This month in Music & Movies: See what all the Golden Globes fuss was about with season one of hit HBO comedy series Girls; Can’t stop watching The Terminator? It happens to us all, but why not try something different with “If you like the Terminator…”; and breaking news reveals that that notoriously slippery beast called ‘comedy’ can be boiled down to just 169 secrets. Just don’t go explaining every sitcom joke to your friends – you might rapidly have none.
New DVDs for January include new TV shows from Ashley Judd as an ex-spy searching for her missing son, Lena Dunham with her acclaimed NYC sitcom ‘Girls’ & Poppy Montgomery as a Police Detective with perfect recall. Also out this month, the acclaimed Ralph Fiennes Shakespeare update ‘Coriolanus’; ‘Hope Springs’ with Meryl Streep & Tommy Lee Jones as an aging married couple attempting to reconnect with each other; & Steve Carell & Keira Knightley seek a friend for the end of the world…
Missing. The complete first season.
“How far would you go to save the person you love most in the world? Emmy Award nominee* Ashley Judd stars in Missing, ABC’s riveting new series, bursting with international intrigue and thrilling twists and turns. Becca Winstone (Ashley Judd) learns that her son, Michael, has disappeared while studying abroad, and it’s a race against time when she travels to Europe to track him down. It soon becomes clear that Becca is no ordinary woman, but a former CIA agent deactivated after the devastating death of her husband, Paul Winstone (Sean Bean). If she wants to find her son alive, Becca will have to rely on old friends, as well as old enemies, ex-lovers, and spies, and will be forced to reopen old wounds. Her resourcefulness, skill, and determination will be put to the test – but a mother’s love knows no limits. ABC’s action-packed drama grabs you from the very first minute and never lets go. Relive Becca’s search through the streets of Europe, complete with exclusive bonus features that take you even deeper into her journey.” (Description from Amazon.com)
“Fiennes’s bullet-headed, battle-scarred General Caius Martius may be willing to put his life on the line for his people, but he has no interest in actually listening to their concerns, a development that anticipates the Occupy movement. As Rome’s food supply dwindles and rioting begins, Martius suspends civil liberties, and heads off to battle against a man he both despises and admires, Volscian leader Aufidius (Gerald Butler). In the script by Gladiator’s John Logan, automatic weaponry replaces swords, contributing to an especially visceral Shakespearean adaptation (Hurt Locker cinematographer Barry Ackroyd’s handheld camera work reinforces the rough-hewn quality). At home, Martius’s wary wife (Jessica Chastain) and proud mother (Vanessa Redgrave) fear for his life, while his most ardent supporter, Senator Menenius (Brian Cox, excellent), defends him against his detractors, like Tribune Sicinius (James Nesbitt). Though successful on the battlefield, the political neophyte–now known as Coriolanus–soon finds himself an exile, eventually aligning with Aufidius, but what looks like a turncoat move proves more complicated…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
“What do women want? Well, science may debate that for years, but Hysteria provides a very entertaining answer in the form of a historical romp through early psychology. Based on the story of a young British doctor who essentially invented the first vibrator, Hysteria handles its offbeat subject matter lightly and amusingly. And its cast is splendid. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Felicity Jones play Victorian-era sisters, Charlotte and Emily, daughters of the prominent physician Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce). Into their lives comes an ambitious, thoughtful young doctor, Mortimer Granville (played by the dreamy Hugh Dancy). Dr. Granville’s life work has become focused on women’s issues, including the all-encompassing diagnosis “hysteria,” for which he is experimenting with therapeutic “pelvic massage” treatments. When he comes to Dr. Dalrymple for mentoring and approval of his rather unorthodox treatments, the doctor’s two daughters vie for his romantic affections. In lesser hands, this film could have been a Victorian-era 40-Year-Old Virgin or The (Sexual) Hangover, but director Tanya Wexler keeps the action crisp, light, and focused. Hysteria is a great date movie or a splendid escape for history, and hysteria, lovers…” (From Amazon.com review)
“Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple who have been married for 30 years and now are sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the doctor’s intense week-long marriage counseling session. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion.” (From syndetics summary)
“Even if you’re not a child of the early ’60s, Flipped’s tale will resonate with your heart. Director Rob Reiner treats viewers to a sweet but honest glimpse into the lives of a young girl and boy during the early 1960s as they maneuver through first crushes and heartbreak. Reiner once again shows he understands how to put together a compelling, yet simple, human story. We meet Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll) and Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) on the day Bryce’s family moves across the street from Juli’s. Told by “flipping” between Juli and Bryce’s voices, a tale of early childhood love emerges. Juli loves Bryce’s baby blues from the first moment she sees them and she just knows he’s holding onto her first kiss. Bryce thinks Juli, who raises chickens and loves the neighborhood sycamore tree, is weird. The story doesn’t merely flip between the two stories, though. In 1963, the year eighth grade comes around, Juli begins to wonder if there’s any substance behind those baby blues… just as Bryce starts to see Juli’s eccentricities as endearing instead of embarrassing. Sweetly reminiscent without a saccharine aftertaste…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Seeking a friend for the end of the world.
