ascensionThe Syfy channel premiered Ascension, a limited event series, in December of 2014, as a way to introduce people to the idea of what would have happened if Project Orion (also check out their Wikipedia page), a government sponsored program from the 1950s that would have placed over 150 scientists on the moon and even been able to send expeditions to other planets, would have actually happened. Ascension chronicles what could have happened had Project Orion actually occurred.

Ascension gives viewers a glimpse into the secret programs of the government and the lives of the people who both wittingly and unwittingly found themselves stuck on that spacecraft. In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, the government secretly recruited 350 people for a mission into space. A huge interstellar spaceship called Ascension was launched into space on a 100 year journey to another solar system. Present day on the ship is 50 years later and viewers are introduced to the children of the original crewmembers, the middle group of people, the ones who are doomed to spend their whole lives on the ship without ever being able to see their destination. Their parents started the ship and their children will be remembered as the ones who complete the journey. This middle group will be forgotten.

Tragedy has struck on Ascension with their first murder having been committed. This leads to chaos as the captain and his crew struggle to figure out who committed this crime while also working to keep the rest of the ship calm. Striated class systems and struggles for power dominate the investigation of the death of a woman from the upper decks as people from the lower decks are accused of the crime. This television show is wracked full of plays for power, multiple ship romances and trysts, and rivalries that will have you on the edge of your seat. Add in the fact that people on board only have access to culture, information, and technologies from 1963 and before and the whole spacecraft takes on an eternal 1960s feel that is intriguing and pleasing to the eye.

Check out this show to learn more information about the launch of Ascension, the people aboard the ship, as well as information about the founders and the governmental organization responsible for making sure the mission stays on course no matter the cost.

wayward pines

Have you ever watched a show that had you continuously scratching your head and wondering what was going on and how any of it could possibly be happening? My latest head-scratching television show is Wayward Pines, a Fox television show that premiered its first season in May of 2015 . This show stars Matt Dillon as Secret Service agent Ethan Burke who is sent to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents. On his way to investigate, Burke is in a serious car accident and wakes up in a hospital in Wayward Pines, a creepily idyllic town in the picturesque mountains of Idaho.

After breaking out of the hospital, Burke begins the investigation into his missing colleagues and also into what actually happened to him before he woke up in the hospital in Wayward Pines. Burke soon realizes that crazy things are happening when he stumbles upon one of his missing colleagues and she tells him she has been in Wayward Pines for years, when she disappeared from DC five weeks prior. Burke tries to leave, tries to get in contact with his wife and son, and tries to pry answers from the sheriff and the townspeople, only to be rebuffed and in danger no matter what he tries. When his family comes looking for him, Burke takes matters into his own hands and desperately searches for a way to free them all for the walled city of Wayward Pines. This television show can be confusing at times, but the giant conspiracy around the whole endeavor had me clamoring for more once I watched the season finale.


This television show is based on the Wayward Pines novels by Blake Crouch. The order of the trilogy is Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town. You can find all three at the Davenport Public Library.

pineswaywardthe last town

making of the mobIn The Making of the Mob: New York, AMC has created an eight-part docu-drama series that begins in 1905 and traces the rise of the American Mafia for over fifty years. This series examines the lives of Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, and several other notorious gangsters as they all struggle for power when the mafia starts becoming more organized. The amount of attention to detail that went into the establishment of the five major heads of the family, also known as the Commission, and Murder, Inc., the group of Jewish hitmen who killed around 1,000 people in ten years, shows that the new mobsters rising up in the ranks were definitely looking to run the mafia as more of a business with set consequences and an elected representative board.

