Category Archives: Movies

Olympic Reads

More movies and books on the Olympics like “The Boys in the Boat”?  Here are a few titles:

Triumph : the untold story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics by Jeremy Schaap.

Triumph : the untold story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics by Jeremy Schaap.

Tumbling : a novel by Caela Carter.

Tumbling : a novel by Caela Carter.

Rising from ashes - a T.C. Johnstone film

Rising from ashes – a T.C. Johnstone film

The Three-year Swim Club : the untold story of Maui's Sugar Ditch kids and their quest for Olympic glory by Julie Checkoway.

The Three-year Swim Club : the untold story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch kids and their quest for Olympic glory by Julie Checkoway.

Gold by Chris Cleave

Gold by Chris Cleave

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The vision of a champion : advice and inspiration from the world’s most successful women’s soccer coach by Anson Dorrance

Grace, gold and glory : my leap of faith : the Gabrielle Douglas story

Grace, gold and glory : my leap of faith : the Gabrielle Douglas story

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Chariots of Fire [Movie / DVD]

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Filed under Books, Movies, Non-fiction, What we're reading

“The Martian” Fuses Science with Hilarity

The_Martian_2014“The Martian” opens with a freak dust storm, forcing manned Mars Mission Ares 3 to cut its journey short. Astronaut Mark Watney is pierced by debris while his crew scrambles to the safety of their spacecraft. When his vital signs flat-line, the crew makes the difficult decision to embark for Earth without him. But after a miraculous turn of events, Watney recovers to find himself alone on the red planet. Traveling to Mars takes years, so it’s likely that he will starve or succumb to the harsh, unforgiving conditions of his new home before a rescue mission arrives. No danger of that, though, because why would NASA rescue a dead guy?

Through a series of journal entries riddled with humorous commentary, readers learn that Watney is the mission’s fix-it man, in addition to a botanist and a snarky (yet cautious) optimist. Watney overcomes setbacks with the resourcefulness of TV’s MacGyver, using his meager assortment of supplies and raw materials to improve his chances of survival. From supplementing his food by farming potatoes to making water out of thin air, Watney shows again and again that while he was one of the first astronauts to walk on Mars, he’s not ready to be the first to die there. That is, if he doesn’t die by overexposure to the cheesy 1970s sitcoms and disco music that the crew commander left behind.

Watney’s sense of humor turns this tale of survival into something new and unique. It’s more lighthearted than one might expect, and while some may find that refreshing, the cheerful quips occasionally struck me as unrealistic given the circumstances. Author Andy Weir’s language and format make the scientific elements comprehensible to nonscience geeks (like me), although I found myself skimming through lengthy descriptions to get back to the action.

Overall, excitement and laugh-out-loud dialogue make this novel an excellent pick for general fiction readers as well as thrill-seekers. Die-hard science fiction fans will especially appreciate Weir’s technical writing. (Please note that strong language laces Watney’s journal entries and may not appeal to everyone.)

It’s something of a miracle that Weir, a computer programmer by trade, crafted a debut novel that crawled its way from self-published anonymity to the desk of director Ridley Scott. Scott’s proven success with “Alien” and “Gladiator” foretells that the forthcoming film may prove to be a 2015 blockbuster. Don’t wait for the movie release, though; get your hands on the book everyone will be talking about before it hits the big screen. In the meantime, check out these similar titles available at Skagit libraries: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury; The Martian Race by Gregory Benford; and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

Note: I originally wrote this review for On Our Shelves, a weekly column in the Skagit Valley Herald. Read the Sunday edition to check out what library staff around the county are reading.

– Jenny

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Filed under Books, Fiction, Libraries, Movies, New Books, Reading

Attention Whovians!

Invitation from the DoctorDon’t blink… or you might miss our upcoming Doctor Who party!  We’ll be designing dalek t-shirts, putting your Whoniverse knowledge to the test in a trivia contest, and writing cryptic messages in Circular Gallifreyan.

Bring your sonic screwdriver!  Or better yet, come dressed as your favorite doctor, companion, or alien!  We will be having a fantastic costume contest with brilliant prizes.