“A sweet and subtle love story, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World begins when Dodge (Steve Carell) watches his wife run away from him because she’s just learned that an asteroid is going to destroy the Earth. Dodge finds himself unmoored in a world that’s lost its bearings in a much bigger way; some people surrender to hedonism, some cling to the mundane patterns of their lives, and others just kill themselves. Then Dodge is given one last chance at meaning in his life: a neighbor named Penny (Keira Knightley) reveals that she’s failed to give him some of his misdirected mail… including a letter from his cherished high school sweetheart, who reveals he was the love of her life. As civilization falls apart around them, Dodge and Penny set off on a road trip to reunite Penny with her family and Dodge with his lost love. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World could have been broad and goofy, but instead the movie takes the scenario seriously (without, mind you, losing its sense of humor). Dodge and Penny discover that their lives, disconnected from a possible future, aren’t what they were, and the result is both comic and surprisingly heartfelt…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Girls. The complete first season.
“Lena Dunham mocks the idea of being a voice to a generation, but there’s no question she’s captured something ineffably of the moment in her sitcom Girls. Dunham writes and directs most episodes and stars as Hannah, a smart but self-flagellating writer floundering in the urban wilds of New York City. Both an homage and a counterpoint to Sex in the City, Girls has its own quartet: Hannah, who’s just been financially cut off by her parents; Marnie (Allison Williams), lovely but uptight, who’s bored by her too devoted boyfriend Charlie (Christopher Abbott); Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a transplant from England who keeps her true feelings hidden under a cool surface; and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), a hapless chatterbox who’s ashamed that she’s still a virgin. All of these girls, grappling with adult life, can be funny, irritating, embarrassing, and richly sympathetic–sometimes at the same time.
Girls doesn’t tackle themes per episode; instead, it’s a series of moments, vividly observed and often joltingly funny social interaction and sexual relationships (some graphically depicted, with all the freedom that cable television allows). Dunham doesn’t explain everything all at once, but gives only glimpses into the characters in each episode…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Film and television books
This month our selection of new books includes the visual companion to Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, the official series three tie-in for Downton Abbey, how to make and market your own web series, and the first in the new “If you like…” series that collects more than 200 movies you’ll like if you love the Terminator movies. Plus, Nicole Kidman, The Big Lebowski, film history, and more. Have a browse!
The chronicles of Downton Abbey / foreword, Julian Fellowes ; text, Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis ; photography, Joss Barratt, Nick Briggs and Giles Keyte.
“The Chronicles of Downton Abbey take you deep into the lives of the Crawleys, their servants, lovers, friends and guests. So wander the crowded servants’ quarters and peek into luxurious bed chambers. This lavish book explores the lives of every important member of the Downton estate. Focusing on each character individually, it examines their motivations, their actions and the inspirations behind them. An evocative source of story and background, it will take you even deeper into the secret, beating heart of the house.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)
The cabin in the woods : the official visual companion / foreword by Drew Goddard ; afterword by Joss Whedon ; screenplay written by Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard ; interviews by Abbie Bernstein.
