Tornado DVDs

Tornado Hunters Video footage of F4 tornados taken by amateur and professional storm chasers in Tornado Alley.

Twister The (modern) classic tornado flick starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton as the battling “storm-obsessed lunatics.” (All Movie Guide). There’s a complicated plot about “Dorothy,” a machine that will gather vital data about tornados as they pass over the device, and an evil competitor with a similar gizmo.

Which leads us to The Wizard of Oz , the (traditional) classic twister flick.

The tension of the brewing storm’s destruction  is built up carefully – with everyday, realistic touches. Everyone who sees this as a child can imagine themselves in Dorothy’s shoes (ha) – worrying about the darkening skies but having to go about their business. Even after 72 years, this film holds up, IMHO, as the film best able to instill a lifelong fear of storms.

Parks and Recreation

I have to admit that when I first watched the pilot of Parks and Recreation starring Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones back in 2009, I was not impressed.  I gave it up right then and didn’t look back until recently, when I heard great things about how much the show had improved.  Curious, I picked up seasons one and two from the library and decided to give it another shot.  The show follows the Parks and Recreation department of fictional town Pawnee, Indiana, led by Deputy Director Leslie Knope (Poehler).  She’s ambitious and overly-eager, trying to get things done  while dealing with the red tape so often associated with local government.  The show starts off with her big project:  trying to fill in a giant pit that local nurse Ann Perkins (Jones) complained about and turn it into a beautiful park.

Doesn’t sound like an exciting plot?  Well, it is made wildly entertaining by the cast of characters who work and volunteer for the Parks Department.  This includes the over-the-top womanizer Tom (played by hilarious comedian Aziz Ansari), office punching bag Jerry, apathetic intern April, and my personal favorite:  Leslie’s boss, Ron Swanson, who deadpans every line and almost makes the moustache cool.  It gets even better as we learn about the personal lives of each character (just wait until you see Leslie on a date and meet Ron’s evil ex-wife Tammy).  I am so glad I gave this show another chance because now into its third season, it makes me laugh every week.  If you like The Office, I highly recommend checking out this underrated and hilarious series.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Would you rather have a romantic night at home for Valentine’s Day instead of going out in the cold?  Check out any of these romantic movies at the library for the perfect Valentine’s Day date!

Casablanca – The timeless story of a nightclub owner and the one who got away back in World War II.

The Notebook – One of my favorites!  An elderly gentleman tells the story of a summer romance between two teens.

Love Actually – Intertwining stories about Brits in love.  Funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at once.  A modern classic.

Pride and Prejudice – The classic novel brought to life with Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett, falling in love where she least expected it.  I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this one.

When Harry Met Sally – Can a man and a woman just be friends?  That’s the question at the heart of this iconic rom-com starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.

Shakespeare in Love – The fictionalized story of a young Shakespeare who, while suffering from writer’s block, finds love with beautiful actress Viola.

Dirty Dancing – Because let’s face it, we’ve all imagined ourselves doing that dance at the end.

Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite romantic movie?

Non-Holiday Holiday Movies!

Are you getting a little tired of all the Christmas schmaltz? Fighting off that Bah Humbug feeling about now? When all the holiday madness starts to get to be too much, but you don’t quite want to give up on finding some Christmas spirit, try watching one of these movies. None of them are about Christmas (or New Years), but each has great holiday scenes – just enough glitter and holly to keep you in the mood!

Love, Actually – Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Kiera Knightly, many others

This one actually has a lot to do with Christmas, but it’s really about love in all it’s funny, touching, heartbreaking forms.

When Harry Met Sally – Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal

Not Christmas, but New Year’s Eve. Funny with several classic, iconic scenes. Don’t miss it.

Trading Places – Eddie Murphy, Dan Akroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis

Everything starts at one of those dreaded Christmas office parties…… A modern comedy classic.

Meet Me in St Louis – Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien

One of the great American musicals, this movie introduced the heartbreaking song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.

About a Boy – Hugh Grant

A trust fund slacker living off the profits of the Christmas song his father wrote years ago, gains a life – and a heart – with the help of a little boy. Sharp and funny.

While You Were Sleeping – Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman

Through misunderstandings that never get cleared up, lonely Lucy gains a family and falls in love – with the wrong guy! Set during Christmas and New Years. Bullock is at her charming best.

Jolly Holidays in the Forties!

