Tag Archives: DVD

Jamie’s Staff Picks for May

Summer Heights HighSummer_Heights_High_DVD

“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 or Seinfeld 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).

 

Youth Novelsyouth novels
Lykke Li

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/.

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Jamie’s Staff Picks for April

Hell or High Waterhell_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.

Volume One She_&_Him_-_Volume_One.jpg
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/.

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Movies for Spring

The weather is finally warming up! Let’s get out of the winter doldrums with some colorful, (mostly) happy movies for spring.

about timeAbout Time — “The night after another unsatisfactory New Year party, Tim’s father tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. Tim can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life, so he decides to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend. But as his unusual life progresses, Tim discovers that, in the end, making the most of life may not need time travel at all.”

Babe — “A piglet destined for eventual butchering arrives at the farmyard, is adopted by an old sheep dog, and discovers a special secret to success.”

Bride and Prejudice — “Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, with a Bride-and-prejudiceBollywood twist. In Ammritsar, the determined Mrs. Bakshi sets out to find matches for her four daughters. Second sister, Lalita, meets American Will Darcy – is it love?”

A Bug’s Life — “Journey inside the miniature world of bugs where an ant named Flik hires warrior bugs to defend his colony from a horde of freeloading grasshoppers.”

Emma — “Emma Woodhouse is a young woman who, having engineered the marriage of her companion, turns her attention toward making a match for the local vicar and her new protegée, Harriet Smith. Her one voice of reason and restraint is Mr. Knightley, who has known her since she was a child and who watches her behaviour with wry amusement and sometimes with real anger. Emma presides over the small provincial world of Highbury with enthusiasm, but she will find it is all too easy to confuse good intentions with self-gratification.”

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off — “A high school student is determined to get a day off with his friends by outwitting his principal.”

happy_go_luckyHappy Go Lucky — “Poppy is a life-loving and irrepressibly cheerful primary school teacher.
She is thirty years old, single, and infinitely optimistic and accepting. She lives with her best friend and flatmate Zoe in London. She is tested by a repressed driving instructor with anger problems, and, in turn, she decides to test him. She has exciting flamenco lessons, an encounter with a homeless man, an argument with her pregnant sister, and a love-affair with the social worker guiding one of her students.”

House of Flying Daggers — “During the reign of the Tang dynasty in China, a secret organization called “The House of the Flying Daggers” rises and opposes the government. Leo is a police officer who sends officer Jin to investigate a young dancer named Mei, claiming that she has ties to the “Flying Daggers” organization. Leo ends up arresting Mei, only to have Jin break her free in a plot to gain her trust and lead the police to the new leader of the secret organization. But things are far more complicated than they seem.”

The Lorax — “In a place where the brown Bar-ba-loots frisk and the Humming-Fish splash around, you will find the Lorax. The Lorax speaks of the trees, which the Once-ler is chopping down as fast as he pleases. Will the Once-ler change his destructive ways and heed the wise warnings of the Lorax?”

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day — “In 1939 London, Miss Guinevere Pettigrew is a middle-aged miss pettigrew lives for a daygoverness who finds herself once again unfairly dismissed from her job. Now she must seize the day if she wants a job. She does this by intercepting an employment assignment outside of her comfort level as social secretary. Arriving at a penthouse apartment for the interview, Miss Pettigrew is catapulted into the glamorous world and dizzying social whirl of an American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse. Suddenly, Miss Pettigrew finds herself swept into the world of high society.”

Moonrise Kingdom — “Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore, and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle.”

philadelphia storyThe Philadelphia Story — “A sophisticated romantic comedy about a rich, spoiled socialite who learns some things about who she is and what she really wants on the eve of her second marriage.”

The Secret Garden — “A young orphan named Mary is sent to live at the dark and foreboding English estate of her widowed uncle. She discovers a secret garden which was abandoned after a tragic accident. With the help of her crippled cousin Colin, and Dickon the country boy, her spirit is gradually reawakened as they bring the garden back to life.”

The Sound of Music — “Julie Andrews lights up the screen as Maria, the spirited young woman who leaves the convent to become a governess to the seven young children of Captain von Trapp, an autocratic widower whose strict household rules leave no room for music or merriment.”