This docu-drama looks into the five main families of the American Mafia and goes into great detail showing how organized crime came to exist and flourish in America. What I found to be the most intriguing part of this series was that it included interviews from former politicians, mobsters, actors, and other influential people, as well as actual archival footage  and sound recordings of the actual mobsters alongside the actors’ dramatic interpretations of what was happening. The inclusion of actual footage and interviews really drew me into this docu-drama and had me fully invested in the lives of the mobsters, the shady deals they were doing, and the specific individuals and governmental organizations who were working to bring down the American mafia.

water divinerActors taking a turn behind the camera as directors or producers has become increasingly more common. Russell Crowe has joined the ranks of such actors with the 2014 film, The Water Diviner, in which he both stars and directs this Australian historical fictional war drama.

In The Water Diviner, Crowe stars as Australian farmer Joshua Connor, who lives in Australia on a working farm with his wife and their three sons. After the unexpected death of his wife, Connor heads to Turkey in 1919 after the Battle of Gallipoli in order to find his three missing and presumed dead sons in order to bring their bodies home to be buried next to their mother. Connor repeatedly finds obstacles thrown in his way that bar his ability to, at first, make it to Gallipoli and then to get the officials there to even help him find his son. Facing tension from the military and different governmental agencies while abroad, as well as discrimination in Turkey from the locals who see him as the reason why their family and friends didn’t come home from the war, Connor soon realizes that everyone and everything around him has drastically changed from the war and that he must find a way to survive.. Finding his sons becomes Connor’s driving force through life, leading him to discover things that he is not quite ready to know.


This movie is loosely based on the book The Water Diviner by Andrew Anastasios and Dr. Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios. Check out the following books to learn more about the Battle of Gallipoli.

the water diviner bookturning the tide of wargallipoliworld war 1the anzac girlseden to armageddon

 

 

pixels  I admit, after watching this movie, I do not know if anyone that was born after 1985 would enjoy this movie.  Maybe they would if they like to play old arcade games when they come across one.  But playing an arcade version of Pac Man at Happy Joes is nothing like going to an actual arcade and being surrounded by various games and players. But I digress.

If you do remember going to the arcade and playing games such as Donkey Kong you will find the movie Pixels enjoyable.  No, it will not win any Oscars but it is a fun movie to watch.  Starring Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James and Josh Gad, this fearless foursome were the some of the top arcade game players back in the day.  The movie opens in 1982 with Brenner and Eddie facing off for the championship.  At the time, a time capsule is launched into space containing various things including video games.

Fast forward to the present year.  Aliens attack a U.S. military base in Guam.  The attack came from creatures that looked similarly to the old video game Galaga.  Cooper is the current President of the United States and he calls his old friend Brenner for help.  The aliens have sent messages to Earth. They received the time capusle from 1982 and they viewed it as a declaration of war.  The aliens have sent video games in the form of pixels to attack Earth.  In order to survive, Earth has to win three rounds of classic video game attacks.  A second attack happens at the Taj Mahal in India before the U.S. is able to react.

Brenner and Ludlow train a group of soldiers to fight the video games.  The key to defeating the game is knowing the pattern.  When a third attack happens in London, the soldiers, Brenner and Ludlow fight off the alien video game version of Centipede. Even the soldiers tried, it is Brenner and Ludlow that save the day.  The fourth game is in New York City and the game is Pac Man.  In order to defeat this game, they are going to need four ghosts.  This is where Peter Dinklage comes into the movie.  The fourth ghost is played by Pac Man creator Toru Iwatani.  Watching a giant Pac Man chomp down the streets of New York is a visual experience I never expected to see.  Eventually Pac Man is defeated until the aliens send a message that one of the ghosts cheated.

The next attack is in Washington, D.C.  And this time, it is not just one game.  It is ALL the video game characters attacking Earth.  For Earth to win, the game Donkey Kong has to be defeated.  Even President Cooper joins the action and fights the aliens.

Before you watch Pixels, you should watch the documentary, The King of Kong: a Fistful of Quarters.  Unemployed school teacher Steve Wiebe has a Donkey Kong, Jr arcade game.  He spendkongs a lot of time playing it.  He looks up the high score for Donkey Kong, and thinks to himself that he can beat that score.  So Steve Wiebe goes after Billy Mitchell’s high score for Donkey Kong.  You may think that no movie about a Donkey Kong score could be interesting to watch.  But you would be wrong.  Apparently, those high scores still matter to a lot of people.  It is an intense experience watching Wiebe go after the high score.  I mention this documentary because you will quickly notice the similarities between these characters and the main characters in Pixels.

