Tag Archives: mf&a

Dysfunctional Fun for the Holidays

conte-noel

Family love is messy, clinging and of an annoying and repetitive pattern… like bad wallpaper. -Friedrich Nietzsche

This year, for the first time in many years, I am heading home for the holidays. Most of my family live in Oregon, and as much as I’d like to see them every year for the holiday season, I don’t like dealing with airports. Rare circumstances are bringing me home this year though, and I’m really looking forward to it — despite having to deal with air travel and lengthy flights.

 

I’m pretty fortunate in that my family is fairly low-key and drama free during the holidays. Sure, we have our political squabbles, but we mostly hang out and eat, watch movies and plays cards. [Side note: If I win at cards my dad will say it is “luck,” and if he wins it is inevitably due to “skill.”]

 

If you too are visiting loved ones this holiday season, take a moment to ponder how lucky you are that you don’t belong to the following families.
 

contenoel

A Christmas Tale

A bone marrow transplant, mental illness, self-injury, alienation, general family dysfunction and Catherine Deneuve. It’s a very French holiday film!

cityisland

City Island

The Rizzo family is sent into turmoil when the patriarch of the family brings home an ex-con to stay with them. Everyone in this family has a secret, but no one’s sharing, and the consequences could be incredibly uncomfortable.

familystone

The Family Stone

The Stone family presents a united front when eldest son Everett brings home his fiancé, Meredith, whom they all despise. Feeling out of place, Meredith begs her sister to join her in the Stone household, setting off a series of further complications.

familypreys

The Family That Preys

Two families are torn apart by ambition, secrets and infidelity — in the end, will they come back stronger than ever?

kidsallright

The Kids Are All Right

Two moms, two kids … and one sperm donor interloping with family affairs. This is a sweet comedy where the kids of the title may have it more together than the adults.

littlemiss

Little Miss Sunshine

A dysfunctional and emotionally bankrupt family is brought together when the youngest member of the clan is accepted into a beauty pageant. Despite complications due to drugs, Nietzsche and a recent suicide attempt, the family ultimately triumphs.

idiotbrother

Our Idiot Brother

When idealistic and sweet-natured Ned is kicked out by his hippy girlfriend, he decides to visit each of his three sisters, quickly sending each of their lives into disaster.

royalten

The Royal Tenenbaums

Cancer, resentment, secrets, depression, attempted suicide, unrequited love — it’s all here.

stepbros

Step Brothers

Two stunted man-children (Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly) must learn to get along after their mother and father  marry.

16candles

Sixteen Candles

Poor Samantha. All she wants is for someone in her family to remember that it’s her sweet 16th birthday — unfortunately the only person who seems to take an interest in her is a nerdy boy named Ted.

thisiswhere

This is Where I Leave You

When their father passes away, four grown but stunted siblings return to their childhood home to sit Shiva with their free-speaking mother.

 

welcomehome

Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins

Successful talk-show host RJ Stevens was bullied and put upon by his family as a child. When he visits home he’s determined to show everyone how much he’s changed. Unfortunately, RJ’s Southern relatives have other plans.

 

Am I missing any of your favorites? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Happy Upcoming Holidays,

-Tara

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Whose Tagline Is It?

Photo of the original What's My Line? television set, with the panel of the show. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Want to play a game? Photo of the original What’s My Line? quiz show, courtesy of Wikipedia.

 

While checking in a movie called Zombeavers the other day I let out a chuckle (against my better judgment) at the movie’s tagline: They’ll Dam You to Hell! While this led me to seriously question both my own judgment and sense of humor, it also led me down the path to thinking about movie taglines. A good tagline, like a good movie trailer or poster, should sum up a movie’s essence without giving too much away. Ideally it is still specific enough that it can’t just be applied to any movie (I’m looking at you Taken. “Time is Running Out” is not an especially intriguing tagline. However, “They Took His Daughter. He’ll Take Their Lives.” is totally acceptable in my book.)

This past week I scanned our shelves here in the Music, Film & Audio Department looking for taglines — the good, the bad, and the puny. For interactive fun, feel free to guess the movies in the comments section below for a little game I’m calling Tag-a-Palooza. Or, click on the tagline for the answer.

1. Reality is a thing of the past.
2. Her life was in their hands. Now her toe is in the mail.
3. A comedy right up your alley.
4. The last man on Earth is not alone.
5. Work sucks.
6. Terror goes into overtime.
7. The thing that won’t die, in the nightmare that won’t end.
8. The night He came home.
9. The coast is toast.
10. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl.
11. A lively comedy about a guy who isn’t.
12. Some lines shouldn’t be crossed.
13. The ultimate bachelor will face the ultimate challenge.
14. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
15. Don’t get mad. Get everything.
16. He sees dead people…and they annoy him.
17. Even a hitman deserves a second shot!
18. Sometimes your battles choose you.
19. Escape or die frying.
20. The mission is a man.
21. On the air. Unaware.
22. The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is…they’re dead!

