Movies & Music Newsletter: June 2014

This months new DVDs include summer block-buster film adaptations (and reboots) of Orson Scott Card, Stephen King, Markus Zusak, and Martin Sixsmith books. There’s even a crowd-sourced gem for Marshmallows. An ever-eclectic selection of the latest song books and CDs to join the collection are also included. Enjoy!

Library News

DVDs

New DVDs from May include the acclaimed Biography pick Philomena with Dame Judi Dench & Steve Coogan; adaptations of popular YA novels like The Book Thief; new Foreign hits with French romantic-comedy Populaire; and the return of cult-TV favourite Veronica Mars.

Cover imageThe book thief.
“Skillfully pared down from Markus Zusak’s celebrated young adult novel, The Book Thief presents a somewhat sanitized glimpse of Nazi Germany and the war from the uniquely innocent view of an adolescent girl. At first the perspective seems to be from the narrator, a bored, yet amused voice we learn is Death, presumably taking a brief holiday to comment on the experience of young Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) and the evolving disruptions around her. After Liesel is separated from her brother and mother in sharp and unsettling fashion, she lands at the home of protective, penurious foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in a small village somewhere in the picturesque German countryside. When she’s teased at school for being illiterate, the kindly Hans makes a fun project of teaching her to read. Rosa is a persnickety presence for both of them, but it’s mainly a façade as the couple embrace Liesel tighter even as the situation around them grows more dire. At a Nazi book burning a horrified Liesel surreptitiously snatches a random volume from the flames. The wife of the local Bürgermeister is the only one who notices, and she compassionately allows Liesel to visit her dead son’s library, where she soon earns the movie’s title moniker. Liesel’s newfound love of literature begins informing her actions as more is revealed about the Hubermanns and the toll of wartime village life becomes more desperate.” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePopulaire.
“In 1958, the young Rose Pamphyle dreams on leaving the small village in the countryside of France where she lives with her grumpy father Jean Pamphyle, who is a widower that runs a store and wishes that Rose get married to the son of the local mechanic. Rose learns by herself how to type using only two fingers and when she sees an advertisement for a secretary for the insurance agent Louis Échard in Lisieux, Lower Normandy, she immediately travels to city. Rose has a bad interview but she impresses Louis typing at very high speed. Louis decides to hire her for a short period of experience and Rose shows that she is a clumsy secretary. But Louis is a former sportsman and he decides to train Rose how to type correctly to dispute a speed typing competition. He brings Rose to his home and she learns how to play piano to help her typing with Louis’s childhood friend Marie Taylor that is married with the American Bob Taylor. She becomes close to his friends and family. Rose becomes the fastest typist in France and now she needs to train to compete in the world title in USA. But Louis, who has fallen in love with her, believes that he is not enough to help her and decides to sacrifice his love to make Rose’s dream come true.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageAugust: Osage County.
“Academy Award-nominated drama directed by John Wells. Members of the Weston family reunite at their family home in Osage County, Oklahoma when their troubled poet father Beverly (Sam Shepard) goes missing. It isn’t long before they find that he has commited suicide and the rest of the family then come to pay their last regards at the funeral. Leaving his outspoken and drug-addicted wife Violet (Meryl Streep) behind, the rest of the family feel obligated to stay with her while she grieves for her husband. But living in such close proximity is a test for any grown family, and it isn’t long before cracks in their relationships begin to appear. The ensemble cast includes Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch. Both Streep and Roberts received Oscar nominations for their performances in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageVeronica Mars.
“On the eve of graduating law school, Veronica Mars has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her. While interviewing at high-end New York law firms, Veronica Mars gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don’t seem right with how Logan’s case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imagePhilomena.
“Judi Dench stars in the story of Philomena Lee, mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock and given up for adoption. Nearly 50 years later, Philomena meets Martin Sixsmith, a former BBC reporter looking for his next big story. Together, they embark on a journey to locate her long lost son. As the pieces of the puzzle come together, the unlikely travel companions form a comic and heartwarming friendship. Based on the 2009 investigative book by Martin Sixsmith.” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageCarrie.
“Chloe Grace Moretz and Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore star in this exhilarating reimagining of Stephen King’s iconic best seller. After merciless taunting from classmates and abuse at the hand of her religious fanatic mother (Moore), Carrie’s (Mortez) anger – and her telekinetic powers – are unleashed. And when a prom prank goes horribly wrong, events spiral out of control until the terrifying conclusion of this powerful, pulse-quickening horror story.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageEnder’s game.
“Based on the popular series of books by Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game is aimed at the same young adult crowd that gobbled up franchises like Twilight and The Hunger Games, but it has plenty to satisfy older audiences too. Ender Wiggin is a pubescent genius selected for training in an elite battle school some 70 years after an apocalyptic global attack by the insectlike Formics that killed tens of millions. The Formics were defeated, but the threat of their return remains and it’s up to children like Ender to become strategic commanders who will take up the mantle of defending Earth. The martial sensibility of a child army is crisp and believable in the scenes of boot camp on space stations and distant planet outposts. Asa Butterfield (Hugo) makes Ender the scrawny, brilliant misfit who really may be a savior to end the Formic threat forever. He’s bullied and alienated, a theme that recurs throughout the story in many ways and comes full circle in the brutal, beautiful finale. His mentor and tormentor is Colonel Graff, the grizzled commander who believes Ender is “the one,” but must hide some essential truths as a measure of control. Harrison Ford makes a bang-up return to stardom as Graff with barely dimmed wattage that pays more than a little homage to Han Solo…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

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Popular Music Books

Want to be Lorde? More songbooks have arrived including Lorde’s Pure Heroine. Wonderful instruction books for the ever popular ukulele are included as are classics from Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Alicia Keys. It’s playtime again.

Syndetics book coverPure heroine / Lorde.
“17-year-old New Zealand newcomer Lorde released this, her debut album, in September 2013. It reached the top of the modern rock/alternative and rock albums charts, and the lead single “Royals” won the 2014 Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. Our folio features this break-out hit plus nine other tunes: Buzzcut Season * 400 Lux * Ribs * Still Sane * Team * Tennis Court * and more.” (Adapted from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverComplete, so far / Joni Mitchell ; transcriptions by Joel Bernstein, Daniel Libertino, and Andrew DuBrock.
“After decades of waiting, the definitive Joni Mitchell guitar songbook is here! Joni Mitchell Complete So Far contains 167 songs spanning her entire career, transcribed accurately and including the authentic tunings Joni explored throughout her artistic development. To make it easier to navigate the tunings—absolutely integral to any student of Joni Mitchell’s guitar work—this book also includes a very clear and easy-to-use tuning index, and an in-depth article on Joni’s evolution as a guitarist. Hardcover and featuring an impressive all-color photo section, the songbook culls the best work from the following albums: Song to a Seagull, Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, Blue, For the Roses, Court and Spark, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, Mingus, Wild Things Run Fast, Dog Eat Dog, Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, Night Ride Home, Turbulent Indigo, Hits, Taming the Tiger, and Shine.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe element of freedom / Alicia Keys.
“The 2009 CD by this soulful R&B songstress features 13 songs, including her hit duet with Jay-Z “Empire State of Mind” and another duet with Beyonce, “Put It in a Love Song.” Our matching songbook features these songs, plus: Distance and Time * Doesn’t Mean Anything * How It Feels to Fly * Like the Sea * Love Is Blind * Love Is My Disease * That’s How Strong My Love Is * This Bed * Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart * Un-thinkable (I’m Ready) * Wait Til You See My Smile.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAfter the gold rush / Neil Young ; music transcriptions by Jeff Jacobson and Kevin Langan.
“Released in 1970, Neil Young’s third CD is hailed as a masterpiece. Here are note-for-note transcriptions with tab for all 11 songs: After the Gold Rush * Birds * Cripple Creek Ferry * Don’t Let It Bring You Down * I Believe in You * Oh, Lonesome Me * Only Love Can Break Your Heart * Southern Man * Tell Me Why * Till the Morning Comes * When You Dance, I Can Really Love.” (adapted from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverUkulele aerobics / by Chad Johnson.
“A 40-week, one-lick-per-day workout program for developing, improving, and maintaining ukulele technique.” (Book Cover)

CDs

A mix of old-faithfuls and a few extras to experiment with in this months newest CDs.

Cover imageThe take off and landing of everything.
“As they release their sixth studio album, The Take Off and Landing of Everything, it is fair to say that elbow are in a rare position within the music world. Few bands can lay claim to a career that encompasses over twenty years, even fewer can make that claim without changes to personnel and yet, elbow in 2014 are the same as elbow in 1992, Guy Garvey on vocals, Mark Potter on guitar, Pete Turner on bass, Craig Potter on keyboards and Richard Jupp on drums. That isn’t to suggest elbow are rigid in their musical approach. For The Take Off and Landing of Everything the band subtly changed their previous working practices to great effect. Where previously the vast majority of elbow songs had been the creation of the band in total, a sketch from one member being developed by the band in rehearsal, this time around a conscious decision was made to try a new approach. So, ‘Honey Sun’ is the musical creation of Mark Potter, ‘Colour Fields’ was mostly written by Pete Turner using iPad apps and ‘Fly Boy Blue / Lunette’, the track that unveiled the new album with its accompanying film in January, was initially created by a core group of Pete Turner, Mark Potter and Richard Jupp…” (Publishers description from Real Groovy)

Cover imageOut among the stars.
“Out Among The Stars is a remarkable new album comprised of 12 recently discovered Johnny Cash studio recordings. The tracks were originally recorded in Nashville in 1981 and 1984 and produced by Billy Sherrill. The album features duets with June Carter Cash and Waylon Jennings plus songs penned by Cash himself. The recordings, which have never been released in any form, are not demos, outtakes or alternate versions. They remained in the vaults during the years Columbia Records released Johnny Cash’s last albums for the label and were subsequently forgotten. The recordings first surfaced in 2012, when John Carter Cash was cataloging his father’s and mother’s exhaustive archives. “When my parents passed away, it became necessary to go through this material,” he says. “We found these recordings that were produced by Billy Sherrill in the early 1980s…they were beautiful.” Out Among The Stars is a great lost Johnny Cash album connecting the revolutionary rockabilly of his Sun Records years to the epochal final albums he made for American Recordings. Thirty years in the making, Out Among The Stars is a classic Johnny Cash album, about to be heard for the very first time…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe nihilist.
“Liam Finn returns with his third solo album The Nihilist, recorded in Greenpoint Studios in Brooklyn, New York, where Liam is based. Produced by Liam himself and recorded by Andrew Everding, (Dave Fridmann’s (Tame Impala, MGMT etc.) protégé). Featuring Finn on 67 instruments and collaborations from his bandmates Eliza Jane Barnes (vocals), his brother Elroy (drums), Andrew Keoghan on violin & Jol Mulholland (bass) in sessions entirely between the hours of sunset and sunrise.The album opens with “Ocean Emmanuelle,” a dreamy, collaborative effort with Mulholland that sets a tone of troubled beauty.”Snug As F*ck,” a melodic and fantastical duet with frequent collaborator Barnes, bridges the gap between Finn’s work as a teenager in the acclaimed New Zealand band Betchadupa and his current solo career, while “Burn Up The Road” is an infectious fuzzed up rocker. “4 Track Stomper” builds a distorted beat on an old four-track tape recorder into an off-kilter masterpiece, and the album’s eerie, percussive title track was actually born as an acapella arrangement during a jam with Elroy…” (Publishers description from Real Groovy)

