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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Summer Film Club Series: July

Hey everybody!  Our first month of our Summer Film series went quite well, thank you to everyone who was able to attend!

Our films for the month of July are: Aliens and Moon

Thursday, July 20th at 6:15 pm


Aliens (click for trailer)

Aliens is a 1986 American science fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, William Hope, and Bill Pa
xton.  It is the sequel to the 1979 film Alien and the second installment in the Alien franchise.  The film follows Weaver's character Ellen Ripley as she returns to the planet where her crew encountered the hostile Alien creature, this time accompanied by a unit of space marines.

It was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Sigourney Weaver, winning both Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects.  Aliens is considered one of the best films in its genre.  Aliens received near universal critical acclaim.  It currently holds a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert awarded it 3 1/2/4 stars and said this in his review, "The ads for Aliens claim that this movie will frighten you as few movies have, and, for once, the ads don't lie.  Aliens is absolutely, painfully and unremittingly intense for at least its last hour.  I have never seen a movie that maintains such a pitch of intensity for so long; it's like being on some kind of hair-raising carnival ride that never stops.  Yet, I have to be accurate about this movie: It is a superb example of filmmaking craft.  The director, James Cameron, has been assigned to make an intense and horrifying thriller, and he has delivered.  Weaver, who is onscreen almost all the time, comes through with a very strong, sympathetic performance: She's the thread that holds everything together.  The supporting players are sharply drawn.  The special effects are professional.  I'm giving the movie a high rating for its skill and professionalism and because it does the job it says it will do.  I am also advising you not to eat before you see it."


Thursday, July 27th at 6:15 pm


Moon (click for trailer)

Moon is a 2009 British science fiction drama film co-written and directed by Duncan Jones.  The film follows Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a man who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of a three-years solitary stint mining helium-3 on the far side of the Moon.  It was the feature debut of director Duncan Jones.  Kevin Spacey voices Sam's robot companion, GERTY.  Moon premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.  It was well received by critics and Rockwell's performance found praise as did the film's scientific realism and plausibility.  This is the first feature film directed by commercial director Duncan Jones (son of the late David Bowie), who co-wrote the script with Nathan Parker.  The film was specifically written as a vehicle for actor Sam Rockwell.  The film pays homage to the films of Jones' youth, such as Silent Running, Alien and Outland.

Moon was generally well received by critics and holds an 89% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Roger Ebert awarded the film 3 1/2/4 stars and said this in his review, "In an age when our space and distance boundaries are being pushed way beyond the human comfort zone, how do we deal with the challenges of space in real time?  In lower gravity, how do our bodies deal with loss of bone and muscle mass?  How do our minds deal with long periods of isolation?  Space is a cold and lonely place, pitiless and indifferent, as Bruce Dern's character grimly realized in Douglas Trumball's classic Silent Running.  At least he had the consolation that he was living with Earth's last vegetation.  Sam has no consolations at all.    What kind of man would volunteer for this duty?  What kind of a corporation would ask him to?  We, and he, find out.  Moon is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind or other, including digital.  The movie is really all about ideas.  It only seems to be about emotions.  How real are our emotions, anyway?  How real are we?  Someday I will die.  This laptop I'm using is patient and can wait."

Monday, June 5, 2017

Film Club Summer Series: June

Ok, let the Summer Series begin!

For the month of June our two films will be: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien

Thursday, June 15th at 6:15 pm

2001: A Space Odyssey (click for trailer)

2001A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science-fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick.  The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel".  Clarke concurrently wrote the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, published soon after the film was released.  The film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affection human evolution.  It deals with the themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial life.  It is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, pioneering special effects, and ambiguous imagery.  It uses sound and minimal dialogue in place of traditional narrative techniques; the soundtrack consists of classical music such as Gayane Ballet Suite, The Blue Danube, and Also Sprach Zarathustra.

