In the film Brick, you follow Brendan, a high school loner turned hard-boiled detective, who ends up a bit over his head investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. The byzantine social structures and confusing slang of high school meld perfectly with the tropes of classic film noir in this smart, witty, and twisty genre mash-up. It’s also the first feature film written and directed by Rian Johnson, who helmed the recent Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Check It Out Category: Movies and TV
These television series have all recently come back for a reboot, but did you know you can check out the original seasons here at the library in our DVD “television show” section? If you’re looking to see how it all began, visit us on the second floor!
It was in 1993 that fans first met FBI special agents Mulder and Scully, and were quickly caught up in their pursuit of the paranormal and extraterrestrial on the sci-fi series, The X-Files. In the first season we see the origins of their relationship and reason why they grow to trust only each other and a select few more. The truth is out there, and the prior seasons are in here, at the library.
With its lofty influence on the cultural zeitgeist of the late 20th century, it’s hard to believe Twin Peaks only lasted two seasons, from 1990 to 1991, with the feature film Fire Walk with Me released in 1992. The dark and mysterious happenings in the small town of Twin Peaks, Washington, were introduced through the finding of a corpse belonging to Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer. Her disoriented and amnesic friend is found wounded nearby. What happened to the girls and what is going on in the town? Start to piece together the clues by checking out season one.
The turn of the 21st century brought the mother-daughter drama The Gilmore Girls to the small screen. The debut of mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory, came in October 2000 and lasted seven seasons. The show explores the relationship between the precocious and academic Rory and the easygoing Lorelai, who became Rory’s mom when she was just 16 years old. This closeness in age adds an element of sisterhood to their relationship, with Rory sometimes assuming a more grown-up role in their close dynamic.
Although not exactly following up where the previous series ended, these current editions to long running series aim for much of the same charm and allure of their predecessors. How do they match up to these originals?
Dr. Who started nearly fifty-five years ago. The first Doctor, played by William Hartnell, introduced the TARDIS, the spaceship that can transport through time and looks like a British police phone booth. This passport to other times and other worlds takes Dr. Who and his companions through many engaging and sometimes dangerous adventures. Unfortunately not all of the episodes have survived, but most have, including the very first episodes that premiered in 1963, They are at the library titled Doctor Who: The Beginning.
Star Trek: The Original Series was first broadcast on television in 1966. It was viewers first chance to meet the crew of the starship Enterprise, with Captain Kirk, First Officer Spock, and Chief Medical Officer Leonard McCoy at the helm. This crew charted exciting inter-space courses and led its watchers to new planets, new beings and new societies throughout the Milky Way, (all while predicting a tremendous number of advancements that wouldn’t become reality for several decades.) Many subsequent series have come forth from this show, with no limit to the episodes’ plots, save human imagination.
Midsomer Murders, a British series available on DVD, started in 1997 and is still running now in 2017. It is based on Caroline Graham’s Inspector Barnaby mysteries.. The settings are contemporary and quaint villages in the English countryside. Each episode has several murders, interesting characters and keeps you guessing who is the villain is till near the end.
There is a lot to love about NBC’s popular television series The Good Place, which premiered in September of 2016. Set in the next world, the show follows the experiences of Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) as she adjusts to a utopian eternity designed by an after-life architect named Michael (Ted Danson), but soon discovers she may be there under false pretenses. If this show is your cup of next-world tea, you may enjoy the following DVDs from our collection.
Defending Your Life is the story of a successful businessman, Daniel Miller (Albert Brooks) who crashes his car on his 39th birthday and finds himself in an Earth-like afterlife, where he learns his life will be judged. If he can make a successful defense for himself he will be upgraded to a better afterlife, but the deliberations with his lawyer only serve to confound him and make him worry he won’t move up. To top it off he finds himself falling in love with Julia (Meryl Streep) who appears to have lived such a spectacular life that she will certain move up, perhaps leaving him behind.