Cover imageThe classic.
“Joan Wasser returns with her fourth album with her Joan As Policewoman project, The Classic following on her from her critically acclaimed album The Deep Field in 2011. The new album showcases her intimate and uplifting brand of soul combined with her unique torch-singing temperament, with a more liberated feel than ever before. Featuring guests artists like comedian & musician Reggie Watts, Joseph Arthur as well as her usual Joan As Police Woman cohorts, Tyler Wood (keyboards), Oren Bloedow (bass and sharing guitar parts with Joan) & Parker Kindred, Jeff Buckley’s former drummer.Trained as a classical violinist, Joan graduated to playing in Antony Hegarty’s Johnsons and Rufus Wainwright’s band, whose combined piano balladry inspired her own music, while infusing it with her individual stripped-down-soul and torch-song approach. This new album features influences from soul, street corner doo-wop, classic fifties & sixties pop while creating its own unique sound…” (Publishers description from Real Groovy)

Cover imageLost in the dream / The War on Drugs.
“The War On Drugs, the Philadelphia-based project of Adam Granduciel, presents their third full-length album, the beautifully sweeping Lost In The Dream, via Secretly Canadian. Written and recorded over two-plus years in Philadelphia, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey, following almost two years of nonstop touring in support of 2011′s Slave Ambient, Lost In The Dream is the outstanding presentation of Granduciel’s progression and growth as a songwriter, performer, and producer. It is an immense listen to be absorbed and discovered now and for decades to come…” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

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Buyer’s Choice

Up and comings  our buyer is looking forward to:

Syndetics book coverBest thing that never happened to me
On a competely different note is this lovely new romantic comedy about Holly. She let go of her first love Alex, but now has a second chance of rekindling their relationship when he moves back to her city for a new job. It has been described as similar to Notting Hill and Love Actually. Which may or may not be your thing, but it sounds good nonetheless and has recommendations from fellow chick-lit writer Paige Toon.

Syndetics book coverHen who dreamed she could fly
This is by bestselling and award winning Korean writer Sun-Mi Hwang and is one the few novels of hers translated into English (the only one our library has). It’s a fable about motherhood, morality and life in general. And it is actually about a hen called Sprout (and a collection of other barnyard animals). The hen, described by Publisher’s Weekly as “philosophically restless” (how great is that?!) yearns to be a mother and to hatch one of her eggs which unfortunately are collected each day by the farmer. Eventually she escapes her cage and meets a duck, Straggler, who helps her hatch and nurture an egg they find, both discovering the joys of parenthood. How brilliant!

Syndetics book coverSt Kilda blues
This novel is set in 1967 Melbourne and follows detective Charlie Berlin as he investigates the disappearance of a teenage girl, the daughter of a wealthy and prominent city figure. This is the third installment by Geoffrey McGeachin about detective Berlin, the first two installments won Australia’s Ned Kelly award for crime fiction.

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Music and Movies Newsletter for April

We are sure our selection of the latest music and movies to hit the collection will help keep you entertained over the wet season, enjoy!

Library News

DVDs

New DVDs for April include the acclaimed documentaries Blackfish and The Human Scale, the latest entry in the Hunger Games franchise, White House historical drama The Butler, and a biography of popular singer Jeff Buckley.

Cover imageBlackfish.
“A mesmerising psychological thriller with a killer whale at its centre, Blackfish is the first film since Grizzly Man to show how nature can get revenge on man when pushed to its limits. Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the mulit-billion dollar sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.” (Publishers Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe hunger games. Catching fire.
“When it comes to blockbuster franchises, the first sequel frequently offers pumped-up versions of the initial thrills–to diminishing results. Catching Fire, however, the second adaptation drawn from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, defies that trend with more finely drawn relationships. Despite her best efforts to feign romance with her co-competitor and to keep posttraumatic stress at bay, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) fears that Katniss’s defiant nature will incite rebellion, so he takes a tip from new gamemaker Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and launches a Quarter Quell in which past champions, such as the hilariously bitter Johanna (Jena Malone) and the deceptively arrogant Finnick (Sam Claflin), will fight to the death. Not all tributes are quite so young, like Mags (Lynn Cohen), a senior citizen who suits up for battle and establishes a touching bond with Finnick (Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer play the craftiest teammates). Until the cliffhanger ending, director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) serves up an array of splendors, from killer baboons to the ever-amazing outfits of Effie and Caesar (Stanley Tucci). Most significantly, the script from cowriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) strengthens the bonds between Katniss and Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), who prove themselves more worthy than ever of Katniss’s affections.” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe butler.
The Butler tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family. Forest Whitaker stars as the butler with Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, and many more. Academy Award® nominated Lee Daniels (Precious) directs and co-wrote the script with Emmy®-award winning Danny Strong (Game Change).” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageGreetings from Tim Buckley.
“In 1991, Jeff Buckley rehearses for his public singing debut at a Brooklyn tribute concert for his father, the late folk singer Tim Buckley. Struggling with the legacy of a man he barely knew, Jeff forms a friendship with an enigmatic young woman and begins to discover the powerful potential of his own musical voice. Filled with stirring musical performances and the memorable songs of a father and son who were each among the most beloved singer/songwriters of their respective generations.” (From Library Catalogue)

Cover imageAlan Partridge: Alpha papa.
“Steve Coogan’s legendary chat show host and broadcaster finally receives the big screen treatment in this comedy directed by Declan Lowney. Occupying a career stasis-defining role as a mid-morning DJ on North Norfolk Digital Radio, Alan Partridge (Coogan)’s hopes for one last shot at the big time suffer a severe setback when it emerges that his employers have been taken over by a giant media conglomerate. Alan soon finds himself back in the spotlight, however, when newly-sacked fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) returns to the studio with a shotgun and begins taking hostages. Called in by the police to act as a hostage negotiator, can Britain’s most famous Toblerone addict turn the tables and finally save the day?” (Library catalogue)

Cover imageDetachment.
“Still best known for American History X, a film he tried to have his name removed from, director Tony Kaye’s work has remained consistent and interesting ever since. It’s been a lot lower profile too. Detachment is a case in point. Whereas American films about teachers taking on an unruly class in a trouble school generally end with either Oscar nominations or a hit single, Detachment is a lot more serious, and consequently more interesting, about its work. It follows a brilliant teacher, played by Adrien Brody, who goes from school to school as a substitute, rather than committing and getting attached to the one place. That inevitably changes, but the film’s viewpoint on life doesn’t. There’s no gloss here, rather a superbly acted, down to earth drama, that has as much to say about the school system it’s portraying as it does its individual characters. It’s a shame that Detachment got such a low-key cinema release, something reflected in the straightforward disc debut too. There are a few extras here, but nothing that adds a great deal to the package. That’s a pity too, as the film is superb, courageous, and quite brilliantly acted. Brody is as good here as he was in his Oscar-winning turn in The Pianist, and Detachment deserves all the exposure it can get.” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageThe human scale.
“50 % of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will increase to 80%. Life in a mega city is both enchanting and problematic. Today we face peak oil, climate change, loneliness and severe health issues due to our way of life. But why? The Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities through 40 years. He has documented how modern cities repel human interaction, and argues that we can build cities in a way, which takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account.The Human Scalemeets thinkers, architects and urban planners across the globe. It questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people into the center of our planning.” (From Syndetics summary)

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Film and television books

This month our selection of new books includes how to make and market your own web series, the first in the new “If you like…” series that collects more than 200 movies you’ll like if you love the Terminator movies.

Syndetics book coverIf 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)

Syndetics book coverWeb 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)

Syndetics book coverComedy 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)

Syndetics book coverSexbombs. Golden boys. Vol. 1, Sexiest men ever / [authors, Paul G. Roberts … [et al.]]
“In this edition (the first of four) we revisit the compelling mystery of the male sex symbol in a lavish fashion. The lives and legends of Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, Elvis Presley, Harrison Ford, Clark, Gable Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Rudolph Valentino, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Jim Morrison, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Sidney Poitier, Muhammad Ali, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson, Tom Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, George Clooney, Mick Jagger.” (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverSexbombs. Sirens. Vol. 2, Sexiest women ever / [authors, Paul G. Roberts … [et al.]].
“Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Raquel Welch, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Jane Russell, Jayne Mansfield, Ursula Andress, Mata Hari, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Ann-Margaret, Bettie Page, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Mae West, Betty Grable, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Fonda, Madonna, Lauren Bacall. To be a star you need to rouse the senses, but to be a siren you must touch the heart. The intensity of human beauty concentrated in the most famous female sex symbols of the twentieth century is matched by their vulnerability, their daring and their sheer courage.” (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverTales from development hell : the greatest movies never made? / David Hughes.
“A compulsively readable journey into the area of movie-making where all writers, directors and stars fear to tread: Development Hell, the place where scripts are written, actors hired and sets designed… but the movies rarely actually get made! Whatever happened to Darren Aronofsky’s Batman movie starring Clint Eastwood? Why were there so many scripts written over the years for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s fourth Indiana Jones movie? Why was Lara Croft’s journey to the big screen so tortuous, and what prevented Paul Verhoeven from filming what he calls “one of the greatest scripts ever written”? Why did Ridley Scott’s Crisis in the Hot Zone collapse days away from filming, and were the Beatles really set to star in Lord of the Rings?” (description from Amazon.com)

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Popular Music

New CDs for March include the critically acclaimed return of Beck; new albums from Rosanne Cash & St. Vincent.

