Big Little Lies
I love the fact that this is a miniseries and I am kind of hoping that they do not make a second season, as is rumored (though I’m sure I would watch anyway). Since it’s based on a book and the “first” season completely covers the material, there’s a concrete beginning, middle and end. No need to mess with something so perfect as this! The plot is enticing, and you will find yourself theorizing on the various mysteries going on amongst the children and parents of Otter Bay Elementary. The acting is fantastic; Nicole Kidman got a lot of attention for the series, but I found Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline to be the most compelling. The Monterey scenery with its beautiful bay views from these women’s luxury homes will make you want to get up and move there immediately (if only we could all afford it). The best part about this series, however, is the soundtrack and the innovative way the music is integrated into the action of the show. This was definitely one of my favorite TV shows of 2017.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman
A fantastical and somewhat terrifying allegory for childhood. A small boy finds magic, wonder, and terror all contained within the country lane on which he lives. The story reminded me so much of how big a world the street that I lived on seemed as a child and the endless possibilities for adventure and discovery that my neighbors and I found there. I found myself believing that the narrator was truthful about what had happened to him, but at the same time… maybe it was just an elaborately imagined tale to cope with different things going on in his life, something that he convinced himself was real? Each scenario is somehow plausible, and the dual possibilities make the text even more interesting. I don’t think this story is extremely scary, but don’t be fooled by the fact that the protagonist is seven years old. This does not preclude him from danger, even from those who are supposed to protect him. A great tale for dark and cold winter!
Also available as an ebook and eaudiobook on OverDrive and Libby.
The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
Read by Neil Gaiman
Summary: Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.
I think any Harry Potter fan would really enjoy this book. Orphaned boy? Check. Mysterious prophecy? Check. Magical underworld? Check. Someone out to kill said orphaned boy? Check. My only criticism is that I think Gaiman could go into more depth with world-building in this book, and I’m hoping he’ll eventually write a sequel (or sequels?) so that he can. I enjoyed Gaiman’s narration and the voices he did for the different characters; whenever I think of the name “Nobody Owens,” I now think of it in Gaiman’s British accent. There’s also something great about listening to characters express their lines in a book in the way that the author imagined it. Definitely worth checking out no matter what age you are!
Also available as an ebook and audiobook using the Libby and OverDrive apps here.
Summary: Husband and wife writing team Sean and Beverly can’t wait to bring their successful British television series across the pond to make it big in America. But in true Hollywood fashion, it quickly becomes a laughable, cliched sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc who not only messes with their beloved show, but rocks the foundation of their relationship. So now, even if they survive the absurdity of show business, will their marriage survive Matt LeBlanc?
Matt LeBlanc must feel pretty vindicated that this show has gotten great critical reception after his disastrous Joey spinoff. He plays a fictionalized version of himself in a timeline where he just kept going from bad project to bad project after Joey, rather than taking a break and being more selective as he did in real life. He is driven by the desire to be taken seriously, but often finds himself accepting projects for the money. This version of LeBlanc is a less lovable Joey Tribbiani, and this show in general is far more cynical than Friends ever was. It really demonstrates that LeBlanc has great comedic range, however. Joey tended toward more bombastic and expressive outbursts, while the fictional LeBlanc is far more subdued but still funny. It also helps that the show is well-written and the other cast members are great– I was a fan of Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig from the excellent show Green Wing, and have also really enjoyed Kathleen Rose Perkins’ character Carol. Also, like all good shows, this one knows when to exit: the last season is airing now.
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.
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/.
“‘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 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/.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.