When the quarterback for the L.A. Rams, Joe Pendelton (Warren Beatty) dies in a bike accident, he goes directly to Heaven, guided along by a helpful guardian angel. The only problem is that he was never supposed to have died in the first place, and the angel made a mistake in bringing him to Heaven. In Heaven Can Wait, (based on the play of the same name by Sidney Buchman and Seton I. Miller,) Joe returns to Earth, but since he cannot go back to his current body he has to assume the body and life of a person who is just about to die. It turns out the body he returns to inhabit is that of a greedy businessman. Joe must figure out how to proceed in life, love and sports. The 1948 movie Here Comes Mr. Jordan is also based on the same play by Buchman and Miller.
Heart and Souls starts on a San Francisco bus ride at night. Four passengers are on their way to various engagements, but are killed when the bus on which they are riding crashes off an overpass. In a car that nearly collided with the bus before the crash, a woman gives birth to a baby boy, Thomas (played as an adult by Robert Downey, Jr.). The four bus passengers become the boy’s guardian angels and attempt to help him navigate life. When Thomas grows up to become a cunning and unkind businessman, the guardian angels must work together to help him and gain peace for themselves.
In a slightly different tone with a hint of melancholy, the Japanese film After Life (written by Hirokazu Kore-Eda) is set in a processing station for the recently departed. Here, the newly arrived will pick one favorite memory from their life on earth, and will be able to bring that, and nothing more, with them into eternity. There are counselors in this way station who help the new arrivals examine their memories to find the one they love most, and then recreate it for them to take with. Tangles of love and wistfulness add a sober and poetic feel to this film.
Robert Altman’s pastel-noir subversion of the hard-boiled detective genre, The Long Goodbye, replaces Bogart’s iconic version of Philip Marlowe with a mumbling, likably disheveled portrayal by Elliott Gould. The film’s labyrinthine plot duels a loose, improvisational tone against a backdrop of playful details – until things suddenly get less playful…
Obsessed with Stranger Things? While you wait for season 3, try some of the….
… movies that inspired the show
…music from the TV series
Songs: “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
“Talking in Your Sleep” by The Romantics
Song: “When It’s Called I’d Like to Die”
Song: “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
… books that will give you similar “feels”
by Edgar Cantero
Brian K. Vaughn (writer), Cliff Chiang (artist), Matt Wilson (colors) & Jared K. Fletcher (letters)
by Stephen King
Maybe you were already a fan of the blockbuster novel by Liane Moriarty. Maybe you became swept up in the combination of critical acclaim and breakroom buzz when the TV adaptation first aired. Or maybe the eight Emmy wins, including for acting, directing, casting, music, and the top prize of Outstanding Limited Series broke down your defenses. One way or another, you’re now a fan.
Whether you have already binged the pitch-perfect Big Little Lies or are waiting patiently for your turn, you may be interested in related shows that offer variations on those same delicious appeals.
Description: Obsessed with the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl near a freezing lake in New Zealand, a brave detective finds herself up against small-town secrets and a side of herself that was meticulously kept at bay.
Why This? Atmosphere! Both limited series lean in to the twisted and the dark beneath the surface. With complex, fascinating female characters, dynamic performances, and the exposure of sinister secrets in an insular town, you will be riveted.
Description: Four friends band together against an anonymous foe who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets.
Why This? The similar title words are not the only reason this series is one of the most frequently mentioned watchalikes for Big Little Lies. Though the protagonists are younger and the machinations perhaps a bit soapier, the intrigue and drama inspire an equally obsessive viewing, especially as dangerous secrets threaten to come to light.
Description: Two strong yet compassionate detectives are brought together to solve the murder of an eleven year-old boy in a small coastal town.
Why This? Season one of this celebrated series ticks all the boxes: seaside setting, murder mystery, almost-too-close community, and rich layers of storytelling. As the increasingly twisted evidence is followed, the prejudices, grudges, and underbelly of the idyllic town become exposed with dire consequences. You might also watch for the magnificent performances, especially that of Olivia Colman, who is more than equal to the standouts of Big Little Lies.
Description: The lives of two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages, a registered sex offender, and a disgraced ex-police officer intersect as they struggle to resist their vulnerabilities and temptations in suburban Massachusetts.
Why This? This 2007 film is based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, an author credited as a master of suburban noir. That means you can expect secrets behind closed doors of a seemingly benign neighborhood. Also, if you were interested in the parent roles of Big Little Lies, you will find parallels including the larger question of who might be misbehaving like little children, regardless of actual age.
