Kedi on DVD

I heard about the 2016 documentary Kedi on the podcast “Movie Therapy with Rafer & Kristen.” The hosts were advising a listener looking for comfort after her beloved cat passed away.

Kedi is a documentary about street cats in Istanbul. The film explores the many ways the cats are viewed by the city’s human inhabitants. For example, one restaurant owner prefers a cat for pest control over chemicals. Another bakery owner considers the neighborhood street cat a nuisance, begging customers for food and refusing to be shooed away. Most often, the cats are loved. A market vendor is the to-go person when a cat is found injured. He has a running tab at the veterinarian’s office. A woman lets one cat come and go as she pleases through the apartment but can’t imagine even attempting to make the street cat a house cat.

Underlying clever cat camerawork is a commentary on a changing city. With buildings rising up and green spaces shrinking at ground level, the documentary’s human participants wonder how the cats will continue navigate their space. But after surviving for thousands of years in the city already, the cats are sure to adjust and change along with the city.

The film is subtitled but like many great documentaries the story is told through visual narratives from which it is impossible to look away. The cats are the stars of the film. Unlike internet cat videos, this isn’t a short clip of a cute trick. Rather, it’s a long observation of the joy and comfort cats can bring to the human experience.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Mystery fans, rejoice! Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, first published in 1937, is getting a new film version this October. The film acts as a companion film to the 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh (also based on a book of the same name). Like its predecessor, this Death on the Nile film will feature a star-studded cast and promises a thrilling interpretation of Christie’s original book.

In the original story, the famous detective Hercule Poirot is on vacation in Egypt when he is approached by heiress Linnet Doyle, who’s being plagued by a stalker. Troubled by the depth of the stalker’s hatred, Poirot finds himself onboard a cruise ship with the stalker, her victim, and the other troubled passengers, none of whom are telling the whole truth. As they journey up the Nile River, the danger mounts and Poirot races against time to discover which of the passengers’ secrets leads to murder.

I’m very excited about this movie, being a lover of mystery books as a genre and Agatha Christie in particular. I saw Murder on the Orient Express when it came out a few years ago, and it was enjoyable. However, Kenneth Branagh’s interpretation of Poirot doesn’t always work for me. While I always read him as mostly dainty and intellectual, Branagh plays Poirot as a dynamic and dramatic character with a troubled past. In the case of Death on the Nile, though, tangled morality and stormy emotions take center stage, so this version of Poirot might actually be more effective.

Whether you’re brand-new to Agatha Christie and her most famous character, or a devoted fan, this is a great opportunity to experience a great mystery story AND think about how storytelling changes when books are turned into movies. You can even compare the new film to an older film version, released in 2004, for the full experience. That’s what I’ll be doing – so stay tuned for my review!

Online Reading Challenge – Mid-Month Check

Hello!

How is your reading going this month? Have you been able to squeeze in some reading time? Reading is a great way to escape for a bit, but in this especially crazy time sometimes there just isn’t room for long, leisurely afternoons spent with a book. If you’re finding this to be the case, why not try a movie? A couple hours of relaxing can do you a world of good and won’t absorb all of your time. Here are a few that fit into our “You’ve Got Mail” rom-com theme this month.

Ghostbusters. Bill Murray. Ghosts. New York Public Library. Who you gonna call?

When Harry Met Sally. Nora Ephron. Meg Ryan. Billy Crystal. That iconic scene at Katz’s Deli.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Finding yourself. Falling in love. A crazy family.

13 Going on 30. Jennifer Garner dances to Thriller.

Coming to America. Eddie Murphy. African prince finds his match in Queens, New York.

Say Anything. John Cusack. That’s a boom box kids. That’s how we used to listen to music.

Mamma Mia! Amanda Seyfried. Meryl Streep. Way too much ABBA music.

The Proposal. Sandra Bullock. Ryan Reynolds. Fake wedding. Alaska. Betty White being raunchy.

Notting Hill. Hugh Grant. Julia Roberts. Just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.