Happy Movie Watching,

Tara

PS – Yes, Zombeavers is a real movie that can be checked out from the library!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Bad Moms.

Image from: pinterest.com

Image from: pinterest.com

This month I’m taking a break from my director’s cut series to celebrate moms and motherly love. 

Happy belated Mother’s Day, dear readers. If you forgot to call your mom yesterday, here’s some motivation to pick up the phone: always remember that your mother could have been worse. Much, much worse.

And now…The Music, Film & Audio Department’s Top Ten Bad Moms in Film:

  1. Back to the Future

Not the worst mom, even though hitting on your own son is kind of gross. But really, who could say that they wouldn’t have accidentally done the same if their son traveled back in time and attended their high school?

  1. Friday the 13th

Is Jason’s mom really a bad mom? I mean (spoilers) she does kill quite a few people, but at least she did it out of love.

  1. Throw Momma From the Train

Owennnnnnnnnnn!!

  1. Coraline
coraline

Image from: pinterest.com

Coraline’s new “other” mother seems pretty great, until she tries to sew a pair of giant buttons into her new daughter’s eyeballs.

  1. Dead Alive

At least your mother didn’t keep you from the one you love, and then turn into a zombie who causes a zombie outbreak.

  1. Only God Forgives

Your mother is not a chain-smoking drug kingpin (queenpin?) who forces you to avenge your brother’s death, and you should thank her for that.

  1. We Are What We Are

Did your mother ever make you go out and kill a person just so she could put (cannibal) food on the table? No, she probably did not. Lucky you.

  1. Flowers in the Attic
flowers

Image from: collider.com

And did your mother ever lock you in an attic and slowly poison you, until you had no choice but to form an inappropriate relationship with one of your siblings? I didn’t think so.

  1. Mommie Dearest

 

Image from: Popfilter.com

Image from: Popfilter.com

Two words: wire hangers.

  1. Carrie
Image from:

Image from: litreactor.com

And your mother most certainly did not react like Carrie White’s mother when you told her you had a hot date for the prom, “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”

Now go do something nice for your mom!

Tara

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Director’s Cut: Fatih Akin

A band on the banks of the Bosphurus. Image from Head On: sudeepshukla.wordpress.com

This is the second post in an ongoing series. I plan to blog once a month about a different director whose films are featured in our collection.

I didn’t become aware of the films of Fatih Akin until after spending a month in Berlin a few years back. While his films were readily available here in the United States, they just hadn’t quite landed on my radar. Akin, a German native born to Turkish immigrant parents, often builds his stories around characters of Turkish ancestry living in Germany (or vice-versa in some cases). Since the two countries are not exactly adjacent to each-other, I wasn’t aware how much influence Turkish culture had/has on modern German culture until visiting the country. Afterwards, I felt the need to seek out Akin’s films.

The happy newlyweds. Image from: worldfilm.about.com

The happy newlyweds. Image from Head On: worldfilm.about.com

The first film of his I saw was Head On (2004), which also happens to be one of his most difficult films. Don’t get me wrong – I love this movie, and recommend it to anyone who I get the sense might enjoy it. It’s not a film I would recommend to everyone though, but if you’re looking for a love story with some rough edges this film is for you (think of it as a Turkish-German Sid & Nancy with a less tragic ending). The film begins with our protagonists, Sibel and Cahit, meeting in a hospital after both have attempted to hurt (possibly kill) themselves. We quickly learn that Sibel is in need of a Turkish husband to appease her strict family, and Cahit agrees to marry her because he is a drunken mess living in squalor and has nothing to lose. They each get something out of this bargain – Sibel finally gets her freedom, and Cahit gets a live-in roommate who will help with rent and keep his apartment clean(ish). Of course, we know that eventually these two crazy kids are probably going to fall in love, but in the end the story takes a turn into far more challenging territory.

For Akin’s next film, he headed into the documentary field with Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul (2005). In some ways it is almost a follow-up to Head On, a film

Image from: http://tinyurl.com/me7owml

Image from Crossing the Bridge: http://tinyurl.com/me7owml

bridge_2

Image from Crossing the Bridge: http://tinyurl.com/me7owml

filled with a wide range of music, from angry punk to traditional Turkish wedding interludes. The director solicits his friend Alexander Hacke, the bassist from the industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, to act as guide to the Turkish musical landscape as we check in with genres as diverse as the fast rap of Istanbul, to soulful Romany instrumentals, to haunting Kurdish dirges. This documentary is recommended for anyone with a passing interest in Eastern European music, or really, for music lovers in general.

