Thursday, March 23, 2017

Disco Film Screenings at the LOC

The Library of Congress just announced their "Bibliodiscotheque" and a whole series of film screenings to go with it!
Here are a few disco-themed movies from our collection to get you dancing!

  • The Greasy Strangler (HU DVD 13736): Ronnie runs a disco walking tour of Los Angeles with his adult son Brayden when the appearance of a beautiful woman on their tour along with the surfacing of the killer The Greasy Strangler changes their world forever.
  • 54 (HU DVD 12193): Just another kid with big ambitions, Shane O’Shea was like countless others, stuck at the end of the line outside New York’s infamous Studio 54 Disco. But when he finally gets a foot in the door, it doesn’t take him long to experience 54.
  • Saturday Night Fever (HU DVD 3123): Tony is an undereducated Brooklyn teenager who is bored with his daytime job. The highlight of his week is going to the local disco, where he is the king of the dance floor. Tony meets Stephanie at the disco and they agree to dance together in a competition. Stephanie resists Tony’s attempts to romance her, as she aspires to greater things. Gradually, Tony also becomes disillusioned with the life he is leading and he and Stephanie decide to help one another to start afresh.
  • Boogie Nights (HU DVD 8): A film that throws the covers back on California’s adult entertainment industry in the swinging seventies. It’s a touching and often humorous portrait of a most unusual family of filmmakers, brought to dazzling life by an all-star cast and sizzling seventies soundtrack.
  • The Last Days of Disco (HU DVD 3318): Depicts the ’last days’ at a disco palace, where drugs, sex and weirdness ran rampant. Icy Charlotte and demure Alice toil by day as publishing house assistants and by night the two look for romance and entertainment at a premier disco club. But, as the disco is closed, they wonder if disco can ever really be dead?
  • Airplane (HU DVD 6241): An off-the-wall comedy that spoofs airplane disaster flicks. An ex-fighter pilot is forced to take over the control of an airliner when the flight crew succumbs to food poisoning. (Has a disco scene!)
  • Xanadu (HU DVD 6744): Danny, an aging musician who wants to open a nightclub, and Sonny, a young artist, are both searching for inspiration. Kira, a beautiful mythical muse, is brought to earth in order to help both men fulfill their dreams.
And let's not forget this epic disco scene:

Come check out a movie! You should be dancing...yeah!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Being There

David Cairns looks at Being There (HU DVD 655) in the most recent Anatomy of a Gag:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Presenting the DVD wall!

So, a confession. A few weeks ago, I screwed up. As part of our ongoing project to digitize our VHS collection, I had accidentally encoded almost 100 videos incorrectly. I went back and fixed the mistakes, but I ended up with nearly 100 DVDs to discard.

Rather than toss them out or recycle them, I made art!

This wall of DVDs is a reminder that, yes, mistakes can happen. I call it "Memento Oopise." It's also really reflective and shimmery and pretty. If for some reason you end up with a bunch of old CD-Rs, consider gluing them to your wall!

Please do not glue the AU Library's DVDs to your wall.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beauties turned Beastly

Film Comment's Michael Sragow has much to say about Disney's live action Beauty and the Beast. While we wait for Disney to get down to business and ruin Mulan, here's are some animated Disney classics in our collection with remakes rumored or in the works:

Mulan: HU DVD 11033
The Little Mermaid: HU DVD 281
The Lion King: HU DVD 5090 (No, seriously)
Aladdin: HU DVD 8550
Peter Pan: HU DVD 8133
Dumbo: HU DVD 5152 (Again, seriously? SERIOUSLY.)

...and of course, we have the classic Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (HU DVD 7849).

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Feud: Bette and Joan

Feud: Bette and Joan premieres TONIGHT on FX. For anyone who will be waiting to binge watch this series on DVD, may we suggest the below titles to tide you over?

