Monday, April 23, 2018

Movies At Random: The Magic Christian

Today's random DVD is The Magic Christian (HU DVD 7940) starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. This black comedy is completely littered with celebrity cameos (see Wikipedia), and looks fully ridiculous. But supposedly it's terribly madcap! So I suppose that's fine. Also, I mean, Peter Sellers in anything, really. How can you resist?

Here's our summary:
Sir Guy Grand, the richest man in the world, happens upon a young orphan in the park and, on a whim, decides to adopt him. Together they set off on a series of madcap escapades.
And the original trailer:

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Democracy on Film: The American Woman

Module 4 of Democracy on Film covers The American Woman, both through her eyes and through the eyes of others.

Module 4: The American Woman

Introductory Lesson: Ways of Seeing Women
Chapter 1:

  • Suspense. 1913. -- Check out YouTube, as it's out of print.
  • Where Are My Children on Treasures III: social issues in American film, 1900-1934. Program 2, New women. 1916. d. Lois Weber. -- DVD 5439
  • Dance, Girl, Dance. 1940. -- DVD 5487

Chapter 2
Imitation of Life. 1934. -- DVD 1061

Chapter 3
Woman of the Year. 1942. -- DVD 8511

Chapter 4
Alien. 1979. -- Streaming video

Chapter 5
The Age of Innocence. 1993. -- DVD 1371

We also recommend Waiting to Exhale (DVD 2276), His Girl Friday (DVD 1341), Thelma and Louise (DVD 1169), Tiny Furniture (DVD 9713), and Hidden Figures (DVD 13951). I was curious, so I googled "Films with no women," and--I admit this should have been obvious--they're mostly big prison, ship, and army films. I wasn't able to find any without men, though.

There are so many interesting American female characters that it's hard to isolate just a few. Let us know if you have a particularly interesting example!

You can now find the full list of Democracy on Film in our LibGuide. Check back for additional recommendations.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Democracy on Film: Civil Rights

Welcome to Module 3 of Democracy on Film, which covers Civil Rights! This small selection does attempt to expand the concept of civil rights outside the African American Civil Rights Movement with the inclusion of Harvey Milk and Smoke Signals, but the struggle for rights and equality in our diverse country is so multifaceted that no cinematic introduction could do it justice.

Module 3: Civil Rights

Introductory Lesson: The Camera as Witness

Chapter 1: King: A Filmed Record…Montgomery to Memphis. 1970. Streaming video
Chapter 2: Intruder in the Dust. 1949. DVD 8854
Chapter 3: The Times of Harvey Milk. 1984.  DVD 1267
Chapter 4: Smoke Signals. 1998. DVD 1657

We also suggest Eyes on the Prize (DVD 2301 - 2307), a 14 part documentary series about the African American civil rights movement. Spike Lee's Malcolm X (DVD 165) is worth seeing, as is Selma (DVD 12221). We do have a campus use only copy of American Revolutionary : The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, but I wasn't able to find very many great movies about Asian American or Hawaiian American civil rights issues. Any suggestions out there?

You can now find the full list of Democracy on Film in our LibGuide. Check back for additional recommendations.

Movies At Random: New Jack City

Today's random DVD is Mario Van Peebles' New Jack City (HU DVD 1097). A 1991 action gangster film, Wikipedia makes it sound like there's some disagreement about just how anti-gangster this film is, and Time Out London called it "a superior example of what used to be called blaxploitation." The IMDB trivia page on this one is pretty epic too, my favorite example being:
On Inside the Actors Studio (1994), Chris Rock claimed that for several years following his acclaimed performance as a crack addict, drug dealers would approach him and put crack and cocaine in his pocket; joking that "they thought it was a documentary." He stated that, although he knew people who used crack at the time, he never did and, in his 1997 memoir "Rock This" had only smoked marijuana twice. (from imdb)
Here's our summary:
Gangster film about a young, rich, smart drug baron who thinks he’s untouchable, and the tough, street-smart cops determined to bring him down.
And here's the trailer, with some epic trailer-voice:

Happy viewing!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Five Films Featuring...Shaving Cream

Ok, so if you know me at all, you already know what the punchline is going to be. But shaving serves all kinds of purposes in movies. There's something about the obscuring/revealing in shaving that directors really love. And it's, this doesn't even count all the bathroom cabinets that open to reveal shaving cream, and there are plenty of camp pranks missing. From comedic, to terrifying, to bordering on sensual, here are five films featuring shaving cream.

