lauren-b

One of the last remaining classic actresses, Bacall was part of the Golden Age of Cinema…the 1940s-1950s. She was a screen siren from day one, with her sultry performance as the ultimate Femme Fatale in To Have and Have Not, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart. From that catapult to stardom in 1944, Bacall never looked back. She starred in three more movies with Bogart, who in addition to being her favorite leading man on screen, became her leading man off screen when they married in 1945.

Over the next few days, I will highlight some of my favorite Bacall movies. We have truly lost one of the greats.

Check out these Lauren Bacall movies at the Niles Public Library:

All I Want for Christmas (J)

The Big Sleep

Birth

Blood Alley

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robin-w

Known for both iconic acting performances, as well as highly physical stand-up routines, Williams was one of the most robust and lively comedians working today…from his early start as Mork in the cult TV show Mork and Mindy, to his famed performances as the title role in Mrs. Doubtfire, defiant teacher in Dead Poets Society and his Oscar-winning role as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting. Even after all of his acting notoriety, he never left his comedy roots, doing many successful stand-up shows as well as teaming with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg for Comic Relief, beginning in 1986.

Williams will always be remembered for his infectious humor and his over-the-top comic behavior. His death is a great loss to Hollywood and the entire world.

Check out these Robin Williams movies at the Niles Public Library:

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (voice)

Aladdin (voice)

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

August Rush

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dramas3

Whereas all procedural shows are close ended episodes, serial dramas are the complete opposite. A show with an ongoing storyline where not all loose ends are tied up in a neat little bow by episode’s end. In order to sustain the longevity of the show, each episode ends in a cliffhanger and character arcs and multiple subplots take time to develop over the course of half (generally 12 or 13 episodes) or a full season (22-24 episodes). A binge viewing is recommended in order to fully comprehend the story as a whole. This type of TV requires viewers to watch the show from the very beginning in order to understand what is happening. If you missed an episode, it is advisable to view the previous episode before catching the newest one. To that end, this is what I refer to as appointment television.

Below is a list of SOME of the RECOMMENDED popular dramas available at the Niles Library!

24 (Though the 9th season has yet to be released on DVD, you can catch all previous 8 seasons here).

Set in real time, this popular action drama follows the adventures of counter-terrorist agent, Jack Bauer, as he thwarts terrorist attacks both foreign and domestic over the course of a day. If you enjoy intriguing mysteries, edgy and spectacular action, and high stakes drama, you will thoroughly enjoy this show! The twists and turns are a mile a minute.

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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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monu-men

I wanted to like The Monuments Men. Actually, I wanted to love it. I mean, off the bat, what’s not to love. George Clooney. Matt Damon. Need I go on? But, we also have Hugh Bonneville, who I love from TV’s Downton Abbey. And then also Jean Dujardin, the sexy Oscar-winner from The Artist. Add in favorites Bill Murray and John Goodman for comic relief and you have a dynamite cast that could rival the cast of Clooney and Damon’s Ocean’s movies.

Alas, I should have just watched this one on mute and looked at the pretty scenery (and also the French countryside). But, I did not. And while it’s not a horrible movie, it sure does not live up to the full potential of its illustrious cast.

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cinema-retro

When looking back throughout the history of cinema, there are years that standout: 1941 (Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Sergeant York, How Green Was My Valley, Ball of Fire, The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels (both from Preston Sturges) and Joan Fontaine’s Oscar-winning performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion), 1951 (The African Queen, A Streetcar Named Desire, An American in Paris, A Place in the Sun), 1969, (Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch) and 1974 (Chinatown, The Conversation, The Godfather, Part II, A Woman Under the Influence and Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein (both by Mel Brooks)) are all good film years. But, 1939 stands alone as the film year to beat all other film years.

Here’s a list of noted films that were released 75 years ago in 1939:

Babes in Arms

Beau Geste

Dark Victory (Best Picture (Outstanding Production) nominee)

Destry Rides Again

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