10th and 11th doctorsThe party will take place from 5:30 – 7:00 on Saturday, August 2, at 48° 28′ 33″ N 122° 19′ 31″ W (better known as the Burlington Public Library).  The party is free and open to adults, teens, and kids ages 10+, so we hope to see you there!

 

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Filed under Adult programs, Children's programs, Movies, Teen programs

Join the “Book Is Better” club

Movie poster for The Secret Life of Walter MittyEver wanted to join the elite world of movie critics who compare on-screen portrayals to the written word?  Well, The secret life of Walter Mitty is a great way to get started.

It’s a quick read; you can use your 15-minute break at work to read it.  The copy at our library even has illustrations.  But be sure not to mention that when you tell your friends, and they will assume you read a lengthy novel.

Don’t assume that the story isn’t intense just because it’s short. James Thurber, who is hailed as one of the greatest humorist since Mark Twain, keeps you jumping as you follow Walter Mitty on his adventures both real and imagined. So be sure to keep your feet firmly planted in reality as you follow him on his ride.

Don’t even have a break in your rushed day? Right now, you can download the audiobook for free from Amazon and listen to it on your commute.  Ben Stiller, the star of the new Walter Mitty film, is the narrator, and he closes out the story with his own thoughts about the joy of audiobooks.

Looking for more avenues to join the “Book is Better” club? Check out this great 2013 Holiday Movie Adaptation Guide from Word & Film.

-Millissa

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Filed under Books, Movies

“The book is always better than the movie.”

What do you think: is the book always better than the movie?  That’s kind of a “chicken or the egg?” question for book lovers.

A bunch of movies coming out this summer come from books – The Bourne Legacy, Savages, The Intouchables, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, to name a few.   But there are some movies I never realized were based on books.  I mean, Rambo????  Who knew?   See more examples here and gain fascinating trivia with which to impress your friends.

And tell us, what’s your call: book first?  Movie first?

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Filed under Art, Books, Movies

Watch this award winner right here

This year’s Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short Film is a charming, wordless, fifteen-minute piece of animated goodness about… can you guess?   BOOKS!

And you can watch the whole thing online for free.  Click here to see William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg’s The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, and enjoy a brief respite from the challenges of life.   IMHO, it’s best enjoyed with someone else, because it’s fun to discuss.      –Mary Beth

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Filed under Books, Movies, Uncategorized

To Kill a Mockingbird: we’ve got you covered

Here’s a new DVD that will appeal to lots of book lovers.  If you’re old enough to have read To Kill a Mockingbird, you’ll enjoy this DVD.  It’s a documentary called Hey, Boo: Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird, and it’s a delightful hour-and-20- minute visual love letter to one of the great American novels.

 This book was first published 50 years ago, and still sells nearly a million copies a year!  The film is full of people like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Richard Russo, Andrew Young, and others who talk about what the book meant to them personally and to our country’s struggle with racism (then and now).  Viewers visit Monroeville, where the story takes place, and see interviews with locals, including Harper Lee’s 90-year-old sister.  (The author herself has not given an interview since 1964.)

 The documentary looks at the movie as well as the book, revisiting cast members and show clips of the movie that will make you want to see it all over again.  Fortunately, your library can loan you that movie too.

 The film is by Mary McDonagh Murphy, the author of the book Scout, Atticus and Boo… which is–you guessed it–available at your library!

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Filed under Authors, Books, Movies

The DVD Dilemma

Part of my job description is the fun job of DVD selector—deciding what titles to add the library’s very popular collection of DVDs.

With my annual DVD budget, I can buy about 120 single DVDs, or half that many seasons of popular TV series per year.

There are several general categories I consider when I’m deciding what to purchase:
1. Feature films (mostly award winners, book-to-movie titles, and a few classics)
2. TV series
3. Documentaries
4. “How-to” instructional films
5. History, nature, and other educational areas

So, here’s a question for you: if you were me, how would you spend the library’s DVD budget? As selector, you must consider how the library can fill the needs and desires of the whole community, so you end up with a somewhat balanced, varied collection.

I hear from a few library patrons via our library “request for purchase” forms. But I’d love to hear from more of you. Please leave your thoughts in a comment below! Out of 120 DVDs, how much of what would you buy?

Waiting to hear from you,
~Janice

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Filed under DVD, Libraries, Movies, New Books