Information, Answers & Reviews

City of Bloomington Book Review and Discussion

The HelpAs part of the City of Bloomington's Black History Month schedule of events, a review and discussion of Kathryn Stockett's The Help will be held on Saturday, February 12 at 1:00 p.m at Showers City Hall Council Chambers at 401 North Morton Street.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett details the lives of black maids in 60's Mississippi and the white women they work for. It chronicles the lives of three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.

Brick (2006)


Brick (2006) is a film that no matter how well you describe it, it still kind of sounds like a tacky idea and it easily could have been. A hard-boiled noir style detective film set in a modern-day high school? Hmm. But let me assure you that great care was taken with the specifics of the film that make this setup work surprisingly well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer) stars as Brendan, a quiet loner who acts as the gumshoe in this movie. He's lost contact with an ex-girlfriend at school who was straying into the world of drug trafficking and wants to make sure she's okay. When she turns up dead, he begins a quest for answers through the underground world of popular kids, the drama vamps and the super-smart geeks.

See? Still sounds a little tacky doesn't it? What saves the film from collapsing under the ridiculous setup is the script and the performances. The characters play the roles like they're actually in a 1940's detective film complete with rapid-fire speech and archaic slang that takes a little effort to follow. All the film noir tropes are here: the smart detective who knows how to take a punch, the bombshell who can't be trusted, the menacing kingpin and his muscle-bound henchman. This is a film that doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence and succeeds by playing the whole thing straight with nary a wink to suggest that the situations are taking place in an out-of-context environment. The plot becomes convoluted as double-crossing and lies start to twist the narrative.

This is certainly no "Disney's High School Detective" sort of film. The violence and drug content makes it clearly intended for an adult audience. It's a smart, classy and surprisingly emotional film that succeeds despite its inability to be described in a satisfying way. Definitely recommended.

3D or not to 3D

Image
A while back I posted an article on this blog called "In Praise of Black and White." In it I mentioned that the invention of color film brought about a number of films that focused on color shock effects and explosions rather than focusing on the story. I believe that many of the films made today would not seem as good to us if we were forced to watch them in black and white. Today we have a rise in another new gimmick format called 3D.

February's Books Plus: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching GodAs cold winter winds swirl around us, join us at the library on Feb. 6th where we'll travel to sunny Florida to explore Zora Neale Hurston's evocative world. Alice Walker remarked that "no book was more important to her" than Their Eyes Were Watching God. As always we'll offer hot drinks, Amal's delicious cake, and an outlet for your stimulating conversation. Hope to see you here.

For more information on this and future programs, please see below:

Books Plus meets the first Sunday of each month. All are welcome. Join the discussion or simply come to listen. No registration necessary. Drop in.

From Book to Movie to Award Nomination

Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceWhere does Hollywood get many of their ideas? Comic books? Yes. TV shows from the 1970s? *Sigh* - yes. But also from books! Real books! This year's Academy Award nominations were announced this week, including 5 films for Best Adapted Screen Play - 4 of which are based on books. The fifth film, Toy Story 3 is based on a original treatment of the first movie (or something).

If you liked these movies - you might try the original too! I know I am adding several of these to my to-read list.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
This memoir is the basis for Danny Boyle's film 127 Hours and tells the amazing true story of a hiker who had to make a terrible decision after being trapped and injured alone in the desert for over five days. As a sometimes solo hiker, I am intrigued by this story. Both movie and book are on my list.

Pages