the outer shell. But for those of you who don’t get nostalgic for the taste of seeds and the competition of spitting the shells into a cup, here are my top 5 baseball movies that are available here at the Clermont County Public Library in chronological order.
1942-The Pride of the Yankees-because of the iconic speech…”Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
1976-Bad News Bears-because every team should have a girl for a pitcher…”and just wait til next year.”
1984-The Natural-because who doesn’t want to hit the ball into the scoreboard and cause a giant epic explosion while rounding the bases triumphantly?
1989-Field of Dreams-because now we know that “if you build it, he will come,” and every kid wants to connect with their dad.
1992-A League of Their Own-because woman can make great baseball players too and “THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”
1993-The Sandlot-because the whole neighborhood played baseball and we all knew that the neighbor’s dog would eventually get our ball…game over.
2005-Fever Pitch-because there is more to life than just baseball and even the Red Sox can win the Pennant (take note Cubs fans).
So before the games starts get some sunflower seeds, and break out some of your favorite baseball movies, then watch them all so you will be ready for this year’s baseball season.
Does it seem like everyone you know is watching and talking about Downton Abbey and you’re on our request list? With the show airing in over 100 countries and having won six Emmys in 2011, it is easy to understand why the widespread attention.
While you wait for your queue, check out the following Downton Abbey watch- and readalikes.
One of the most loved television series is brought back to life with a fresh cast in Upstairs, Downstairs as Housekeeper, Rose, recruits a new ‘downstairs’ family to help run the elegance and finery of the ‘upstairs’ world.
Based on the novel by E.M. Forster, the cultured, idealistic Schliegel sisters, the materialistic Wilcox family, and poor romantic Bast find a point of intersection at an English country house called Howards End in Herfordshire.
In turn-of-the-twentieth-century England, orphaned Christina upsets the male-dominated, class-conscious environment when she is sent to live with her uncle and two male cousins at their decaying country mansion, Flambards.
Cranford, in 1842, is a market town in northwest England. It is a place governed by etiquette, custom and above all, an intricate network of ladies. It seems that life has always been conducted according to their social rules. Also, check out Return to Cranford.
Manor House is a fascinating look at the grand and grueling British class system of the early 1900s.
The World of Downton Abbey is a companion book to the popular British series about the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants offers insights into the story and characters and background information on British society in the early years of the twentieth century.
Below Stairs is a kitchen-maid’s memoir of life in the great houses of England and brilliantly evokes the long vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs.
Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey examines the life of Lady Almina, the fifth Countess of Carnarvon, and the events in Highclere Castle during the First World War.
I haven’t been to a real concert in years. It’s not that I don’t want to get out and see live music, it’s just not an option. If you’re like me you might just be lacking in the time and funds it takes to see amazing acts live in concert.
BUT! I’ve discovered the most amazing library material ever! We have DVDs of live concerts. Just imagine No fighting the crowds, no seeing past the guy with the weird hat. No nosebleed seats or getting rained on. Just perfect sound and a perfect view.
We have some amazing new concerts that have shown up in our New and Forthcoming DVD List recently.
Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall- Filmed on September 22, 2011 at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall, Adele’s bestselling hits from both of her albums, 19 and 21, are featured as well as several behind the scenes features. Since Adele swept the Grammys I expect there to be a high demand on this one, check out now before everyone figures it out!
The Best of Bluegrass Underground- Taped 333 feet below ground within the labyrinth of Tennessee’s Cumberland Caverns, contained is a compilation of the best of the twelve-part ‘musical adventure’ series. Featuring the top established and emerging artists within the booming genres of bluegrass, Neo-Folk, gospel, roots, and Americana genres.
Looking for some other cool concerts to watch? Try these:
Baz Luhrman, who directed two of my fav movies- Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge, will turn next to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby. Leonardo diCaprio will play Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, who finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby played by Tobey Maguire.
Never read the book? Or is sophomore English a dim memory? Plenty of time to refresh your memory since the movie will be out at the end of the year.
The Oscars are coming up soon and I can’t wait to see who wins this year. Awards season is my very favorite of all the seasons! Regardless of how the voting goes this time around, I already know the winner this year; its books! Eleven films based on books were nominated for one of the main awards, and two-thirds of the Best Picture nominations this year were based on books. If you’re itching to read the stories behind the movies try check out some of these.
*The Iron Lady by John Campbell- nominated for Best Actress.
*Did you know that we share materials with libraries all over the Ohio, so if there is an item you are looking for that is not in our system, chance are we can find it for you in our MORE system!
As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, there will be many commemorative books released and events scheduled. (Director James Cameron is releasing a 3D version of his prize-winning film, Titanic, starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet on April 6.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVrqfYjkTdQ
If you are interested in focusing on this tragic event for your book club this spring, I can think of no better title to recommend than Allan Wolf’s The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices From the Titanic. This work of fiction reads like a spellbinding work of non-fiction, history and poetry all in one.
The tale of the maiden voyage is told through the voices of over a dozen passengers, crew members, a ship’s rat and even the fateful iceberg itself. Each voice tells its story for a page or two, from the construction of the ship, to its departure and the voyage where it met its destiny:
My name is John Snow.
You could say that my living is death.
I am the undertaker.
I have come for the bodies.
(John Snow the Undertaker)
The Millionaire thinks Titanic is a ship of pleasure.
The Immigrant thinks the Titanic is a ship of dreams.
But they are both wrong. For Titanic is not a ship at all.
Titanic is just good business. Very good business.
(Bruce Ismay the Businessman)
I am the Ice. I see tides ebb and flow.
I’ve watched civilizations come and go,
give birth, destroy, restore, be gone, begin …
now that my emergence is complete, there is a certain ship I
long to meet …
You see, Titanic, like a beehive, is constructed of cells…
if one cell was to flood, the water could be contained in that compartment alone.
In fact, four cells could be flooded all at once and still Titanic would not flounder.
The odds of a breach in five compartments at once…
Well, I’m not a gambling man, especially when lives are at stake,
but if I did make the bet, I daresay I’d be set for life.
(Thomas Andrews, Titanic Shipbuilder)
I see, then, a blackness in the blackness,
a certain solid quality to the night
that makes me shake my head.
a whale? a rock? a derelict ship?
Still a ways off. Something small.
No. Bigger. Closer. Growing larger
with every passing second …
“Iceberg,” I say.
“Iceberg, straight ahead!”
(Frederick Fleet, The Lookout)
This is one of those books that you will sacrifice sleep to finish, even though you already know how the story ends. Don’t skip the Author’s Note at the end of the book – it is filled with over 20 pages of fascinating facts about the ship and its passengers that you may never have heard before!
Do you remember the story of the first book, published in 1994? Seventeen titles have been released in the series since then, with the latest, Explosive Eighteen, just out in November 2011. It’s time to refresh your memory of the story that started it all before the movie hits the theaters.
Pick up a copy of the book in regular or large print or on CD at the library. Plan to attend the Bethel Branch Book Discussion Group at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, January 9th to share your likes and dislikes about the book and the series, and to see a trailer of the upcoming movie.
What better way to warm up the early January cold nights than to re-visit the character, Stephanie Plum, from the beginning, or if you haven’t read books by this author, to start a new series, then talk about it with friendly, fellow bibliophiles? Call the Bethel Branch Library at 513-734-2619 for a copy today.