Welcome back to another “summer” edition of Music & Movies. If there’s one silver lining to these recurring clouds, it’s a perfect opportunity to hibernate with some of this month’s selections. There’s “Pirates of the Caribbean : On Stranger Tides” and “Afternoons with Magritte” to provide simulated warmth or else you can fully embrace the gloom with Danish murder investigation “The Killing”. If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, why not spend a few days teaching yourself to sight sing or thumb out a few Bach etudes on the electric bass?
- Favourite non-fiction for 2011. Includes how to escape from a Butlins holiday camp…
- Favourite fiction for 2011
Some new DVDs to arrive at Wellington City Libraries include more duelling robots in the latest ‘Transformers’ movie; the smash hit comedy ‘Bridesmaids’; and the finale in the ‘Harry Potter’ series.
Pirates of the Caribbean. On stranger tides.
”Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past, he’s not sure if it’s love, or if she’s a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn’t know who to fear more – Blackbeard or the woman from his past.” (Syndetics summary)
Transformers. Dark of the moon.
”Shia LaBeouf returns, armed with a new and improbably bodacious girlfriend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley); although initially unemployed, he’s drawn back into protecting the planet from giant outer-space robots, as the Decepticons menace the Earth once again. John Turturro and Josh Duhamel return to help, and Frances McDormand and John Malkovich join the club… Throw in Hangover funnyman Ken Jeong, computer nerd Alan Tudyk doing a German accent, and the voice of Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime, and you’ve got yourself a three-ring circus of extremely spirited nonsense. Just how Michael Bay wants it.” (Description from Amazon.com)
“The publication of a book accusing him of murder leads schlock television producer Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) to reflect on his tumultuous life–from his troubled first marriage to his best friend sleeping with his second wife to his one true love… and how he destroyed the happiest time in his life. By turns comic and self-lacerating, Panofsky is a richly drawn character given vivid life by Giamatti… Regrettably, the women in his life aren’t as fully realized, but the strong performances from the actresses playing them (Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike) do a lot to make up for the thinness of how they’re written… Adapted from an award-winning Canadian book, Barney’s Version feels, in the best sense, like a novel; small details and incidents build up to the picture of a man’s life…(Adapted from Amazon.com)
“The delightful Kristen Wiig, who’s shone in dozens of supporting roles and on Saturday Night Live, hits a bull’s-eye with her first lead role in Bridesmaids. Annie (Wiig) isn’t doing so well; her bakery failed and she keeps sleeping with a good-looking louse (Jon Hamm, Mad Men), but she’s always had her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph, Away We Go) to buoy her up… until Lillian gets engaged. Annie becomes maid of honor, but another friend of Lillian’s–the rich and lovely Helen (Rose Byrne, Get Him to the Greek)–wants to take over that position. Misadventures with bad Brazilian food, dress fittings, an unfortunate flight to Vegas, and a sympathetic traffic cop (Chris O’Dowd from British TV comedy The IT Crowd) follow, with increasingly hilarious results. Bridesmaids successfully balances raunchy comedy and character portrait…” (Adapted from Amazon.com description)
My afternoons with Margueritte.
“A story of one of those improbable encounters that can change one’s life. In a small public garden, Germain (Gerard Depardieu) meets Margueritte (Gisele Casadesus) a little old lady who is passionate about reading. Germain discovers new life as Margueritte introduces him to the magic of books…” (Description from Real Groovy)
X-men: first class.
“When Bryan Singer brought Marvel’s X-Men to the big screen, Magneto and Professor X were elder statesmen, but Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) travels back in time to present an origin story–and an alternate version of history. While Charles Xavier (Laurence Belcher) grows up privileged in New York, Erik Lehnsherr (Bill Milner) grows up underprivileged in Poland. As children, the mind-reading Charles finds a friend in the shape-shifting Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Erik finds an enemy in Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), an energy-absorbing Nazi scientist who treats the metal-bending lad like a lab rat. By 1962, Charles (James McAvoy) has become a swaggering genetics professor and Erik (Michael Fassbender, McAvoy’s Band of Brothers costar) has become a brooding agent of revenge. CIA agent Moira (Rose Byrne) brings the two together to work for Division X. With the help of MIB (Oliver Platt) and Hank (A Single Man’s Nicholas Hoult), they seek out other mutants, while fending off Shaw and Emma Frost (Mad Men’s January Jones), who try to recruit them for more nefarious ends…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
Harry Potter and the deathly hallows. Part 2.
“The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the film all Harry Potter fans have waited 10 years to see, and the good news is that it’s worth the hype–visually stunning, action packed, faithful to the book, and mature not just in its themes and emotion but in the acting by its cast, some of whom had spent half their lives making Harry Potter movies. Part 2 cuts right to the chase: Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has stolen the Elder Wand, one of the three objects required to give someone power over death (a.k.a. the Deathly Hallows), with the intent to hunt and kill Harry. Meanwhile, Harry’s quest to destroy the rest of the Horcruxes (each containing a bit of Voldemort’s soul) leads him first to a thrilling (and hilarious–love that Polyjuice Potion!) trip to Gringotts Bank, then back to Hogwarts, where a spectacular battle pitting the young students and professors…against a dark army.. As predicted all throughout the saga, Harry also has his final showdown with Voldemort–neither can live while the other survives… (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
The killing. The complete series one.