Lately, my mother and I have been on 1940’s holiday movie binge and they are all FANTASTIC! Of course we watch Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) every year, but here is a list of some of the  films that we have just discovered:

It Happened on 5th Avenue
(1947)
Starring: Don DeFore, Ann Harding and Charles Ruggles

A homeless man and ex-GI secretly move into a millionaire’s empty mansion during the holidays and are soon joined by a young woman after they catch her robbing the mansion of its fur coats. Unbeknownst to the gentlemen, the young woman is actually the millionaire’s runaway daughter and soon she invites her cranky father, the millionaire, to move in with her as an undercover vagrant.

Christmas in Connecticut
(1945)
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstreet

A Martha-Stewartish journalist becomes frantic when her publisher insists she treats an injured GI to a real family-oriented Christmas at her Connecticut home–what will happen when they find out she has no cooking skills, no husband, no baby, and no home in Connecticut?!

The Shop Around the Corner
(1940)
Starring: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart and Frank Morgan

Two workers in a Budapest gift-shop absolutely loathe each other, but are unaware that they are each other’s beloved anonymous pen-pal. Who will be the first to discover the truth? This is the original movie that inspired You’ve Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks!

Holiday Affair
(1949)
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh and Wendell Corey

Classic romance where a single mother struggles to choose between a comfortable fiancé and an unexpected romantic stranger on Christmas.

25 days of Christmas

‘Tis the season for hooky, sentimental, wonderful Christmas movies on ABC Family Channel, Lifetime Channel and Hallmark Channel. Over the years these three channels have produced their own movies for the holiday season. If you are like me, you love watching these made for TV movie classics. If your holiday becomes too hectic or you have missed your favorite movie, check our catalog as we have quite a few of the made for TV Christmas Movies.

Christmas Blessing ( 2007) – Neil Patrick Harris, Rebecca Gayheart, Rob Lowe

When a medical resident loses a patient, he moves back home with his father to rethink his career. His world is turned upside down when the lives of the woman he loves and an innocent young boy are in crisis. Will a Christmas miracle save them all?

Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey – Tom Berenger, Joely Richardson

When a boy loses the wooden nativity set that links him to his deceased father, his mother persuades a reclusive woodcarver to make a replacement. As Christmas approaches and the boy demands more, will the gift be finished in time?

Santa Baby – Jenny McCarthy, George Wendt

When Santa Claus gets too sick to run the toy shop, his workaholic daughter Mary leaves behind her high-powered job in the city and heads north.

Christmas Story Lady – Jessica Tandy, Stephanie Zimbalist

An elderly lady has a gift for storytelling that brings a troubled family together and envelops them in a world of imagination.

Alias on DVD

I feel a little bit silly now realizing that Alias:  Season One began airing almost ten years ago, and yet I am only now getting into this awesome series.  It stars Jennifer Garner as Sidney Bristow, a grad student who is part of what she thinks is a covert branch of the CIA called SD-6.  After getting engaged, she decides she has to come clean to her fiance about being a spy.  Unfortunately, since her status has now been compromised, the head of SD-6 orders that Sidney’s fiance must be killed.  This is when Sidney learns the horrible truth about SD-6:  they’re not really part of the CIA.  Rather, they’re part of an organization that the real CIA has been fighting for years.  At the end of the pilot episode, Sidney goes to CIA headquarters and offers to be a double agent and help them bring down SD-6 once and for all.

So far I’ve only gotten through season one, but I’m definitely interested in seeing more (I just checked out Alias: Season Two and I’m dying to go home and watch it!).  It’s hard to not keep watching, especially since almost every episode ends with a cliffhanger!  One of the things I have found most interesting about the series is the relationship between Sidney and her father, Jack Bristow.  After finding out that her father has also been working for SD-6 for years, she is surprised once again to find out that he’s also a double agent for the CIA.  The two have never had a close relationship, so through their double agent work, they’re getting to know each other once again.  It’s a really interesting dynamic and I’m enjoying watching it develop.  The cast is great and gels together well, and the series is well-written and has a lot of exciting action sequences.  I highly recommend it, especially if you like other J.J. Abrams series such as Lost or other dramas where women kick butt, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

DVDs for December

December 4th

Twilight Saga – Eclipse – Robert Pattinson, Kristin Stewart, Taylor Lauber

It all begins with a choice. In the third chapter of Stephenie Meyer’s phenomenal Twilight series, Bella Swan is surrounded by danger as Seattle is hit by a string of murders and an evil vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, Bella is forced to choose between her love, Edward Cullen, and her friend, Jacob Black, knowing that her decision may ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf.