 

tomorrowlandDisney never seems to disappoint when it comes to instilling a set of values and convictions into any movie and Tomorrowland, a film starring George Clooney as disheartened former boy genius Frank and Britt Robertson as optimistic reckless science-geek Casey, lives up to the Disney promise of hope by showing viewers that anything is possible as long as you can dream it.

In Tomorrowland, we’re introduced to Frank Walker, a young genius who brings his idea for a jet pack to the New York World’s Fair in the 1960s where he bumps into the mysterious Athena, a child seemingly monitoring the inventions table in the hall, who slips him a pin with the letter “T” on it that ends up changing Frank’s life forever. Flash forward to present day and we see Casey Newton, a teenage girl with a quick mind and a NASA engineer father who will be put out of a job if NASA succeeds in the demolition of the rocket launch platform in Cape Canaveral. Discovering a “T” pin of her own, Casey finds herself on a journey to figure out where exactly this pin is taking her and why she was given one. Join Casey and Frank as they rocket through space and are transported to a place called Tomorrowland, where letting your imagination loose is encouraged and where adventure awaits as long as you believe anything can happen.

devil in the white cityA couple of months ago I heard on the radio that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio were going to collaborate yet again on what will most definitely be another blockbuster hit. The two have previously collaborated on The Aviator, Shutter Island, Gangs of New York, The Departedand The Wolf of Wall StreetEach film was nominated by the Academy of Motion Pictures for Arts and Sciences (aka the best award in film you can attain) for Best Film and Directing with DiCaprio getting the Best Actor nomination for 3 out of the 5 films. Scorsese won the Oscar for Best Director and Best Film of the Year for The Departed. When these two get together, everyone turns out to see what they have created, especially me! This film is 2 years away from its release, and I am already gearing up for it.

This time they are bringing you a film based on the 2003 book The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Erik Larson’s work is the story of the true events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. He tells this story in interweaving fashion, focusing on Architect Daniel Burnham and serial killer H.H. Holmes during the years leading up  to the World’s Fair. Both men shaped Chicago’s history in very different ways.

When I first heard about this novel, I wasn’t too excited to pick it up. My fear was that it would be too much about gruesome murders for me to enjoy. But it wasn’t. The book is about paramount history that happened just a few hours away from where we live. In fact, one of Holmes’ lovers and later victim was from Davenport, IA.

While there are a few murderous details, Holmes’ part of the book is more about how he was able to carry on his killings undetected for so long. Multiple accounts describe Holmes as an ideal individual that exuded charm and warmth. While I am eager to finish and read about Holmes’ inevitable demise, I have truly adored page after page of historical firsts. The World’s Fair was such a monumental occassion that everyone wanted to be part of it. Great inventions were first unveiled, historical figures rubbed elbows, heroes we have only read about preformed, and so..much..more.

I have no doubt that Scorsese will capture the essence of this time period and the innumerable historical particles sprinkled throughout the book. As for my all time favorite actor, Leonardo Dicaprio, I know he will deliver. It was a bit disheartening to learn that DiCaprio would encompass H. H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer, but then I realized one cannot always play the hero. And in fact, many actors do their best work when playing the villain. I wouldn’t be surprised if DiCaprio gives his best performance ever with this new film.

Photos from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

More about the World’s Columbian Exposition.

dior and iChristian Dior. Chanel. Givenchy. These names are only some of the legendary haute couture houses. Haute couture has a strict definition, but literally means high or elegant sewing. The Paris Chamber of Commerce protects haute couture by law and says that in order to be haute couture, you MUST follow a set of rules, rules that are clearly delineated by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the association that approves you to be haute couture.