Description: Wealth, beauty, and power define the residents of New York’s most exclusive community, but one woman will stop at nothing to exact revenge from those who ruined her father’s life.
Why This? The central character is presented as a newcomer to a wealthy beachside community. Not only does she navigate making new friends and learning whom she can trust, but she is also dealing with the aftershocks of a pivotal event in her past. Ring any bells? This is another series option for those who like shows that won’t let you go once you start.
Damien Chazelle, the talented director and screenwriter of only three feature films to date, has amassed an astonishing number of awards and nominations, including Best Picture Academy Award nominations for both Whiplash and La La Land. At age 32 Chazelle is the youngest person in history to win a Best Director Oscar for La La Land.
Check out his 2009 directing and screenwriting debut, the musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench.
School is back in session, and there’s no better way to remember your own high school hi-jinks than by watching a movie. Check out these high school classics set in Chicagoland.
Cooley Vocational High School (in a 1964 version of Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood) is the setting for Cooley High, the fictional story of best friends Preach and Cochise. Preach is studious and has his sights set on a writing career; Cochise is the star of the basketball team, and both are ready for a fun adventure whenever the opportunity arises. Sometimes that opportunity presents itself as a chance to skip school and hang out at the zoo, or crash a party, or pursue a girl. But when a group of troublemakers begin to target them, adult realities start to collide with teenage innocence.
Director John Hughes’ name is synonymous with teen drama films, and 1985’s The Breakfast Club is a big reason why. Students at New Trier High School in suburban Winnetka dubbed early morning detention “breakfast club,” and this movie, (filmed in Des Plaines at the former Maine North high school) perhaps more than any other, gave a closeup look at five teen stereotypes of the 1980s – the popular girl, the jock, the geek, the punk and the loner. They find themselves awkwardly thrust together on a Saturday morning, but come to learn some deep things about each other and realize they may all be more multidimensional than their stereotypes would suggest.
Teen ballerina Sara Johnson’s life is struck by tragedy, and she decides to give up dance and return to high school in Chicago in 2001’s Save the Last Dance. She soon finds herself learning hip hop, and pairs up with a hip hop dancer named Derek. Romantic feelings develop between them, and Sara confides in Derek about her tragedy and her dream of attending Julliard, while Derek confides that his dream is to attend med school at Georgetown. Their interracial relationship causes backlash from others, and they ultimately must decide whether to follow their dreams or settle for a lesser path that seems predestined.
It’s the senior year of high school for North Shore student Joel Goodson, and with his exceptional grades and bright path ahead, he feels he deserves to let loose a little while his parents are out of town. Things quickly spin out of control, and Joel must find a way to cover his tracks after a weekend of partying, call girls and criminals results in thousands of dollars in damages to his parents’ Porsche and lavish home (an actual residence located in Highland Park.) Senoritis definitely takes a unique spin in the movie classic, Risky Business.
Hoop Dreams is the true story of two high school basketball players, William Gates and Arthur Agee, trying to make it to the NBA. Both teens make more than hour-long commutes from their homes in Chicago housing projects to the same high school in Westchester, Illinois that Isaiah Thomas attended. Both teens must find their places within the social structure of the school, which is predominantly white and very different from their own community, and find ways to remain athletically elite while surviving in abject poverty.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is another John Hughes’ classic teen drama. Ferris’ idyllic suburb (based on Hughes’ hometown of Northbrook) provides the launching off point for an epic decision to ditch high school (Glenbrook North, circa 1986) and tour around downtown Chicago. To the chagrin of his sister Jeannie, Ferris’ faux sick day garners him the sympathy and support of not only their parents, but almost everyone in their high school, and by the end of the day a full-fledged Save Ferris campaign has engulfed the school. His whirlwind tour takes him and his friends to the Art Institute, The Sears Tower, Wrigley Field and even the German-American parade marching down Dearborn.
Russian spies, remote hideouts, British Secret Service, exhilarating car chases, unwitting Americans and a few twists and turns you definitely will not see coming, Our Kind of Traitor is yet another great film adaptation of a John Le Carre novel. Watching, you’ll ask yourself, who is the bad guy here?