  • What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (HU DVD 610): This film was the notorious battleground of Davis and Crawford. An aging ex-vaudeville child star initiates a psychotic reign of terror over her crippled sister, a former movie-queen of the 1930’s. In an old mansion, two sisters live alone. One is Jane Hudson, once billed as "Baby Jane Hudson, the diminutive dancing Duse," a child star whose brief career lit up the lives of her doting parents. The other is Blanche, whose own career as an actress was cut tragically short by a crippling accident. Ever since that accident, Baby Jane has taken care of Blanche -- or has she?
  • Hush-- Hush, Sweet Charlotte (HU DVD 11847): This film was meant to reunite Davis and Crawford on screen, but did not succeed. A southern belle finds out the truth about her husband’s murder when her cousin reopens the case.
  • All about Eve (HU DVD 3081): A great Bette Davis film. From the moment she glimpses her idol at the stage door, Eve Harrington moves relentlessly towards her goal: taking the reins of power from the great actress Margo Channing. The cunning Eve maneuvers her way into Margo’s Broadway role, becomes a sensation and even causes turmoil in the lives of Margo’s director boyfriend, her playwright and his wife. Only the cynical drama critics see through Eve, admiring her audacity and perfect pattern of deceit.
  • Mildred Pierce (HU DVD 2187): A great Joan Crawford film. Mildred Pierce is a woman who will do anything to satisfy the demands of her spoiled daughter Veda, including divorce, opening her own business, and possibly murder.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The weather is nice. Let's all stay inside.

What's your favorite DC movie theater? Here are a few places to see movies in DC that you might not have heard of!

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center

AFI, which is on the Red Line in Silver Spring, often shows award winners, has international film festivals (sometimes in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution), and runs series that celebrate a variety of themes. Some of their special programs include films with live accompaniment and horror nights with Count Gore de Vol.

Suns Cinema

Suns Cinema is a truly weird theater, with wallpaper ripped from the Royal Tenenbaums and a carpet straight out of The Shining, not to mention seats cobbled together from chairs and couches. This theater shows a wide range of cult and older films, with screenings often thematic to the season.

The Avalon Theater

The Avalon Theater, located in Chevy Chase, is "an independent, historic, nonprofit cinema in Washington, DC, offering first-run commercial movies, independent and foreign films, and special programs," as they describe themselves. They offer a convenient location, a great selection of films, and have a nice cafe to boot.

Angelika Pop Up

Angelika Pop Up is located in a warehouse near NOMA-Gallaudet on the Red Line. They often show blockbusters, but also run anime movies and show live theater performances. They often have special deals, including Student Tuesday, where a student ID gets you a discounted Student Ticket and a complimentary popcorn!


Landmark Theaters is a national chain, but they're known for their interesting programming. Whether it's Ghibli films or Oscar nominees, they're a comfortable bet for a variety of films at any of their locations. They have many special events, including midnight showings of cult and classic films.

What's your favorite movie theater in DC? Comment below!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You can now watch Jean-Luc Godard's first narrative film

Once in a while, a lost film appears, delighting film buffs and historians. In the past few years, we've seen a lost Méliès film, a Hitchcock, and a Star Wars-related short all turn up after decades of absence. But this weekend, someone uploaded the Holy Grail: Jean-Luc Godard's first narrative film.

Une Femme Coquette (embedded above) was suddenly and unexpectedly uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday. Although it's not a masterwork, it's enormously historically significant. As The A.V. Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky says, you can see some of Godard's early tics and style that would eventually become influential in the French New Wave.

We're stunned that more and more films continue to be unearthed, especially such important ones. Come on, The Day the Clown Cried!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Celebrate Valentine's Day with one of AFI's 100 Passions

Did you know that in addition to their 100 Greatest Films list, AFI also has a list of the top 100 romantic movies of all time?

Here are AFI's top 10 romantic movies in our collection:

6THE WAY WE WERE (HU DVD 3087)1973
9LOVE STORY (HU DVD 9090)1970
10CITY LIGHTS (HU DVD 3801)1931

Pair with a cookbook for the perfect Valentine's day with AU Library.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

A lament for DVD commentary

When Fox decided to stop publishing The Simpsons on DVD, one thing we lamented (apart forcing you to get a cable subscription to watch the show) was the fate of the show's audio commentary. The creators of The Simpsons recorded in-depth, insightful discussions for every episode of the show, and although you can still access the commentary through the official streaming app, it's significantly more hidden than it was on the DVDs. And we'll probably never have commentary for shows and movies released through Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms.