Cover imageThe river & the thread.
“Produced by and co-written with John Leventhal, this album marks Cash’s Decca/Blue Note debut. ‘The River & The Thread’ is Rosanne Cash s first album in more than four years. Cash wrote the album s 11 original songs with her longtime collaborator (and husband) John Leventhal, who also served as producer, arranger and guitarist. With The River & The Thread , Cash turns her attention to American lives and locations. The album richly evokes the Southern landscape physical, musical, emotional and examines the indelible impressions it has made on our own collective culture and on Cash. The River & The Thread is sweeping in its breadth, capturing a unique, multi-generational cast of characters, from a Civil War soldier off to fight in Virginia to a New Deal-era farmer in Arkansas to a contemporary Mobile, AL couple. While Cash and Leventhal found inspiration in the many musical styles associated with the South swampy Delta blues, gospel, Appalachian folk, country and rock, to name a few this is a completely contemporary collection. ‘If I never make another album I will be content, because I made this one’, says Cash of The River & The Thread , which is a marked departure from her earlier works.” (Abridged from publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageSt. Vincent.
“St. Vincent – aka Annie Clark — is releasing her self-titled fourth album which follows her last solo release, 2011’s Strange Mercy. The record’s 11 tracks showcase Clark at her most assured and gripping, as she meshes distorted, aggressive electric guitars and ethereal vocal and synthesizer arrangements on top of an infectious rhythm section and relentless percussion. “I knew the groove needed to be paramount”, Clark says of the album, which she arranged and demoed extensively in Austin before heading into the studio in Dallas to record. She enlisted Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and frequent collaborator McKenzie Smith of Midlake to share percussion duties, while she returned to producer John Congleton to take the sonic potential they’d only just begun to tap with Strange Mercy into dramatic new territory. “I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral.”” (Publishers description from Real Groovy)

Cover imageMorning phase.
“Morning Phase is true to its title: the beginning of yet another amazing chapter in Beck’s peerless career and catalogue. Featuring musicians who have backed him on many of his most acclaimed albums, as well as the current live shows widely hailed as the best of his career (Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Joey Waronker, Smokey Hormel, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and Jason Falkner), Morning Phase harkens back to the stunning harmonies, song craft and staggering emotional impact of Beck’s most classic ballads, all the while surging forward with undeniable optimism. “…one of his best: a tenderly stunning song cycle of languid, prairie-dusted psychedelia that recalls Beck’s reflective 2002 classic, Sea Change.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

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Buyer’s Choice

New on the Buyer’s radar this month includes a couple of up-coming kiwi works including Richard Jackson’s (who we recently interviewed) Confessions Of A Terrorist.

Syndetics book cover
Cairo affair
Wow, this one sounds exciting! Espinonage, romance, drama, set in Egypt. With the CIA, assassinations, secrets and love affirs. It’s about the shooting of an American diplomat in Hungary and the repercussions from this, leading all the way to Cairo. And then it starts to get complicated. Described as a ’spy procedural’ and John Le Carre-esque. It was an ‘Amazon Best Book of the Month’ in March.

Syndetics book coverPurgatory
Rosetta Allan is an Auckland based writer, who has already published two books of poetry. This is her first work of fiction and it is a ghost story of sorts. John Finnegan was murdered, along with his brothers and mother, and they were buried in the family’s garden. They are all stuck there to watch life unfold around them, including the life of their murderer James Stack. (The story is based on the gruesome true crime that occured in Otahuhu in 1865). I think it sounds great!

Syndetics book coverConfessions of a terrorist
Richard Jackson is a bit of an expert on terrorism – he’s Deputy Director at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Otago University and has written several academic books about terrorism. This is also his first work of fiction. It’s a gripping psychological thriller centred around a terrorist and his interrorgator, a British intelligence officer. Looks good, and Jackson’s knowledge of the subject lends it a depth and drama.

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Music & Movies Newsletter for April

Fast cars, guns, awkward weddings, inaccurate but entertaining historical thrillers and everyone’s favourite medieval sword and sorcery epic are just some of the treats on offer in this month’s Music & Movies selections. Also, be sure to catch Searching for Sugarman if you haven’t already. You couldn’t find a finer cockle-warming music doco, unless you somehow stumbled across Anvil: the story of Anvil.

Library News

DVDs

New DVDs for March include Season 2 of the epic Fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’; Brad Pitts George V. Higgins adaptation ‘Killing Them Softly’; acclaimed music documentary ‘Searching For Sugarman’; the feel-good French smash ‘The intouchables’; & Ben Affleck’s Oscar Best Picture winner ‘Argo’….

Cover imageHit & run.
“Charles Bronson is a former bank robber wheelman who ratted out his gang and is living under the assumed name in the Federal Witness Protection Program. He goes by Charlie, and played by the goofy, buffed-out Dax Shepard he makes a charming everyman hero in the amusing and adventurous action comedy Hit & Run. Shepard also wrote the script and codirected what was obviously a labor of love (his real-life partner Kristen Bell plays his onscreen girlfriend), and he shows some genuine chops as a wrangler of rapid-fire witty dialogue as well as car-chase action choreography. Charlie’s brainy girlfriend Annie teaches at the local college and knows nothing about his past life…When Annie needs to get to Los Angeles for an important job interview, Charlie uncovers the muscle car he’s been hiding in the barn and offers to get her there in a flash, even though it may mean uncovering his secret life in the process…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageKilling them softly.
“There’s plenty of grit, street life, gangland lingo, and nuts-and-bolts criminal insiderism, but the overall tone is more akin to a David Mamet play than a rollicking Hollywood shoot-’em-up. The movie is an adaptation of the fine George V. Higgins novel Cogan’s Trade, and it nicely transposes the tone and delivery of Higgins’s spare prose into a visual style that keeps a long, lingering gaze on its unlovable bad guys. It also holds an attentive ear to the rhythm and pattern of their speech, turning the extended stretches of dialogue into unique tableaux of stylish exchanges between hit men, lowlife punks, and middle management gangsters… Brad Pitt is a sleek and enigmatic presence as Jackie Cogan, a professional killer who’s as exasperated by the stupidity around him as he is obsessed with the details of doing his job right. After an odd couple of hapless losers (Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn, who are a hoot) hit a mob-run card game, Jackie is called in to clean up the mess…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageAfter the wedding.
“Equal parts weepy drama and soap opera, After the Wedding is a beautifully filmed story centering on Jacob (Mads Mikkelsen, Casino Royale), a Danish man working at a orphanage in Bombay. Just when funds have run desperately low, Jorgen (Rolf Lassgård)–a wealthy benefactor–promises to donate millions of dollars to the orphanage. But there’s a catch. Jacob must collect the funds himself in Copenhagen… and attend the wedding of the eccentric millionaire’s daughter. But once Jacob meets the benefactor’s wife Helene (played by a radiant Sidse Babett Knudsen), it’s obvious to the viewer that the two have a complicated history. It’s also likely that her daughter Anna (Stine Fischer Christensen) most probably is theirs. So why did Jorgen invite Jacob to Anna’s wedding? Does he know Jacob is Anna’s father? Is something nefarious in the works? The thought-provoking film was Denmark’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Academy Awards…The relationships here are messy and often uncomfortable. But they also ring true to life…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe intouchables.
“Driss (Omar Sy), a Senegalese man living in a Paris slum, applies for a job as caretaker to a wealthy quadriplegic, but all he wants is to get his paper stamped so he can get benefits. Despite his lack of qualifications, he lands the job because of his attitude: Philippe (François Cluzet), the quadriplegic, wants a caretaker who will look at him without pity. As Driss reluctantly learns to move, feed, and clean Philippe, the two men discover a blunt but vital humour that not only bridges the cultural and class divide between them, but gives Philippe a renewed joy in life. It’s easy to see what made Untouchable such a massive success in France; the movie has the sweet sincerity and uplifting conclusion that make for a classic feel-good experience. The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, and Sy–who won the French equivalent of the Oscar for his role–is a dynamic and charismatic performer, while Cluzet’s understated performance conveys Philippe’s frustrations. The movie doesn’t dig too deeply into the struggles of life as a quadriplegic or the struggles of life among the inner-city poor, so when Untouchable ends it’s not likely to leave a lasting impression, but that doesn’t get in the way of its immediate charm and warmth…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageArgo.
“Based on real events, the dramatic thriller Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played–information that was not declassified until many years after the event. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, the Canadian and American governments ask the CIA to intervene. The CIA turns to their top “exfiltration” specialist, Tony Mendez, to come up with a plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageGame of thrones. The complete second season.
“Based on A Clash of Kings, the second novel in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, season two of Game of Thrones admirably encapsulates the sprawling War of the Five Kings, which pits the malevolent Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) against a host of contenders for the throne of the late King Robert (Mark Addy), including his brothers Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Renly (Gethin Anthony). Further complicating matters is the appointment of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) as Hand of the King to Joffrey, which sets off an intense behind-the-scenes power struggle with his siblings, Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who carry on an incestuous affair. Meanwhile, there’s also the issue of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and her three dragons; Daenerys spends much of season two making her way across the Red Waste in order to launch her own plan of conquest. These central conflicts are supported by a host of secondary storylines… That Game of Thrones manages to not only weave together all of these myriad threads but also make them compelling and fully realized is among the keys to the show’s astonishing popularity, as are the performances, which, along with the direction and writing, help to make the series the best costume fantasy drama ever produced on television…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageSearching for Sugar Man.
“Rodriguez, outside of a circle of pre-existing fans, might not be the most famous musician on the planet. But he makes a fascinating subject for the documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Put together in part by the producer of the excellent Man On Wire, Searching For Sugar Man centres around a flop album released by Rodriguez, which went on to build an audience over the decades that followed. But what happened to Rodriguez himself? That’s where the film comes in, and it’s an engaging tale it has to tell. It’s a terrific documentary, this. Touching, mysterious and centred on a genuinely intriguing subject matter, there’s a lot to grab your interest here. After all, is Rodriguez a myth, the film asks? If not, is he aware of the impact his music has had? The film plays its cards very close to its chest, and is all the better for it. There’s material beyond the film to be found on the disc, and it digs deeper in the story as part and parcel of that. So you get an interesting commentary track, as well as a making of piece as well…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageBully.
“From Sundance Award-winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, comes a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary following five kids and families over the course of a school year. Offering insight into different facets of America’s bullying crisis, the stories include two families who have lost children to suicide and a mother awaiting the fate of her 14-year-old daughter, who has been incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With an intimate and often shocking glimpse into homes, classrooms, cafeterias and principals’ offices, this is a powerful and inspiring film that every educator, parent and teenager should see…” (From Amazon.com description)

Cover imageSilk. [Series 1].
“Single, attractive, thirty something Martha Costello is a brilliant, passionate defence barister with the unwavering belief that all are innocent until proven guilty. Martha is about to apply to become Queen’s Counsel; she is applying for ‘Silk’, but she’s not the only one at her chambers– Clive Reader is charming, ruthless and dangerous, and knows how to play the game– Only one of them will be made QC and Senior Clerk, Billy Lamb, is the man with everyone’s lives and careers in his hands. Martha’s conscience and faith in the criminal justice system are tested to breaking point as she deals with clients who are good, bad and downright evil…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSleep tight.
“Spanish psychological horror from director Jaume Balagueró. The film follows César (Luis Tosar), the concierge to the residents at a wealthy apartment building. César seems extraordinarily helpful and polite and is consequently adored by the residents, but little do they know that he is in fact a man so incapable of happiness and human feeling that he makes it his goal in life to make others as miserable as he is. He focuses much of his attention on Clara (Martra Etura), a beautiful young woman whose vivacity and spontaneous sense of happiness make her his opposite in almost every way. With his usual blend of underhand tricks, which include sneaking into her apartment to rig unpleasant surprises and even hiding beneath her bed, César begins to unnerve Clara. When her boyfriend Marcos (Alberto San Juan) unexpectedly returns the situation quickly escalates towards a point of no return…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageTwo little boys.
“The film follows Nige and his best mate Deano’s riotous misadventures as they struggle with their imploding friendship which has been put under pressure by an unfortunate incident involving a hot meat pie, a ginger cat and the untimely death of a Scandinavian soccer star. Nige chucks the dead body in a nearby roadworks hole and runs to Deano for help. Trouble is, Deano’s not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis…” (Syndetics summary)

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Popular Music

The selection of new books on popular music this month are all rock legends’ biographies. They include a much-missed Whitney Houston, John Lennon and Marc Bolan. Have a browse!!

