Hello Fellow Readers!
How is August treating you? Have you found something great to read for the month of Art? I’ve already finished my book (Stolen Beauty by Laurie Albanese) which I’ll talk more about at the end of the month, but if you’re still looking, I recommend you take a look at this title.
If you haven’t found anything yet for August and are looking for something relatively quick, I have some movie suggestions for you.
Monuments Men with George Clooney and Matt Damon (and many other famous names) follows the World War II platoon that went into Germany to try and save and recover some of the thousands of art and artifacts stolen by the Nazi’s. Not the greatest film ever made, but the history of this real life group of men (based on fact) is riveting.
Mr Turner stars Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner, Britain’s most famous and revered landscape painter. Turner wasn’t exactly the most pleasant fellow, and this film doesn’t gloss that over.
Pollock with Ed Harris depicts the story of Jackson Pollock, the first great American modern painter. With success comes fame and fortune, but a volatile temper and emotional instability brings self-doubt and threatens his life’s work.
Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 10 – “Vincent and the Doctor”. OK, this one is not a movie, but an episode from the television series Doctor Who and even if you’re not a Doctor Who fan (Really? Come on!), this is well worth tracking down. The Doctor and his companion Amy travel back in time and try to help Vincent Van Gogh. He is plagued by terrible visions (which turn out to be a terrible monster from another planet only he can see, but just go with it) While the story is science fiction, the human elements – Van Gogh’s suffering, the Doctor and Amy’s compassion, the impact of Van Gogh’s legacy is brilliant, beautiful and ultimately, heartbreaking. Highly recommended.
Hello Challenge Readers!
How is your month of Books about Books going? Have you found something you just can’t put down? Please let us know if you have!
If you’re still struggling to find something for the April Challenge, how about trying a movie? There are some fun ones!
Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Ah, the classic rom-com. A famous actress stumbles into a tiny, quaint bookstore in London, meets the charming and diffident owner and the rest, after the resiquite obstacles are overcome, is history. Lovely.
You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Another classic, this time set in New York City. A major bookstore chain moves into the neighborhood and pushes out the tiny children’s bookstore. It’s a blast-from-the-past with aol and dial-up (and big bookstore chains aren’t doing so well now) but still sweet and funny.
The Princess Bride with Cary Elwes and Robin Wright. It’s a storybook brought to life! One of the best films ever, with lots of scene-stealing funny bits and and an endless supply of great lines.
The Bookshop with Emily Mortimer. In 1959 England, a young widow follows her dream and opens a bookshop in a small, conservative coastal town.
And you can always watch a movie made from/inspired by a book! (The book is almost always better, but that doesn’t mean the movie can’t be fun too) My favorites are some of the many adaptations of Jane Austen’s books, but there is almost a limitless list to choose from!
How is your reading going this month? Have you found something great to read? If you’re still looking, you might want to consider a movie instead. Here are a few ideas.
Ben-Hur starring Charleston Huston set in ancient Rome at the birth of Christianity.
Schindler’s List with Liam Neeson tells the inspiring and heartbreaking story of what one person can do against unfathomable evil.
The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. Enjoy a lovely if fantastical scavenger hunt through some beautiful churches and archives.
The Handmaid’s Tale with Elisabeth Moss. A chilling look at a future ruled by a religion-based autocracy.
9/11 starring Charlie Sheen and The Looming Tower with Jeff Daniels, both of which examine the consequences of religious fanaticism and the attack on the United States.
Hello Fellow Challengers!
How is the month of February going for you challenge-wise? There have certainly been plenty of snow days which invite lots of cozy reading and movie watching. Unfortunately, it also requires a fair amount of shoveling and scraping-off-the-car time too!
If you’d like some more suggestions for this month’s Food theme, how about trying a movie? There are some great ones!
Ratatouille – Rats in the kitchen is not appealing at all, but somehow Disney makes it adorable. Animated.
The Hundred-Foot Journey starring Helen Mirren. Can two very different restaurants learn to exist across from each other? And even learn from each other?
Chef starring Jon Favreau. A discouraged, out-of-work chef starts a food truck allowing him to regain his creative purpose as well as his estranged family.
Burnt starring Bradley Cooper. A chef who had it all then loses it because of his reckless lifestyle attempts a comeback. A great look at the chaotic professional kitchen.
Food, Inc – A hard look at the industrialization of our nation’s food supply and how it’s affecting farmers, consumer health, worker safety and our environment.
Guest post by Laura V
I remember seeing the original Overboard movie starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn when it was released. I thought it was entertaining but not remarkable enough for a reboot so I was surprised to learn it was remade. This version stars Eugenio Derbez as Leonardo Montenegro and Anna Faris as Kate Sullivan. As far as I remember, it was basically the same plot with reversal of roles, Derbez plays the rich guy and Sullivan plays the poor woman. Eva Longoria plays Kate’s best friend, Theresa, and Mel Rodriguez plays her husband, Bobby.
I recently watched How to be a Latin Lover starring Derbez and was disappointed. There was potential for that movie to make fun of stereotypes and it was squandered at every turn while reinforcing some negative stereotypes along the way. Overboard was better. While it had the predictability that everyone should expect from a remake of an original that wasn’t highbrow cinematography to begin with, it took a huge chance, culturally speaking. To me, that was enough to make it interesting.
We got to see the family to which Derbez’ character belongs speaking Spanish with English subtitles. Yes, they are millionaires who are basically the telenovela (soap opera) portion of the movie, but their over-the-top drama is what makes them absurdly entertaining, just like actual TV telenovelas. They couldn’t have been a more realistic wealthy family because then the story wouldn’t have had the material for the plot. I also enjoyed seeing the more authentic portrayal of Latinos with the banter among the construction workers on Bobby’s job site. The romance felt a bit forced. I felt the daughters developed more of a relationship with Derbez’ character than Faris’ character.