In Dior and I, viewers watch as, in 2012, the newly hired Artistic Director for Dior, Raf Simons, is given a short eight weeks to pull together his very first haute couture line. This documentary goes behind the scenes to show all of the intense labor and work that goes into making haute couture and how the introduction of a new Artistic Director, especially one with more of a ready-to-wear fashion background, added another level of difficulty to make sure the fitting for this new line would go smoothly. Dealing with a new Artistic Director who has his own ideas to bring to the table, juggling completing the line in time with the existing clients and their commissions, and working right up until the fitting brings stress and complications to the many pieces of the Dior fashion house that make sure everything runs smoothly.

Dior and I proves to be a stunningly beautiful documentary that provides a look into the history of Christian Dior through readings of his journals and also snapshots and film of the designer at work. This film is as much a homage to the fashion houses of old and the multi-talented seamstresses who have worked for Dior for years and who strive to bring the founder’s image and standards to life through every inch of fabric they touch on a day-to-day basis as it is also a glimpse into the future for the fashions to come. The combination of the classic and the new is a topic that runs throughout this documentary.

Watch along as all of the style elements from fashion to show design come together to introduce Raf Simons as the new Artistic Director of Christian Dior. (Interesting tidbit I found: Simons just announced he is leaving Dior leading to much speculation about why and who will replace him!)

cinderella1Reboots of classic fairy tales seem to be announced every other day with versions ranging from all-out musicals (Here’s to you, Into the Woods) to a new deluxe version being released from the Disney vault (Quick! Get your Aladdin fix!) to even focusing on the point of view of the villain (Poor scorned Maleficent). These new versions can conjure up sentimental feelings among older viewers and provide an opportunity for people to talk about their favorite classics and all of its reboots.

Disney just released a new version of Cinderella, which stars Lily James as Ella, a young girl being raised by her mother and merchant father when tragedy strikes leaving her father to raise Ella all by himself. Armed with her mother’s last words, “Have courage and be kind”, and her loving and strong nature, Ella sets out to find the good, and to most importantly, bring out the good present in the world all around her. Ella’s father remarries and soon a stepmother and two stepsisters are brought into the family. Tragedy strikes again with the sudden passing of her father and Ella finds herself having to dig deep within to deal with the bullying of her step-family as she struggles with her whole world turning upside down. She soon meets a dashing young man in the woods, decides to do everything within her power to see him again, and makes the ultimate decision to take her life back into her own hands.

This version of Cinderella does not stray far from the classic, but instead works to give more back story to the different characters present. You’ll learn more about what made Cinderella’s stepmother into the woman she is, how Cinderella’s relationship with her parents and strong connections to the people around her molded her into the woman she becomes, and how and why the Prince and his family behave the way they do. Add in a dash of Helena Bonham Carter as Cinderella’s quirky fairy godmother and this version of the classic Cinderella becomes one full of hope, imagination, and fun that will leave viewers relishing in the simple, life-changing wisdom of “Have courage and be kind”.


Interested in checking out some more movie reboots of Cinderella? Look below! If you’re interested in finding some book versions, contact us at the library.

ella enchanteda cinderella storyever after1cinderella2funny facecinderella3

 

 

x filesThe X-Files is coming back to television on January 24, 2016!  And October is the perfect month to re-watch the original series.  Why? Because the show is creepy. The perfect amount of creepiness to put you in the mood for Halloween.  If you never watched The X-Files, you may mistakenly believe that the show is only about aliens and UFOs.  While there are a lot of episodes that involve aliens, there are plenty of other episodes about creatures that go bump in the night. If you enjoyed shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the Twilight Show, you will enjoy watching The X-Files.

