moneyball-march

The Ides of March and Moneyball are two relatively recent films in which Philip Seymour Hoffman did not star, but rather provided crucial, essential and, as always, very strong supporting performances.

The Ides of March is a film that George Clooney not only stars in but that he also co-wrote and directed. And, really, he’s not the star here. Like Hoffman, Clooney is just a supporting player here. At the heart of The Ides of March is the Ryan Gosling character, Stephen Meyers. Stephen is the crux of this story. He is the pivot which all of the other action and characters revolve around. Stephen is a deputy campaign manager for a presidential candidate (Clooney) who at first seems untouchable. But soon, skeletons appear peeking out of the closets. Stephen finds himself caught in the middle of a potential scandal that could bring down both the campaign and his own career. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the candidate’s senior campaign manager. His time on screen is limited, but as always with Hoffman, his performance is larger than life and full of passion and vigor.

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maxmary

I’m not that fascinated by contemporary animated films. I love what Aardman Animation does (Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep), but aside from that, most animation of today leaves me yearning for the non-computerized animation of the past…where tedious work was done all by hand to bring to life a spectacular finished product. This is why when a colleague recommended an animated film for adults and older kids entitled Mary and Max, I was highly skeptical. And, boy was I surprised at what awaited me.

Mary and Max is done in the “Claymation” style of animation, meaning CLAY animation. Claymation has advanced since the days of watching Davey and Goliath in grammar school (if you are not familiar with D&G’s stop-motion style of Claymation, don’t worry – it was not worth remembering). This movie’s animation, in addition to the sweet, touching story, is most definitely worth remembering, and even savoring. Mary and Max are both endearing characters that will stay with you for a long time. I do tend to gravitate towards holding “sad sack” characters in higher esteem…Eeyore was always my favorite Pooh character, as well as the Looney Tunes’ Elmer Fudd, and the ever-pathetic Dopey, the silent dwarf. Mary and Max both fall into that category…each being sad, lonely and lost in their own unhappy worlds.

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pirate-radio

Right off the bat I will say it: NOT MY KIND OF MOVIE. But, oh well, Pirate Radio has a great cast so I thought I would give it a whirl. And, when it began, I almost said I told you so to myself. But, then the plot really kicked in and the characters all came to life right on the screen and boom, before I knew it, I was hooked.

Not by the music (most of which is pretty much the kind of music I like), not by the 60s culture, but by the characters. You REALLY get involved and attached to the characters…all of them. They all have their own quirks that really give each of them panache…and then all of them together give the movie a special touch that resonates with audiences…because they will all know characters like this. In a cast lead by Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (the token American), other British actors including Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost and even Oscar-winner and icon Emma Thompson all lend their own spice to add color and vibe to the film that already rock with 1960s British pop.

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jamesg

Most famous for his TV work on the western Maverick (1957-1962) and The Rockford Files (1974-1980), Garner first made a name for himself in movie comedies such as Up Periscope (1959) and two Doris Day romantic comedies, Move Over, Darling and The Thrill of It All (both 1963). He went on to become a movie leading man in films like Grand Prix (1966) and Support Your Local Sheriff (1969), but never lost his strong character actor roots. He also stayed close to his early comedy roots, in movies such as Victor/Victoria (1982), Murphy’s Romance (1985), for which he was nominated for his only Oscar, and My Fellow Americans (1996).

Check out these James Garner movies at the Niles Public Library:

36 Hours

The Americanization of Emily

Barbarians at the Gate

Boy’s Night Out

Breathing Lessons

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elaine

Known for her caustic humor and rapier sharp wit, Stritch was an Emmy and Tony award-winning actress who, over the decades of her versatile career, reinvented herself many times, ending her life with a string of highly successful one-woman shows, one of which, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, won her a Tony in 2001. I had a chance to see Ms. Stritch on stage in that show and I will remember that experience fondly forever. She was a exceptionally powerful comedic voice and she will be greatly missed.

Check out these Elaine Stritch movies at the Niles Public Library:

Autumn in New York

Cadillac Man

Elaine Stritch at Liberty (DVD 792.7 E37)

Follies in Concert (DVD 782.14 F668)

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eli-wallach

Most remembered for playing hard-boiled characters in classic westerns The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven, Wallach was much more than just a gritty character actor. He could play sensitive, as well as tough, sweet and compassionate, as well was strong and fearless. In later years, he turned to television and prize smaller roles in films such as The Godfather, Part III, The Holiday and, most recently, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Surprisingly, he was never nominated for an Oscar, so the Academy rectified that in in 2010 when they gave Wallach an honorary Oscar “for a lifetime’s worth of indelible screen characters.”

Check out these Eli Wallach movies at the Niles Public Library:

The Associate

Baby Doll

The Brain

The Executioner’s Song

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michael-jackson

It’s hard to believe that Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, passed away 5 years ago today.

I remember being shell-shocked when I read the breaking news online. He was an amazing performer who had many fans around the world. One of the best ways to keep his legacy alive is by listening to his music. If I had to choose one favorite Michael Jackson album it would be Thriller. Everything from the iconic music videos to the amazing songs on the album make it one for the books.

What’s your favorite Michael Jackson album? Can’t choose one? Maybe we can help below…

Check out these Michael Jackson albums at the Niles Public Library:

Xscape (2014)

Bad 25 (2012)

Michael (2010)

This Is It (2009)

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rubydee

Known for her ground-breaking activism during the Civil Rights era, as well as her equally radical acting career, Ruby Dee died at the age of 91. She was one of the first black actresses to make her mark on Hollywood, along side her husband of over 55 years, Ozzie Davis. In the beginning of her career, as well as working with Davis, she often worked with Sidney Poitier, and later in life, she worked twice with Spike Lee and received her only Oscar nomination, for Best Supporting Actor, in 2007′s American Gangster, directed by Ridley Scott.

Check out these Ruby Dee movies at the Niles Public Library:

America

American Gangster (also on Blu-ray)

Betty and Coretta

Decoration Day

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maya

Maya Angelou has been a creative force to be reckoned with for decades. She was a poet, an activist, an author, a playwright, an actor, a film director, a professor, an inspirational speaker and a strong, fierce presence in the American cultural landscape. She was chosen by Bill Clinton to recite her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at his inauguration in 1993. She has honorary degrees from too many institutions to name and she has written seven autobiographical books on her life and work. Maya Angelou will be missed more than we know.

Check out these Maya Angelou movies at the Niles Public Library:

African American Lives 2 (Nonfiction)

As Seen Through These Eyes (Nonfiction)

Down in the Delta

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bob-hoskins

You most likely will have seen him in a movie, even if you do not know the name. British actor Bob Hoskins might be most know for the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but his body of work, both on the big screen and the small screen, is vast. He worked on both American film, as well as keeping to his British roots by going back home often to do productions of the famed classics, such as 1999′s adaptation of David Copperfield. He will be missed here, across the pond, and all over the world.

Check out these Bob Hoskins movies at the Niles Public Library:

Beyond the Sea

Brazil

A Christmas Carol (2009) (J)

David Copperfield (1999)

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