All summaries from http://catalog.ccls.org/.

 

 

 

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Jamie’s Staff Picks for March

Roseanneroseanne

“‘Roseanne’ is the story of a working class family struggling with life’s essential problems: marriage, children, money, and parents-in-law.”

I’ve been on maternity leave for the last few months and during the long days that I spent trapped under a sleeping infant, I discovered that Roseanne reruns were on for half the day every weekday. I hadn’t watched the show in years, but I still found it to be so funny and relevant. I particularly love the relationship between Roseanne and Dan and the way that they find humor in every day challenges, and are able to make even the most mundane life details entertaining. I think a lot of families can relate to their brand of sarcastic, sardonic humor. The writing on the show is punchy and the jokes are fresh– is it any surprise that Amy Sherman-Palladino, of Gilmore Girls fame, got her start writing on Roseanne? I highly recommend putting this show on as a backdrop to your spring cleaning, or whatever other chores you’ve been putting off– it will make it a lot more fun.

 

Hunt for the WilderpeopleHunt_for_the_Wilderpeople

“Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options.”

This was one of my favorite movies of 2016. Made by the director of another favorite movie of mine, What We Do in the Shadows, this movie features Taika Waititi’s oddball humor in an endearing buddy adventure.Sam Neill basically plays the same character that he plays in Jurassic Park— the grumpy adult who isn’t that into kids, but finds himself stuck with one anyway, and grows to enjoy his company– a role at which he excels. I also really liked Julian Dennison, who plays Ricky, a down-and-out kid with an attitude who starts to turn himself around when shown a little kindness and respect. A super funny and heartwarming tale!

All summaries taken from http://catalog.ccls.org/.

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Jamie’s Staff Picks for December

It’s a Wonderful Life its-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 once
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.

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New to CCL — Binge Boxes!

binge-box

The Multimedia Department at Chester County Library has added 17 Binge Boxes to our collection. “What are Binge Boxes?!” you ask? They are mini movie collections of typically 4-6 DVDs set around a theme that you can rent for one week for $3.18. Binge Boxes are great for sleepovers, movie nights, holiday weekends, or building up your film knowledge.

Below is a listing of the Binge Boxes we currently have. Check them out!

  • Biopics — A Beautiful Mind, The Blind Side, Dallas Buyers Club, Julie & Julia, The King’s Speech, and Ray
  • Daniel Craig as 007 — Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre
  • Disney Classics — Bambi, Fantasia, The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Disney Princesses — Cinderella, Frozen, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, The Princess and the Frog, and Sleeping Beauty
  • Foreign Favorites — City of God, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, A Royal Affair, Rust and Bone, and A Separation
  • Girls Night In — Baby Mama, Bridesmaids, Dirty Dancing, The Heat, Trainwreck, and 27 Dresses
  • Holiday Favorites — A Christmas Story, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, Home Alone, and Miracle on 34th Street
  • The Hunger Games — The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay: Part 1, and Mockingjay: Part 2
  • John Hughes — The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and Weird Science
  • Marvel’s The Avengers — Captain America: The First Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Thor, and Thor: The Dark World
  • Martin Scorsese — Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, The Aviator, The Departed, Goodfellas, and Raging Bull
  • Page to Screen — The Devil Wears PradaGone with the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath, The Pelican Brief and Silver Linings Playbook
  • Pixar — Cars, Finding Nemo, Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 1, Ratatouille, Toy Story, and Up
  • Sleepover Movies — A Cinderella Story, Clueless, Miss Congeniality, She’s the Man, Sleepover, and 10 Things I Hate About You
  • Sports Favorites — Bull Durham, Hoosiers, Invincible, Miracle, and Rocky
  • Stage to Screen — Grease, Into the Woods, Les Misérables, My Fair Lady, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Sound of Music
  • Star Wars–Han Solo — Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

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TV Shows That Will Help You Forget that You’re Not at the Beach

Perhaps, like me, you’re not sure if you’re going to make it to the beach this summer. Here are a few titles that we have in our collection that are not only engrossing, but have a summer vibe that will at least help you feel like you’re participating in summer! (They will also work for unexpected rainy days on vacation.)