On the bright side, maybe we've been spared. As D. K. Holm at Crooked Scoreboard points out, the quality of movie commentary tracks has plummeted recently.

When the Criterion Collection first devised commentary tracks, the concept attracted film scholars and served as an useful outlet for behind-the-scenes stories. As more DVDs included them, the tracks became more and more obligatory and less enthusiastic. Although it's over a decade old, I still remember the commentary track for the action movie Ultraviolet, where star Milla Jovovich plays with her cats for an hour and doesn't really say anything.

But we'll also miss out on the occasionally deeply entertaining track, like an example Holm gives of a low-budget action movie where the director is completely frank about its doomed production.

If they're going to be phoned in, they may as well not exist. It's a shame that the good ones may as well not exist now either.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Here, have an R2-D2 bird

We've been posting here a bit less frequently while we handle start-of-the-semester business, but  with the understandably rising national stress levels, we wanted to send out the week with something positive.

So, please enjoy this bird that sounds like R2-D2. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

See Rings two days early!

There are many, many reasons you might want a break this week. So we have one for you – free passes to see the upcoming movie Rings two days early!

The American remake of The Ring came out 15 years ago, back when most people probably had the means to watch a cursed videotape. This time around, it looks like Samara's video has ended up on YouTube. That's probably way more efficient for cursing people. Although there are plenty of cursed videos on the internet already.

We have passes to see this movie tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 1st, at 7pm in Friendship Heights. We only have physical passes this time, so you'll have to swing by the Media Services desk in the library to grab one. As always, keep in mind that advance screenings are intentionally overbooked. Show up early to guarantee a seat.

John Hurt

Last week, we were saddened to hear of the passing of John Hurt. As Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times wrote:
“A film blessed with his presence had at least one actor who looked as if he had been harrowed straight from Hell. Hurt could do you any suffering you wanted: noble, sardonic, wry, railing, comical, tragic. He hired out his gravelled drawl and lined and haggard features, like a weather map of ever-warring fronts. And he combined a thoroughbred theatre-trained eloquence with a film actor’s gift for mischievous miniaturism.” (Nigel Andrews, FT 1/28/2017)
Here is a sample of his films in our home use collection:

Alien - HU DVD 885
Dead Man - HU DVD 1429
The Elephant Man - HU DVD 1535
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - HU DVD 6041
The Lord Of The Rings (1978) - HU DVD 2972
Snowpiercer - HU DVD 11486
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - HU DVD 4317
V for Vendetta - HU DVD 5558
Watership Down - HU DVD 9336

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Watch this year's Oscar nominees

The Oscar nominees for 2017 are out!

Keep in mind that awards are political and determined by the arbitrary makeup of whichever group is voting for them. That said, this year's nominations already seem richer and more varied than usual. There's far greater diversity, led not just by Moonlight and the recent hit Hidden Figures but across the board in acting and production categories. Most shocking for us, at least, was the Best Documentary nomination for O.J.: Made in America, the first Oscar nod for ESPN Films.

As always happens, most of the Oscar nominees were released late last year. You'll have to go to the theaters to see La La Land, but we have a few of the nominated films available to check out.

Hell or High WaterHU DVD 13629
Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay

Captain FantasticHU DVD 13625
Best Actor

Kubo and the Two StringsHU DVD 13637 and HU BLU 13637
Best Animated Feature, Best Visual Effects

ZootopiaHU DVD 13259
Best Animated Feature

O.J.: Made in AmericaHU DVD 13289 and HU BLU 13289
Best Documentary Feature

Life, AnimatedHU DVD 13661
Best Documentary Feature

Hail, Caesar!HU DVD 13258
Best Production Design

The LobsterHU DVD 13642
Best Original Screenplay

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Star Trek: Axanar

Star Trek has one of the most vibrant fan communities in Federation space and beyond. (If you have any doubts, check out Trekkies: HU DVD 744.) But like so many fan communities, Trekkies occasionally find themselves on the expensive side of copyright infringement lawsuits. While there's no profit in learning Klingon, there is certainly the possibility of profit in creating a 90 minute film with a budget of over a million dollars. And that is, from a copyright holder's perspective, a bit of a problem.