 
His following film, Edge of Heaven (2007), is probably his most satisfying film to date. It’s a hard movie to describe, but I’ll do my best without giving too much away. The movie takes place in three separate segments that eventually come together. Half of the story takes place in Germany, half in Turkey, with almost all of the

Image from Edge of Heaven: nytimes.com

Image from Edge of Heaven: seismopolite.com

central six characters spending time in both countries while either searching for each other or trying to redeem themselves. Daughters search for their mothers (and vice versa) and one character’s actions will eventually bring everything more-or-less full circle. The film is as much about the characters though as it is about the cultural exchange happening between the two countries. If you have even a passing interest in films from this part of the world, I recommend giving this one a try.

Image from Soul Kitchen: canalplus.pl

Next up Akin went in a totally different direction with Soul Kitchen (2009) a delightfully screwy comedy about a guy and his struggling bar (of the title). The film is full of food, music, dancing, romance, and crazy coincidences. Our hero, Zinos, has just be abandoned by his girlfriend. On top of that his bar is struggling, he’s recently thrown his back out, he desperately needs to find a new chef, and his shady brother has just come to the Soul Kitchen looking for a job after being let out of

Image from Soul Kitchen: flicks.co.nz

jail on “partial parole.” Will it all work out in the end? Of course it will! This film is a lot lighter than Akin’s previous features, but maybe after all those challenging pictures he just felt the need to have a good time, which this film definitely delivers.

I have yet to check out one of the director’s first films In July, but look forward to it in the future, along with anything else he chooses to direct.

What about you, fellow movie watchers, what directors do you like? Do you have any favorite foreign films or directors?

Happy viewing,

Tara

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Director’s Cut: Pedro Almodovar

Penelope Cruz stars in Broken Embraces. Image from: www.rogerebert.com

Penelope Cruz stars in Broken Embraces. Image from: http://www.rogerebert.com

 

This is the first post in an ongoing series. I plan to blog once a month about a different director whose films are featured in our collection.

My first exposure to the Spanish director Pedro Almodovar happened when I was taking Spanish classes in high school. We were being forced to sit through another boring Spanish instructional video, when our kooky teacher confessed, “If you want to watch a good Spanish movie, check out a film called Mujeres al Borde de un Ataque de Nervios. I can’t show it in class, because it’s kind of naughty, but you should rent it. Trust me. Just don’t tell your parents that I’m the one who told you to…”

Image from: theguardian.com

Image from: theguardian.com

As luck would have it, we had a pretty great video store in my small hometown, and they had a copy of this film on VHS–the title in English translates to Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988). I’m not sure I totally understood the film at the time, but it definitely left an impression on me.

All About My Mother. Imaged from slantmagazine.com

All About My Mother. Imaged from slantmagazine.com

Enough of an impression, that in the years that followed I’ve checked out almost all of Almodovar’s films, and he has become one of my favorite directors. Most of his films feature colorful sets, fantastic details, and larger-than-life characters—and his 1999 film All About My Mother does not disappoint on this front. The plot is pure melodrama so I won’t go into everything that happens, but in a nutshell: a grieving single mother, a pregnant HIV-positive nun, and a witty transgender prostitute form an unlikely family. There is also a fantastic monologue delivered late in the film about the literal cost (in dollars) of being an “authentic” woman.

talktoher

Talk to Her. Image from: gmanreviews.com

And boy does Almodovar love women. Most of his films focus on the lives of funny, strong, put-upon women and their various friends, families, enemies and lovers. And even though Talk to Her (2002) tells the story of two women lying in comas at the hospital (both tended to by the men who love them) these female personalities dominate the movie in flashbacks. I will warn the viewer though, while a lot of this film is beautiful and whimsical, there are some difficult passages involving bull-fighting and an (implied) moral transgression that might be hard for some to watch. However, if you’re not one to shy away from challenging films then this one should spark debate.

Gael Garcia Bernal in Bad Education. Image from: nytimes.com

Gael Garcia Bernal in Bad Education. Image from: nytimes.com

With his next film Bad Education (2004), Almodovar made the lives of men the central focus of his narrative, and cast a young Gael Garcia Bernal as his femme fatale. The set up is simple: two childhood friends are re-united, but one of them may not be who he says he is. From there things spiral out into a meta-fictional murder mystery, with a darker tone than in his three previous films.

Volver. Image from: rogerebert.com

Volver. Image from: rogerebert.com

Volver (2006) is probably my favorite of his films to date. While Almodovar’s films tend to swing wildly between comedy/farce and melodrama/tragedy, Volver somehow hits the sweet spot right in the middle of all four genres, with an added dose of magical realism. It’s a total joy to watch, which is really saying something since the story touches on murder, adultery, incest, malignant tumors, ghosts, and Penelope Cruz’s derriere. But maybe that’s the magic of Pedro Almodovar’s films? He’s able to take dark themes and surround them with bright colors, warm characters, and screwball humor—and really, is there anything better than that?