The Affairthe affair

This show begins almost as an experiment in memory and self-representation. The episodes often re-tell the same storyline from each character’s point of view, and the way that they see themselves and others in comparison to how the other characters view them is fascinating. The major dramatic sequences of this show take place in the beach town of Montauk, and though I’ve never been there, I definitely want to see it now after watching this show.

Hello Ladieshello ladies

This show may not be for everyone. Stephen Merchant’s humor can be painfully awkward at times (see: both the UK The Office and the US The Office— he had a hand in both), but I think for the right person it can be highly amusing. This show is set in LA and while I haven’t lived there, it seems to me that it is one of the best at capturing the promise and heartbreak of the place: Stephen’s character Stuart has re-created himself in this trendy and happening locale in the hopes of capturing himself a lady (or 50). Stuart always comes up empty-handed, and his repeated heartbreak is totally endearing. Add in the beautiful shots of the LA skyline mixed with the Hall and Oates inspired soundtrack, and you will definitely feel like you’re on an LA vacation.

Reven8erevenge

Set in the Hamptons amongst the wealthy and elite, this show follows one woman’s plan for revenge against the preeminent socialite in town whom she blames for destroying the life of her father. This show is soap-opera-level ridiculous, but so fun to watch, mostly because it is so self-aware.

 

The O.C.the oc

While this show has perhaps become a punchline for teen soap operas, there’s no denying that it is not only entertaining but funny. This show was produced by Josh Schwartz, the same man responsible for Gossip Girl and Chuck. I’ve always found his shows to be light and witty with the occasional dose of seriousness, and his characters are always excellent. The O.C. is perhaps slightly more heavy than the other two, but the California vibes and not-too-deep plot lines are perfect for summer.

 

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Zoey’s Staff Picks for September

Here’s what I picked for this month, including short reviews:

Girls girls
wr. & dir. Lena Dunham ft. Allison Williams, Adam Driver, and Jemima Kirke

“From writer/director/actor Lena Dunham and comedy veteran Judd Apatow, this scripted half-hour series focuses on a group of 20-something women in New York and their adventures in post-collegiate floundering. Over the course of Season 1’s ten episodes, the four girls try to figure out what they want from life, from boys, from themselves and each other.”

I’m only on Season 3 at the moment but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to rant and rave about Girls for my monthly staff pick. I was a little hesitant to pick up Girls due to the media’s mixed reaction to its success and my indifference for Dunham’s Tiny Furniture. I am, however, glad that I gave the show a try because I instantly fell in love. Dunham is fearless when it comes to writing and being on screen. She tackles controversial topics like mental illness, not-so-great relationships and post-collegiate hardships with grace and a genuine sense of humor. What resonates with me the most is the dense honesty that is put into the four main characters. Many people are turned off by self-centered Hannah, naive Marnie, unreliable Jessa, and immature Shoshanna but I adore how the characters are imperfect. Anyone and everyone can relate to a character in Girls. You can’t expect T.V. show characters (or characters in general for that matter…) to be perfect and well rounded, that’s not realistic. Dunham really hits the nail on the head when portraying real life people. I’m in my “20 something’s,” a recent college graduate and my relationships with my friends do, in fact, echo some of the drama that surrounds Girls. Even though you may not be a 20 year old girl living in NYC with little to no paychecks, still give this show a shot. Dunham’s fresh and witty writing won’t disappoint. Don’t take the show too seriously, as some people may do. While the show does discuss real life topics, it’s also a comedy. At the end of the day, you’re meant to laugh at the ridiculous, and often times eccentric, plots the girls find themselves in.

 

The Book Thief book thief
by Markus Zusak

“Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel– a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.”