“This exclusive companion book to the Cabin in the Woods movie, directed by Joss Whedon, features an extended interview with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, the full script, and over 150 photos and stunning pieces of production art. The details of the plot are a closely guarded secret, though Joss himself has described it as ‘a straight-up, balls-out, really terrifying horror movie’, adding, ‘it is not just a slasher in the woods. It’s a little more complicated than that…’” (amazon.co.uk)
The Big Lebowski : an illustrated, annotated history of the greatest cult film of all time / by Jenny M. Jones.
“This is the first comprehensive, highly illustrated analysis of the history, legacy, and cultural significance of the 1998 Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski. Author Jenny Jones explores what it is that makes the film so raucous, quotable, memorable, and downright hilarious” (Provided by publisher)
If you like the The Terminator– here are over 200 movies, TV shows, and other oddities that you will love / Scott Von Doviak.
“Here is the first book to explore the spectacular array of films, television shows, and other works that helped inspire The Terminator , as well as those that have drawn inspiration from it. If You Like The Terminator … delves into the history of science-fiction cinema, from its earliest days to the golden age of the 1950s and beyond, encountering killer robots, time travelers and postapocalyptic wastelands along the way. This turbo-charged journey through time also reviews the improbable career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, revisits the action heroes of the 1980s, and reevaluates the films of James Cameron, before touching down in the computer-dominated realm of today’s science fiction cinema and projecting the future of the Terminator franchise. From Metropolis to The Matrix , from Frankenstein to RoboCop , from H. G. Wells and Harlan Ellison to Roger Corman and Roland Emmerich, you’ll find them all here in If You Like The Terminator.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)
History of film / David Parkinson.
“In this lively, informative and up-to-date analysis of what has been called the seventh art, David Parkinson traces the evolution of the moving image from the earliest shadow shows to the digital film-making of the 21st century. Covering the key elements and players that have contributed to its artistic and technical development, the book offers a remarkably concise overview of film throughout the world” (Book Cover)
Nicole Kidman / Pam Cook.
“Nicole Kidman is a high-profile, successful exponent of contemporary commodity stardom, and a product of fundamental changes in the media industries over the last two decades. Pam Cook vividly brings to life her journey from Australian actress to global superstar, looking at her work in different contexts from film and television to fashion, commercials, philanthropy and the Internet. This absorbing case study unveils a star narrative as compelling as any that appears in her films.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Web TV series : how to make and market them / Dan Williams.
“Online distributors – such as YouTube, Hulu, and Funny or Die – are interested in acquiring web series (episodic digital entertainment, like mini-TV shows) that attract audiences and appeal to advertisers. Web TV Series… How to Make and Market Them provides advice and expertise to help readers create their own original, successful online shows – projects that can be profitable, potentially developed into film or television properties, and help to start a career in the industry. Readers will learn how to develop characters and stories designed for new media platforms, and find tips for planning, shooting, and editing that are tailored specifically to web series production. This book also extensively covers the latest distribution platforms and social media marketing strategies.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Comedy by the numbers : the 169 secrets of humor and popularity / [edited] by Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren.
“Being funny is hard work: just ask Gary Rudoren and Eric Hoffman. Like many people, they once believed that comedy was simply a matter of coming up with “zingers” and “jokes.” But after countless hours of painstaking research, they’ve discovered that true creativity is derived from simple formulas and the memorization of data. Their groundbreaking new book makes the secrets of comedy accessible to all, not only to the naturally funny, but to those who lack the ability or talent to be funny.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Star trek FAQ : everything left to know about the first voyages of the Starship Enterprise / Mark Clark.
“Star Trek FAQ tells the complete story of Star Trek, from the before the beginning (the books, films, and TV shows that inspired producer Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek) until after the end (when the show emerged as a cultural phenomenon in syndication), and including dramatic behind-the-scenes stories (e.g., Leonard Nimoy’s struggle with alcoholism and actress Grace Lee Whitney’s controversial firing) often omitted from “authorized” histories of the program.” (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
U.S.S. Enterprise owners’ workshop manual : 2151 onwards (NX-01, NCC-1701, NCC-1701-A to NCC-1701-E) / Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley ; technical consultant, Michael Okuda.