Danish TV series ‘Forbrydelsen’ which translates literally as ‘The Crime’, became a huge hit in its homeland as well as in the UK where it screened earlier this year, going on to win the 2011 Bafta for best ‘International’ production. Focusing on the murder investigation of a young Danish girl, the show spans 20 episodes, each a day in the timeline of the investigation. As the show begins Inspector Sarah Lund is on her last day with the Copenhagen Police, about to move to Sweden with her fiancé. Ensnared in the investigation she is forced to partner with her replacement, the brash and impulsive Inspector Meyer, as the murder takes on more & more complex layers. Compared by many to The Wire the show is perhaps not quite at that level, as there a number of slightly dodgy plot twists that are employed to flesh the story out to 20 episodes. Where it excels, is in the crushing details of the human toll on those involved, absent from so many hour-long Police procedural shows, offering a kind of novelistic take on the grief of the Danish family shattered by the loss of their daughter, and the punishing weight of the investigation on the main character. Grim & intensely gripping, despite some implausible twists. Recommended to anyone who’s a fan of the current wealth of Scandinavian crime fiction, such as Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo or Arnaldur Indriðason. Recently remade in America on AMC under the same title, and with a second series of the Danish series completed & a 3rd apparently under production. (Mark)
Film and television books
For round-up of the most recent film & television books, we’ve chosen some excellent reads for you – including a history of animation, a look at the filming and development of the Harry Potter film series (Ron! Hermione! Harry!!), and a look at how MTV changed television. Plus, a film history of the goriest genre: horror. Have a browse!
The world history of animation / Stephen Cavalier.
“Focusing on the 100-plus-year history of the genre, animator and director Cavalier’s coffee-table volume offers a comprehensive chronological look at film, television, and web-based animations. He does a great job of never overwhelming readers with information. The narrative, which nicely ties together the history and reproduced images, is almost epic as it showcases the evolution of animation techniques that are the core of the genre. Cavalier also includes a list of essential films with synopses and relevant biographies. Photographs are well placed throughout the book and add interest.” (Library Journal)
Harry Potter : page to screen : the complete filmmaking journey / [Bob McCabe].
“From the acquisition of the film rights to the casting of Harry, Ron, and Hermione and the assembly of the creative team, Harry Potter: Page to Screen is a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of the most popular film series in cinema history, as told by the people who made the magic real. Harry Potter: Page to Screen traces the cinematic process of bringing J.K. Rowling’s beloved books to big-screen life.” (Library Journal)
I want my MTV : the uncensored story of the music video revolution / Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum.
“MTV’s influence went beyond music–it soon changed network and cable television, radio, sports, film, fashion, teen sexuality, and even politics. Highly respected music journalists Marks and Tannenbaum have assembled an unprecedented collection of stories from the early days of MTV, straight from the mouths of those who were part of the video revolution. 50,000 print.” (Syndetics summary)
Shock value : how a few eccentric outsiders gave us nightmares, conquered Hollywood, and invented modern horror / Jason Zinoman.
“Based on unprecedented access to the genre’s major players, “New York Times” film critic Zinoman delivers the first definitive account of horror’s golden age–the 1970s, when such directors as Wes Craven, Roman Polanski, John Carpenter, and Brian De Palma redefined the genre.” (Syndetics summary)
Need something new to listen to? Here’s what we’ve been listening to lately…
Real Estate – Days.
New Jersey’s Real Estate craft wistful, melodic and occasionally energetic indie pop. With an effortless rhythm section, crisp, reverbed guitars and understated vocals this is the perfect soundtrack to a summer that feels more like autumn.
The BBC sessions, 1968-1970.
“The story of Deep Purple’s transformation from psychedelic rock popsters to a heavy rock band gets better with every telling. And this two-CD set is the perfect soundtrack to the saga, not just because the speedy nature of the BBC sessions generally sorted the musicians from the wannabes, but because these Purple sessions are a fascinating insight into the band’s development at a crucial time.” (Classic Rock).
Belong / The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
“The Pains of Being Pure at Heart deliver on the promise of their sparkling debut album with their follow-up, Belong. Here the band takes all the ingredients that worked so well the first time around — tight song structures, solid hooks, melancholy lyrical themes, healthy doses of early ’90s shoegazing nostalgia — and expands their sonic reach into the stratosphere.” (Amazon)
Siamese dream [remastered].
A pivotal album in the birth of 90s alternative rock, Siamese Dream has been reissued, remastered and bolstered with an extra disc of rarities.