It may seem strange that I’m going from discussing the comical Girls to the thought provoking and critically acclaimed audiobook, The Book Thief. Perhaps my September Staff Picks attest to my wide ranging tastes in, well… everything. Don’t let the genre placement (Young Adult) dissuade you from reveling in Zusak’s writing. I recommend this audiobook to all ages. What makes The Book Thief unique is the featuring of Death as the narrator and the differing perspectives Zusak offers. The Book Thief follows what it was like growing up in a sympathetic German household. Forced to coincide with the Nazis, orphan Liesel, and her foster family, must face the terror of rebellion and compassion for those attacked during World War II. There is a philosophical element present, which I think sets the book apart from the rest. Liesel, towards the beginning her journey, did not know how to read but learns to throughout the book. Towards the climax of the novel, when the frail Jewish man arrives, she is charged with compassion and the desire to build a relationship with the him—they achieve this through books and words. The Book Thief validates the strengths of the human spirit and how even the smallest amount of love can save someone’s life.

Check out the movie adaptation too. In my opinion, it is one of the best book to movie adaptations of 2013.

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Zoey’s Staff Picks for August

Here’s what I picked for this month including short reviews:

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby disappearance of eleanor
Dir. Ned Benson; Ft. Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Viola Davis

“Once happily married, Connor and Eleanor suddenly find themselves as strangers longing to understand each other in the wake of tragedy. The film explores the couple’s story as they try to reclaim the life and love they once knew and pick up the pieces of a past that may be too far gone”

What I think is the most unique feature of this film is that Benson split the film into three: “Him”, “Her”, and “Them.” The three films depict differing perspectives between Connor and Eleanor and the way it affects how or even if the couple decides to pick up the pieces of their broken relationship. The dissonance caused by the the two differing experiences is realistic and in return makes it easier for anyone to resonant with the characters. Watching all three, instead of just “Them”, as some people suggest, definitely adds more to the experience. I suggest watching “Him” or “Her” first then “Them.” Benson also does a phenomenal job with his cinematography, he covers traumatic and triggering life events in a demure and sophisticated way.

 

The Secret Scripture secret scripture
By Sebastian Barry

“Roseanne McNulty, once one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland, is now an elderly patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital. As her hundredth year draws near, she decides to record the events of her life, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards. Meanwhile, the hospital is preparing to close and is evaluating its patients to determine whether they can return to society. Dr. Grene, Roseanne’s caretaker, takes a special interest in her case. In his research, he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne’s life than what she recalls.”

I first read this book during one of my undergraduate senior seminars. The Secret Scripture was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2008 but won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize that same year. Barry’s work gave interesting insight into the the hardships during the Irish Revolution that permanently and dramatically affected Ireland. I chose this audiobook because of the representation of women in 20th century Ireland. Women were considered lesser to men and were often thrown into mental institutions due to “hysteria,” a disease inaccurately specific to women. Roseanne’s innocence and naivety reflect the hardships she has had to overcome when she grew up much too quickly at such a young age. There is a surprising twist at the end that I particularly enjoyed, though some may argue that the twist cost Barry the Man Booker prize.

 

 

 

 

 

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Staff Review: Ruby Sparks

As this indie drama ruby sparkscommences, we watch the struggles of the once-prodigal writer Calvin (Little Miss Sunshine‘s Paul Dano). Preferring solitude and the company of his type-writer, Calvin at first relies upon his therapist (Elliot Gould) and his family (Chris Messina, Annette Bening, and Antonio Banderas) to draw him out. Yet upon receiving a writing assignment, Calvin finds that his drive to write renews with a vengeance. Becoming passionately and romantically involved in his new character, Ruby Sparks (Broadway actress/playwright Zoe Kazan), Calvin finds that his dreams and waking thoughts are no longer his own. When a flesh and blood Ruby Sparks suddenly and magically appears, neither Calvin nor his family question her. What does come into question, however, are Calvin’s ideas surrounding women, love and his choices as a writer, for he can control Ruby through his typewriter.

Paul Dano’s convincing performance as a lost writer combined with Zoe Kazan’s quirky sweetness allows for a fun chemistry to develop between them on screen (and off screen–they date in real life as well). Overall Ruby Sparks proposes interesting questions concerning love, purpose, motivation, and power, and does not let viewers down. Pick up your copy at the Chester County Library today!

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