The Story of Film Part 8: New Directors, New Form

Continuing our journey through The Story of Film, we move further abroad as a new wave of filmmakers emerges across the world. With the French New wave in full flower and major new filmmakers from Italy and Sweden, cinema was in an exciting period of growth, with new directors emerging from countries whose voices had yet to be heard from.

The death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 had begun a political “thaw” in Communist bloc countries, which in turn began a blossoming of film culture within them. In Poland, the emergence of the Polish Film School, influenced by the Italian neo-realist film movement, would produce several influential directors including Andrzej Wajda, whose work focused on the social and political evolution of Poland and her people. Wajda’s War Trilogy of films (PokolenieKanal, Ashes & Diamonds) focused on the Polish experience during World War 2 and its aftermath, with characters struggling to survive and resist their country’s occupiers.

From the same milieu came director Roman Polanski, who had worked as an actor in two of Wadja’s films. Polanski’s first feature, Knife In the Water, was an international success about the psychological games played between a married couple and a young hitchhiker. Polanski would quickly leave Poland, choosing to work in Great Britain and America, where he would direct the critically acclaimed films RepulsionRosemary’s Baby, and Chinatown.

Continue reading “The Story of Film Part 8: New Directors, New Form”

Hello from the Center of the Universe!

Your Fremont Branch team misses seeing you at the Center of the Universe and hearing about your latest Library discoveries. Here’s what we’ve enjoyed lately and think you might like, too.

While you’re waiting for the Seattle Reads There There events to happen later this year, try reading Lot by Bryan Washington. It’s also a set of interconnected stories, set in the sprawling neighborhoods of Houston. I’ve been reading up on all things Texas recently, partially because of idle thoughts of moving there, but mostly because you can’t really understand America’s future without coming to grips with it. Texas, and Houston in particular, is far more complicated and diverse than the caricature version you see in pop culture. Lot is a staccato blast of fiction. Its cast of young characters reflects its tangle of heritage in short set pieces that mix bravado and despair. ~ Daniel S. Continue reading “Hello from the Center of the Universe!”

Comics Before Cinema, Part One

Like many stuck at home, I have been looking forward to warm days that could coax me outdoors and read a good comic while basking in the sun. However, us Washingtonians do expect a spat of rain every now and again to water our Evergreen state and it is a given that most of us are back indoors when it pours.

As a fan of graphic novels and comics, I decided to spend some of my free time researching (or more accurately, binge-watching) television shows and movies that were inspired by the illustrated medium ​that I so enjoy. Thanks to online streaming there are quite a few titles available, and I admit that I have not watched or read most of what I’ve listed (though not for a lack of trying!) and I made it a point to explore outside the expansive DC and Marvel universe.

This will be the first of three posts featuring graphic novels and comics as the original source material of popular movies or shows. If you liked what you’ve seen on screen, try reading it…because sometimes the comic book is better.

The Best of Archie Comics 75 years, 75 Stories by Bob MontanaArchie: 75 Years, 75 Stories by Bob Montana

Did you know that over 300 Archie comics are available on Hoopla? Fans of the show Riverdale can find Archie and the gang across a platform of genres ranging from the light-hearted feel-good classics like The Best of Archie Comics to a more serious coming-of-age story set during the start of WWII in Archie: 1941. ​ And who could forget that time zombies infested the town (Afterlife with Archie) or when Predator came to crash Spring Break in Archie vs. Predator? There are also several titles set in the silver screen universe of Riverdale Digest for die-hard fans of the show. Continue reading “Comics Before Cinema, Part One”

Panic on the Rails in our Thrilling Tales podcast

Two trains speed toward each other in a blizzard, as a killer wanders the night! Melodrama on the rails, in this week’s Thrilling Tales: Storytime for Grownups, available now! On May 20, 1920 the readers opening the new issue of Metropolitan magazine were captivated by a heart-stopping tale entitled The Signal Tower, by Wadsworth Camp. Never heard of him? Neither had I! Most of the details we know about the man come from biographies of his daughter Madeleine L’Engle, the beloved author of A Wrinkle in Time. Camp was known in his day as the author of several excellent mystery novels, many of which were adapted to the stage or screen. Continue reading “Panic on the Rails in our Thrilling Tales podcast”

Remembering Lynn Shelton

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

On May 15th, Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton died from a blood disorder at 54. Shelton was known for her intimate style of filmmaking, which was frequently both touching and funny, and for her commitment to making films about (and filming them in) Seattle. As her career moved forward, she worked with bigger and bigger stars – she directed four episodes of the acclaimed Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere – but always retained her independent spirit, which are on display with her films, many of which can be streamed on Kanopy and Hoopla.

We Go Way Back (2006) is a small, intimate film about  23-year Kate, who’s quarter-life crisis is exacerbated when she discovers letters from her 13-year-old self and realizes in ten years time she went from an ambitious teenager to idle young adult. Little seen and lacking star power, Shelton would wait three years for widespread recognition with Humpday (2009). Taking bromance to a new level, Humpdayfollows Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard), fiercely competitive friends who, after a drunken night, agree to the ultimate dare – set aside their heterosexuality and make a porn film together, in the name of art. Funny and slightly squirmy, Shelton’s smart commentary on the politics of masculinity won her a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Continue reading “Remembering Lynn Shelton”