2001: A Space Odyssey initially received mixed reactions from critics and audiences, but it garnered a cult following and slowly became the highest-grossing North American film of 1968.  It was nominated for four Academy Awards and received one for its visual effects.  Today, 2001: A Space Odyssey is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.  In 1991, it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the Nation Film Registry.

It currently holds a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert awarded the film 4/4 stars later adding it to his list of "Great Movies", he said this in his review, "Only a few films are transcendent, and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or avast belittling landscape.  Most movies are about characters with a goal in mind, who obtain it after difficulties either comic or dramatic.  2001: A Space Odyssey is not about a goal but about a quest, a need.  It does not hook its effects on specific plot points, nor does it ask us to identify with Dave Bowman or any other character.  It says to us: We became men when we learned to think.  Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are.  Now it is time to move on the next step, to know that we live not on a planet but among the stars, and that we are not flesh but intelligence."


Thursday, June 29th at 6:15 pm


Alien (click for trailer)

Alien is a 1979 British-American science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm and Yaphet Kotto.  The film's title refers to a highly aggressive extraterrestrial creature that stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship.  Dan O'Bannon wrote the screenplay from a story he wrote with Ronald Shusett, drawing influence from previous works of science fiction and horror.  The eponymous Alien and its accompanying elements were designed by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, while concept artists Ron Cobb and Chris Foss designed the human aspects of the film.

Alien received both critical acclaim and box office success, receiving an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.  It has remained highly praised in subsequent decades, being considered one of the greatest films of all time.  In 2002, the film was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

The film holds a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and Roger Ebert awarded the film 4/4 stars later adding it to his list of "Great Movies", saying this in his review, "One of the great strengths of Alien is its pacing.  It takes its time.  It waits.  It allows silences (the majestic opening shots are underscored by Jerry Goldsmith with scarcely audible, far-off metallic chatterings).  It suggests the enormity of the crew's discovery by building up to it with small steps: The interception of a signal (is it a warning or an SOS?).  The descent to the extraterrestrial surface.  The complaining by Brett and Parker, who are concerned only about collecting their shares.  The masterstroke of the surface murk through which the crew members move, their helmet lights hardly penetrating the soup.  The shadowy outline of an alien ship.  The sight of the alien pilot, frozen in his command chair.  The enormity of the discovery inside the ship.  The result is a film that absorbs us in a mission before it involves us in an adventure, and that consistently engages the alien with curiosity and logic, instead of simply firing at it.  Alien has been called the most influential of modern action pictures, and so it is.  A few more ambitious and serious sci-fi films have also followed in its footsteps, but the original still vibrates with a dark and frightening intensity."


Film Club Summer Series: Space

Hey everybody!  Summer is finally here!
I'd like to start by saying thank you to everyone who was able to attend our screening of Arrival, we had a wonderful turnout, a great discussion afterwards and as always, an abundance of food.  Thank you so much for making my job so much fun!

As is the custom with Film Club (at least for the past couple years), we will be having our summer series of films that focuses on a specific director, theme, or genre.  For this summer I have decided to coincide the theme for our Film Club with our summer Astronomy series.  Following suit, we will have two films a month for the months of June, July, and August.  I've decided to show 6 films that all have to do with space, and as an unplanned added bonus, they are selected from almost every decade starting in the 60s, so it will be cool to see how the depiction of space has evolved over the past 50 years.

Now, the films. (I will have more in-depth information on the films for each month, this is just so you know what titles and on what days we're screening them).











(All showtimes will be 6:15pm)

June 15th: 2001: A Space Odyssey

June 29th: Alien

July 20th: Aliens

July 27th: Moon

Aug 17th: Gravity

Aug 24th: The Martian

Sci-fi is one of my favorite genres and space in particular is one of my favorite subjects.  I think this will be a very fun summer series that will go well with the library's Astronomy series throughout the summer months.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Film Club

Hello everyone!  Looks like we still can't quite get some semi-consistent good weather.  Thank you to everyone who was able to attend last month's screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we had a really good turnout!

For the month of May, I've decided to show another new film, perhaps one of my favorites of the past year.  That film is Denis Villeneuve's masterful sci-fi film, Arrival.