Syndetics book coverRemembering Whitney : my story of love, loss, and the night the music stopped / Cissy Houston with Lisa Dickey ; with a foreword by Dionne Warwick.
“”The world lost one of the most beautiful voices and an extraordinarily beautiful and charitable woman,” says Houston of daughter Whitney’s death in February 2012. Cissy offers a forthright account of her daughter’s life and death.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book cover50 licks : myths and stories from half a century of the Rolling Stones / Pete Fornatale with Bernard M. Corbett and Peter Thomas Fornatale.
“Fornatale, the noted disc jockey, radio host, and musical historian who died in 2012, opened the first program of his brand-new radio show in 1969 with a Rolling Stones song. By then the Stones were worldwide superstars, but, as Fornatale recounts in this profusely illustrated oral history of the band, there were some rocky times in the early days. Then back-to-back singles of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Get Off of My Cloud catapulted them into international stardom. That was 47 years ago. The book features interviews with not only the Stones but also fellow musicians, film directors, music-industry execs, journalists, and does a good job of covering the band’s half-century history in broad strokes, giving us a nice look at the Stones as musicians, celebrities, and young men growing to maturity in the public eye.” (adapted from Booklist)

Syndetics book coverMötley Crüe : the dirt / [Tommy Lee … et al. ; with Neil Strauss].
“In the beginning there was the Motley House, crawling with cockroaches and rats, beer cans piled on the porch so high they threatened to spill into the house every time you opened the door. “That place gave birth to Motley Crue,” the band recalls in The Dirt: The Autobiography of Motley Crue. Crue members Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx also team up with New York Times music writer Neil Strauss to tell the story of their band’s rise to phenomenal success.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverUntouchable : the strange life and tragic death of Michael Jackson / Randall Sullivan.
“Dogged by scandal for over fifteen years and undone by his own tendency to trust the wrong people, Michael Jackson had become untouchable in many quarters, a fact that wounded him deeply. Now, drawing on unprecedented access to friends, enemies, employees, and associates of Jackson, Randall Sullivan delivers an intimate, unflinching, and deeply human portrait of a man who was never quite understood by the media, his fans, or even those closest to him. Traces the story of Michael Jackson’s life from his famous childhood through his final four years, drawing on interviews with his friends, enemies, and other associates to cover his international travels, business acumen, and parenting decisions”.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPrince / Matt Thorne.
“Legendarily reticent, perverse and misleading, Prince is one of the few remaining 80s superstars who still, perhaps, remains unexplained. Now a firm fixture in the pop canon, where such classics as “Purple Rain”, “Sign o’ the Times” and “Parade” regularly feature in Best Ever Album polls, Prince is still, as he ever was, an enigma. Matt Thorne’s “Prince”, through years of research and interviews with ex-Revolution members such as Wendy and Lisa, is an account of a pop maverick whose experiments with rock, funk, techno and jazz revolutionized pop. With reference to every song, released and unreleased, over 35 years of recording, Prince will stand for years to come as the go-to book on the Great Man”.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJoni : the creative odyssey of Joni Mitchell / Katherine Monk.
“Biographies of Joni Mitchell are attempted every few years, but the definitive one will have to wait until the singer-songwriter tells her own story. In the meantime, Monk’s is the closest thing to essential reading. She describes her book as a “rambling adventure into the creative soul,” and it follows Mitchell’s path to popular and critical success as well as her self-imposed exile from that success, while frankly addressing the highs and lows of her career and personal life. One intriguing aspect of the book is Monk’s pursuit of a kind of Mitchell-approved reading list (because of her subject’s own interest in philosophy). Monk uses Martin Heidegger, Joseph Campbell, and especially Friedrich Nietzsche to tell Mitchell’s story and shape the narrative of her creative odyssey.” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverDays that I’ll remember : spending time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono / Jonathan Cott.
“A contributing editor to Rolling Stone since its inception, Jonathan Cott met myriad musicians, but few-if any-made as deep an impression on him as John Lennon. Cott’s many discussions and interviews (including one conducted just three days before Lennon’s assassination, reproduced here in its entirety) reveal the two rhapsodically rapping about the meaning of “Strawberry Fields,” dealing with fame, Yoko’s alleged role in the breakup of the Beatles (”I think that each of the Beatles was too strong and tough an individual to have been influenced by me in any way” is her response), and the impact of psychologist Arthur Janov’s primal therapy treatment on the duo’s relationship and work together. Cott does a solid job of creating intimacy between Lennon and the reader, something fans of the much-missed musician will likely relish.” (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverRide a white swan : the lives and death of Marc Bolan / Lesley-Ann Jones.
“From mod folk artist to flower power pixie elfin to the king of glam rockers, Marc Bolan was the ultimate chameleon. His far reaching musical and stylistic influence is more relevant today than ever with hits such as ‘Ride A White Swan’, ‘Children Of The Revolution’, ‘Get It On’ and ‘Hot Love’ as fresh and exhilarating as when first released. At last, in the 35th anniversary year of his tragic death, Marc Bolan represents the definite biography. Here rock biographer, Lesley-Ann Jones, paints a meticulous portrait of the T-Rex front man. From his childhood growing up in Hackney to his untimely death at the age of 29, Bolan’s life was one of relentless experimentation and metamorphoses.”(adapted from amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverA light that never goes out : the enduring saga of the Smiths / Tony Fletcher.
“Indie cult heavyweights the Smiths never charted a single higher than number 10, but they are widely considered to be an important musical component of British pop music of the 1980s. Their enigmatic vocalist and lyricist, Morrissey, is a bit of a hero to the disaffected, which only adds to his and the band’s angsty cachet. Of course, they broke up in 1987, but with rumored reunions that never materialized and the individual members’ post-Smiths activities (as a solo), Morrissey has cracked Top 10 lists), their self-conscious legend lives on. In relating the story of the band, Fletcher centers on Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, digging deep in terms of the details of the band’s creative process and progress but with plenty of time for conjecture about the comprehensively enigmatic Morrissey.” (Booklist)

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Classical Music

This month’s Classical finds seem to have a bit of a biographical theme running through them. I hope you enjoy rediscovering a familiar topic, or being enthralled by a new one.

Syndetics book coverBenjamin Britten : a life in the twentieth century / Paul Kildea.
“In the eyes of many, Benjamin Britten was our finest composer since Purcell (a figure who often inspired him) three hundred years earlier. He broke decisively with the romantic, nationalist school of figures such as Parry, Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh, modern, European form. With Peter Grimes (1945), Billy Budd (1951) and The Turn of the Screw (1954), he arguably composed the last operas – from any composer in any country – which have entered both the popular consciousness and the musical canon”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverRichard Wagner : the sorcerer of Bayreuth / Barry Millington.
“Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is one of the most influential – and also one of the most controversial – composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagner’s life, work and times”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverGreat operas : a guide to 25 of the world’s finest musical experiences / Michael Steen.
“From Great Composers author Michael Steen, a unique multi-platform project offering a royal box view into one of mankind’s greatest art forms. From the soaring heights of Wagner’s epic Ring cycle to the tear-jerking emotion of Mozart’s breathtakingly beautiful Don Giovanni, opera is one of the most powerful artistic forms mankind has ever created. It should also be the most enjoyable! Michael Steen’s The Lives and Times of the Great Composers was described as ‘hugely informative and deliciously gossipy’ by the Spectator. Great Operas is his accessible and entertaining user’s manual to making the best of an opera – whether at home or at a live performance, interspersing the key facts with erudite commentary from a man for whom opera is a lifetime’s passion”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMozart at the gateway to his fortune : serving the Emperor, 1788-1791 / Christoph Wolff.
“This book examines the final years of Mozart’s life from a fresh perspective. The working premises are that Mozart’s appointment to the imperial court in 1787 affected a profound change in his musical plans; that there is no reason to view Mozart’s last compositions as imbued with the specter of his imminent death; and that one ought instead view the last compositions as products of an outlook determined in part by the imperial appointment. The sheer common sense of these premises is so striking that one wonders how any alternative view could be considered”. (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverHow to read music / [James Sleigh & Mike Sheppard].
“If you want to learn how to read and write music, this is the book you have been waiting for! Written in plain English and using a minimum of jargon, it’s supplemented by audio material and other extras all available at www.hybridpublications.com This means that you get lots of examples of how things should sound plus many other online bonuses, all clearly flagged on the relevant page in the book”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConducting business : unveiling the mystery behind the maestro / Leonard Slatkin.
“Conducting an orchestra is something that is seen as well as heard, but it is quite misunderstood. People may wonder, “What does this person actually do for a living?” This most mysterious of jobs is brought to life in this book. Drawing on his own experiences on and off the podium, Leonard Slatkin tells tales of some of the most fascinating people in the musical world, including Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, and John Williams. He takes the reader to soundstages in Hollywood as well as great concert halls and opera pits around the globe. Slatkin recounts his controversial appearance at the Metropolitan Opera, his creation and direction of summer music festivals, and a shattering concert experience that took place four days after 9/11. Discussions of work in the recording studio and life on the road as well as health issues confronting the conductor provide an insider’s glimpse into this private world.–From publisher description”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEverything you ever wanted to know about classical music but were too afraid to ask / [Darren Henley and Sam Jackson].
“This is a richly informative, light-hearted guide to the ins and outs of classical music. The book dives underneath the sheet music to bring the world of classical music to life. Henley offers insights into the composition of an orchestra, the workings of its instruments, and the lives of its composers”. (Syndetics summary)

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Buyer’s Choice

Hi everyone, Deborah and I are the fiction selectors for Wellington City Libraries and we spend a lot of time reading about, and choosing, lovely new fiction for the library.