The issue of where to draw the line between fan and creator is at the heart of the debate over the fan-produced film "Axanar," which spurred a copyright infringement lawsuit pitting its creator against CBS and Paramount. The proposed film is set 21 years prior to Star Trek: TOS (HU DVD 6203), and planned to use copyrighted materials extensively. As you can see from the above "Prelude to Axanar," the film would certainly have been impressive: far above many fan created works, and worlds beyond our dearly departed Trek in the Park. A settlement allowing two short films to appear online without commercials was reached last week. This issue has been widely covered (see Ars Technica and the NYT) in part because the lawsuit represents a deviation from previous attitudes about fan created works deriving from the Star Trek franchise.

This conflict arises again and again as the line between consumer and producer is blurred. Anyone can write fanfiction. We may reach a similarly leveled playing field in film. In Star Trek's case, an open submission policy once allowed fan-written material to make its way into the canon. Now, fan-produced works, including fan fiction and fan films, make up a thriving dimension of the Star Trek universe. Whether to embrace these efforts or play lawsuit whack-a-mole is a problem faced by creators who reach any degree of success. Who gets to participate, and how, is a negotiation happening right now in our culture and our courtrooms. And while it's not the final frontier, it is certainly a strange new world.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

See off the Obama presidency with Southside with You

Today is the last day of the Obama presidency, so we have a special recommendation from our latest batch of new titles.

Southside with You is a pretty risky concept – a romantic drama based on Barack and Michelle Obama's first date in Chicago. Casting the young Obamas while they're still in the public eye must have been extremely intimidating, but by all accounts, the film pulls it off pretty well. Critical reviews suggest that it's a great romance movie, even ignoring the fact that it happens to be about the current president.

If you want to get wistful, now is the chance. Southside with You is now available for checkout (HU DVD 13639). Grab it now, because the AU Library will be closed tomorrow in observance of Inauguration Day. If you're looking for something more timely for post-inauguration, consider Paul Verhoeven's movies about violence, capitalism, and mass media instead.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Silent Movie GIFs shows the sausage-making behind old special effects

Special effects aren't usually exciting anymore. Filmmakers can create worlds and human beings from whole cloth now, so digital trickery doesn't wow like it used to. 100 years ago, though, every difficult shot took a herculean effort.

The Twitter account Silent Movie GIFs recently shared a few explanations for how silent films pulled off their most difficult shots. Many involve the clever use of matte paintings and partially blocked shots. In the above clip from Sherlock Jr., the motorcycle and trucks were filmed separately; the rest of each shot was blacked out, then both were combined.

The level of work needed to pull off even the simplest shots makes you appreciate how relatively easily we can now throw Spider-Man into a movie.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Horror films had another strong year

For all the jokes about 2016 being terrible, last year was in fact a year of horror – for film at least. As Slashfilm points out, 2016 had an unusually strong showing of horror movies of all stripes, and the site's Jacob Hall attempted to break down what led to the genre's success.

Hall mentions a litany of factors, like a focus on character and intimate settings. Two of the biggest driving forces, though, seem to be politics and auteurs. Last year's horror movies embraced politically charged messages (like the uncomfortably timely Neo-Nazi horror of Green Room), and many others fit the mold of an alienating arthouse film that might turn off broader audiences. The author cites the divisive The Neon Demon in particular filling a niche that wouldn't exist without the director's vision.

We see some immediate parallels to the best horror of the 70s, movies like Dawn of the Dead that used their horror for inventive scares, terrific visual art, and social commentary. We'll admit some skepticism too, but the horror renaissance kicked off by It Follows in 2015 is apparently still going.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Take a vacation to the worlds of Studio Ghibli

Ghibli films are notoriously immersive and transporting. From the forests of Princess Mononoke, to Yubaba's bath house in Spirited Away, the worlds of Studio Ghibli are complex, beautiful, and utterly real. How is this feat accomplished? Here's one take:

Even if you're not an anime fan, after watching Asher Isbrucker's video essay, you might be inspired to check out some of AU's collection of Ghibli films:

