Sights and Sounds

Movie and music reviews by Library Staff

The Monkees – Head

The Monkees were one of the most controversial bands of the 1960’s.  They were controversial because many people could not decide if they were really a band or not.   Conceived first as a television series the group was made of up two established musicians Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork, an English Broadway performer, Davy Jones and a former child star, Micky Dolenz who was also toured with his sister as part of a folk singing duo. 

The Fab Four Films

In 1964 the United States developed a love affair with four young men from Liverpool, England known as The Beatles.  I’m sure you’ve heard of them.  By the time they reached the United States they had already been popular in England for two years and had been contracted to film their first movie A Hard Day’s Night.  That was soon followed by their second Film Help!  Then came two semi psychedelic films Yellow Submarine and Magical Mystery Tour.   If you haven’t seen them they are worth a look, if only for the history of both the music and the band.

Atomic Café

In the early 60’s I remember going through atomic bomb drills in school.  We were dutifully herded by our teachers down to the depths of Roger’s Elementary school here in Bloomington, past the furnaces, and seemingly below the floors to the area in which we were to remain until the radiation levels dropped enough for us to come out.  I can still remember the big storage cans of water stacked along the walls and under stairwells marked with the Civil Defense emblem.  I assume, though I can’t really remember seeing them, that there were food rations that were available for us to eat as well.  Along with the television advertisements for cereal, candy and toys we saw public service announcements with “Burt the Turtle” teaching us how to “duck and cover” if we should ever see the flash of an atomic bomb.   How naïve these advertisements and steps seem today when more accurate information about atomic blasts and radiation is common knowledge.   We know for example that we can’t survive an atomic blast by hiding inside of a refrigerator.

Leonard Nimoy 1931 - 2015

Leonard Nimoy

Today I lost a friend though I did not know him personally.  He has been a part of my life since I was ten years old and Star Trek first aired.  Leonard Nimoy passed away this morning.  He was 83.   His best known role was that of Mr. Spock, first officer of the USS Enterprise. The character Spock was a Vulcan/Human mix, not devoid of emotion, but able to suppress and control his emotional responses.  For many of us who thought we were different Spock gave to us a role model that showed us that we could overcome our limitations and excel in what we chose to do and be.  He told us it was okay to be different and that was really a good thing.     While Nimoy alternately tried to remove himself from the character of Spock and embraced it he was forever in our minds the symbol of diversity that epitomized Star Trek.  Spock’s devotion to logic inspired us to examine our situations and understand how they could be improved.

My Cousin Vinny

Imagine if you will traveling across the country with your best friend and stopping for snacks at a small town gas station.  Shortly after you leave you, glance in the mirror to see and hear the flashing lights and the siren of a police car.  You are about to be charged with the cold blooded murder and robbery of the proprietor of the gas station you just left.   Your only hope for freedom is your eccentric cousin Vinny, a New York lawyer who has yet to win a case. 

While You're Waiting for This Year's Oscar Nominees

Get ready for all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with this evening’s Academy Awards! While you’re waiting for a copy of one of this year’s popular Oscar nominees, we suggest revisiting some Best Picture winners of the not-so-distant past. 

12 Years a Slave12 Years a Slave (2013) -- What better way to get ready for the Oscars than by rewatching the Best Picture winner from last year! The film won four Academy Awards and is based on the 1853 memoir of the same name by Solomon Northup. Northup was a free African American man with a wife and children when he was abducted in Washington, D.C. and sold into slavery. This moving film depicts Northrup's years as a slave working on plantations in Louisiana and fighting for the freedom to return to his family. 

No Country for Old MenNo Country for Old Men (2007) -- No Country for Old Men was directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, who are known for their films Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and most recently, Inside Llewyn Davis. No Country for Old Men is the winner of four Oscars and is based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel by the same name. The film is a dark thriller about a hunter in Texas who stumbles upon two million dollars and the deserted scene of a bloody drug deal gone wrong. He flees but is pursued by a merciless hitman out for revenge. 

ChicagoChicago (2002) -- This dazzling musical won six Academy Awards in 2002. Dancer Velma Kelly, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and aspiring performer Roxie Hart, played by Renee Zellweger, live in the Jazz and booze infused 1920s Chicago. Both women are accused of murder and are sent to jail to await trial. While behind bars, they make a plan to win fame and public sympathy to escape death sentences.