Syndetics book coverHawk quest.
This is the first novel by Robert Lyndon, who is also a falconer, and it’s set in 1072 after the Normans have captured England. A warrior called Vallon must save a Norman knight who’s been kidnapped by the Turks by capturing four rare hawks. This quest sets him on a journey around the world and on the adventure of a lifetime. Labelled a ‘historical adventure epic’ and described as well written, evocative and filled with wonderful period detail and characters, it sounds too good to miss. In fact several reviewers have said it was the best book they had read in a long time – so reserve it now!

Syndetics book coverForgotten country.
This is a beautifully written debut novel set around the lives of two sisters. Growing up in the American Midwest, the older and more dutiful Janie has borne the lion’s share of the responsibility of looking after the younger, more lovable but manipulative Hannah. These ties are suddenly cut, however, when Hannah inexplicably but purposefully disappears while away at College. Jamie sets out to find her, mindful of her grandmother’s warning that ever since the Japanese invasion of Korea, the family has lost a daughter in every generation. This is not a mystery story; rather it is a story of one family’s survival through the turbulent and cruel years of twentieth century Korea, their adjustment to life in a foreign land, and of their reconciliation with the past and their future.

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Music and Movies Newsletter for January

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.

Library News

DVDs

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…

Cover imageMissing. 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)

Cover imageCoriolanus.
“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)

Cover imageHysteria.
“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)

Cover imageHope springs.
“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)

Cover imageFlipped.
“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)

Cover imageSeeking 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)

Cover imageGirls. 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)

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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!

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverIf 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)

Syndetics book coverHistory 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)

Syndetics book coverNicole 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)

Syndetics book coverWeb 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)

Syndetics book coverComedy 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)

Syndetics book coverStar 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)

Syndetics book coverU.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)

cover imageBritish 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)

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Popular Music

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!!

Syndetics book coverWaging 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)

Syndetics book coverWho 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)

Syndetics book coverBruce / 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)

Syndetics book coverJagger / 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)

Syndetics book coverLuck 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)

Syndetics book coverLed 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)

cover image “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)

cover image “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)

cover image “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)

cover image “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)

Syndetics book coverHow 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)

Syndetics book coverRadiohead : 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)

Syndetics book coverAcoustic 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)

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Music & Movies eNewsletter for September

We’ve had such a great run of weather leading up to Spring, you could be forgiven for having neglected the DVD player and its indoor friends. Thankfully, September’s Music & Movies eNewsletter coincides with it all turning to custard again. Highlights include novel adaptions We need to talk about Kevin and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; A complete guide to special effects makeup – Halloween forward-planners take note – and all you need to know about philosophy through the lens of The Big Lebowski. “The Dude abides…”

Library News

DVDs

Cover imageWe need to talk about Kevin.
“A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin explores the fractious relationship between a mother and her evil son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller). Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, We Need To Talk About Kevin explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva’s own culpability is measured against Kevin’s innate evilness. Ramsay’s masterful storytelling simultaneously combines a provocative moral ambiguity with a satisfying and compelling narrative, which builds to a chilling, unforgettable climax.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageLike crazy.
“Like Crazy beautifully illustrates how your first real love is as thrilling and blissful as it is fragile. When a British college student falls for her American classmate, they embark on a passionate and life-changing journey–only to be separated by circumstances beyond their control. … Like Crazy explores how a couple faces the real challenges of being together and of being apart.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

MyLibDVDs7Weekend.
“This sensual, remarkably observed, beautifully acted wonder is the breakout feature from British writer-director-editor Andrew Haigh (Greek Pete). Rarely has a film been as honest about sexuality—in both depiction and discussion—as this tale of a one-night-stand that develops into a weekend-long idyll for two very different young men (exciting newcomers Tom Cullen and Chris New) in Midlands England. It’s an emotionally naked film that’s both an invaluable snapshot of the complexities of contemporary gay living and a universally identifiable portrait of a love affair.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageIn treatment. The complete first season.
“Adapted from a popular and award-winning Israeli series…each episode eavesdrops on a weekly therapist-patient session. “The magic happens”—as one observer sarcastically remarks—in the home office of Paul Weston (Gabriel Byrne in his Golden Globe Award-winning role). Monday’s patient is Laura (Melissa George), a doctor who reveals in a harrowing “about last night” monologue in the first episode that she is in love with Paul (”You’ve become the center of my life”). Tuesdays bring Alex (Blair Underwood), a cocky fighter pilot whose last mission over Iraq went horrifyingly awry, earning him the media tag, “The Madrassa Murderer.” Wednesday’s child, Sophie (Mia Wasikowska in a breakout performance) is a teenage Olympic hopeful in need of an evaluation following a near-fatal bicycle “accident.” On Thursdays, Paul meets with Amy (Embeth Davidtz) and Jake (Josh Charles), whose rocky marriage is further shaken as they wrestle over whether or not she should get an abortion. Fearing he is “losing patience with my patients,” Paul turns to his former mentor, Gina (Dianne Wiest in an Emmy-winning performance), with whom he had a falling out years before, to talk out his own troubles. The therapist whose own personal life is unraveling could have either been bad sitcom or static and stagey talking heads. But with its insightful writing, powerful performances, and deft, unobtrusive direction, In Treatment avoids the pitfalls to become an intensely gripping drama.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageExtremely loud & incredibly close.
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close touches the viewer to the very core. In the way that Titanic and The Sweet Hereafter depicted tragedy by pulling back at the pivotal moment, only increasing the heartache portrayed, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close shows the massive losses experienced in New York on September 11, 2001, through the lens of one young boy. Thomas Horn plays Oskar, a boy devoted to his dad (played by Tom Hanks, in flashbacks), who is lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The devastation of that day shudders through Oskar’s family, including his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock, in a subdued and affecting turn). Young Oskar is lost in the broken new world, but suddenly finds a purpose: a key left by his father. As Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close progresses, Oskar focuses on the key as a way to connect to his lost father–but finds, instead, connections in the unlikeliest of places…Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel, which was able to depict a bit more wry humor to leaven the heartbreak and history lessons, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nonetheless faces human tragedy straight on, and shows how a broken family can be rebuilt, one small key, one subway ride, one awkward hug at a time.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageFootnote.
“Though it’s packed with subtextual meaning on any number of levels, the title of this Israeli import and 2011 foreign language Oscar nominee is also a reference to the only claim to fame of Eliezer Shkolnik (Shlomo Bar Aba). The cranky, crotchety, and exceptionally old-fashioned professor of Talmudic studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has all but perished after not having published despite his relentless examination of obscure texts as a fanatical philologist… Yet he clings to his old-school approach to intellectual investigation with greater gusto as his final years tick by. His rival in scholarly pursuit is his son Uriel (Lior Ashkenazi), an equally serious man who also teaches at the university, but whose flashy, more populous approach to Talmudic study has earned him wide acclaim….When a mix-up occurs over which Shkolnik is to be awarded a prestigious academic prize, father and son exchange more cerebral bites, provoking barks of laughter from the audience as the mistake complicates itself so unpredictably. Writer-director Joseph Cedar navigates the sea of intellectual and family discord with a genuinely droll touch that’s as smart and stinging as it is funny…Footnote is a satire of intellect and domestic friction that cuts deep with dramatic tension and the insight of its often magical realist sense of high farce.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe decoy bride.
“David Tennant, Kelly MacDonald and Alice Eve star in this romantic comedy set in rural Scotland. When Katie (MacDonald) is jilted at the altar, she returns broken-hearted to her remote Scottish island home. But little does she know that Hollwood superstar Lara Tyler (Eve) has chosen the island as the secret venue for her wedding to her fiance James (Tennant). When the paparazzi gets wind of the location, Lara runs away in exasperation. Her management team decides to stage a fake wedding, hoping the paparazzi will fall for the deception and leave the island, and Katie is asked to don a white dress and walk down the aisle as a ‘decoy’ for the absent Lara. However, the path of true love is further complicated when attraction begins to grow between James and his decoy bride.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Cover imageThe big year.
“Never get between a birder and a Pink-footed Goose. As we learn from The Big Year, the intensity of birders (the term birdwatcher is dismissed here as insufficiently committed) is not to be taken lightly, and their quest of rare species creates the gentle comedy of this film, which is based on a real phenomenon. In the world of birders, there’s a goal set each calendar year, and based on the honor system: who can spot the most varieties of our feathered friends? All-time champ Kenny Bostick (Owen Wilson) is a legendary name in the birding game, and this year he’s trying to beat his own record–but retired CEO Stu Preissler (Steve Martin) and slovenly upstart Brad Harris (Jack Black) are determined to topple the colorful and ruthless Bostick from his, er, perch. The movie’s at its best when charting the movements of these obsessed enthusiasts in the wild, as they scramble from Alaska to Arizona to New Jersey in pursuit of their goal; it’s less successful at trying to create human interest in the home lives of these guys.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover imageWoody Allen: a documentary.
“Beginning with Allen s childhood, ‘Woody Allen; A Documentary’ chronicles the trajectory and longevity of Allen s career, from his work as a TV scribe, standup comedian and frequent TV talk show guest, to a writer-director averaging one film-per-year for more than 40 years. Director Weide covers Allen s earliest film work in Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Sleeper, and Love and Death; frequent Oscar® favorites such as Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Purple Rose of Cairo, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands & Wives, Bullets Over Broadway, and Mighty Aphrodite; and his recent globetrotting phase with Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and the recent success Midnight in Paris. Features interviews with: actors Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Penelope Cruz, John Cusack, Larry David, Mariel Hemingway, Scarlett Johansson, Julie Kavner, Diane Keaton, Martin Landau, Louise Lasser, Sean Penn, Tony Roberts, Chris Rock, Mira Sorvino, Naomi Watts, Dianne Wiest and Owen Wilson.” – (adapted from
Amazon.com summary)