Castle In The Sky - HU DVD 2978
The Cat Returns - HU DVD 13290
From Up On Poppy Hill - HU DVD 8901
Grave Of The Fireflies - HU DVD 823
Howl's Moving Castle - HU DVD 2979
Kiki's Delivery Service - HU DVD 6077
My Neighbor Totoro - HU DVD 4709
(Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Winds - HU DVD 2977)*
Only Yesterday - HU DVD 13276
Ponyo - HU DVD 6937
Porco Rosso - HU DVD 10216
Princess Mononoke - HU DVD 1206
Spirited Away - HU DVD 586
Tale Of The Princess Kaguya - HU DVD 11898
The Secret World Of Arrietty - HU DVD 7986
When Marnie Was There - HU DVD 13297
Whisper Of The Heart - HU DVD 10126
The Wind Rises - HU DVD 11597

*Did you know, Nausicaa is technically not a Ghibli film?!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

New Acquisitions - December 2016

The library is closing up for winter in about three hours, and much like a student submitting a paper on Blackboard at 11:59, we're going to publish our final new acquisitions for the year!

You might notice a ton of new television shows this month. We've been catching up on television shows – recent (like HBO's Enlightened) and much older (the original Mission: Impossible series and Columbo). Our favorite oddity is the full run of The Munsters, which includes an unaired pilot filmed in color.

On the front for big movies, Captain America: Civil War and How to Train Your Dragon 2 are also both now available.

If you can read this in the next few hours, you can check out any of these films until we re-open on January 3rd. Get to it!

Home Use Collection:

Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – HU DVD 37
More Business of Being Born – HU DVD 216
Higher Learning – HU DVD 5748
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – HU DVD 7802
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – HU BLU 7802
One-Eyed Jacks – HU DVD 10236
Underground New York – HU DVD 13490
Captain America: Civil War – HU DVD 13538
Bayou Maharajah – HU DVD 13547
To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar – HU DVD 13548
Code : Debugging The Gender Gap – HU DVD 13556
Food Choices – HU DVD 13558
The Gunman – HU DVD 13559
Céline Et Julie Vont En Bateau – HU DVD 13560
Ella Enchanted – HU DVD 13562
Ella Enchanted – HU BLU 13562
Dracula Untold – HU DVD 13563
Dracula Untold – HU BLU 13563
Choice 2016 – HU DVD 13565
School Of The Future – HU DVD 13566
Subprime Education – HU DVD 13567
Hooligan Sparrow – HU DVD 13568
The Day Of The Jackal – HU DVD 13582
The Deadly Affair – HU DVD 13584


Nurse Jackie, Season 1 – HU DVD 14350
Malcolm in the Middle, Season 1 – HU DVD 14351
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Season 1 – HU DVD 14485
Vicious, Season 1 – HU DVD 14486
Columbo, Season 1 – HU DVD 14487
Enlightened, Season 1 – HU DVD 14488
Enlightened, Season 2 – HU DVD 14489
Big Love, Season 1 – HU DVD 14490
The Fall, Season 1 – HU DVD 14491
Mission: Impossible, Season 1 – HU DVD 14492
Everybody Hates Chris, Season 1 – HU DVD 14493
Everybody Hates Chris, Season 2 – HU DVD 14494
Everybody Hates Chris, Season 3 – HU DVD 14495
Everybody Hates Chris, Season 4 – HU DVD 14496
The Munsters, Season 1 – HU DVD 14497
The Munsters, Season 2 – HU DVD 14498
F Troop, Season 1 – HU DVD 14499
That Girl, Season 1 – HU DVD 14500

In-Library Titles:

A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy – DVD 13484
Just A Gigolo – DVD 13557
From These Roots – DVD 13561
The Last Colony – DVD 13583

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

One of David Bowie's first films is a fascinating mess

As we prepare to close up shop for winter break, we have a very strange new acquisition highlight.

We've mentioned before that David Bowie had a surprisingly robust acting career, starting with the titular role in the classic The Man Who Fell to Earth. Two years later, he returned to film in Just a Gigolo, where he plays a Prussian soldier forced into prostitution in post-World War I Germany. Notably, Marlene Dietrich briefly appears in her last credited role.

Reception for Just a Gigolo was all over the place. Reviews at the time were scathing, and Bowie considered it an embarrassment. "Listen," he told one film critic, "you were disappointed, and you weren’t even in it. Imagine how we felt." An author over at Dangerous Minds found it "actually pretty wild to watch" and visually enticing.

