Summary: “A team of terrorists has seized a building in L.A. and taken hostages. A New York cop, in town to spend Christmas with his estranged wife, is the only hope for the people held by the savage criminals.”
A must-watch movie for the holidays in my house! It’s not Christmas until the Nakatomi building has been taken over and you hear, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, Ho, Ho.” This movie is filled with pop culture references, endlessly quotable lines, and explosions. It may be a welcome break for you from the regular heartwarming holiday fare.
Dark Was the Night
This is a compilation of new songs and covers by the best in indie rock, put together to raise money to fight AIDS. This album features amazing collaborations by artists like Feist and Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service) or David Byrne (of Talking Heads) and The Dirty Projectors.
Summary: ” Former Senator Selina Meyer was a charismatic leader and a rising star in her party with her eye on the White House, then she became Vice President. VEEP follows the whirlwind day-to day existence of Vice President Meyer as she puts out political fires, juggles a busy public schedule and demanding private life, and defends the President’s interests, even as she tries to improve her dysfunctional relationship with the Chief Executive.”
A wonderfully irreverent, cringingly funny show about a power-hungry, self-absorbed politician and her bumbling staff. I was almost going to call Selina and her staff “inept,” but that doesn’t really describe it. In some ways they are surprisingly skilled, but I think they are all generally so busy trying to look good and one-up others, and get so caught up in the heart-racing insanity of running the country, that they make many, many, missteps. By the same token, though, they often find themselves bumbling their way to a win. Watching VEEP is sort of like tossing a coin to predict how these horrible people are going to come out of whatever predicament they are in. However, I think what really keeps me watching, other than the amazing performances and right-on comedic timing of this ensemble cast, is the colorful and creative insults that they throw at one another. This Office of the Vice President would be a terrible place to work if you were in it, but it’s oh-so-entertaining to watch.
If you like VEEP and are looking for something similar, we also have Armando Iannucci’s British political TV show, The Thick of It, and similarly-structured movie (which is great), In the Loop.
Jason Isbell has been quite open about his struggles with alcoholism, and this album seems to address those struggles, but not in an obviously autobiographical way. Each song tells the story of a different character, addressing different aspects of life that I think Isbell can relate to as he fights his daily battle to stay sober. If you enjoy the more alternative rock side of country music, then I highly recommend checking this album out.
Apologies for the lateness of this post–with summer arriving, the library has been very busy! Better late than never…
“Matt King is an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.”
I often refer to this movie as the male version of Steel Magnolias. It’s an emotional and touching drama dealing with family and death, but for the most part it’s funny and real. The first time that I watched this movie, I had never seen Shailene Woodley in anything before and I was extremely impressed by her performance. George Clooney, as always, is great.
Love & Hate
I checked out this album because I wanted to hear more after Michael Kiwanuka’s song “Cold Little Heart” was used as the opening credit song for Big Little Lies (which also has Shailene Woodley!). After listening, “Cold Little Heart” is definitely still a standout track amongst the highly-orchestrated retro-soul songs, but “Black Man in a White World” is a close second for its timeliness and loneliness even with its punchy hand claps. It might take a few listens to sink into this one, but it’s definitely worthwhile.
La La Land
“A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. This original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing dreams.”
I saw this movie in theaters and I LOVED it. I’ve heard some people criticize it for being another movie where Hollywood is patting itself on the back, but I’m a sucker for the LA landscape (especially that view from the Griffith Observatory featured in the iconic scene on the poster), and I apparently can’t turn down a good “actor/musician tries to make it” story. I loved the songs and had them stuck in my head for days afterward. I also wept uncontrollably at the ending (but that also could be because I was nine months pregnant at the time…). It was heartbreaking and beautiful. I can’t wait to watch this movie again.