1. The Great Dictator (HU DVD 3796)

Chaplin rhymic shaving.

2. Sweeney Todd (HU DVD 13869)

What kind of monster wouldn't put Sweeney Todd on this list? The movie version with Johnny Depp (HU DVD 4111) of lame. But I strongly recommend the filmed stage production.

3. Hard Day's Night (HU DVD 5740)

Beatles shenanigans.

4. Skyfall (HU DVD 5001)

I'd say this scene is some kind of...demonstration of vulnerability...something...
Sorry, I'm way too distracted by Daniel Craig to philosophize.

5. Jurassic Park (HU DVD 4901)

My favorite can of shaving cream in film is, of course, the super-spy can of Barbasol in Jurassic park. It gets to do so much work! Hiding stuff, comic spraying noises, etc. Also, this ridiculous dick move:

For a bonus 6th pick, I'm going to add Shrek (HU DVD 13517) but I can't remember which of the films this shot came from. It's stuck with me thought, because it's paired with a scene of Shrek shaving, and this is supposed to be...funny? Because only ogre women have facial hair? I'm sure all those waxing, tweezing, shaving, lasering, electrocuting, and chemical depilatory products for women are marketed exclusively to ogres.

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Democracy on Film: The American Laborer

Module 2 of Democracy on Film is called The American Laborer. American identity is highly bound up with the idea of labor, and this selection of films is a great introduction.

Module 2: The American Laborer

Introductory Lesson: The Common Good

Chapter 1: “Black Fury” (1935, d. Michael Curtiz) -- Not in the collection...YET!!
Chapter 2: “Harlan County U.S.A.” (1976, d. Barbara Kopple) -- DVD 2032
Chapter 3: “At the River I Stand” (1993, d. David Appleby, Allison Graham and Steven Ross) --  Streaming Video
Chapter 4: “Salt of the Earth” (1954, d. Herbert J. Biberman) -- HU DVD 5560
Chapter 5: “Norma Rae” (1979, d. Martin Ritt) -- HU DVD 440

I'm kind of surprised that On The Waterfront (HU DVD 7750) didn't make this list. But, for further study, we recommend Matewan (DVD 1651), a film about the Battle of Matewan. We also recommend Native Land (DVD 10448), a 1942 documentary film about labor organizing featuring Paul Robeson. Unfortunately, it looks like we don't have a filmed version of the Lynn Nottage play Sweat (PS3564.O795 S94 2017) which won the Pulitzer for Drama. But we do have, for a portrait of the alienation of the American laboror in today's workforce, the truly classic Office Space (DVD 2344).

You can now find the full list of Democracy on Film in our LibGuide. Check back for additional recommendations.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Movies At Random: Masked Rider The First

Masked Rider The First (HU DVD 11528) has got to be one of the more intriguing things I've pulled off the shelf in a while. Like a lot of live action movies based on anime, the plot sounds completely bizarre when you read it. According to Wikipedia, the movie is based on a popular manga that also became a TV show.

I mean, based on the trailer, it looks like bug themed Power Rangers?? I don't know. Just weird.

Here's our summary:
Transformed into a locust-human hybrid by a nefarious organization known only as Shocker, a once-normal man makes it his mission to bring down the group that destroyed his life once and for all.
And here's the trailer:
Happy viewing!

Friday, April 06, 2018

Five Films Featuring...Characters Hanging Upside Down

This week, we're taking a look at five different scenes in which characters hang upside down. I'm sure there's some bigger philosophical point to be made about inversion as in Alice in Wonderland, about the ways in which hanging upside down represents helplessness--to the ideal of beauty? to a torturer? to love?--for the characters, or possibly even the inherent physical comedy of characters in this ridiculous position. But out of sheer laziness, I will be pursuing none of those arguments in this blog post.

1. Jungle Book (HU DVD 6643)

This scene with Kaa has Mowgli hanging all kinds of ways, and it is so artfully animated that I remember it frame for frame. Insanely well executed animation to produce this very humorous example.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (HU DVD 6047)

It happens so fast in the movies that you might miss it, but one of the ways James bullies Severus is with the jinx Levicorpus:

3. Spiderman (HU DVD 7121)

The kiss. You know the one.

4. American Gigolo (HU DVD 4640)

Apparently this movie established Giorgio Armani in Hollywood, but I see no Armani in this scene. I've watched it several times. For research.

5. Django Unchained (HU DVD 6208)

This scene is so horrible I can't even watch it.

Happy viewing!