Princess Bride. Robin Wright. Cary Elwes. Inconceivable! Prepare to die! As you wish.

Groundhog Day. Bill Murray. Andie MacDowell. Don’t drive angry!

Four Weddings and a Funeral. Hugh Grant. Andie MacDowell. Gorgeous flowers and charming churches.

And of course, You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Sweet, funny and Bentley the dog! It doesn’t get any better than this.

Online Reading Challenge – August Wrap-UP

Hello Challenge Readers!

How was your August? Hmmm. Yeah, mine wasn’t great either. For one thing, it’s hard to read in the dark and for another, my DVD player doesn’t work without electricity! It’s been a crazy month in a crazy year! Let’s keep our fingers crossed for some calmer times.

I went a bit off the rails this month (surely I’m not the only one?) and did not finish Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose as I had planned. Someday, I will finish it though! It’s interesting and thought-provoking but I think I needed something a little less intense. So instead, I watched a movie.

The Searchers starring John Wayne makes most “best Western movies” lists and many just plain “best movies” lists. I had never seen it or even heard of it and I’m not a rabid John Wayne fan so I kept my expectations low despite the glowing reviews. Turns out that was pretty smart on my part.

John Wayne plays Ethan Elliot, a Civil War veteran that has returned to his brother’s homestead in Texas three years after the war. He arrives with a burning hatred of all Native Americans and a forbidden love for his brother’s wife. While he’s away helping the Texas Rangers track some cattle thieves a Commanche war party attacks and burns the homestead to the ground, killing the family and kidnapping two of the young girls. Ethan goes after them, set on revenge and letting nothing stand in his way.

It’s not a terrible movie – in fact there is a lot to like. But in my opinion it hasn’t aged well. There is a lot of racism – pretty typical for Westerns and for the time period they portray, but unpleasant and jarring nonetheless, and the jokes are awkward and clumsy. Some of the actors seem to express a range of emotion by either shouting or shouting loudly.

The landscape and scenery are stunning and beautifully filmed but that brings up another issue. The movie was obviously filmed in Monument Valley, a spectacular region located in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Dozens and dozens of movies have been filmed here. The problem is, this is a pretty unique area, easily recognizable and limited to a specific location. Movies that tell you they’re taking place in Texas or New Mexico (like this one) but filmed in Monument Valley aren’t trying very hard to be realistic. It’s a minor point really and can the filmmakers can be forgiven, but it bugged me.

So how did your August reading go? Did you find something great to read or watch? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy National Aviation Day!

Look!  What’s that in the sky?  Is it a bird?  Is it the sun?  By golly, it’s an airplane.

Now we take seeing these marvels of engineering for granted.  But back 120 years ago it was likely just a bird up in the air.

Today we mark the 81st anniversary of National Aviation Day.  Yes, it’s a little-known holiday, but that shouldn’t stop you from celebrating!  In 1939 President Roosevelt proclaimed August 19th, Orville Wright’s birthday, a day to commemorate the historic work of the Wright brothers.

The Wrights were not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, but they invented aircraft controls that made fixed wing flight possible.  And since that initial, historic, 1903 flight, brave men and women took to the skies in the 10s and 20s.  And now most US residents have flown at some point in their life.

What an impact the Wrights’ work has had!  One can go cross-country in an afternoon.  Behold the power of flight!

Honor Aviation Day and the Wrights.  Let your spirits soar by partaking of these great titles.

DVDS:

Memphis Belle  (2009)      Based on a true story about the famous plane of World War II, the Flying Fortress.  Memphis Belle is about the crew of one of the B-17s flying their last mission before they can go home to a hero’s welcome.

The Aviator  (2004)      Howard Hughes as the twenty-something millionaire, having already made a fortune improving the design of oil-drilling bits, comes to Hollywood with an interest in getting into the picture business.  His film was a massive hit, and the eccentric inventor became a mogul in Hollywood, making Jean Harlow a star and enjoying a romance with Katharine Hepburn.  But in time his passion for flying began to reclaim his attentions.  He began designing new planes, setting air speed records, flying around the world, and founded his own airline, Trans-World Airlines.

