Check It Out Category: Movies and TV

Staff Pick: Movies Featuring Tony Leung Chu-Wa

Diane-DHong Kong actor Tony Leung Chu-Wa is the star of the classic films Chungking Express, Hard-Boiled, Grandmaster, Happy Together, In the Mood for Love, Infernal Affairs, Ashes of Time and many more.

Seven-time Hong Kong Film Award Best Actor winner (out of 13 nominations) and winner of the Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actor, Mr. Leung is one of the finest actors of his generation in Hong Kong.

List: Optimistic Television

Too often the most praised programs in the exciting eras of Television’s Golden Age and Peak TV are gritty and cynical, while happy or hopeful shows can be dismissed as fluff. Not true. We’re here to tell you that excellence in television narratives doesn’t need to be a downer. Here are six critically acclaimed series that combine innovative storytelling with a rosy outlook.

 

Jane the Virgin DVD coverJane the Virgin

The gold standard. An intentionally ridiculous premise serves as comic springboard for real-life issues of family, religion, immigration, identity, and integrity. Earnest and charming without being naïve, Jane regularly brings both tears and laughter (sometimes simultaneously) and inspires real hope for the world.

 


Parks and Recreation DVD cover
Parks and Recreation

Mid-level bureaucracy may be an unlikely place to find idealism, but you won’t find anyone who embodies optimism better than Leslie Knope. She and her motley band of coworkers have genuine affection for each other and sincere belief in the work they do, no matter how absurd it may seem.

 

Pushing DaisiesPushing Daisies DVD cover

Narrated by the magical Jim Dale (voice of the Harry Potter audiobooks), this candy-colored procedural is as much comfort food for the soul as the mouth-watering pies on display would be for the belly. Unabashedly romantic in outlook and buoyant in spirit, star-crossed lovers and artful murders have never before brought such joy.

 


Black-ish

Deftly juggling broad comedy with sensitive topics, Black-ish shows that issues of race don’t need to be isolated as “very special episodes”. Parents and children alike are allowed to make mistakes, tough questions are faced head on, and family is ultimately celebrated, all without forgetting that it’s a show designed to entertain.

 

Gilmore GirlsGilmore Girls DVD cover

Life is hard, people we love make poor choices, and we can’t all live in Stars Hollow. All of these may be difficult to accept, but somehow time spent with Lorelai, Rory, and the quirky denizens of their hometown makes us believe that given enough coffee, pop culture fast-talking, and wacky festivals, happiness and home are within reach. Where they lead, we will follow.

The West WingWest Wing DVD cover

Politics and optimism may seem quite a stretch these days, but if any show can restore even a little hope in Washington, it’s this one. Here we can escape into a world where the President and his advisors actually succeed in channeling passion into action, illustrating our longing for government to overcome the odds.

 

 

 

Looking for more suggestions to watch, hear, or read? Ask online or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor. We’d love to connect you with something to fit your mood!

Staff Pick: Boy & the World

Cathleen_2014Delight 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.

Staff Pick: This is Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal TapSatirizing 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.

Save

Save

Save

Movies and TV: Sound of Noise

Sound of Noise DVD coverCall 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.

Staff Pick: 50/50

Janine from Circulation suggests the movie 50/50

50/50 cover imageJoseph 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 cover

 

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 cover

 

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 cover

 

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 book cover

 

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)

 

 

Picture of Tig


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.

Save

Movies and TV: Moone Boy

Moone Boy DVD coverIrresistible 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.

Staff Pick- Communion: A True Story

Communion A True Story book coverLarry 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 book coverChariots 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 book coverInvasion 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 book coverWar 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.

 

 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind dvd coverClose Encounters of the Third Kind, DVD

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.

 

 

 

Cocoon dvd coverCocoon, DVD

A group of senior citizens living a mundane life find rejuvenation when visitors with other-worldly powers from a distant galaxy befriends them.

Staff Pick: Oscar

Cathleen staff picks photoA 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.