I think a lot of people expect all Feist albums to have the cutesiness of “1234.” Not that I don’t love “1234,” but this album definitely has a more dramatic, lonely vibe and I really enjoyed it. I also found it to be great for summer night listening. The tracks fade in and out with sounds of crickets and passing car radios which really set the scene. My favorite tracks are “I Wish I Didn’t Miss You” and “A Man is Not His Song.”
All summaries from http://catalog.ccls.org/.
Summer Heights High
“In this mockumentary series set in a real Australian high school, comedian Chris Lilley brings to life three hilarious characters: Jonah, a 13-year-old delinquent breakdancer from Tonga; Mr. G, an ego-driven drama teacher with delusional showbiz dreams; and Ja’mie, a spoiled private school girl on a student exchange.”
Probably the most well-known of Chris Lilley’s several forays into mockumentary, this series really established one of his signature characters, Ja’mie. Lilley effectively skewers several fixtures of school life that I think any student can relate to, Australian or no: the overly self-important teacher; the snobby and superficial bully; the disruptive class clown. If you enjoy shows like The Office
where the characters aren’t exactly the most lovable people, but their awkward antics are hilarious, you will enjoy this show (though you will probably develop a soft spot for Jonah, Lilley’s troubled 13-year-old boy from Tonga).
This album is great for both dance hits as well as more soulful, introspective tracks. Li’s voice oscillates from light and fanciful to low and mournful. I like that most of the tracks are simply-arranged– there’s definitely something to be said for going for the understated sound rather than something overly-produced. My favorite tracks are “Little Bit,” “I’m Good, I’m Gone,” and “Breaking It Up.”
All summaries from http://catalog.ccls.org/.
Hell or High Water
“A divorced West Texas dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate money making scheme in order to save their family’s farm from foreclosure.”
This modern-day western features excellent performances by Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, and adapts the genre to themes that are common discussion points in this day and age: the generational conveyance of poverty, the shady dealings of financial institutions, the dying off of small towns that used to be brimming with farming and industry. Every single character in this movie is fully-conceived, whether it’s the bank-robbing brothers, the Texas Rangers tracking them, or the waitresses, bank tellers, or bank customers who only appear for one memorable scene. You won’t regret taking an hour and a half to sit down and watch this movie! One of the best to come out in 2016.
She & Him
This album was Zooey Deschanel’s debut as a singer/songwriter in partnership with M. Ward, and it’s completely lovely. It’s full of romantic pop songs with a vintage feel, and her voice has a wonderful soulful crackleyness. As the weather warms up, this album would be great listening for gardening outside or having a backyard picnic.
All summaries from http://catalog.ccls.org/.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Summary: “An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would had been like if he never existed. A Christmas classic.”
This movie probably does not need any promotion, but it is nonetheless one of my favorite Christmas movies and is on my “Required Christmas Movie” watching list every year. I can’t let the holiday go by without seeing the gym floor open up to reveal the pool underneath at the dance, or watching George lasso the moon, and crying at the end when the town comes together to help him. The holidays can be sad just as much as they can be happy, so if you are in need of something life-affirming, this should be on your watch list this month too.
P.S. You can rent this DVD individually using the link at the top of this post OR you can rent it as part of our Holiday Favorites Binge Box! For more information on Binge Boxes, see this post.
Once: music from the motion picture
Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
An excellent soundtrack from this sort-of-musical. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend checking it out. This is definitely not your typical musical, and the soundtrack is more of a folksy rock/pop album than a broadway show-stopper. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are a great pair both on screen and musically; if you enjoy singer-songwriter types, then this will be right up your alley. Their song “Falling Slowly” won an Academy Award, and this soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy.
Images and summaries from catalog.ccls.org.
In a surprising decision, the Swedish Academy decided to name Bob Dylan for its 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” If you’re interested in exploring Dylan’s catalog, the library has many of his albums available. Here’s a selection of his albums that we have– though there are many more!
Blood on the Tracks (1974)
Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
All images from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/readers-poll-the-best-bob-dylan-albums-of-all-time-20120912