Author Archive for Bond Drager
Anne talks about Sebastian Junger’s book, War; Patty shows off a novel about high end art thieves and forgeries and a book about making cities walkable as they grow.
Check out these great recommendations!
Items mentioned include
a film by Jules Dassin
Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
Safari: A Photicular Book
by Dan Kainen and Carol Kaufmann
This video features Susan Craig, Jason Paulios, Nick Twemlow, and Kara Logsden. Items mentioned include:
Cooking off the Clock by Elizabeth Falkner
Baking out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith
R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike
The Green Lake is Awake by Joseph Ceravalo
The Walnut Tree by Charles Todd
It’s never been a better time to be a TV junkie. In my humble opinion, the best shows of the moment are on cable. Fortunately you don’t have to sign a cable contract to check out some of these great series. A few of my personal favorites in the library’s DVD collection are Mad Men and Breaking Bad, which live on AMC; HBO has Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, and Homeland is on Showtime.
Mad Men is polarizing – people seem to either love it or hate it. If you’re not familiar with the show, it follows an ad executive at a firm in Manhattan starting in the late fifties and moving into the sixties. Jon Hamm gets a lot of praise for his portrayal of the main character, a mysterious guy with a lot of secrets in his past. The supporting cast is great as well – and there is humor to be found in some of the side plots. In its most recent season it has grown beyond rediscovering the novelties of bygone eras to a full exploration of character, ethics, and morality. In my opinion, it’s one of the only shows on television that is truly attempting to address women’s and racial issues head on. Though its setting is the sixties, Mad Men somehow feels thoroughly modern in its approach. It’s a serious show, but if you’re willing to invest, it pays dividends. ICPL has all five seasons in the catalog. Season six is scheduled to air sometime in 2013.
For those who like a little more action, I’d suggest Breaking Bad. This show is a great combo – impressive characters and writing along with great action and plot twists. The best part of the show is Bryan Cranston. It’s hard not to want to watch everything this guy does. He plays a high school chemistry teacher who finds out he has cancer, then convinces a former student (Aaron Paul) to help him get into the meth business. If you have any issues with violence and gore, you should probably move on. This is addictive television at its best. The library has seasons one through four on DVD. Season five began airing in the fall of this year, and the series will conclude in summer 2013 with its final episodes.
If you like Downton Abbey and Goodfellas, you’ll love Boardwalk Empire. ICPL has the first two seasons in the DVD catalog (Season three just finished airing this month). HBO spent eighteen million dollars on just the pilot episode, which included Martin Scorsese as its director. I watched for the wonderful period costumes and production design; I stayed for the characters and stories of gangsters and politics in prohibition-era New Jersey.
When I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones, I was hooked. Full confession: I’ve never read any of the books, but I’m a big fan of the show. I do have difficulty keeping track of the many characters and locations in the series (an interesting novelty has the title sequence over a map of the world in which the story takes place, much like you would see at the beginning of a novel). The show follows several kingdoms on fictional continents with lots of fantastical elements thrown in. Game of Thrones is doing some of the most creative and whimsical TV around. We have season one on DVD, and season two’s DVD will be released in February 2013, just about a month before season three begins airing.
Homeland is a show that’s just hitting the radar for a lot of people. It has won a slew of awards this year. Like Breaking Bad, it’s quite addictive. This one is a political thriller following a CIA agent who may or may not be mentally ill following a recently returned POW who may or may not be an agent of Al Qaeda. It’s very twisty turny and really good. The library has season one of this series on DVD, and season two just finished airing.
I hope you’ll stop in and check out all our great TV dramas on DVD!
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is at once terrifying and beautiful. Critics have pointed out that one could pause the film at any frame and find herself staring at a work of art.
The film has had a rocky journey to modern audiences. The original print was lost to fire shortly after its premiere, and though Dreyer attempted to recut the film from outtakes, the filmmakers believed the original cut to be lost. Then, the second negative was lost to yet another fire. Over the decades, many corrupted versions of the film were circulated, but none quite the same as the original. In a stranger than fiction turn of events, a nearly complete print of the Danish version of the film was discovered in 1981 in the janitor’s closet of a mental institution in Oslo, Norway. This print was restored, and the Criterion Collection version we have today is believed to be very close to the filmmakers’ intended vision.
The film tells the story of Joan of Arc after she’s captured by the British, and subsequently interrogated and tortured. The story is told through close ups of faces, and high contrast photography creates a dark, disturbing mood. As one blogger notes, “the 180 degree rule is not just broken, but flung down and danced upon. The result is disorienting and a little exhausting.”
Though this was Renee Maria Falconetti’s only prominent film role, she definitely left her mark; she plays Joan with a passion and grace that have been called “the finest performance ever recorded on film.”
A discussion of the film must also mention the wonderful score that Criterion has included with their DVD version. It is Richard Einhorn’s “Voices of Light,” an original opera inspired by the film. It compliments the intensity of Dreyer’s images beautifully, and enhances the viewer’s experience.
Personally, I recommend watching it on the largest screen possible with the volume set to loud. It’s the kind of film that washes over you. If you like films that are beautiful, full of emotion, and guaranteed to make you think, then this is one you can’t miss.
Recently, an article popped up on the interwebs which outlined a list of foreign films Martin Scorsese recommended a young filmmaker watch. At first glance I thought it looked like a pretty good list. (If you’re curious, the list is at the bottom of this post). Being a bit of a geek for this type of thing, I immediately created a spreadsheet with each title in the hopes that I might be able to watch or rewatch a few, if not all, of these gems. The first of the list I picked up is the French classic fantasty, Beauty and the Beast, from 1946.
This is a lovely, whimsical but dark film which reminded me quite a bit of The Wizard of Oz in its tone. Jean Marais’s Beast, while probably more frightening at the time of the film’s release, does read a bit cheesy with a modern viewing, but after a few minutes I no longer noticed. In fact, his low, growling voice reminded me a bit of Christian Bale’s Batman. Josette Day is lovely as Belle. She’s stunningly beautiful, and I also enjoyed her lavishly romantic haute couture gowns.
This film is a great example of early special effects. I found them to be quite enchanting, and I recognized many that have inspired modern films. It’s worth mentioning that a scene from the HBO miniseries Angels in America had an homage which included the candelabras held by arms and the “living statues.” ‘
According to IMDB, Jean Cocteau, the filmmaker, became ill during filming and had to be hospitalized and briefly replaced on set by René Clément. Cocteau is known for a great deal of additional artistic work including the films Orphée and Les Enfants Terribles.
In the 1990s, the American composer Phillip Glass began composing a trilogy of operas which were inspired by Jean Cocteau’s films and novels. For Beauty and the Beast, Glass composed an opera which coincided with the film itself. This allowed for the opera to be performed by live musicians and performers with the film playing in the background. The Criterion Collection version of the DVD (which is what the library has in its catalog) includes an option to view the film with its original soundtrack or with Glass’ opera as the audio track. Personally, I enjoyed both soundtrack options.
Romantic, enchanting, and a landmark example of early fantasy cinema, Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast holds up well nearly 70 years later. ~Enjoy.