Film Books

Syndetics book coverConversations at the American Film Institute with the great moviemakers : the next generation / [edited and with an introduction by] George Stevens, Jr.
“Collects American Film Institute conversations with filmmakers from the 1950s to today, including Steven Spielberg, Nora Ephron, and George Lucas.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA complete guide to special effects makeup / [by Tokyo SFX Makeup Workshop ; editor, Yuko Sasaki].
“Acclaimed as the best book ever published on the subject, A Complete Guide to Special Effects Makeup covers everything from basic facial makeup styles, simple scars and gashes, to masks, molds and cast-making; everything you need to know to create vampires, zombies and other fantastical characters. With clear step by step instructions and hundreds of color photos, it includes stunning conceptual pieces from many of the contributing artists and a section on manga/cosplay hair and makeup. Bound to thrill anyone interested in creating realistic and unique makeup effects!” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe slasher movie book / J.A. Kerswell.
“The slasher movie is the most reviled but successful of horror’s subgenres. Taking its cue from Hitchcock, grind-house movies, and the gory Italian giallo thrillers of the 1970s, slasher movies brought a new high in cinematic violence and suspense to mainstream cinema. The Slasher Movie Book details the subgenre’s surprising beginnings, revels in its g(l)ory days, and discusses its recent resurgence. Packed with reviews of the best (and worst) slasher movies and illustrated with an extensive collection of distinctive and often graphic color poster artwork from around the world.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverHorror cinema / Jonathan Penner, Steven Jay Schneider, Paul Duncan (ed.).
“Horror is both the most perennially popular and geographically diverse of all film genres; arguably, every country that makes movies makes horror movies of one kind or another. Depicting deep-rooted, even archetypal fears, while at the same time exploiting socially and culturally specific anxieties, cinematic horror is at once timeless and utterly of its time and place. This exciting visual history, which includes unique images from the David Del Valle archive, examines the genre in thematic, historical, and aesthetic terms.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverAuthorship and the films of David Lynch : aesthetic receptions in contemporary Hollywood / Antony Todd.
“This important new contribution to studies on authorship and film explores the ways in which shared and disputed opinions on aesthetic quality, originality, and authorial essence have shaped receptions of Lynch’s films. It is also the first book to approach David Lynch as a figure composed through language, history, and text. Tracing the development of Lynch’s career from cult obscurity with Eraserhead, to star auteur through the release of Blue Velvet, and TV phenomenon Twin Peaks, Antony Todd examines how his idiosyncratic style introduced the term “Lynchian” to the colloquial speech of new Hollywood and helped establish Lynch as the leading light among contemporary American auteurs.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Big Lebowski and philosophy : keeping your mind limber with abiding wisdom / edited by Peter S. Fosl.
“Explores many of The Big Lebowski’s key themes, such as nihilism, war and politics, money and materialism, idealism and morality, history, and more. Gives you new perspective on the movie’s characters–the Dude, the Big Lebowski, Walter Sobchak, Donny, Maude Lebowski, Bunny Lebowski, and others. Helps you appreciate the Coen Brothers classic even more with the insights of Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, Derrida, and other philosophical heavyweights.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)

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Popular Music

It’s all about the big stars in this month’s popular music picks. Biographies on the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jimi Hendrix, Arethra Franklin, Carole King, Pink Floyd and more …

Syndetics book coverBruce Springsteen and the promise of rock ‘n’ roll / Marc Dolan.
“Dolan is a believer in Springsteen’s metaphysical heft, and he more than adequately explores all aspects of same in this exhaustive chronicle of all things Bruce. The book’s tone is mythic, and the sweep of the accolades recounted and pronouncements made about Springsteen’s oeuvre are carefully detailed and documented. In short, this is not a book for casual fans, tough it is probably indispensable for devotees. Fortunately, it’s also readable and engrossing.” – (adapted from Booklist summary)

Syndetics book coverTreasures of The Who / Chris Welch.
“Treasures of the Who takes you on the journey with the band as they conquered the world: from small London clubs to Madison Square Garden, from seven-inch vinyl releases to multimillion-selling albums, all the way to recognition as global rock gods. The text has been researched and written by Chris Welch, the legendary English journalist who was close to the band, and it is accompanied by images from many of the best contemporary photographers. There are also removable facsimiles of stunning, super-rare memorabilia from one of the biggest collections around. It adds up ta a unique experience: the story of the Who in your hands.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverLove is the cure : on life, loss and the end of AIDS / Elton John.
“The very personal story of Sir Elton’s life during the AIDS epidemic, including his agony at seeing friends perish needlessly. Through his stories of close encounters with people like Ryan White, Freddie Mercury, and many others, he will convey the personal toll AIDS has taken on his life – and his infinite determination to stop its spread.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPink Floyd / edited by Marcus Hearn.
“Featuring over 150 iconic, rare and previously unpublished images of Pink Floyd, this book captures the legendary rock group at every stage of their epic career. From some of their first photo sessions in 1967 to their triumphant reunion at Live 8, this book is a unique chronicle of five enigmatic musicians, and their journey from experimental psychedelia to stadium pageantry.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverMorrissey & Marr : the severed alliance / by Johnny Rogan.
“Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance is among the most successful – and controversial – rock biographies ever published. Having denounced the book and called for the death of its author Johnny Rogan, Morrissey later did a U-turn and cited it as evidence in the royalty-related court case brought by Smiths drummer Mike Joyce. Now, 20 years after it was first published, Rogan has returned to his definitive Smiths biography to produce a completely revised edition based on new information and new interviews to add to the almost 100 initially conducted over a four-year period.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverThe very best of Adele for ukulele / [edited by Adrian Hopkins].
“14 of Adele’s best known songs arranged for Ukulele drawn from both of her massively successful albums 19 and 21 . This exclusive songbook includes chord symbols ukulele chord boxes and complete lyrics for each song. Includes: Chasing Pavements * Crazy for You * He Won’t Go * Lovesong * Many Shades of Black * Rolling in the Deep * Set Fire to the Rain *Â Someone like You * and more.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverHeavy metal : from hard rock to extreme metal / [text by Kory Grow ; foreword by Slayer’s Kerry King].
“With its loud, aggressive rhythms; slashing guitar solos, and often-disturbing themes, metal is mesmerizing: it cuts to the bone and takes rock right to the edge. Heavy Metal takes readers on an in-depth musical journey through this testosterone-fueled style, including its origins, development, and subgenres, such as thrash, doom, death, and gothic metal. With exclusive pictures and commentary, it analyzes such groundbreaking bands as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer through their sounds, lyrics, themes, and trend-setting actions.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverWill Oldham on Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy / edited by Alan Licht.
“A collection of conversations between Licht and Will Oldham, aka musician Bonnie Prince Billy, about his 2 personas and his life in music and film. Presenting conversations with longtime friend and associate, the author probes his highly individualistic approach to music making and the music industry, one that cherishes notions of intimacy, community, mystery, and spontaneity.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Classical Music

These Classical music picks highlight one-act operas, some young singing talent, and some Kiwi singing talent. Plenty to read and listen to this month!

Syndetics book coverVerdi and/or Wagner : two men, two worlds, two centuries / Peter Conrad
“This is the first book to compare these two composers and cultural heroes, both of whom were born in 1813 and achieved huge national and international renown in their lifetimes. Yet not only did they never meet, but the differences between them—in music, culture, environment, significance, and legacy—were profound.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Syndetics book coverI heard you singing : my life with Ramon Opie / Corinne Bridge-Opie ; foreword by Donald Munro
“I Heard You Singing is the story of two New Zealand singers, Corinne Bridge and Ramon Opie, and their efforts to forge professional careers in a country which generally respects its sports stars far more than anyone in the arts…” – (adapted from Publisher’s summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDream with me / Jackie Evancho
“Produced by David Foster, Jackie Evancho’s Dream With Me fulfills the promise of O Holy Night, Jackie’s major label debut, a seasonal collection which became 2010’s #1 best-selling debut recording with sales exceeding 1 million units. Dream with Me features a repertoire of classical arias and pop classics handpicked to suit Jackie’s angelic voice. Her range is so great that she ably shifts from the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon A Star” to Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma.” Other highlights include two extraordinary superstar duets showcasing the young vocalist performing with music legend Barbra Streisand and international phenomenon Susan Boyle.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Image courtesy of AmazonDie Walküre [sound recording] / Wagner
“… The recording’s additional dimension is that the music leaps out from the speakers and into your mind’s eye making Wagner’s mythological world of the Valkyrie into something quite tangible. I had goose bumps from the start to the finish, while listening to the recording, especially ends of act 1 and 2. The rapturous applause at the end of each act and at the conclusion of the opera, says it all. People (including myself) were giving standing ovations all around and all levels of the wonderful concert hall, at the end of each of the 3 sections.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

Image courtesy of Amazon11 Kurzopern [sound recording] : the original Electrola one-act operas
“When great masters compose miniature operas, the result is well, masterly. Mozart, Weber, Schubert, Medelssohn, Gluck, Lortzing and D Albert: on-act operas from these famous pens are true gems of music history and of the EMI archives. The Electrola recordings of these 11 short operas (mostly in Singspiel form) were made in the 1970 s, but thanks to their all-star casts, which are nothing short of legendary, they seem as fresh as ever. Now EMI is releasing them in a complete edition for the first time.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

Cover ImageApparent distance / Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet
“A truly transcendent recording, “Apparent Distance is a four-part suite, commissioned through a 2010 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In the liner notes, Bynum writes My goal is not just to blur the lines between composition and improvisation (a long-time pursuit), but to try to upend the listeners expectations in other ways: circular melodies without beginnings or ends, disguised unisons and non-repetitive vamps, transitions that are simultaneously jarring and organic. Most importantly, I want to spotlight the striking individuality and virtuosity of all the players, albeit in a context where the needs of the ensemble reign supreme a concerto for sextet, if you will. Since the composition s premiere in August 2010, the sextet has performed the work on tour and at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival (Austria), the Banlieues Bleues Festival (France), and the Crosscurrents Festival (New York). Jim Macnie of the Village Voice writes ‘Whether they’re lines that swirl upward, chasing their own tail, or lines that spill downward, like a Slinky on a staircase, the elemental motifs of the cornetist/composer’s pieces are full of springy kinetics. But they re more than mere nu-jazz puzzles. Bynum wrings emotion from his crew. His use of texture and trajectory has to do with his appreciation of passion.” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)

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Music and Movies Newsletter for June

Hello again – this month we’ve got quite the range of music and movies to warm up and in some cases indulge those winter blues. Highlights include the suitably winter-set Norwegian Wood, based on the Murakami novel of the same name; Melancholia, the controversial, loved and loathed offering from Lars von Trier and Project Nim – a powerful and heartbreaking documentary of the chimpanzee raised as a human child. Those with a bit of extra time on their hands might like to power through HBO’s ten episode fantasy epic Game of Thrones – as the dour Ned Stark says “Winter is coming…” No Ned, it’s already here.

Library News

DVDs

Here’s quick sampling of the new DVDs to hit the shelves here at Wellington City Library.