This film hasn't been available in America in basically any format for decades. We recently acquired a VHS, and as part of our long-term archiving project, we've digitized it and created an archival DVD copy. You can watch the strange mess of Just a Gigolo yourself in the AU Library.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Breakfast Club rounds out this year's surprising National Film Registry additions

Yesterday, the Library of Congress named 25 new films to add to the National Film Registry, a permanent archive of the most "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" American films. As usual, the selections span almost a century of film, including drama, horror, comedies, documentaries, and animation.

We're pleasantly surprised by some of the popular movies added this year. The Lion King was inevitable given its legendary stature in animation, but The Breakfast Club, The Princess Bride, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? are unexpected newcomers. Deadline's write-up has good descriptions of each movie, including a breakdown of the unusual history behind the 1903 short Life of an American Fireman.

The National Film Registry will take care of these movies for generations hundreds of years from now, but if you just want to watch them right now, we have copies of most everything on this list available for checkout. In fact, you can watch Life of an American Fireman via streaming right now!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

14,000 copies of Jerry Maguire to be built into a desert pyramid, because why not

For several years, the online group Everything is Terrible has searched through ephemeral videotapes to find some truly weird art, much like the Found Footage Festival. But they've also had an even stranger side project to collect every known VHS copy of the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire. We still don't really understand why they've undertaken their project. With over 14,000 tapes collected, EiT has more copies of Jerry Maguire than all of our old VHS collection combined.

To commemorate the film's twentieth anniversary, Everything is Terrible is building a video store that only has VHS copies of Jerry Maguire as part of an art exhibit in Los Angeles. This isn't even their final resting place: all proceeds from the show will go towards building a Jerry Maguire pyramid somewhere in the desert.

There's basically no reason for either video store or the pyramid to exist... except as monuments to late-90s consumer excess. Maybe that's as good of an excuse as any.

Sadly, we don't have our own copy to give to the pyramid.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Birthday Kirk Douglas!

December 9th was the 100th birthday of Kirk Douglas.

According to TCM:
"The archetypal Hollywood movie star of the postwar era, Kirk Douglas built a career with he-man roles as soldiers, cowboys and assorted tough guys in over 80 films. His restless, raging creations earned him three Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and one Golden Globe win for his portrayal of Vincent van Gogh in "Lust for Life" (1956). But besides his lasting mark as a seething strong man with a superhero-like head of hair and the most famous dimpled chin this side of Shirley Temple, Douglas was a Tinseltown innovator and rebel. As one of the first A-listers to wrest further control of their career by founding an independent production company, Douglas also effectively ended the 1950s practice of blacklisting Hollywood talent suspected of communist ties when he insisted on crediting famed screenwriter Dalton Trumbo for his script adaptation of "Spartacus" (1960). Douglas maintained his position as a perennial favorite - often opposite fellow tough guy Burt Lancaster - in Westerns and World War II films until the early 1970s, when changing tastes edged the timeworn genres into the wings. He began a second career as a writer and focused on the philanthropic efforts of The Douglas Foundation, occasionally surfacing throughout the 1980s and 1990s to portray irrepressible old firecrackers in made-for-TV movies and the occasional feature."

Unfamiliar with his work? Check out one of his films from the Media Services Home Use Collection:

Arrangement - HU DVD 2212
Bad and the beautiful - HU DVD 7257
Champion - HU DVD 211
Is Paris burning? - HU DVD 12861
Lonely are the brave - HU DVD 12168
Lust for life - HU DVD 5808
Out of the past - HU DVD 2403
Paths of glory - DVD 3271
Seven days in May - HU DVD 326
Spartacus - HU DVD 3272

Friday, December 09, 2016

The best movies of the year – spliced into one video

Every year, film critic David Ehrlich puts together a montage of what he considered the 25 best films of the year. Ehrlich's tastes tend to lean towards interesting visuals, but we're not complaining. His montages are visual feasts, so he gets to pick whatever he wants. Moonlight tops the list, understandably given the praise we've heard.