Arrival is a 2016 American science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve.  The screenplay by Eric Heisserer was based on the 1998 short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang.  In the film, 12 alien crafts land at various locations around the globe and each nation reacts to them differently in an attempt to understand what the visitors want.  The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.  The film received critical acclaim, particularly for its atmosphere, intelligent science fiction storyline, and Adam's performance.  The American Film Institute selected it as one of ten Movies of the Year, and at the 89th Academy Awards, it won the award for Best Sound Editing, as well as nominations for seven others including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  The film currently holds a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and Brian Tallerico, writing for Rogerebert.com, gave the film 3/4 stars, saying this in his review: "...This is ambitious, accomplished filmmaking that deserves an audience.  It's a film that forces viewers to reconsider that which makes us truly human and the impact of grief on that timeline of existence.  At its best, and largely through Adams' performance, the film proposes that we've all had those days in which communication breaks down and fear over the unknown sets in.  And it is the best of us who persevere, get up from being knocked down and repair that which is broken."

I hope you have a chance to come on out and see this wonderful film from one of my more recent favorite directors!

Here's the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFMo3UJ4B4g

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April Film Club

It's April!  Let's hope the coldest days are behind us and all we have to endure is a whole lot of rain.  Down to business.  For the month of April I will be following the trend I started a few years ago, of just playing whatever I darn well feel like playing, no theme, no specific genre, just a movie that I love (It's my birthday month!).  So, for this year's April Film Club, we are going to be watching the newest addition to the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Rogue One is a 2016 American epic space opera film directed by Gareth Edwards and written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, based on a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta.  It was produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.  It is the first installment of the Star Wars Anthology series, set immediately before the events of the original Star Wars film.  The cast includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker.  Rogue One follows a group of rebels on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, the Galactic Empire's superweapon.  Rogue One received generally positive reviews, with praise for its acting, action sequences, musical score and darker tone.  It received two Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.  The film currently holds a certified fresh rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Matt Zoller Seitz, writing for Rogerebert.com, gave the film 3 and a half stars out of 4, saying this in his review, "The film adds much-needed shading to the Rebel Alliance, which has both moderate and "militant" elements that don't trust each other and often work at cross-purpose.  The military leadership argues about whether it's better to be aggressive or cautious; the Imperial generals and bureaucrats debate tactics as well, and the question of whether it's better to ask forgiveness or permission comes up more than once.  This is the first entry in the saga that convinces us that its characters live in an actual civilization, with rules and traditions and a sense of history (and a religion) that they measure themselves against. ("The force moves darkly around a creature that's about to kill," one character informs another, anticipating a betrayal.)  Rogue One also gets into the question of whether it's morally acceptable to surrender or simply give up when you're too tired or broken to fight.  Its conclusions are more nuanced than you might expect.  The Force may be with you always, but there are times when its weight feels like too much to carry."

We will be meeting Thursday, April 20th at 6:15pm.
I hope you are able to come out and enjoy this film with us!

Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March Film Club

Hey everybody!  Well, March is here and hopefully winter will be extinguished for good and we'll actually have a spring, that would be something!
For the month of March we will be following the pattern we have over the past few years of playing an Irish film in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  In case you've forgotten some of those films include: Bloody Sunday, My Left Foot, The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Waking Ned Devine.  Some of those were very serious dramas, others, comedies.  This year we will be watching a black comedy.  The directorial debut of John Michael McDonagh, (brother of the very talented Martin McDonagh). The Guard.

(Before we get into the details of the film, I should note that we will be meeting the 5TH THURSDAY, MARCH 30th, rather than the 3rd Thursday.  This was a scheduling conflict so, my apologies.)

