Check It Out Category: Movies and TV

Getting Down with The Get Down

Get Down poster image“You hear that? That is life. And destiny. That is the get down.”

Part two of Netflix series The Get Down recently dropped, and though it isn’t yet available through the Library, we know some of you are already primed to lose yourselves in the music, the style, the art, and the drama of the Bronx in the late 1970s.

The fascinating world of early hip hop is one born of frustrations, passions, and even activism. To experience more of this electric era, try one of these:

Hip Hop Family Tree vol 1 cover

Hip Hop Family Tree 1: 1970s – 1981 by Ed Piskor

The early days of hip hop have become the stuff of myth, so what better way to document this epic true story than in an explosively entertaining, encyclopedic history presented in graphic format? Piskor’s exuberant cartooning takes you from the parks and rec rooms of the South Bronx to the night clubs, recording studios, and radio stations where the scene started to boom. The Hip Hop Family Tree is an exciting and essential cultural chronicle for hip hop fans, pop-culture addicts, and anyone who wants to know how it went down back in the day.

Wild Style DVD cover

Wild Style, directed, produced, and written by Charlie Ahearn

A perfect point of contrast to a series that recreates the emergence of hip hop is one that was created during the era in question! Wild Style is a 1983 docudrama that celebrates the colorful lives of teens who live in the South Bronx (sound familiar?). There they are seen break dancing, creating graffiti art, and listening to raucous rap. One focus is on the figure of Zoro, who likes to spray-paint subway cars, another reference point from The Get Down in the character of Dizzee, played by Jaden Smith.

Adventures of Grandmaster Flash book cover

The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash: My Life, My Beats by Grandmaster Flash with David Ritz

In the 1970s Grandmaster Flash pioneered the art of break-beat DJing–the process of remixing and thereby creating a new piece of music by playing vinyl records and turntables as musical instruments. In this powerful memoir, Flash recounts how music from the streets, much like rock ‘n’ roll a generation before, became the sound of an era, as well as his own rise to stardom, descent into addiction, and ultimate redemption.

Get Down soundtrack cover

The Get Down: Original Soundtrack from the Netflix Original Series

Whether you’ve seen the series and can’t let it go or you want to experience it vicariously, the series soundtrack will satisfy your yen. Featuring both original songs and era classics, the line up includes artists such as Miguel, Christina Aguilera, Michael Kiwanuka, Janelle Monae, and Donna Summer, as well as the talented cast. Consider this your hot summer soundtrack!

Movies and TV: Life, Animated

Life Animated DVD coverAs fans of books, television, and movies, we believe in the power of story. Narratives can show us we’re not alone. They can introduce us to experiences and ideas that we would not otherwise know. In the Oscar-nominated documentary Life, Animated, we learn that amazingly story can give voice to a speechless boy and be a source of strength for a young man striking out on his own.

When Owen Suskind was a toddler, he lost the ability to communicate. A rare joy for him was watching and re-watching Disney movies, and one day he responded to his dad with a line of dialogue from a favorite character. Elated, his parents found ways to interact with their son using Disney personalities and stories. Life, Animated features a loving family, an exceptional young man, and a triumphant journey worthy of the stories Owen adores.

John’s Pick: 24 Hour Party People

Picture of JohnLike any number of films “based on a true story,” the docu-comedy 24 Hour Party People frequently exaggerates, distorts, fabricates and otherwise obfuscates the historical truth of its subject matter (in this case, the Manchester music scene of the 80s and 90s).  The difference is, this picture does so openly, amusingly, and with a cheerful wink to its audience.

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!