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.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Look inside the Library of Congress's explosive film vault


Drive down to Culpepper, VA and you'll find the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, home to the Library of Congress's film archive. This is where preservationists keep a massive storehouse of tens of thousands of films – classics, flops, and even reportedly Jerry Lewis's unreleased disaster The Day the Clown Cried.

YouTube channel Great Big Story managed to a rare peek behind the scenes, and the level of security needed for the collection is astounding. Archivist George Willeman explains that many early films in their collection are printed on nitrate, an explosive chemical that could probably take down building (remember the ending of Inglourious Basterds?). So, much of the archive is kept in a former nuclear bunker.

Thankfully, we don't work with nitrate, so the AU Library isn't going to blow up. Let's thank the archivists doing the heavy lifting.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Kanopy Highlights: Smash & Grab



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 Smash & Grab, an experimental documentary about international jewel thieves.

Smash & Grab follows The Pink Panthers, a gang that has reportedly stolen billions in jewelry around the world. Director Havana Marking blends reality and fictional filmmaking techniques in startling ways. The film uses real surveillance footage of The Pink Panthers (we don't understand how she obtained it) to ratchet the tension, and her interviews with the gang members (which, again, we're baffled as to how she arranged) are presented as rotoscoped animation. This a documentary that gets close to its subjects – through the heightened lens of a partially-animated heist film.

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

Monday, November 07, 2016

No, a silent film of a train probably didn't cause mass hysteria


You've probably heard this one before: back during the dawn of motion pictures, a short movie showing a train heading for the camera caused audiences to freak out and try to run from the theater. It's a funny anecdote about how much of an impact film made – and it makes those audiences look pretty naive.

But as Atlas Obscura's Eric Grundhauser explains, this probably never actually happened. We can trace the story to a specific film (1898's Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat), the lack of circumstantial evidence like news stories and police accounts of a mobscene suggests this was just a myth. If anything, it was a metaphor for the powerful impact of film, one that spread so quickly it was parodied in a 1901 short (embedded above).

So although audiences probably didn't actually panic, the mental image was real. It might've been exaggerated shorthand. Think of it like a turn-of-the-century straw man argument.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Kanopy Highlights: Wild Style

Still from Wild Style
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 Wild Style, a 1983 film credited with bringing hip-hop to the big screen.

Here's Kanopy's description...
Wild Style follows the exploits of maverick tagger Zoro (real life graffiti artist Lee Quinones), whose work attracts the attention of an East Village art fancier (Patti Astor) who commissions him to paint the stage for a giant Rapper's Convention. A document of the earliest days of hip-hop in the boroughs of New York, everything in Wild Style is authentic - the story, style, characters, and most of the actors, are drawn from the community. It features a pantheon of old-school pioneers, including Grandmaster Flash, Busy Bee, The Cold Crush Brothers and more.

"Charlie Ahearn's groundbreaking film about hip-hop, graffiti, break dancing, and rap in eighties." -Sarah Cardace, New York Magazine

"It's a fascinating time capsule, worth examining for anyone interested in the cultural roots of hip hop." -Keith Phipps, AV Club

"Wild Style is a cult classic - indisputably the most important hip hop movie, ever." - David Mattin, BBC
Wild Style was a community breaking through into film, and its impact made its way back. Artists like Nas, MF Doom, and Jurassic 5 have referenced Wild Style. As the film makes its way to museum and retrospectives, it continues to shape perceptions of hip-hop culture.

It's also a really good movie – and a must-watch if you haven't already seen it!

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