FIRST FOLIO! Cinematic Shakespeare Cage Match! Welles vs. Kurosawa

Click here to view Macbeth in the SPL catalogWithout a doubt, William Shakespeare has been the most adapted author in cinema history. The Guinness Book of World Records even says so! And if they’re the authority on “Farthest Distance Walked Balancing a Lawn Mower on the Chin*” then it’s indisputable. What is in dispute is which filmmaker was the greatest adapter of Shakespeare’s works. You’ll get ample opportunity to sample some of the 500-plus Shakespeare-related films in existence during SPL’s First Folio program, where library locations will be hosting 18 screenings, including three separate showings of Gnomeo and Juliet. Continue reading “FIRST FOLIO! Cinematic Shakespeare Cage Match! Welles vs. Kurosawa”

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 uninhabitable 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.



Continue reading “Movie Mondays: Top 10 DVD releases of 2014”

Movie Mondays: Writer Directors

Click here to view A Moment in the Sun in the SPL catalogDirectors who pen their own screenplays are a dime a dozen. The Coen brothers write their own films as do Paul Thomas Anderson, Jia Zhangke, and Jim Jarmusch. And while there are a number of novelists who have tried their hand at directing, from Michael Crichton to Norman Mailer, few filmmakers have done the reverse and written a novel. Today we highlight a few that have.

Click here to view Brainquake in the SPL catalogJohn Sayles, director of Eight Men Out and Brother from Another Planet, has written a number of books, most recently the tome A Moment in the Sun. The expansive work chronicles American life at the dawn of the 20th century and clocks in at nearly 1000 pages.  Continue reading “Movie Mondays: Writer Directors”