Reuniting the director and screenwriter of the classic The Third Man, Our Man in Havana is the missing link in Alec Guinness’ career between the light comedies he made as a young actor for Ealing Studios and his later turn as spymaster George Smiley—an understated espionage romp with surprisingly dark undertones.
Check It Out Category: Movies and TV
Delight your eyes with a work of wonder! Nearly wordless and enhanced with music, Oscar nominee Boy & the World is a warm, uplifting exploration of childlike discovery. This Brazilian fable dazzles with inventive hand-drawn animation, juxtaposing the realities of life’s hardships with the adventure of youth. Exhilarating and unforgettable.
Satirizing both rock stars and documentary film, This Is Spinal Tap is ranked as one of the funniest movies ever made. The rock music mockumentary was written, scored by, and starred Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed, and that improvisation produced over 100 hours of footage, which was cut down to 83 wacky minutes.
Call this the Drums of Anarchy. A group of brilliant percussionists conspire to unleash a masterpiece of performance art on an unsuspecting public. “Music for One City and Six Drummers” is comprised of four movements, each carried out as a comic caper in a different venue. First, they invade a hospital operating theater, then a bank. Taking the space hostage, they create carefully-coordinated rhythms using whatever is at hand, be it a paper shredder, a bulldozer, or a celebrity patient, and then exit in a quick getaway. Their hallmark at each scene is an old-school metronome, and the inspector assigned to bring order to their chaos is taunted over and over again.
A Swedish film entry (and prizewinner) at multiple festivals, Sound of Noise is audacious fun to the beat of a shockingly unique set of drums.
Janine from Circulation suggests the movie 50/50
Joseph Gordon Levitt stars as Adam, a normal 27-year-old, aside from the fact that he just found out he has a rare spinal cancer. His odds of survival are 50-50. While that all sounds pretty dire, the journey the viewer takes with Adam will have them laughing out loud. Between Adam’s loyal but lewd best friend (Seth Rogen), his unreliable girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), overbearing mother (Anjelica Houston), and young, inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick), there are plenty of laughs to be had along the way.
That’s not to say the entire movie is all fun and games. The movie strikes a delicate balance between sharing the gravity of his illness and all that comes with it. As Adam’s therapist, Katherine, tells him, “You can’t change your situation. The only thing that you can change is how you choose to deal with it.” 50/50 is the story of how he deals with it, and the story is achingly honest, heart-breaking and hilarious in equal measure.
For more humorous stories with heart, try…
The Night Before (DVD): Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt team up again, this time with Anthony Mackie joining them. The three friends spend a hilarious Christmas Eve roaming New York City in search of a Christmas party they’ll never forget.
Juno (DVD): Juno MacGuff is 16, pregnant, and knows keeping the baby isn’t an option. This quirky, heartwarming movie is one you won’t soon forget.
Silver Linings Playbook (DVD): Bradley Cooper plays a bipolar man who befriends a similarly unstable woman while living at home with his parents in this story about family, and learning to love yourself and others, flaws and all.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (Book): A funny book about an unforgettable woman named Bernadette, who disappears, leaving her daughter to find her any way she can. (book)
Live by Tig Notaro (Audiobook): Comedian Tig Notaro’s groundbreaking stand-up performance is kicked off by announcing to the audience that she had cancer. Oh, and that was just after her mother unexpectedly died and she went through a terrible breakup. Raw, funny, and honest.
Irresistible in its Irish charm, the quirky comedy series Moone Boy is guaranteed to bring a grin. Martin Moone may not be the brightest of twelve-year-olds, but he knows that life is more manageable with an imaginary grown-up buddy by his side to offer questionable advice. How else to contend with three older sisters, distracted parents, school bullies, and the general business of growing up? Set in a small town in Ireland in 1989, this winner of the International Emmy Award for Best Comedy is newly available on DVD. Co-creator Chris O’Dowd stars in one of the most cheerful, unique, and entirely lovable series on offer. You’ll find a friend in him.
Larry from Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Communion: A True Story by Whitley Strieber
Whitley Strieber, better known for his fiction with paranormal, science fiction, and horror themes, wrote a nonfiction book about what he experienced when he was abducted by aliens from outer space. In Communion: A True Story, the author tells of his haunting and unsettling feelings of lost time and flashback recollections of encounters with strange beings. Seeking help through medical treatment and hypnosis, he decides that he was recalling what he came to believe were real interactions with extraterrestrials that chose him to be an object of their research. This book reads like fiction with its well-crafted storytelling, descriptive scenes, and suspenseful tones. So, is the story really true or just another tale from an imaginative fiction writer? Read the book and decide for yourself.
Interested in Communion? Try these other stories concerning aliens!
Chariots of the Gods?: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past by Erich von Daniken
When this nonfiction book was published, it stimulated public interest in the possibility that we are not alone in the universe. The author presents his theory that Earth was visited by extraterrestrials that helped ancient civilizations build their magnificent structures and establish their culture.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
Mill Valley was a peaceful place before some of the townspeople began to act in ways other than themselves. As the town’s doctor sees that these distinct but subtle changes in personality are spreading, he realizes that something sinister is happening that will forever change life in the valley.
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
One of the groundbreaking authors of science fiction presents a story of Mars’ invasion of Earth. Fine storytelling with action and suspense presents a tale of clashing forces and the fight for survival.
With the peaceful arrival of spaceships from another planet, Roy Neary becomes obsessed with the newcomers from outer space and searches for meaning in this event.
A group of senior citizens living a mundane life find rejuvenation when visitors with other-worldly powers from a distant galaxy befriends them.
A farcical comedy-of-errors with rhythms of a crackling stage play, Oscar is the screwball story of “Snaps” Provolone, a top-tier gangster who promises to go straight. Supporting cast Tim Curry, Chazz Palminteri, and Peter Riegert tickle with humor that bounces between droll dialogue and broad slapstick. Ridiculous fun.
Happy Star Wars Day!
Whether you’re a fan of the movies and books or not, Star Wars has seeped into American media with references big and small. Check out a few of those references in movies and television here! Looking for more? Browse Wired for more Star Wars pop culture references in the 2012 article “35 Greatest Star Wars Tributes of All Time.”
The cult classic Spaceballs was made to be a parody of Star Wars. This 1987 film includes characters such as Darth Helm (modeled after Darth Vader), Princess Vespa (Princess Leia), Barf the Mawg (Chewbacca), Dot Matrix (C-3P0), and LoneStarr (Han Solo and Luke Skywalker).
While the 1999 action film Armageddon only has a few minor mentions of Star Wars, it uses those moments as an opportunity for humor. One reference is between Ben Affleck’s character, A.J., and Owen Wilson’s character, Oscar, as they are working to save Earth from being destroyed by a meteor:
A.J.: “If anybody’s anybody, I’m Han and you’re… you’re Chewbacca.”
Oscar: “Chewie? Have you even seen Star Wars?”
The Star Wars reference in the quirky TV comedy 30 Rock: Season 3 (episode 14) is quick, but it packs a punch. Tina Fey as Liz Lemon dressed up as Princess Leia to get out of jury duty? Yes, please!
May the 4th be with you!
“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” Sultry Lauren Bacall’s 1944 film debut in the wartime classic To Have and Have Not, based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway, catapulted her into instant stardom.