“The U.S.S. Enterprise is without doubt the most famous starship in history. The vessels that have carried the name have saved the galaxy countless times and her captains, including Archer, Kirk, and Picard, have been legendary. This Haynes Manual provides in-depth information about these extraordinary ships, from the Enterprise NX-01, to Captain Kirk’s Enterprise NCC-1701 and Captain Picard’s Enterprise NCC-1701-D including histories of each vessel, technical information about their systems, and discussions of key technologies such as transporters and warp-speed travel.” (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
British comedy cinema / edited by I.Q. Hunter and Laraine Porter.
British comedy cinema has been a mainstay of domestic production since the beginning of the last Century and arguably the most popular and important genre in British film history.
This edited volume will offer the first comprehensive account of the rich and popular history of British comedy cinema from silent slapstick and satire to contemporary romantic comedy. Using a loosely chronological approach, essays cover successive decades of the 20th and 21st Century with a combination of case studies on key personalities, production cycles and studio output along with fresh approaches to issues of class and gender representation. Films covered include: St Trinians, A Fish Called Wanda, Brassed Off, Local Hero, The Full Monty, Four Lions and In the Loop. (description from Amazon.co.uk)
This month our picks of the popular music new books are all about rock legends, such as Neil Young, Pete Townshend and Bruce Springsteen. Enjoy the incredible stories!!
Waging heavy peace : a hippie dream / Neil Young.
“An iconic figure in the history of rock and pop culture (inducted not once but twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), Neil Young has written his eagerly awaited memoir.” (Syndetics summary)
Who I am / Pete Townshend.
“He is one of the greatest musical talents Britain has ever produced. But even as the principle songwriter and lead guitarist for The Who, it would be unjust to define Pete Townshend’s life simply through his achievements with bandmates Daltrey, Moon and Entwistle. Now, in one of the most eagerly awaited autobiographies of recent times, this icon tells about his incredible life and elaborates on the turbulences of time spent as one of the world’s most respected musicians – being in one of rock’s greatest ever bands, and wanting to give it all up. Incredibly, as a man who has achieved so much, this truly unique story of ambition, relentless perfectionism and rock and roll excess will be regarded as one of his greatest achievements. (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)
Bruce / Peter Ames Carlin.
“After 3 decades of groundbreaking music Bruce Springsteen still manages to amaze audiences around the world. Highly acclaimed music critic Peter Carlin tracks the Boss’s dazzling ascent to fame, whilst painting a vivid portrait of the real Springsteen: an insistently private man who nevertheless would do anything for his fans. Recently, in response to his mother’s failing health, Springsteen decided he wanted to tell his story, and that he wanted Carlin to tell it. With unprecedented access to Springsteen, his family, friends and management, Carlin presents a riveting and highly personal account of Springsteen’s life.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)
Jagger / Philip Norman.
“Bestselling biographer Philip Norman offers an unparalleled account of the life of a living legend, Mick Jagger. From Home Counties schoolboy, to rebel without a cause to Sixties rock sensation and global idol, Norman unravels with astonishing intimacy the myth of the inimitable frontman of The Rolling Stones. MICK JAGGER charts his extraordinary journey through scandal-ridden conspiracy, infamous prison spell, hordes of female admirers and a knighthood while stripping away the colossal fame, wealth and idolatry to reveal a story of talent and promise unfulfilled.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)
Luck or something like it / Kenny Rogers.
“The country music legend shares the story behind his meteoric rise to fame, including the highs and lows, and the secrets behind his biggest hits.” (Syndetics summary)
Led Zeppelin : the oral history of the world’s greatest rock band / Barney Hoskyns.