December 7th

Shrek Forever After – Mike Meyers, Cameron Diaz

Longing for the days when he was a ‘real ogre,’ Shrek signs a deal with Rumpelstiltskin to get his roar back, but turns his world upside down in the process. Donkey suddenly can’t remember his best friend, Fiona is now a tough warrior princess, and Puss in Boots is one fat cat! Together, they have just 24 hours to reverse the contract and restore happily forever after.

Inception – Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt

Dom Cobb is the best there is at extraction: stealing valuable secrets inside the subconscious during the mind’s vulnerable dream state. His skill has made him a coveted player in industrial espionage, but also has made him a fugitive and cost him dearly. Now he may get a second chance if he can do the impossible: inception, planting an idea rather than stealing one. If they succeed, Cobb and his team could pull off the perfect crime.

December 14th

The Other Guys – Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell

When two mismatched NYPD detectives stumble into a seemingly dull case that no other detective wants to bother with, it turns out to be New York City’s biggest crime. The two seize the opportunity to step up like the city’s top cops, whom they idolize. But do these two guys have the right stuff?

Despicable Me – Steve Carell, Jason Segel

Gru delights in all things wicked. Surrounded by an army of tireless, little yellow minions, and armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential dad.

December 17th

The Town – Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall

Doug MacRay is leader of a Boston bank robber gang but not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. When Doug falls into a passionate romance with the bank manager briefly taken hostage in their last heist, he wants out of this life and out of the town. As the Feds close in and the crew questions his loyalty, he has one of two choices: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.

December 21st

Salt – Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber

As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor, and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Her efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues.

Food Week – Ratatouille

And so it begins – the time of year when, at every opportunity, we find an excuse to eat something special and delicious, a time also known as “the holidays”. (If you’re really serious about this, you start at Halloween and extend it at least until Super Bowl Sunday, maybe Valentine’s Day!) Food is often a popular theme of many books and movies, from Julie and Julia to Like Water for Chocolate. This week our blogging librarians clue us into some of their favorites. Lexie gets us started with a movie that’s sure to become a classic.

Not only are the holidays a great time for food, they’re also a great time for family togetherness.  In that spirit, I  highly recommend the Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille.  It tells the story of a rat named Remy who loves food and coming up with new concoctions made from whatever he can find lying around.  When he stumbles into his cooking idol’s restaurant, he strikes up an unusual friendship with the garbage boy, and together the two cook up amazing creations and bring the vitality back to the failing restaurant.

I might be an adult, but Pixar can still do no wrong in my eyes.  You definitely don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this movie.  It’s really an inspirational story about achieving your goals despite your shortcomings and the things that stand in your way.  It’s got comedy, a little romance, and….well, a rat cooking, which sounds gross but is done in such a cute way that I don’t mind.  As long as it’s not happening in any restaurant I eat in, of course.

Quentin Tarantino Films @ Your Library

One of my very favorite directors is Quentin Tarantino.  I think his movies are so original and witty, all while being filled with crazy action scenes.  I can’t think of one of his movies that I’ve seen and not liked.  Of course Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are two of his most well-known films and are both fantastic.  But for me, in the race for favorite Tarantino film, it’s a tie between two of his most recent works.  The first is the Kill Bill saga, comprised of Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2.  It’s the story of a former assassain who tries to quit the business and is hunted down by her former boss and his minions on her wedding day.  She survives the attack, and now she’s out for revenge.  Volume 1 is pretty heavy on the beautifully directed (and fairly bloody) action scenes, while Volume 2 focuses more on the backstory and Tarantino’s signature dialogue.

My other favorite is Inglourious Basterds, the fictionalized World War II story about a group of Jewish-American soldiers banding together to bring down as many Nazis as possible.  This movie surprised me in so many ways.  I have to admit, I’ve always thought of Brad Pitt as just a pretty face rather than a great actor, but he’s absolutely hilarious and perfect in his role as Lt. Aldo Raine, the leader of the rogue team of Nazi hunters called The Basterds.  But the best performance in this movie is Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, a member of the Nazi high command obsessed with tracking down any Jewish person who might have escaped initial searches.  I think I held my breath during the entire first scene of the movie because his performance was so riveting.  Even though I have to turn my head away from the screen every now and then (after all, it’s a Tarantino film, and bloody violence is bound to happen), I loved every  minute of the film:  the intense drama, the hilarious dialogue, and the inspired performances.  I highly recommend it.