Cover imageProject Nim.
“Director James Marsh’s follow-up to the Oscar-winning Man on Wire is an equally engrossing look at the fault lines and danger zones between man and beast. Using a combination of archival footage, current interviews, and… re-creations, Marsh tells the sad tale of Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee raised as a human child under a Columbia University sign language study led by Professor Herbert S. Terrace. Beginning with his birth in 1973, Nim was shuttled between a variety of tragicomedic environments (including a free-form hippie household, an idyllic mansion in the countryside, and a terrifyingly mundane lab) while growing increasingly powerful and difficult to control. Eschewing the Michael Moore/Morgan Spurlock on-camera method, the director here hangs back from the spotlight, preferring to give his interviewees enough room to damn or praise themselves, a decision that works wonders…While the transitions between reality and re-created footage do feel a bit clunky…,Project Nim is a spellbinding, occasionally outraging documentary that should leave viewers pondering their place in the animal kingdom, as well as the wisdom of tampering in God’s domain. The zoo will never seem the same.” – (adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageHugo.
In resourceful orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield, an Oliver Twist-like charmer), Martin Scorsese finds the perfect vessel for his silver-screen passion: this is a movie about movies (fittingly, the 3-D effects are spectacular). After his clockmaker father (Jude Law) perishes in a museum fire, Hugo goes to live with his Uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), a drunkard who maintains the clocks at a Paris train station. When Claude disappears, Hugo carries on his work and fends for himself by stealing food from area merchants. In his free time, he attempts to repair an automaton his father rescued from the museum, while trying to evade the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen), a World War I veteran with no sympathy for lawbreakers. When Georges (Ben Kingsley), a toymaker, catches Hugo stealing parts for his mechanical man, he recruits him as an assistant to repay his debt. If Georges is guarded, his open-hearted ward, Isabelle (Chloë Moretz), introduces Hugo to a kindly bookseller (Christopher Lee), who directs them to a motion-picture museum… helping unlock the secret of the automaton…” – (adapted from Amazon.com description)

Cover imageNorwegian wood.
“Published in 1987 and since translated into 33 languages, Norwegian Wood is a story of loss and heartbreak in a time of global instability. Haruki Murakami’s bestselling novel is brought to the screen by Tran Anh Hung (Golden Lion winner for Cyclo and Academy Award nominee for The Scent of Green Papaya) and features Japanese rising star Kenichi Matsuyama (Death Note, Detroit Metal City) and Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) alongside newcomer Kiko Mizuhara. Tokyo, the late 1960s… Students around the world are uniting to overthrow the establishment and Toru Watanabe’s personal life is similarly in tumult. At heart, he is deeply devoted to his first love, Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman. But their complex bond has been forged by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Watanabe lives with the influence of death everywhere. That is, until Midori, a girl who is everything that Naoko is not – outgoing, vivacious, supremely self-confident – marches into his life and Watanabe must choose between his past and his future.” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover imageGame of thrones. The complete first season.
Adapted from the first installment of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice & Fire ‘Game Of Thrones’ succeeds on multiple levels. The story begins with Sean Bean as Lord Eddard Stark, who is called upon by his old friend the King to assume the position of the King’s Hand after the mysterious death of the previous Hand. Reluctant to abandon his family & position he nevertheless is drawn into service, but that is just the beginning of his problems as various factions vie for power in the Kings court, and across the sea an exiled Prince trades his sister for an alliance that could help him regain the Throne. The quality of the show’s production values is evident everywhere, as the world of Westeros looks amazing in every detail. Most of the trappings that cause non-fantasy fans to avoid this kind of thing are absent, at least for now, with the characters speaking in fairly modern terms, with mysterious creatures & dragons merely hinted at. More than anything the first season resembles a political drama along the lines of The Tudors, or Rome, but being HBO there is, of course, plenty of violence & sex along the way. The acting is also uniformly good, with Sean Bean a standout as the noble Stark struggling with the double-dealings of Court intrigue. Lena Heady is also excellent as the manipulative Queen Cersei, and Peter Dinklage steels every scene as the droll imp Tyrion. Recommended, even if Fantasy-fiction is not your thing at all. (Mark)

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Film and television books

In our picks of the new film and cinema books this month you’ll find books on a range of topics, including “Development Hell” — a place film directors and producers fear to tread… Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverIs it all about hips? : around the world with Bollywood dance / Sangita Shresthova.
“In this brilliant ethnography, Sangita Sresthova, who has pioneered various dance forms brings alive the world of Bollywood dance. You embark upon this exhilarating journey at a live performance in London, and travel with the author discovering how this unique dance form has united peoples and cultures far and wide. Behind-the-stage preparations and dance classes booming with desi exuberance come to life with a panorama of colorful stills, making this book is the first-of-its-kind account of the Bollywood dance culture flourishing worldwide.” (description from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverTales from development hell : the greatest movies never made? / David Hughes.
“A compulsively readable journey into the area of movie-making where all writers, directors and stars fear to tread: Development Hell, the place where scripts are written, actors hired and sets designed… but the movies rarely actually get made! Whatever happened to Darren Aronofsky’s Batman movie starring Clint Eastwood? Why were there so many scripts written over the years for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s fourth Indiana Jones movie? Why was Lara Croft’s journey to the big screen so tortuous, and what prevented Paul Verhoeven from filming what he calls “one of the greatest scripts ever written”? Why did Ridley Scott’s Crisis in the Hot Zone collapse days away from filming, and were the Beatles really set to star in Lord of the Rings?” (description from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe Astaires : Fred & Adele / Kathleen Riley.
“In this comprehensive coverage of Fred Astaire and his sister, Adele Astaire, Riley (Nigel Hawthorne On Stage) offers a splendiferous glimpse of gaiety, scintillating style, syncopated rhythms; and lost glamour, noting, “The story of the Astaires conjures up a vanished world.” Offering fascinating anecdotes and surprising details, Riley contrasts Fred’s perfectionism with Adele’s alluring impudence: critic Richard Watts found her “funny and bewitching.” Riley writes with zest and authoritative expertise, displaying a grace and elegance equal to her subjects. Her scholarly skills are showcased in this effervescent, spirited history, with a concluding “Chronologies,” an informative 18-page chart, printed sideways, that lists all Astaire shows with their musical numbers, production personnel, and theaters.” (Publisher Weekly)

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Popular Music

Some new CDs at Wellington City Libraries include the new Black Seeds, ‘Dust & Dirt’; the return of Miami soul singer Betty Wright after 10 years; the soundtrack to the popular HBO series ‘Treme’; new indie band ‘Django Django’; & Time to go’ the new Flying Nun compilation on the 80’s Southern psychedelic movement…

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Classical Music

This month’s recent picks for classical music focuses on new works – and features both recent compositions and some interesting interpretations of well-loved material.

A bugle will do [sound recording] / Anthony Richie.
A collection of pieces by New Zealand composer Anthony Richie, performed by the NZSO and conducted by Tecwyn Evans. The title track is a piece commissioned by the NZSO to commemorate the death of New Zealand’s most famous war hero, Sir Charles Upham. The album also contains Symphony No.3 (2010) op.150, French Overture (2008) op.138 and Revelations (1998) op.82.

The excellent art of voluntary [sound recording] : early English organ music from Pembroke College, Cambridge / [performed by] Robert Costin.
Robert Costin, previously organist at St Paul’s Cathedral in Wellington and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, performs a selection of early English organ works on the organ at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Dancing [sound recording] : the jazz fever of Milhaud, Martinů, Seiber, Burian, Wolpe.
A gorgeous and slick recording of some lesser-known European 20th Century composers who adopted jazz idioms into orchestral art music.

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Music and Movies Newsletter for January

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?

Library News

DVDs

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.

Cover imagePirates 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)

Cover imageTransformers. 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)

Cover imageBarney’s version.
“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)

Cover imageBridesmaids.
“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)

Cover imageMy 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)

Cover imageX-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)

Cover imageHarry 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)

Cover imageThe 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)

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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!

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverHarry 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)

Syndetics book coverI 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)

Syndetics book coverShock 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)

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Popular Music

Need something new to listen to? Here’s what we’ve been listening to lately…

Real Estate - DaysReal 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.

Deep Purple - BBC SessionsThe 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).

Pains of Being Pure at HeartBelong / 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 DreamSiamese 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.

 

Classical Music

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.

DVDs

Syndetics book coverCoppélia [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)

Syndetics book coverJewels [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.

CDs

juliafischerclasspicksPoème [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)

okavangomcbethclasspicksThe 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)

Books

Syndetics book coverMusic 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)

Syndetics book coverJ.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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverProgressive 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
(amazon.co.uk)

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Buyer’s Choice

Syndetics book coverElegy 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.

Syndetics book coverAmerican 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.

Syndetics book coverPure.
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.

Syndetics book coverRook.
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.

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Music and Movies Newsletter for November

Given its imminence, I’m sorry to say that this month’s selections are a yuletide free zone. No doubt some of you will thank me as I can confirm that this includes Ernest Saves Christmas II. Take a pause before the silly season gets into full swing with some of the best of this month’s movies and music.

DVDs

Some new DVDs for November include the Kenneth Branagh adaptation of the ‘Thor’ legend; the controversial Facebook documentary ‘Catfish’; the glossy adaptation of Sara Gruen’s bestselling period novel ‘Water for elephants’; and Season two of the critically acclaimed UK comedy ‘Miranda’….

Cover imageCatfish.
“The slipperiness of truth and lies on the Internet gets played out in unexpected ways in the documentary Catfish. When Nev Schulman receives a painting based on a photograph of his from an 8-year-old girl named Abby in Michigan, he doesn’t realize this is going to lead to a long-distance romance with Abby’s older sister Megan… and that this romance, conducted over the phone and the Internet, will lead to something far more troubling. It would be unfair to reveal more details of Catfish, as the process of discovery is one of its pleasures–but even if you do know the sequence of events, the movie’s ultimate reward is not the revelation of secrets but the surprising and very human interactions of the movie’s last third…” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover ImageThor.
“Blending elements from the celebrated comic arcs…the story follows the headstrong Thunder God (Chris Hemsworth) as he is banished to Earth and stripped of his powers by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) after inadvertently starting a war with a planet of ticked-off Frost Giants. As his traitorous brother Loki (the terrific Tom Hiddleston) schemes in the wings, Thor must redeem himself and save the universe, with the aid of a beautiful scientist (Natalie Portman). Although director Kenneth Branagh certainly doesn’t skimp on the in-jokes…his film distinguishes itself by adopting a larger-than-life cosmic Shakespearean air that sets itself apart from both the cerebral, grounded style made fashionable by The Dark Knight and the loose-limbed Rat Packish vibe of the Iron Man series…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover IamgeMiranda. Series 2.
”It doesn’t matter what Miranda attempts in life, whether it’s dating or simply dealing with her overbearing mother, she always seems to fall flat, quite literally. Since Gary left for Hong Kong, and her chance at a relationship with him has gone, Miranda has been watching telly all day in her pyjamas with a packet of biscuits for company. She is eventually persuaded, by Stevie, to stop wallowing and move on, starting a new regime and become the new her. She will get fit, lose weight and become the type of woman her boarding school nemesis Tilly, and hard to please mother, Penny, would be proud of…or will she? Full of fun and frolics, Miranda is back, better and funnier than ever…” (From Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover ImageDog pound.
”Dog Pound is Scum for the 21st Century, a tough and brutal film set in a young offenders institute for teenage boys that the system doesn’t know what to do with. The long-term inmates have built a rigid power structure based on fear and the guards use the prisoners to let out their own frustrations. Butch, Davis and Angel are new arrivals. They have never met before but they soon realize that the odds are stacked against them and that their only hope for getting through their sentences is if they watch each others’ backs. But friendship will only get them so far when their endurance is stretched to the limit…” (From Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover ImageWater for elephants.
Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel comes to glossy life in this period romance. A sparkle-free Robert Pattinson plays Jacob Jankowski, who studies veterinary medicine during the Great Depression. After a family tragedy, he loses everything… so he hops a train, where he finds himself part of the struggling Benzini Brothers Circus. Ringleader August (Christoph Waltz) has doubts about the softhearted lad, but..Jacob becomes the company vet, which leads him to platinum-blonde equestrian Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), August’s wife. The two make eyes at each other, but an affair would surely end badly, so they concentrate on their work. When Marlena’s prize steed falls ill, August purchases an elephant, hoping Rosie will turn their fortunes around, and enlists Jacob to train her…(Adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