In with the new year, and in with the new classical music to the library! After weeks of Christmas music playing on repeat, it’s time to find something new and compelling. This month we look at different ways to tell a story, and here’s one I doubt you’ve heard of – Baboon Opera! Or rather, Baboon Macbeth. Or perhaps you’d prefer the story of our own National Youth Orchestra, or the complex composer Dmitri Shostakovich. But if none of that tickles your fancy, then perhaps its time to pick up an instrument for yourself. Learn some Bach on the Electric Bass, or get your piano-playing fingers moving.
Coppélia [videorecording] / Delibes ; Bart.
“Premiered by the Opera De Paris in 1870, and inspired by the fantastical writings of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Coppélia tells the story of a young man who becomes besotted with an exquisite automaton and is finally brought to his senses by his fiancée. In their production from the magnificent Palais Garnier, choreographer Patrice Bart in his final production and designer Ezio Toffolutti explore the storys darker side while doing full justice to the exuberance and elegance of Delibes glorious score.” (Amazon.co.uk)
Jewels [videorecording] / artistic and general director, Valery Gergiev ; directed by Brian Large.
Three ballets, Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds, choreographed by George Balanchine and performed by the Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra.
Poème [sound recording].
“Julia Fischer follows her extraordinary Grammy-nominated recording of the Paganini Caprices with a contrasting album – a lyrical and poetic set of impressionistic works for violin and orchestra.” (Amazon.com)
The Okavango Macbeth [sound recording] / [music by Tom Cunningham].
“A chamber opera in four acts which tells the Macbeth story as played out by a troupe of baboons in the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana.” (Catalogue Summary)
Music for silenced voices : Shostakovich and his fifteen quartets / Wendy Lesser.
“Most previous books about Dmitri Shostakovich have focused on either his symphonies and operas, or his relationship to the regime under which he lived. “Music for Silenced Voices” looks at Shostakovich through his 15 quartets.” (Syndetics summary)
J.S. Bach for electric bass : three duets and five solo pieces arranged for bass guitar / [arranged] by Bob Gallway.
“Three duets and five solo pieces arranged for bass. The CD will help players facilate mastery of these pieces, by providing accompaniment for the duets and allowing the listener to hear all of the bass parts. All pieces are arranged and performed by Dr. Bob Gallway.” (Syndetics summary)
The complete idiot’s guide to piano exercises / by Karen Berger.
“Having good dexterity, building independent finger strength, and learning proper technique are essential to mastering the piano. This guide teaches you pedaling, hand crossovers, virtuoso arpeggios and ornaments, scales, chords, rhythms, and so much more.” (Catalogue summary)
Progressive sight singing / Carol Krueger.
Designed for the complete undergraduate course sequence in aural skills, Progressive Sight Singing, Second Edition, introduces students to the underlying grammar and syntax of musical structure and prepares them to perceive that structure with both the ear and the eye
Elegy for Eddie. Maisie Dobbs, an ex-VAD nurse, runs a private detective agency in London with the assistance of Billy, a World War I veteran. This is the sixth book in a compelling, edgy series, set in the late 1920s and early 1930s, just as the Depression begins to bite. In Elegy for Eddie, Masie accepts a case investigating the brutal killing of a street peddler. It leads Masie and Billy on a twisting and convoluting trail through some of the meanest neighbourhoods in London and into the highest echelons of society and power. There is nothing shallow and predictable about these detectives. Jacqueline Winspear gives us characters of complexity and depth, and she portrays with great skill the vanished world of pre-war London with all its complicated layers of class and customs which have long since disappeared.
American dervish. Hayat Shah is a 10-year-old son of a Pakistani family living in Milwaukee in the 1980s. The family is already rivven with underlying tension as the novel begins: his determinedly secular neurologist father is best friends with a Jewish colleague, Nathan, and having an affair with another woman, much to the resentment of his mother. Into this volatile environment comes his mother’s best friend, recently divorced by her husband for her “fast mouth”. It is she who introduces Hayat to the beauty of the Qu’ran. But when she falls in love with the Jewish Nathan, Hayat, now a teenaged Muslim fundamentalist commits a terrible act of betrayal that he deeply regrets as he moves into adulthood. This fine debut novel is essentially a coming-of-age family drama, with all its conflicts, and generational differences, with the added nuance of growing up Muslim in the United States.
A postapocalyptic horror novel, already considered to be one of the best of this genre. Set after the ‘detonations’, the protagonist is a young teenage girl who is a survivor – disfigured and living separate from the ‘pures’ (those left unscathed). Sounds a bit like John Wyndham to me and tipped to be the next Hunger Games.
This book is described as a high-action supernatural thriller. Not normally my kind of thing, but opening premise got me hooked – waking up in park surrounded by dead men all wearing latex gloves! It sounds a bit like (the TV series) Spooks to me, but with a humorous sci-fi twist, and I love that show – can’t wait.