This year's supercut has a few surprising selections, including Beyonce's Lemonade and the ESPN documentary series OJ: Made in America. We also love Ehrlich's choice of using music from other notable movies this year. There are a few bonus movies thrown in at the start, too. Ghostbusters wouldn't make the top 25, but we're happy to see the Holtzmann dance again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

New blood or old blood? What experienced directors bring to big movies

You might have missed that a new Steven Spielberg movie came out this year. The BFG was a bit of a flop, a surprise considering the beloved director at the helm.

As movie studios are learning, director choice holds less and less sway over audiences as studios recruit new talent to headline their films somewhat anonymously. Take Colin Trevorrow, who directed Jurassic World after only a few small independent successes. He was affordable, it brought new blood into Hollywood, and frankly, he nailed it. So why would studios hire a marquee name?

Kevin Lincoln suggests in a new Vulture article that the cracks are finally showing in this model. The last two years have been filled with stories of blockbuster movies delayed by reshoots or production troubles, and often, the fingers point to inexperienced directors not accustomed to working with massive budgets under studio control. The horror story behind last year's Fantastic Four reboot is an extreme case (extensive reshoots, the director openly fighting his producers, and a barely coherent final product), but the benefits of confident directors are becoming clearer in their absence.

Don't expect Martin Scorsese to direct the next Star Wars movie. But maybe by the next Fantastic Four movie, the director will have more experience under their belt.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Acquisitions - November 2016

The AU Library previously didn't own The Karate Kid. This month, we fixed that.

Our collection now also includes a slew of highly anticipated titles that you might have wanted to see, like Weiner, the startlingly intimate documentary about the downfall of Anthony Weiner. You can also now check out the second season of Outlander, the wildly popular Starz fantasy series.

History scholars and fans might also want to seek out the Robert Drew documentary collection, includes titles like the death row politics film The Chair and high school sports story Mooney vs. Fowle.

And we'd be remiss not to mention Miss Sharon Jones!, an unfortunately newly relevant documentary about the late singer's battle with cancer.

Home Use Collection:

Micmacs a Tire-larigot – HU DVD 13456
Richard II – HU DVD 13458
Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 – HU DVD 13459
Henry V – HU DVD 13460
On the Road with Duke Ellington – HU DVD 13486
Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel – HU DVD 13496
Weiner – HU DVD 13499
Mr. Holmes – HU DVD 13500
Dark Side of the Full Moon – HU DVD 13501
Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez – HU DVD 13502
A Sinner in Mecca – HU DVD 13503
Quakers: That of God in Everyone – HU DVD 13504
Poverty, Inc. – HU DVD 13505
We are the Ones – HU DVD 13511
Fantastic Planet = La Planéte Sauvage – HU DVD 13512
Carnival of Souls – HU DVD 13513
The Dresser – HU DVD 13514
Meru – HU DVD 13516
Shrek 2 – HU DVD 13518
Gang Ren Bo Qi = Paths of the Soul – HU DVD 13519
Stephen King's It – HU DVD 13520
Brilliant but Cancelled: EZ Streets – HU DVD 13521
Brilliant but Cancelled: Crime Dramas – HU DVD 13522
Miss Sharon Jones! – HU DVD 13523
Tokyo Fiancée – HU DVD 13524
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella – HU DVD 13525
Moms Mabley – HU DVD 13526
The Karate Kid – HU DVD 13527
The In-Laws – HU DVD 13528
Muriel, or, The Time of Return = Muriel, ou, Le Temps D’un Retour – HU DVD 13529
Zangiku Monogatari = The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum – HU DVD 13530
Hunt for the Wilderpeople – HU DVD 13531
All the Way – HU DVD 13532
Outlander, Season 2 – HU DVD 14337

In-Library Titles:

Given a Chance – DVD 13451
Fly by Light – DVD 13457
Primary – DVD 13475
Mooney vs. Fowle – DVD 13476
On the Pole: Eddie Sachs – DVD 13477
Susan Starr – DVD 13478
Happy Birthday, Captain Blackburn – DVD 13479
The Chair – DVD 13480
Jane – DVD 13481
Storm Signal – DVD 13482
Man Who Dances – DVD 13483
A President to Remember: In the Company of John F. Kennedy – DVD 13484
On the Bowery – DVD 13488
The Prosperity of Wibisana: A Performance of Javanese Wayang Kulit – DVD 13497
The Prosperity of Wibisana: A Study Guide and Analysis of Javanese Wayang Kulit – DVD 13498
Rabin in His Own Words – DVD 13506

