Movie Mondays: Top 10 DVD releases of 2014


1. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
After years of unavailability on home video, French director Jacques Demy’s magnificent, one-of-a-kind musical gets a deluxe release from Criterion. This is what movies were meant for.

2. Sleeping Beauty. Disney opens the vault once again to give us another look at this gorgeous film, the last masterpiece the company released during Walt Disney’s lifetime.

3. The Act of Killing. One of the most shocking film experiences of the last few years, Joshua Oppenheimer’s harrowing documentary interrogates a group of free men responsible for genocide.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street. Martin Scorsese’s vibrant and brilliantly excessive portrayal of American greed makes everyone, including the audience, complicit for the lifestyles of the rich and (in)famous.

5. The Wind Rises. The swan song from the most revered animation director of our time, The Wind Rises is a passion project about dreamers who push to conceive the impossible.

6. Sorcerer. This recently re-released remake of The Wages of Fear about ne’er-do-wells hauling nitroglycerin through the jungle is one of cinema’s most heart-pounding experiences.

7. Blue is the Warmest Color. There is not one emotional note that rings false during the three generous hours of this film about first love.

8. Under the Skin. Hypnotic and challenging, Jonathan Glazer’s film about an alien looking to make a connection will be one to revisit for years to come.

9. Ms. 45. This brutally graphic depiction of a mute woman’s revenge on the entire male population of New York is stomach-churning, thought-provoking, and just as essential today as it was upon release 30 years ago.

10. Los Angeles Plays Itself. This feature-length film essay that raised the bar on criticism and analysis finally gets a DVD release after years in limbo over its extensive use of film clips.


1. SnowpiercerJoon-ho Bong’s film about the inhabitants of a train that circumnavigates an inhabitable earth is at once dystopian, philosophical, violent and camp of the highest order.

2. Only Lovers Left AliveJim Jarmusch’s sumptuous film about suicidally romantic vampires turns the familiar genre on its head. The soundtrack is the year’s best.

3. HerSpike Jonze deserved the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for this gorgeous, barely sci-fi story of a lonely man who falls in love with his almost human operating system.

4. Under the SkinI was mesmerized by the unforgettable – often disturbing – imagery, visionary direction, eerie soundtrack, and Scarlett Johansson’s fearless performance.

5. A Field in EnglandI won’t claim to understand what much of the movie was about, except that it was about 17th century Englishmen who trip on mushrooms in a field, but it was mesmerizing and completely original.

6. Willow Creek. The year’s best horror movie, directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, follows a couple who get lost in the woods on the hunt for proof of Bigfoot. Whether you love camping or hate it, you’ll be unsettled in equal measure.

7. Bad WordsJason Bateman is the world’s biggest jerk as an adult who competes against 8th graders in a spelling bee. It’s rude, crude and lewd, and I haven’t laughed so hard all year.

8. Borgman. This Dutch import, about a homeless man who infiltrates the lives of a wealthy family after his subterranean home is destroyed, is both charming and chilling, just like a modern fairy tale should be. Also available on hoopla.

9. Blue RuinThis slow burn thriller features no star power or big budget, but it’s a riveting indie flick about revenge that doesn’t waste a single second of screen time.

10. EnemyJake Gyllenhaal brings his unnerving intensity to this perplexing drama about a man who becomes obsessed with his doppelganger. Also boasts the year’s most jaw-dropping finale.


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Holiday Season: Time To Start Learning A Foreign Language

By Library Staff

There are many reasons and benefits to learning a foreign language.  It could help you achieve some career or traveling goals. It may also improve academic skills, aid in brain development, and slow aging.

Brain 2So, why not start this joyous project this holiday season to prepare for the new year? It’s a good time no matter what your goal is. If you’re thinking of traveling abroad next summer, start now to be ready. For your job and school, you always have to work to get better. If you’re an older adult, keep your brain fit as well as your body.  Also, it’ll give you something to do and the pure pleasure of learning. Continue reading

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Science Fiction Friday: Writers Write

By Richard C.

“Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration.”
—Ralph Keyes

NaNoWriMo may have come to a close, but that’s all the more reason for writers to retain momentum. Did you submit to the library’s self-publishing contest or hear about Write out of this World? Maybe you’ve considered the Potlatch Convention or the Clarion West Workshop. Writers write, but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. Here’s some library help especially for you aspiring SF and Fantasy writers.

Convos With Oct ButlerConversations with Octavia Butler 
Give this one a try before diving into the resources specifically on writing advice and developing ideas. Octavia Butler was not only a multiple award winning SF author, but her interviews reveal much about what the experience of writing SF is like. In a 1980 interview, hear about her frustrations as a young writer as well as issues of identity and authorship you probably can’t get anywhere else. In another, hear about how she became the first SF writer to win a MacArthur Genius Grant and why she first started a writing career. In my favorite one she shares her thinking on portraying aliens in SF…


Continue reading

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Flash Fiction: Shoelaces

Editor’s note: As part of our Seattle Writes series, we invited local writers who participated in author Ann Teplick’s “Voices Up” workshops to submit short pieces (flash fiction and nonfiction) to Shelf Talk. We’re pleased to share this selection with you.

by Kathryn White

I remember when I was little, living in Greenwich Village in a small studio apartment with parquet floors.

I was frequently barefoot in my home, but never outside.

Too much garbage, broken glass, and hard concrete.

Too many ways to puncture my feet and end up with a bad cut—or worse—gangrene.

These were the days before velcro—when you either tied your own shoelaces, an adult tied them, or you left them untied—and risked tripping, falling, and skinning your knees.

I yearned to learn how to tie my own shoelaces—wanting that easy, smooth, flowing motion of the grown-ups.  I wanted to figure out how to go from two loops to a bow and then double-bow (to keep them from ever untying). Continue reading

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Romantic Wednesdays: The Gamblers

By Jessica W.

Historical romance can be somewhat limited in where the romance happens. Is it this ballroom or that ballroom? Rotten Row or a country house party? In the public eye, rules can’t be broken. But in the gambling clubs and hells of London, the rules of society take a second place to the rules of chance. When a hero or heroine is no stranger to Lady Luck, their willingness to risk it all can pay off in love.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover in the Library catalogSarah MacLean just released the final book of her Rule of Scoundrels quartet, Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover. While it’s a wonderful finale, it really is best appreciated after you’ve read the first three. The series begins with A Rogue By Any Other Name, the story of the Marquess of Bourne and the very proper Lady Penelope. Bourne is a societal outcast with only his title, but has made his way as a co-owner of the most notorious gambling club in London, The Fallen Angel. Penelope has everything he does not: society’s acceptance, and piles of money. He plans their marriage as one of pure convenience for him, but Penelope has other plans, starting with exploring the forbidden pleasures offered at the Angel. Continue reading

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Mystery Challenge: Noir

~ by David W.

If you’ve been taking our Mystery Challenge, you’ve tried many different types of whodunits across a spectrum from cute to bleak, but all these stories have had one thing in common: justice has prevailed in the end. But what happens when there is no justice, or when even justice seems unjust? Noir happens. Continue reading

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Movie Mondays: Seeing Red

Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento is most famous for his over-the-top tale of witchcraft, Suspiria, but his previous film, 1975’s Deep Red is the better picture. David Hemmings stars as a pianist trying to track down a serial killer whose increasingly grisly crimes give the film its title. It’s a boilerplate premise turned masterful work of art thanks to Argento’s indelible images, the film’s cool milieu, and the ear-splitting prog rock soundtrack courtesy of Goblin. Continue reading

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