Sully  (2016)      The world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain Sully glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River.   However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career.

Planes: from above the world of Cars.   (2013)      Dusty is a crop-dusting plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer.  But Dusty’s not exactly built for racing, and he happens to be afraid of heights.  So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator, who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty’s courage is put to the ultimate test.

Airplane!  (1980)      In this spoof of disaster movies, an ex-Navy pilot with a deep aversion to planes finds himself on a flight with an ex-girlfriend he wants to win back.  He becomes embroiled in a crisis where the crew and many of the passengers have fallen seriously ill.  Now, it is up to him to overcome his fear of flying and land the airplane safely before the poisonings become fatal.

Books:

Unlocking the sky : Glenn Hammond Curtiss and the race to invent the airplane   By Seth Shulman.  (2002)      The first commercially sold airplane.  The first flight from one American city to another.  The first pilot license issued in this country.  These were just a few of the milestones in the career of Glenn Hammond Curtiss.  A tale of the race to design, refine, and manufacture a manned flying machine that took place in the air, on the ground, on the water, and in the courtrooms of America.  Who would be the first to make a workable airplane, and almost as critical, who would control the right to use or sell this revolutionary technology?

Area 51 black jets : a history of the aircraft developed at Groom Lake, America’s secret aviation base   By Bill Yenne.  (2014)      When most of us think of Area 51, we think of aliens, UFOs, and controversial government cover-ups.  It’s easy to forget that, since the mid-1950s, the United States’ famed extension of Edwards Air Force Base has served as a top-secret CIA testing ground for many of the most groundbreaking advancements in American military aviation technology.   The first fully illustrated chronology of Area 51‘s most famous aircraft projects.  This book reveals Area 51 for what it truly is: a clandestine area for the United States’ most cutting-edge technological innovators in military aviation.

 

 

Online Reading Challenge – Mid-Month Check-In

Hello Challenge Readers!

How is your August reading going? Have you found something you just can’t put down? Please let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

If you haven’t found a great book, or you’re running short of time, why not try a movie or television series? While Westerns don’t rule the tv screen or the movie theater like they once did, there are still plenty to choose from. Here is a sampling to give you some ideas.

Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner. A modern-day family saga centered on the largest ranch in the United States and the various threats the family must stand against.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford with Brad Pitt follows the notorious criminal Jesse James and his downfall at the hands of Robert Ford.

For classics, try High Noon with Gary Cooper, True Grit with John Wayne or Fort Apache with Henry Fonda, John Wayne and Shirley Temple.  If your taste runs to Spaghetti Westerns, we have The Clint Eastwood Collection, packed with some of his most iconic Western roles.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, we also have some favorite television series available on DVD including Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Maverick , and The Virginian.

 

Online Reading Challenge – Mid-Month Check-in

Hello Readers!

How has your reading been going this month? Have you found a good book to accompany this month’s film, Field of Dreams? With no Major League baseball until (fingers crossed) the end of the month, no minor league baseball and limited high school baseball, it’s been a very quiet season. But things are looking up; the MLB is set to return beginning July 23 and the highly anticipated “Field of Dreams” game in Dyersville is still scheduled to be played on August 13 (now with the Cardinals playing the White Sox). While you wait for this shortened season to begin, fill your time with some reading and some movies. Here are some baseball films to get you started.

A League of Their Own with an All-Star cast that includes Tom Hanks (“there’s no crying in baseball!”), Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and many more about an all-women’s league that played during another difficult time in our history, World War II.

Bull Durham. Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner heat things up in this funny story about a minor league baseball team.

The Natural with Robert Redford, is the story of Roy Hobbs, a baseball phenom that was on the path to stardom until his life takes an unexpected turn.

Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, is based on the true story of how Bill Beane put together a winning baseball team by drafting players using computer analysis.

Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig, one of the greatest baseball players of all time who rose from humble roots and faced a devastating disease with courage and honor.