“With Robert Plant on lead vocal and Jimmy Page on guitar, Led Zeppelin is one of the most iconic, legendary, and influential rock bands in musical history. Tales of their indulgence in sex, drugs, and excess have swirled for decades. In this definitive oral history of the band, Barney Hoskyns finally reveals the truth about Led Zeppelin, paring away the myths and describing what life was really like for four young men on top of the world. Through fresh new interviews with the surviving band members, close friends, their tour manager, and scores of other fascinating characters, Hoskyns provides deep insights into the personalities of the band members and chronicles the group’s dramatic rise, fall, and legacy.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)
“The third album by Bat For Lashes–the moniker for singer-songwriter Natasha Khan–is titled The Haunted Man. It features the singles “Laura” and “All Your Gold”. Speaking about the album, Khan said: “I really wanted to strip things back in honour of women like Patti Smith; just these raw, honest women. I had no make-up on, it’s just me and my haunted man!” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)
“It’s hard to place Alt-J. Originally from Leeds, they spend their time in a Cambridgeshire basement making their own brand of uniquely dubbed “folk-step”. However, the noises that An Awesome Wave emits far escape the dull, dark depths such a creative location suggests. Instead, it’s a stunning and encompassing affair of both innovative and electrifying musicianship and exemplary song writing. This album spans every workable idea, genre, and influence that can be crammed under the guitar music umbrella, yet it never feels disorientating. Instead, what swoons gracefully through speakers is an entirely comprehendible and accessible collection of beautiful pop songs. Movement is key on this album. Samples and sounds cascade and cross with elegance, but it’s Joe Newman’s lead vocal that acts as the cement, pulling everything together and guiding it seamlessly into making sense.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)
“The remastered version is even better than the original. You can hear more. But the original mastered rock story-telling. Opera is a big word. Ask Mozart if this is an opera. I don’t know. But it is fantastic rock music. They nailed it. I missed this album so much for so many years, so glad to have it back and even better. The photos are priceless, and the notes confirm that these guys were enjoying this experience. The press have always focussed on the aggression and destruction. This album is just so creative. You want to travel back in the Tardis and just hang around in the background watching them do it. Like Sgt. Pepper only rockier and twice as long. The Who are a magnificent rock band. If there’s a negative to these kind of classic albums it’s that you really need to go out and buy some really good stereo gear which you can’t afford.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk customer review)
“In addition to 12 of Clark’s original compositions, Blak and Blu also features a 13th song – a blistering cover of Little Johnny Taylor’s (popularized by Albert Collins), “If You Love Me Like You Say / Third Stone From The Sun” (Jimi Hendrix) is actually a complete reworking of the song utilizing the Hendrix riff reinterpreted by Clark. The result is an extraordinary hybrid of the two ideas that breathes new fire to an old favorite.” (adapted from amazon.com)
How music works / David Byrne.
The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductee and co-founder of Talking Heads presents a celebration of music that offers insight into the roles of time, place and recording technology, discussing how evolutionary patterns of adaptations and responses to cultural and physical contexts have influenced music expression throughout history and culminated in the 20th century’s transformative practices.(Syndetics summary)
Radiohead : the stories behind every song / James Doheny. “With complex, haunting soundscapes and raw, soul-searching lyrics, Radiohead has blazed an uncompromising trail to become one of the most critically acclaimed, socially aware, and perennially popular rock acts in the world. Like such predecessors as Pink Floyd, U2, and REM, the band has maintained its underground cred even while residing at the heart of the popular mainstream. Now writer and musicologist James Doheny reveals the inside story behind every Radiohead song in a comprehensive and insightful book no true fan will want to be without.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)
Acoustic guitar making : the steel string guitar / Nick Blishen. “Many people are frustrated by the mass-produced guitar and dream of something more unique. This practical book will help readers achieve that dream, and will inform and enlighten them along the way. Drawing on a range of ideas and techniques, it explains the process in a clear and logical way, thereby demystifying the task and making the guitar a joy to build and then to play. It covers tools, techniques, and selection of materials; how to avoid pitfalls and make faster progress; and how to achieve a professional finish and set up the guitar.” (adapted from amazon.com summary)