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Film and television books

In our picks of the film & television books this month: the cultural impact of Darth Vader and his story arc, the life and career of the unforgettable Judy Garland, and the story of how the artists at Weta Digital and Weta Workshop brought Hergé’s Tintin to life on the big screen. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverThe art of The adventures of Tintin / [written by Chris Guise ; with forewords by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson and introductions by Joe Letteri and Richard Taylor].
“The artists at Weta Digital and Weta Workshop were thrilled to get the opportunity to work with Steven Spielberg to bring Hergé’s wonderful characters to the big screen in The Adventures of Tintin. They spent five years working on this movie. This book tells the story of how the filmmakers started with the original Hergé artwork and books and ended up with what is seen on-screen. It features early concept drawings, previs sequences, models, costume designs and final stills from the film”. (description from amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe complete Vader / Ryder Windham and Peter Vilmur ; with a foreword by Stephen J. Sansweet.
An illustrated fan’s guide traces the complete story of the infamous Star Wars villain, exploring his history, myth, and cultural impact while covering his development by George Lucas and spin-off tales as portrayed in comics and novels.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJudy : a legendary film career / by John Fricke.
“Historian Fricke (100 Years of Oz: A Century of Classic Images) has compiled a fine collection of remembrances, facts, and photos chronicling the life, career, and unforgettable personal appearances of Judy Garland. Within her first ten years at MGM, Garland found full-fledged stardom, complete with wealth, fame, and all the harsh truths of show business. Fricke exposes the driving forces behind her career in sound, onstage, and on-screen, which often put her family life and health at risk, while bringing classic Hollywood fans a renewed respect for the determined star. Highly recommended for Judy Garland fans.”(Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverFilm : a critical introduction / Maria Pramaggiore & Tom Wallis.
“Updated and expanded for a new edition, this is the perfect introduction for students of film studies. The book illustrates basic film concepts in context and in depth and addresses techniques and terminology used in film production and criticism, emphasising critically thinking and writing.” (Back Cover)

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Popular Music

Need something new to listen to? Here’s what we’ve been listening to lately…

Cover imageGemini.
Jack Tatum loves 80’s dream pop and has made a record that is such a loving monument to that era and sound that it is very difficult to resist falling under its spell. Though his love of dreamy, fuzzy, handcrafted guitar-pop craftsmanship is undeniable and the details are spot-on, repeat spins reveal a strikingly innate sense of songcraft that incorporates great lyrics and gorgeous melody lines. ‘Wild Nothing’ doesn’t feel like a facile genre exercise so much as honest personal expression borne of intense musical fanhood. Forget about notions of revivalism, playing this record is like stepping into an extraordinarily sweet dream. (John)

Cover imageClaire Denis film scores, 1996-2009.
Although Claire Denis’ film ‘Trouble Every Day’ opens with Stuart Staples’ unmistakable voice, I didn’t realise that the collaboration between Tindersticks and fantastic French film maker Denis has been this long and close. However, it may not be surprising as both are slightly-off-mainstream artists, and a kind of ‘cult’ figures in their fields. Denis is an unconventional director with a great visual instinct and the Tindersticks’ moody, ambient sound is well blended in her intense but beautiful footage. The distinction of the Tindersticks’ sound tends to rely on Staples’ characteristic voice (I call him Aaron Neville of Indie Rock) but in this box set, his vocal is featured in only a few songs. This may be disappointing and may not be the best examples of their music, but almost instrumental music here sounds actually very Tindersticks and even richer. As a fan of both artists, I would like to celebrate that all their wonderful collaborations so far are put together, and needless to say, the music is brilliant in its own right. (Shinji)

Cover ImageSome people have real problems.
This is Sia’s third studio album released early in 2008, her latest album We are born came out 2010. This Aussie singer/songwriter has a pop/jazzy musical style in my opinion similar to Katie Melua. Many of Sia’s songs feature in various TV shows, ‘Home and away’ is one that comes to mind. She’s done covers, backing vocals and duets as well. Tracks from this album feature on TV shows Private practice, and of course Aussie favourite Packed to the Rafters. Among her many celebrity associates and musical works, Sia co-wrote with Christina Aguilera the hit song ‘Bound to you’ for the soundtrack/movie Burlesque, she also appears with Aguilera, as an advisor on the TV show ‘The Voice’. Unfortunately due to ill health, Sia’s future promotional events, shows, and recordings are limited. She is an exceptional talent, and well worth a listen. Oh and gotta love the title! (Ethel)

Cover imageDog man star [deluxe].
British band Suede’s debut album emerged in the early 90’s ushering in a broad genre that would later be labelled by the music press as ‘Brit-Pop’, with a sound that was an amalgam of 70’s sexually charged glam rock & the moody romanticism of 80’s alternative groups such as The Smiths. ‘Dog Man Star’, their second album, became their defining work, but the song-writing relationship between singer Brett Anderson & guitarist Bernard Butler collapsed during it’s making. Anderson regrouped with new band members for the album Coming Up whose shiny guitar-pop spawned 5 top ten singles. But by the time of the following album Head Music his drug problems led to creative stagnation. Attempts to alter the band’s sound divided critics & fans, and they managed one more album, A New Morning before calling it a day. Anderson had a brief reunion with guitarist Butler as The Tears before releasing a few low key solo albums, the best of which is probably his latest Black Rainbows. Butler also released a couple of solo efforts before moving into production, helming Duffy’s first album among others. 2011 saw the release of the band’s back catalogue in deluxe CD/DVD packages with a wealth of demo’s & B-sides, and a re-evaluation of the band legacy’s after they got lost in the Oasis/Blur onslaught that eventually sank ‘Britpop’. (Mark)

Cover ImagePop ambient 2011.
Pop Ambient is a sub label of Kompakt, the German electronic label. Run by Wolfgang Voigt, who’s productions under the ‘Gas’ moniker have gained him international fame, Pop Ambient have released a compilation annually since 2001. For fans of ambient electronic music these releases are always something to look forward to and this year’s release is no exception. Featuring regular contributors such as Jorg Burger under his Triola guise and Thomas Fehlmann of Orb fame, alongside new contributors including Alva Noto, the compositions shimmer in a haze of sound largely devoid of beats. The loops are as repetitive as techno, but are gentle and tend to lull the listener into a hypnagogic state rather than induce hip shaking dance-floor action. Strongly recommended for fans of late night deep listening experiences. (John)

Cover imageFor the record : the Pixie Williams collection, 1949-1951.
A New Zealand music legend, Pixie Williams recorded ‘Blue Smoke’ in 1949 with the Ruru Karaitiana Quintet . In 1951 New York music trade magazines described ‘Blue Smoke’ as one of the major hits of the year – a ‘musical jackpot’ with both jukebox and radio listeners. It was covered by a host of international artists, including American crooner Dean Martin who phoned Karaitiana from the US seeking more songs. Now, more than 60 years on at the age of 82, Pixie’s catalogue of recordings from 1949-51 have been remastered and placed in one collection for the first time, allowing the listener to enjoy her wonderful voice anew. “Music – it’s what keeps you going through good times and bad. It kept me sane in the hard times. Forget the pills. When you’ve got music in your life – you’ll be ok.” Pixie Williams. Inspirational listening and a must for any New Zealand music fan. (Alistair)

Cover ImagePassive aggressive : singles 2002-2010 / The Radio Dept.
Sweden’s Radio Dept. are recognised as foremost in the international ‘dream-pop’ movement. Purveyors of this sound look backward rather than forward and continue the musical movement that grew from the original UK indie scene of the ’80s. This compilation includes a homage to those roots with a cover version of ‘Bachelor Kisses’, a hit for 80’s indie-pop band, The Go-Betweens. This is a two disc collection; the first features the band’s singles A-sides, sequenced chronologically, the second disc devoted to B-Sides. The gorgeous melodies, the half whispered vocals and the soaring guitars are all present in this lovely collection of faultless contemporary indie-pop. Highly recommended. (John)

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Classical Music

In the spirit of appreciation, this month’s Classical Music recent picks are based on guides, lists, ideas and a few things you may not have seen before. Enjoy finding something new and exciting!

Syndetics book coverThe Classic FM hall of fame / Darren Henley, Sam Jackson, Tim Lihoreau ; illustrated by Lynn Hatzius.
This is a collection of the 300 most popular pieces of classical music, as voted for by the Classic FM listeners.

Syndetics book coverWeep, shudder, die : a guide to loving opera / Robert Levine.
“Weep, Shudder, Die is an insightful and accessible guide to the grand art of opera for both new and longtime fans. For too long opera was relegated to high society and perceived as stuffy and remote. But now that has changed. A new generation of opera lovers has emerged, inviting a wave of extraordinary new productions and revivals the world over…Weep, Shudder, Die will inspire anyone who has ever been curious about opera but never knew where to start to discover one of the world’s most entertaining and satisfying art forms.” – (adapted from amazon.com summary)

glorytreechamber.novclaspicksThe glory tree [sound recording] : chamber works / by Cheryl Frances-Hoad.
“Cheryl Frances-Hoad has a unique and special compositional voice…Over recent years, she has had numerous notable successes, with commissions including solo, chamber, orchestral and choral works, as well as opera. Champs Hill Records is delighted to present this collection of Cheryl’s chamber music, performed in many cases by the musicians who commissioned and gave the premiere performances of the works.” – (adapted from cover description)

johnwilliams.novclaspicks2The guitarist [sound recording].
“This is a great collection spanning a wide range of his styles on classical guitar, one CD of traditional classic guitar, one CD of more ‘romantic’ style, and one CD with other musicians, such as guitar duets. Three hours of some of his best classical guitar music at a great price!” – (adapted from amazon.co.uk customer review)

nataliedessay.novclaspicks3The miracle of the voice [sound recording].
“Since Natalie was first signed to EMI Classics, and later to Virgin Classics, as exclusive artist, her recordings to date are a proof of her versatility as a soprano and musician. From Baroque music to Stravinsky, this 2-CD compilation offers a comprehensive sample of her musicianship, and not only will delight her fans world-wide but will also catch the attention of a larger public and lure them towards the works these excerpts come from.” – (adapted from amazon.com summary)

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