If you’re looking for a lighthearted romp with the courage to include characters of color with their culture still intact, I recommend this movie.
How is your month of Edwardian reading going? Have you found something that has grabbed your interest? If you’re still looking, maybe a movie would be the ticket – there are some gorgeous films set during this time period. Here are a few to consider:
A Room With a View – From the famous production team of Merchant and Ivory, this gorgeous film of love and romance stars Helen Bonham-Carter and Daniel Day-Lewis and is set in the idyllic Italian countryside.
Howard’s End – Another beautiful Merchant and Ivory production, starring Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, brings the rigid rules of Edwardian society into sharp focus.
Edwardian Farm – Find out how the other half lives when two archaeologists and a historian recreate farm life for a full year using practices from 1906 England. Fascinating!
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady – So beautiful! Filmed on location in England and Scotland, this drama follows artist Edith Holden through the changing seasons.
Murdoch Mysteries – Follow Detective William Murdoch as he solves murder mysteries in Edwardian Toronto using the latest scientific methods.
Parade’s End – From the end of the Edwardian era through World War I, this epic story of romance and betrayal stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall.
Mary Poppins – For something much lighter and happier, you can’t go wrong with Mary Poppins. It’s magical and fun and surprisingly thoughtful. Don’t miss it.
Miss Potter – The charming story of Beatrix Potter’s efforts to publish her first books and gain some measure of independence as a single woman in Edwardian England. Lovely and heartbreaking. Starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor.
Howdy Readers! How’s your Westward Expansion reading experience going this month?
I am working away at reading Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage which recounts the journey of Lewis and Clark. It has been a bit of a slog so far – interesting but maybe too detailed – but I haven’t gotten to the actual journey yet. Things should pick up then.
If you’re still searching for a book to read be sure to stop by any of the Davenport Library locations and check our displays which have a variety of interesting titles. Or reach for a DVD – we have a wide range to choose from. You can go classic/nostalgic and check out a television Western which used to be so popular – Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Little House on the Prairie, Bonanza or The Virginian. We also have a huge collection of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood westerns.
If you’d like to look beyond the stereotypes, there are some excellent documentaries that are well worth watching. Lewis and Clark: the Journey of the Corps of Discovery and The West, both produced by Ken Burns, are beautifully done.
For a modern, often violent look at the Old West try There Will Be Blood or The Revenant or the remake of True Grit.
Lovely, fascinating, mesmerizing are all excellent ways to describe the short film Loving Vincent. Unique also works – it is unlikely you’ve ever watched anything quite like this movie.
Loving Vincent takes place one year after the apparent suicide of Vincent Van Gogh in the French town of Arles. A postmaster insists that his son deliver Vincent’s last letter to Theo Van Gogh, his brother. The son is reluctant but soon becomes invested in discovering more about Vincent’s last days. Vincent was a social misfit and suffered from mental illness, but the mounting evidence indicates that he had been feeling much better and was not suicidal (in fact, he had just ordered more paint and canvases the day before he was shot) The people of Arles are divided on how they feel about the situation – some hated Vincent, some tolerated him and others truly appreciated him. Was it suicide? An accident? Or was it murder?
As intriguing as the story is, it is its presentation that will really grab your attention. More than 100 artists hand painted each scene, bringing Van Gogh’s paintings to life. Created in Van Gogh’s distinctive style and color palette, it is mesmerizing to watch one famous painting after another become animated. The story flows naturally, the paintings serving the story and adding depth and emotion to Van Gogh’s world. It is a journey well worth taking.
How is your reading going this month? Have you found something set in the Ancient world to read, or are you taking a pass? I am about halfway through reading Circe by Madeline Miller which I am enjoying a lot. I’ll tell you more about it and have my final review at the end of the month.
If you’re still looking for ideas, be sure to check the comment from Lin on the May 1 blog post – they have given us a nice list of favorites from this time period!
If you’re running short on time, try a movie or documentary! Here are a few suggestions:
Guest post by Laura
Salma Hayek plays the lead in this thought-provoking “comedy.” Although I laughed at times throughout the film, it would be more accurate to categorize Beatriz at Dinner as a drama. Hayek is finally given a break from the stereotypical sexy Latina spitfire role in which she in normally cast. She doesn’t disappoint in her portrayal of a spiritual, non-materialistic healer with a strong desire for fairness and justice. Although this character could easily have been a blonde hippie, Beatriz’s backstory as an immigrant from Mexico deepens the storyline.
The movie takes place in the grand Southern California home overlooking the ocean of one of her massage clients. Her car breaks down and her client, who also considers Beatriz a friend, convinces her husband to let her stay for his dinner with his business partners. The evening enfolds with much drama spurred on by far too much liquor and the uncomfortable pairing of people from opposite ends of the socio-political and economic spectrum in this country. Jon Lithgow matches Hayek in his performance as a Trump-era capitalist and verbal sparring ensues.
The ending has become a Google search phrase, as evidenced by my starting to type it and it popped up. I was satisfied with the movie until the end, which disappointed me at first. I read an interview with the director, Miguel Arteta, who explained, “we have gotten really used to having our ending be predigested for us.” He goes on to say he wanted an open-ended conclusion to make people start thinking for themselves. After reading the interview, I have created my own justification for the end in my mind. It worked! He got me to think for myself and not accept a neat and tidy ending fed to me by Hollywood.
Like a complex novel that merits re-reading, I might have to view Beatriz at Dinner again to dissect all of the layers and nuances. While it’s not a movie to invite your friends to watch for a lighthearted good time, it is worth watching as a Latino director and a Latina actress’ take on our current political climate.