If you’re interested in giving this director a try, we have a dozen different films for you to choose from (Broken Embraces is another personal favorite) and we also have a documentary and books on his work.

So how about you, dear reader? Are you a fan of Pedro Almodovar, or do you have a director you’re particularly fond of?

Happy viewing,

Tara

PS – About a year ago I revisited Women on the Verge… with a friend who was in that same Spanish class, and it’s still a super fun movie. I can also see why it would not have been an appropriate film for us to watch in class.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Throw Yourself a Library Dance Party

One of the perks of working in the Music, Film & Audio department of the library is that I’m always discovering new music to check out and listen to on my daily commute. Unfortunately, the CD player in my car stopped working sometime last year, and so I was stuck listening to the radio—or so I thought.

hoopla_1B

That was until I discovered the library’s streaming music services, and I started checking out new music for my commute again via my smartphone. One of my favorite online library services is called Hoopla. Before I share some of my current music picks that you can check out from Hoopla right now, here’s a little refresher on what Hoopla is all about:

  • Hoopla has a large collection of movies, TV shows, documentaries, music albums and audiobooks, all available for checkout with a current CLP or ACLA library card. A nice thing about Hoopla is that all content is available for streaming, but can also be downloaded on most mobile devices, and there is never a waitlist.
  • You can check out up to 10 items a month, and downloads are automatically re-set at the first of the month.
  • Most movie and TV content is available for 3 days after borrowing (a very small number of movie titles are available for 2 days). Music albums are available for 7 days, and audiobooks are available for 21 days.
  • The first time you sign up for Hoopla, you will be asked to choose your local library and enter your library card number. You will then be prompted to enter an email address and create a password. This will be your user name and password that you will use to log into your account in the future.

Hoopla_31Hoopla_3BHoopla_3C

  • Hoopla has been making improvements to its app so that on some devices it will be easier to rewind/fast forward audio files, or listen to them at variable speeds. Also, Kindle Fire HDX users will now be able to find the Hoopla app in their app store.
  • Did you know that Hoopla can also be viewed on some TVs? If you want to project Hoopla onto a larger screen using your notebook, tablet, or smart phone, this is now possible on TVs that have screen-casting capability.

And now, here are a handful of (newish) albums I’ve checked out recently and enjoyed:

decemberists

What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World / The Decemberists

sleaterkinney

No Cities To Love / Sleater-Kinney

stvincent

St. Vincent / St. Vincent

jolieholland

Wine Dark Sea / Jolie Holland

lykkeli

I Never Learn / Lykke Li

cloudnothings

Here And Nowhere Else / Cloud Nothings

sunbathinganimal

Sunbathing Animal / Parquet Courts

spoon

They Want My Soul / Spoon

Happy listening,

Tara

PS – As you can probably tell, my tastes tend towards the pop and indie-rock genres – rest assured, there are plenty of great albums in genres as disparate as hip-hop, country, jazz and electronica. Just tell us what you’re looking for, and we’ll be happy to make a recommendation!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

How I Spent My Cinematic Year, 2014 Edition

Critic Roger Ebert has said of Michael Apted’s Up documentary series that it struck him as an, “inspired, even noble use of the film medium … To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.”

Image from: thedissolve.com

Image from: thedissolve.com

 

Director Richard Linklater achieves something similar with the film Boyhood (and he also does in his terrific Before series of movies). Before Midnight was one of my favorite films of 2013, and now Boyhood is my favorite film of 2014. Filmed over the course of twelve years, we watch the titular boy and his family age in real time. Most of the occasions the film focuses on seem like reletively minor life events, but they take on meaning and heft through the accumulation of time. In the end I was deeply touched by this film. Even though it is not particularly sad throughout, I felt like I’d gotten to know the characters so well that I would miss no longer getting to visit them on screen.

While Boyhood takes the #1 spot, I saw quite a few great films in 2014. There are a lot of new movies that I haven’t gotten a chance to see yet (tops on my to-watch list are Whiplash, Birdman, Inherent Vice, Mr. Turner, and CitizenFour.) Even so, I’ve attempted to come up with a list of some of my favorite new movies I saw this past year. Take a gander below, and tell me what I’ve missed in the comments section.

grandbudapest

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Another Wes Anderson gem with a touching (and very funny) performance by Ralph Fiennes. This film really grew on me after a second viewing.

 

legomovie

The Lego Movie

One of the best times I had at the theater this year (along with directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller’s other great 2014 screwball comedy, 22 Jump Street). This movie is just as fun for adults as it is for kids, and I will continue to check out anything this pair chooses to pursue.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized