Recently in Television and Film Category
Just in time for African American History Month, the recently released "Red Tails" is a terrific film based, somewhat loosely, on the exploits of the Tuskegee pilots who fought the Nazi Luftwaffe (air force) during World War II. The film, which uses John B. Holway's book "Red Tails Black Wings" as it's source, is about the 332nd Fighter Group, African American USAAF pilots stationed in Italy during 1944, as they, under the command of Colonel Bullard (Terence Howard) and Major Stance (Cuba Gooding Jr.), try to overcome such trials as outdated aircraft and racism from other squadrons, and see some actual combat.
The film main focus is on the pilots, especially their squadron leader, Captain "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker), who has to cope with both his personal demons and the reckless behavior of his best friend and fellow flyer "Lightning" Little (David Oyelowo). Meanwhile, Colonel Bullard has to deal with ignorant generals back in Washington who don't think "negro" pilots are competent. Things look up when the squadron finally gets new aircraft and is ordered to support American bomber planes on their runs, but will internal conflicts (including one pilot's possible eye injury) tear the men apart?
Historical content aside, "Red Tails" has some genuinely exciting and suspenseful aerial battles that'll keep you on the edge of your seat. There's a sappy romantic subplot between Lightning and an Italian woman (Daniela Ruah) that kind of slows down the narrative, but the main story of how the 332nd overcame the obstacles they faced is much more compelling, not just because it's true, but also because it highlights the actual bravery and heroism of these brave pilots. Director Anthony Hemingway, screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGruder, and especially exec producer George Lucas (who may have reshot several scenes during post-production) are to be commended for bringing this inspiring story to the screen.
"Red Tails" (the title refers to the tails of the 332nd's planes, which they had painted red, to stand out) is still playing in Stamford and other areas. Check it out if you get a chance.
One of my absolute favorite highlights from this year's New York Comic Con was attending the Cartoon Network panel featuring the creators behind Adventure Time and The Regular Show. Both shows represent a new breed of cartoon; one which combines an extreme, nearly lysergic amount of imagination while exploiting hip, popular culture references at every turn. In little over a year from their first being aired, they have developed rabid followings amongst the young and old. This was well represented by the crowd of hundreds of diehard fans (many in full costume) who waited over an hour for the panel to begin.
In fact, SMTOTD is a fast paced, entertaining production with earnest performances, good dance choreography and inventive, if sometimes garish, set design. Special thanks has to go to the nine stuntmen who doubled for the show's star Reeve Carney. They (and Carney during the climax) showed real bravery in literally swinging over the Foxwoods stage from great heights attached to a reasonably secure harness. (And sitting in the balcony where I was, well, you haven't lived till you see someone in a Spider-Man costume in front of you dive off towards the stage below!) Their important contribution to the show, bringing real honest suspense and excitement to nightly audiences, cannot be overlooked.
The plot, taken mostly from the first two Tobey Macguire/Spider-Man films, revolves around young nerd Peter Parker (Carney) who gets bitten by a genetically enhanced spider and develops spider-like powers, which he uses to fight crime. Meanwhile, harassed scientist Norman Osborne (Patrick Page) tying to save both his comapny and marriage, metamorphs into the Green Goblin and proceeds to spread terror around NYC. Osborne even creates his own badguy squad by mutating his former business enemies as the "Sinister Six". Can Spider-Man stop these villians and still keep his girlfriend Mary Jane (played this particular evening by Kristen Martin)? And what part does the fallen goddess Arachne (Jodi McFadden) play?
Carney, Page and Martin, along with Michael Mulheren as "Daily Bugle" publisher J.Jonah Jameson, give enthusiastic performances, both acting and musically-wise. They've got great "pipes"! As noted earlier, the production's pacing is fast, but there are some drawbacks, such as the goofy-looking costumes the Goblin and his creations wear. The much-publicized score by U2's Bono and The Edge is so-so; the instrumental passages are good in invoking suspense, but the songs, with maybe the exception of "Bullying by Numbers" in the first act, do not stand out. (Also count the number of times a certain rock group's songs are referenced during the show.) And is there a really good reason why Spider-Man co-creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko aren't mentioned in the credits?
Otherwise, "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" is a lot of fun. Check it out this summer before heading back to school.
This summer has seen three big Hollywood films (Thor; X-Men: First Class; Green Lantern) based on comic book superheroes released in theatres with a fourth one, Captain America, due out on July 22. Greenwich Library will be showing the animated 2006 Ultimate Avengers film on July 21, one day before the Cap film opens (details here). Face it, there's no getting away from the superheroes!
Of the films released so far this summer, Green Lantern was supposed to have made a big impact on the box office. The projected first installment in a potentially long running movie series, based on this classic character, Green Lantern the movie just doesn't make the grade.
In a nutshell, the film has way too much going on. We got the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force run by the Guardians of the Universe (and possibly based on this classic science fiction series), that covers the 3500-plus sectors of the galaxies who lose some of their own when the evil Parallax (a former Guardian) wiped them out. One of the dying Lanterns, Abin Sur, bequethes his power ring & lantern to an Earthman, cocky but lovable (I guess) test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), who has his own problems. Later, part of Parallex's DNA from Sur's body is injected into the body of scientist (and Hal's rival for the affections of Carol Ferris, played by Blake Lively) Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) during an autopsy. Hector starts getting (and looking) weird.
Meanwhile, Green Lantern Sinestro (Mark Strong) disses Hal, causing the latter to quit the Corps after a brief training session on the Guardians' home planet, Oa. (For some reason, Hal gets to keep the ring & lantern.) While Hal files around on Earth doing good & staring at his navel, Sinestro tries to rally the other members of the Corps to attack Parallex all together. And where's Parallex during all this? On his way to Earth, where... But I've said too much already.
Green Lantern the movie has enough plot for three or four films. There was no reason, aside from making the fans of the character happy, to cram so much detail into the film. The two leads, Reynolds and Lively, lack presence and charisma, there's too much busy stuff going on, and by the time you get to the end, you're worn out. Director Martin Campbell, who's done better movies (GoldenEye; Mask of Zorro; Casino Royale) and the four (!) credited screenwriters never get a good handle on the characters and situations. If the producers hope this film will spark a long running series, they're mistaken. Green Lantern has lots of neat special effects and an inherent sense of adventure, but it's overcomplicated storyline and rushed pace will turn off the average moviegoer and potential fan. Here's hoping the Captain America film does better.
Greenwich Library will be showing Twilight (2008) on Thursday, August 26, at 2:00 pm in the second floor Meeting Room. Director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg's streamlined adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's first "Twilight Saga" novel centers on the initially hesitant but eventually passionate (within PG-13 bounds) romance between high school juniors Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and the strange, seemingly awkward/hostile/insightful Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). As everybody knows by now, one (?) of the big complications in this budding but troubled romance is that Edward's been a vampire for the last two centuries. Plus, in this installment, there's the little matter of strange, savage killings occurring outside the town of Folks, where Bella, Edward, and their family and friends reside.
But underneath all that, Twilight is really about other stuff. There's Bella, the new kid in town, trying to fit in, and Edward, because of his situation, who's always going to be the "new kid" wherever he settles. There are all the various social structures (school; family) that teens, on the verge of adulthood like Bella, must contend with. More importantly, there's the theme about how teens like Bella and Edward are able to meet whatever dangers confront them through their mutual love and support, as well as that from their families. (Edward's family may be all vampires like him, but besides curbing their blood lust so nobody will be killed or "turned", they also stand up for each other plus Bella and the locals -and remember, Edward's adoptive dad is the town doctor.)
(BTW Did I mention how cool Edward's family is? Imagine being able to play baseball at night the way they do!)
Of course there's also Bella and Edward's attraction, sexual and otherwise, to each other. For Bella, Edward is The First. But Edward, fearful of losing control and spreading his "curse" to Bella, refrains from any kind of physical contact towards her. (And although it's not mentioned directly here, I get the feeling Edward's been through this "first love" stuff before.) As a result, both are somewhat wary and awkward around each other, afraid to say or do the wrong thing. If that isn't an obvious metaphor for adolescent first love, I don't know what is.
Despite all this heavy context stuff, Twilight is also a lot of fun. There's humor (the kids at school and their various shenanigans are a lot like the ones I remember at that age), action (the scenes between Bella, Edward and the creatures responsible for the previous aforementioned killings outside town) and horror (the various killings, also toned down for the PG-13 rating, plus the exciting climax). There's also genuinely poignant moments as well, like Bella's reconnecting with her dad, her meeting with Edward's family, Edward risking losing Bella to save her during the climax, and Bella and Edward at the prom. To this middle aged horror film fan, Twilight may skimp a little on the thrills, but what it doesn't lack is a genuine heart.
Please come and watch Twilight this Thursday at 2. You won't be sorry.
Did you know that Greenwich Library has books on knitting? How about CDs and DVDs of Glee? We have those, and more! GHS interns Emily and Claudia talk about some things they do in their spare time - Emily discusses why she enjoys knitting and Claudia explains why the television show Glee is a favorite of hers. Their podcast is a reminder that you'll find books and more about YOUR favorites at the library. Be sure to check our catalog to borrow books, music and DVDs for free.
Library interns Justin and Matt expand their blog entries with a discussion about Doctor Who and Arrested Development. Give a listen and discover why these two television shows are their favorites. Don't forget that the Greenwich Library has selections of these shows and more in our DVD collection. Visit the Just Arrived list on our New and Recommended page to browse new DVDs and books. Then borrow them for free!
I am just going to say I am not much of a television person. I much prefer movies and videogames, but there are some shows that are worth it, and Arrested Development definitely falls under this category.
Arrested Development is a FOX sitcom that ran from 2003 to 2006 for three glorious seasons. It has garnered a cult following since the beginning of the show and was cut down in its prime due to lack of mainstream attention. It makes this show a total gem as it inspired the writers and creative producers to push the limits even further as the show was getting ever so closer to an abrupt ending.
The show follows the Bluth Family, a very eccentric group, with the patriarch George Sr.(played by Jeffrey Tambor) as the CEO of a real estate company locked up for possible treason for dealing homes to Iraq. His son Michael(Jason Bateman), the only somewhat normal one of the family, must now take over his father's company and somehow lead his own family through the troubled times ahead. He must learn how to grow up and no longer rely on George Sr.
One of the great aspects of this show is the superb cast including Will Arnett as Michael Bluth's brother Gob, Jessica Walter as his mother, and his son played by Michael Cera. Other actors such as Liza Minnelli as the mother's rival and Gob one time love interest; Henry Winkler as the ne-er do well family lawyer. Other guest appearances include Scrubs star Zach Braff, Scott Baio, Charlize Theron, and many more.
The writing of this show is spectacular and all the credit in the world goes to Mitchell Hurwitz and other writers for the show. It is a witty comedy that takes the eccentric Bluth family and pits them against everyday situations that they would normally not have faced except for their current circumstances. This creates outrageously hilarious situations as each character has their own passion and flair which allow for great reactions to everyday life. For example, Will Arnett's character is trying to become a professional magician, so he often tries to use his magic on dates and corporate meetings in order to get someone to hire him for a gig.
The show's ability to handle multiple plotlines that intertwine really does separate it from the other sitcoms out there. Almost every character is included in every episode and layers of depth are added to the show by its simultaneous tackling of multiple topics going on in today's society. The show's lifespan often referenced and made fun of current political controversies, including former President Bush's Mission Accomplished photo, the Patriot Act, and much more that added a sense of realism to these characters as they went through the same everyday issues we do.
Arrested Development also has some key aspects that make it very different from other television sitcoms. The first is the use of hand held cameras to create the feeling of a documentary starring the lives of the Bluth Family. Another is the breaking of the "fourth wall", when a television show acknowledges its presence of an audience, to heighten the show's comedic effect. Will Arnett's character will sometimes argue with the show's omniscient narrator, Ron Howard, on what actually happens in previous episodes. All of these aspects add up to "Arrested Development" being a truly unique sitcom that deserves to stand out amongst all the other duds that plague television today.
Greenwich Library Intern