The show began airing in 1993 and it was on television for nine seasons for a total of 202 episodes.  The show is centered on a pair of FBI Special Agents, Fox Mulder and Dr. Dana Scully.  There are many times that it comes in handy that Scully is a medical doctor.  Along with keeping you healthy, she can perform autopsies.  Mulder is a talented profiler, but he was drawn to the X-files because of his strong belief in the supernatural.  As the series progresses, we learn that Mulder’s younger sister was abducted by aliens when they were children.  But as mentioned earlier, the show is not entirely based on aliens.  Agents Mulder and Scully investigate all sorts of different creatures such mutants, vampires, werewolves, and people with genetic abnormalities and psychic abilities.  A theme of the show is that the United States government is aware of a lot of the creatures and people that Mulder and Scully investigate.  Even after witnessing strange phenomenon first hand, Agents Mulder and Scully often find themselves being shut down by “someone” higher up in the government.  The thought that the government may be keeping secrets about strange life forms is an unsettling part of the show.

If you do not want to watch all 202 episodes of The X-Files, here is a list of the episodes you must watch before the new episodes air on January 24, 2016.

 

Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, recommends that you watch:

1. “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

The one that introduced Mulder, Scully, their defining characteristics, their relationship, their world.

2. “Deep Throat” (Season 1, Episode 2)

This episode introduces the idea of a government conspiracy/cover-up of extra-terrestrial activity and a mysterious informant, code named Deep Throat

3. “Beyond the Sea” (Season 1, Episode 13)

The episode that sees Scully become the believer after the death of her father overlaps with the case of an allegedly psychic serial killermulder

4. “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (Season 1, Episode 24)

There’s a shocking death, and from this point forward, the conspiracy storyline becomes the driving narrative of the show

5. “The Host” (Season 2, Episode 2)

There’s something sinister lurking in the sewers in this classic monster-of-the-week episode

6.  “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (Season 3, Episode 4)

In one of the greatest X-Files episodes ever, Peter Boyle guest stars as a morbid psychic.

7.  “Memento Mori” (Season 4, Episode 14)

Though it features the usual alien rhetoric, this episode is best remembered as the one in which Scully learns she has cancer.

8. “Post-Modern Prometheus” (Season 5, Episode 5)

A Frankenstein-inspired tale about a lovelorn monster. It’s notable for its beautiful black-and-white cinematography.

9.  “Bad Blood” (Season 5, Episode 12)

The signature episode from a young Vince Gilligan, Mulder and Scully investigate a vampire case told in flashback from Mulder and Scully’s POV.

10.  “Milargo” (Season 6, Episode 18)

A favorite of the X-Files writing staff, Mulder and Scully contend with an author whose gruesome fiction becomes reality.

 

 

Top Ten (written by) Vince Gilligan Episodes: (fan favorites)

1. “Bad Blood” (Season 5, Episode 12)

Mulder and Scully investigate vampires from two very different POVs.

2. “Drive” (Season 6, Episode 2)

A man has a terrible headache and forces Mulder to drive him at high speeds.

3.  “Pusher” (Season 3, Episode 17)

A man with psychic abilities is able to make things happen just by saying it aloud.

4. “Folie a Deaux” (Season 5, Episode 19)

A man claims his boss is a giant cockroach.

5.  “Small Potatoes” (Season 4, Episode 20)

A man with a tail can morph into other men.

6. “X-Cops” (Season 7, Episode 12)x-files-unruhe

That’s right. It’s the show Cops starring Mulder and Scully.

7.  “Unruhe” (Season 4, Episode 4)

A killer lobotomizes women with an ice pick, but their images show up at a photo booth surrounded by ghosts.

8.  “Hungry” (Season 7, Episode 3)

A mutant with an insatiable appetite.

9.  “Je Souhaite” (Season 7, Episode 21)

A magic genie causes havoc.

10.  “Sunshine Days” (Season 9, Episode 18)

Murder at the “Brady Bunch house”

http://decider.com/2015/04/07/vince-gilligan-x-files-top-10/

 

x believe

The X-Files I Want to Believe movie

 

The library has the DVD sets of The X-Files as well as the film adaptations.  There are also books and graphic novels about The X-Files at the library.  Check them out today.