Bang the Drum Slowly starring Robert De Niro, follows the developing friendship between a charismatic and worldly star pitcher and the simple, unsophisticated catcher who learns he is dying of cancer.

 

Online Reading Challenge – Mid-Month Check-In

Hello Challengers!

Half way through June and summer is really heating up. Have you found your 12 Angry Men inspired book yet? Maybe you’d prefer spending some time in the air conditioning, watching a movie or tv show. There are plenty to choose from!

Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo, based on a true story about an attorney that takes on a large corporation whose carelessness is causing countless deaths.

Mr Civil Rights, a documentary about Thurgood Marshall and his triumph in the Brown v. the Board of Education case which led to the desegregation of schools.

Anatomy of a Murder, a classic starring Jimmy Stewart about the trial of a husband accused of murdering his wife’s rapist.

Philadelphia with Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks covering a case that battles against AIDS discrimination.

As for television shows, there are almost too many to mention, from the classic Perry Mason to LA Law, Boston Legal, J.A.G., The Good Fight, Suits, Law and Order or one it’s many off-shoots, The Good Wife and Better Call Saul, you’re sure to find something that appeals to you.

 

Online Reading Challenge – Mid-Month Check

Hello!

I hope this finds you safe and healthy – these are crazy times we’re living through, aren’t they? I also hope you’re finding the Library’s online services helpful – though we miss seeing you at one of our locations, using e-books or e-audiobooks is a great alternative!

Usually at our Mid-Month Check, I suggest movies or television series that you can check out from the library that fit with that month’s theme. This month, of course, we aren’t checking out physical items so instead, I’m going to point you toward another great online resource available through the Library – Acorn TV! Acorn is a collection of mostly British television series that you can stream for free! There’s an amazing collection of shows to watch, perfect for staying-home and, since so many of them are British, a lot of them will fit into this month’s theme of Downton Abbey! Here’s a selection to get you started.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – set in the 1920s, this delightful series actually takes place in Australia (but it still counts!) with the fashionable Miss Fisher solving a variety of intriguing mysteries.

Victorian House of Arts and Crafts – this is a fun documentary that follows 21st century craftsmen as they work on renovate a Victorian-era house using 19th century tools and techniques.

Keeping the Castle is another documentary, this one about the expense and upkeep of one of those huge country estates in the modern age.

The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes is a series featuring classic mysteries with a variety of investigators set in the same time period as Sherlock Holmes.

It’s easy to get started with Acorn TV; simply go to the Davenport Library homepage, click on Digital Content, then click on the Acorn TV. You’ll need your library card number and an RB Digital account (also free) Licenses check out for one week with unlimited renewals.

Of course, you can also watch something from your own collection of DVDs or your streaming services (there are no Library Police!) Mostly, I recommend finding something fun and distracting!

Online Reading Challenge – Mid-Month Check

Hello! How is your month of serial killers going? I sincerely hope you’re reading about serial killers and not actually meeting any! Of course, Silence of the Lambs has other aspects you can read about – the FBI, murders even um, cannibalism. I chose to go with a plan old murder by Louise Penny and I’m very happy with my choice.

If you’re still looking, maybe a movie would be a good alternative. Here are some ideas.

Wind River with Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner.  An FBI agent teams with a town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.

Sicario starring Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin.  After an idealistic FBI agent is recruited by a to pursue a drug lord, she begins a perilous mission that  pits her against a shadowy consultant with a dangerous agenda.

Dirty Harry with Clint Eastwood. A rooftop sniper named Scorpio has killed twice. Streetwise San Francisco police detective Harry Callahan will nail the perp one way or another-

Now You See Me. An elite FBI squad in a game of cat and mouse against The Four Horsemen, a super-team of the world’s greatest illusionists.

Natural Born Killers with Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis. The story of a husband and wife who are serial killers involved in a cross-country killing spree that elevates them from fugitives into media celebrities.

Television series that fit the bill include The X-Files, Criminal Minds, White Collar, Fringe and Bones and Dexter.

And of course, there’s always Silence of the Lambs. Watch it with a nice Chianti.