Reports on the Death of the Romantic Comedy are Greatly Exaggerated

For years, romantic comedies (rom coms) have been few and far between, and those that were released were often small budget indie films that were a hit with critics but did little at the box office. Then a little movie called Crazy Rich Asians came along…is it the beginning of a rom com renaissance?

While they weren’t blockbusters, there have been several rom coms over the past few years that have pleased both audiences and critics. While you wait for Crazy Rich Asians to come out on DVD,check out these three rom coms with diverse casts and storylines.

The Big Sick
Pakistani stand-up comic Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Zoe Kazan fall in love, but their relationship is complicated by Kumail’s Muslim parents and Zoe’s sudden illness. More romantic than funny, the film earned accolades for its realism and warmth, and the cross-cultural themes that added new dimensions to the rom com formula.

Continue reading “Reports on the Death of the Romantic Comedy are Greatly Exaggerated”

Here’s Looking at You!: Documentary Films about Artists

An artist’s life can be as compelling as the work they produce. A documentary, at best, strives to render a portrait of the artist as honestly as possible. This, of course, is as close as any of us will get to being in the same room with a person whose life and work draws us in.  What will you find that you do not, already, know?  Will this new view enhance the experience of the art or detract from it?

Continue reading “Here’s Looking at You!: Documentary Films about Artists”

Bigfoot Sighted at the Library

Many of us look back at the 70’s with fond embarrassment. Feathered hair, down vests, CB radios. This was the decade in which Clint Eastwood co-starred with an Orangutan, and we liked the idea so much that for three years we tuned in to watch Greg Evigan and a truck-driving chimpanzee in BJ and the Bear, a show that arguably jumped the shark in its opening credits. In celebrity news, a drunken Grizzly Adams’ beard was set alight by a drink called the Flaming Eddy, while another famous big hairy guy did some even more embarrassing things, and I don’t mean Chewbacca.

The 70’s were a heady time for Bigfoot, with movie and TV deals and all the attendant merchandising, and stunned by the glare of Hollywood (or the omnipresent nose candy), Image of Bionic Bigfoot Doll Courtesy of JD Hancock via Flickrthe famously reclusive creature made some very bad decisions. I was reminded of this the other day when I noticed the library’s newly purchased Bionic Woman DVDs included a couple of episodes in which Bigfoot guest starred. I used to be the proud owner of a Bionic Bigfoot action toy, the necessary foil to my truly awesome Major Steve Austin doll, with its creeply peel-back-able arm and bionic eye you could peer right through. The pair could fight just like on TV, or even drag race! In The Six Million Dollar Man franchise, bigfoot actually turned out to be an android scarecrow left behind by space aliens, which was kind of a stretch, but these were crazy times remember, when the pairing of bigfoot and aliens seemed as natural as pairing roller & disco; The Captain & Tennille; BJ & the bear.

Employing my librarian skills, I ventured a subject heading: “Bigfoot – drama.” And hit gold, of a sort. The Bigfoot Terror Collection is a suite of downloadable films which casts its merciless glare on the nadir of Bigfoot’s filmography, before Harry and the Hendersons resurrected his career as a loveable, overgrown plush toy. The best title for true Bigfoot aficionados has to be Legend of Bigfoot, a 1976 shlockumentary in which noted sasquatch paparazzo Ivan Marx – a man who truly has bigfoot on the brain – scours the earth in hopes of capturing the gentle giant on film. When at last he corners his leading man in some far northern desolation, bigfoot is typically camera shy. Sadly, this was not always the case.

Just two years before, Bigfoot’s cousin the Yeti had appeared in Shriek of the Mutilated, a low budget slasher movie that falls well within the realm of so-bad-it’s-good. To attempt to explain the inspired illogic of this bizarre cinematic fever dream is beyond me. I loved every minute of it. In 1979, Bigfoot made another regrettable appearance in The Capture of Bigfoot. By far the scariest part of this movie is the gnashingly bad overacting of Richard Kennedy as the town baddy, Mr. Olsen. (You may remember Kennedy from his equally galvanizing appearances in C.B. Hustlers, Ilsa: Queen of the SS, or Invasion of the Blood Farmers). The less said about The Search for the Beast the better. Made in 1997, it is a softcore drive in flick featuring a goggle-eyed, amorous Alabama swamp ape. (Not that I watched the whole thing, or anything). You’ve been warned, or tempted.

Bite Me

“Vampire? Such a provocative word, wrapped in too many clichés and girly novels.” -Uncle Will, The Radleys

Yup, more vampires…admit it, you love them…or love to hate them, but either way they are here to stay. They are making their way into our literature and our movies, but they don’t always have to leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Author Matt Haig introduces us to what looks like a normal suburban couple, but underneath the facade The Radleys are anything but normal. Peter and Helen Radley are abstaining vampires, who have two teenagers, Rowan and Clara, who know nothing about their supernatural traits. After Clara experiences a tragic night their hidden life is threatened and in a haze of worry Peter calls upon his brother Will for help, but Will, a practicing vampire, has even more secrets that could destroy this family. Together they will come to realize some secrets need keeping; even lies can protect the ones you love.

Currently in production for Season Four in the United Kingdom, Being Human brings George, the werewolf, Mitchell, the vampire, and Annie, the ghost, all under one roof. They decide to live among humans and attempt to live ordinary lives, but  it doesn’t come as easy as they would hope. They struggle with their own natures, the threat of being exposed, and fighting over who does the dishes. With humor and horror alongside one another this series keeps you entertained and on the edge of your seat.

And They Lived…

As children our parents read us stories with happy endings; it’s just part of the innocence of childhood and into adulthood we come to expect that big Hollywood ending. The first movie I saw that didn’t go the way I wanted it to was My Best Friend’s Wedding starring Julia Roberts. I was angry that Julia Roberts’ character didn’t end up with her best friend. It was only years later that I began to respect the unhappily ever after and understand the fulfillment that can be achieved from being on your own. I can still be caught by surprise when something doesn’t end in a perfect picture, but then I smile and am thankful because I feel like someone is telling me the truth rather than lying to me. Continue reading “And They Lived…”