The Guard is 2011 Irish buddy cop comedy film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, starring Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong and Liam Cunningham.  It is the most successful independent Irish film of all time in terms of Irish box-office receipts, overtaking The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006), which previously held this status.  The film received critical acclaim and was a box office success.  Both Gleeson and Cheadle received acclaim for their performances, with Gleeson receiving a nomination for a Golden Globe.  Reviews for The Guard were overwhelmingly positive.  It currently holds a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 125 reviews.  Roger Ebert awarded the film 3 1/2 stars and said this in his review, "Gleeson has a way in this movie of making outrageous statements with such openness that we can't be sure if he means them or what he means by them.  He makes a lot of comments about blacks that exist in a twilight zone between ignorance and guile.  Is he trying to offend Everett or is he simply clueless?  Is there a method to his cluelessness?  It isn't limited to race-related subjects; one of this film's pleasures is the way Gleeson's dialogue obliquely suggests a great deal of intelligence and wit.  The agent tells him: "I can't tell if you're really [bleeping] dumb or really [bleeping] smart."  McDonagh's fundamentals are formulas: good cop/bad cop, fish out of water, odd couple.  He leavens these familiar forms with an enchanting Irishness in which visitors at times suspect they are the butt of an unexpressed joke.  The local color is flawless.  "The Guard" is a pleasure.  I can't tell if it's really (bleeping) dumb or really (bleeping) smart, but it's pretty (bleeping) good."

I feel I should let you know before you attend that it is rated R and there is some consistent hard language throughout.  I almost didn't pick it but then I remembered that we watched Fargo and that you guys are all really open minded and awesome and that you could handle it.  So, I hope you decide to come on out and enjoy this film with me!
(REMEMBER: Thursday, March 30th at 6:15pm)

Here's the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygVa2W2Qrac


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February Film Club

Howdy folks!

Wow, it's February already, January seemed to fly by, now, if only the cold and gray would fly by as well and get on with Spring, but such is life in the Midwest.

In keeping with past February Film Clubs, I thought I would show another romantic film.  Some of the past years have included: Casablanca, (500) Days of Summer, and The Purple Rose of Cairo.  This year (and kind of coincidentally) I have chosen another film directed by Rob Reiner.  We will be watching The Princess Bride.

The Princess Bride is a 1987 American romantic fantasy-adventure comedy film directed and co-produced by Rob Reiner, and starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, and Christopher Guest.  Adapted by William Goldman from his 1973 novel of the same name, it tells the story about a farmhand named Westley, accompanied by befriended companions along the way, who must rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from the odious Prince Humperdinck.  The story is presented in the film as a book being read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his sick grandson (Fred Savage), thus effectively preserving the novel's narrative style.

In 2016, the film was inducted into the National Film Registry, being deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."  The film received critical acclaim.  On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 97% certified fresh rating based on 64 reviews.  Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert gave the film "two thumbs up" on their tv show, and Ebert gave the film 3 and a half stars saying this in his review, "The Princess Bride reveals itself as a sly parody of sword and sorcery movies, a film that somehow manages to exist on two levels at once:  While younger viewers will sit spellbound at the thrilling events on the screen, adults, I think, will be laughing a lot.  In its own peculiar way, The Princess Bride resembles This is Spinal Tap, an earlier film by the same director, Rob Reiner.  Both films are funny not only because they contain comedy, but because Reiner does justice to the underlying form of his story.  "Spinal Tap" looked and felt like a rock-documentary-and then it was funny.  The Princess Bride looks and feels like Legend or any of those other quasi-heroic epic fantasies- and then it goes for the laughs.  Part of the secret is that Reiner never stays with the same laugh very long.  There are a lot of people for his characters to meet as they make their long journey, and most of them are completely off the wall.  The Princess Bride was adapted by William Goldman from his own novel, which he says was inspired by a book he read as a child, but which seems to have been cheerfully transformed by his wicked adult imagination.  It is filled with good-hearted fun, with performances by actors who seem to be smacking their lips and by a certain true innocence that survives all of Reiner's satire."

We will be meeting Thursday, Feb. 16th at 6:15 pm

I hope you can come on out and join us for this wonderfully fun and funny film.

Here's the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtj_Ix5IUo8