Music Library DVDs:

Dance for Camera 2 – MUSIC LIBRARY DVD 269

Monday, November 28, 2016

Watch some cyberpunk movies for Cyber Monday

Today is the increasingly dated-sounding Cyber Monday, an online sales day commemorated when people still had to use their workplace computers to get online. For an event with a name as silly as Cyber Monday, the only appropriate film genre to watch today is cyberpunk.

If you haven't seen any such movies before, cyberpunk is a loose subgenre of science fiction and crime set in near-future dystopias; films in the genre use overwhelming technology and huge corporations as a sounding board for social issues and exploring the idea of consciousness. That sounds vague – and elements have seeped into almost all modern blockbusters – but as consumer electronics exploded in the 80s through the early 2000s, it was a dominant genre.

We come not to taunt Cyber Monday's name but to praise it: like cyberpunk, it reflects a time of uncertainty and expectation about the future of technology. And decades later, they both sound pretty ridiculous.

A few recommendations:

Akira – HU DVD 433
Blade Runner – HU DVD 1064
Dark City – HU DVD 1992
Ghost in the Shell – HU DVD 5155
The Matrix – HU DVD 10154
RoboCop – DVD 8164
Strange Days – HU DVD 584
Total Recall – HU DVD 2040

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kanopy Highlights: Ajami

About a year ago, we rolled out Kanopy, a streaming service that includes hundreds of films from the Criterion Collection and more. We're happy to see classes and students taking advantage of this great video resource, and we want to spotlight some of the most popular titles from this collection.

This week, we're focusing on Ajami, a 2009 nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

Ajami is a mixed-religious neighborhood in Jaffa, Israel, where tensions understandably run high. The film tells a crime story in those streets, intercutting between five different stories told from Jewish and Arab perspectives. The film doesn't use its interleaving and grittiness just for show; it reveals and humanizes the tensions of a community divided by religion and class.

You can follow this link to watch the film instantly, in your browser, for free with your AU login.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

In College Park? Learn about the Coen brothers from an AU professor

Most people reading this blog are probably based in and around Tenleytown, but if you're out in the 'burbs, you have to a chance to hear an AU literature professor share their knowledge.

Professor Erik Dussere (friend of Media Services) will be at the University of Maryland on Friday, November 18th for "Weird American Odysseys: Music, Authenticity, and the Coen Brothers." We don't know exactly what that entails, but since it's part of an event series with "Local Americanists," you can probably figure out the themes Dussere will be touching on. (And with that title, O Brother, Where Art Thou? has to come up, right?)

The talk happens at 3:30pm Friday in UMD's Tawes Hall, room 2115. We won't be able to make it, but if you happen to live or work in the College Park area, swing by to hear some thoughts on the Coens. (As an editorial note, I've taken Professor Dussere's course on the Coen brothers offered at American; you're in for a treat.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A closer look at the realities of an awards bait movie

We're only two months from the start of awards season, which means all the high-profile Oscar contenders about serious, relevant social issues are hitting theaters. Or, as someone more cynical might put it, all the Oscar bait has finally been released into the waters.

Filmmakers want to tell meaningful, engaging movies, but to be frank, studios back those films because they want to capitalize on popular topics and snag awards attention. The Los Angeles Times went into this tension in a recent article; they interviewed directors and writers of current Oscar contenders and found their interests divided between the creative and social dimension and the realities of the movie business.

Take Jeff Nichols, director of the upcoming interracial marriage drama Loving, who found the film's true story important to tell. He also recognized that his film was checking a lot of boxes for distributor Focus Features, adding that fitting into a targeted, award-friendly slot in a studio's schedule is "a big part of the business of this particular film and this model – and to deny that would be kind of silly."

Movies can't exist without support or some plan for revenue, no matter how heartfelt or timely. You might understandably be skeptical that all the serious movies come out right before Oscar nominations begin, but that's a reality that allows them to get made.