Sights and Sounds

My Personal Top Ten + list of "must see" Holiday Films.

The holidays are here and the library's Christmas and holiday films are flying off the shelves. Every year I go on a personal marathon of Christmas film watching. I set aside my Netflix que, put my TV watching on hold, with the exception of the Doctor Who Christmas Specials, and settle back to watch some of my favorite Christmas films. Below are the ones I must see or I feel like my holiday season is incomplete.

Ghost Town

Image"Ghost Town" takes the M. Night Shyamalan movie," The Sixth Sense" and stands it on its head.   The tagline for the film says it all; "He sees dead people ... and they annoy him."  After a near death experience, Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) finds he has the ability to see dead people. The dead want his attention so that they can close out the incompleteness in their lives and move on.  Pincus is a very good dentist but very inept as a human being and the type of character Gervais plays well. The role of a competent loser suits him.  His sudden ability to see the dead doesn't leave him impressed nor does it fill him with fear. Instead, it seems to annoy him.  He would much rather be left alone to be the perfect loser.

Crossroads

There is a legend about blues guitarist Robert Johnson- that he sold his soul to the devil for the ability to play blues guitar like no other. Is it true? Perhaps, perhaps not; it's a legend that surrounds other bluesmen and many a struggling musician has gone in search of "the crossroads" to see if they can also have the skills and influence of Robert Johnson. Crossroads is not about that search,

Proper care and feeding of your DVDs, CDs and BluRays.

Not this wayWhen compact discs first came out they were proclaimed to be almost indestructible.  I still remember watching the Today Show and being amazed as the new media storage for music was demonstrated.  Part of the demonstration was taking a small hammer and hitting the CD disc with it.  A wonder of wonders; the disc still played.  Looking back on this event today I wonder if the disc would have played all the way through.   The Idea that digital disc storage was indestructible has been more than a little overblown.  Digital discs need the same care and sometimes greater care than the old vinyl recordings.   I would like to share with you some guidelines for caring for your digital discs. "

Raccoon Nation

Raccoons are smart. If you've ever had to deal with them then you'll probably agree that they are some of the smartest creatures on Earth. In 2011, PBS did a one-hour documentary on raccoons and their nocturnal behavior. The raccoons were tagged with GPS collars and studied for three months. The information gleaned from the researchers begged the question, "Are humans making raccoons smarter?" It seem as though every attempt to keep them out of our trash bins present them with a new and interesting puzzle to solve which in turn creates smarter raccoons that survive and pass on their genes. It sounds like a ridiculous theory but take look at the documentary before you make any judgments. The library owns one copy at the main branch.

A Face in the Crowd

Andy Griffith, one of America's most beloved actors, passed away recently. We remember him so well as the sheriff of Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show or as Private Will Stockdale in No Time For Sergeants. We may also remember him as Matlock, from the TV series of the same name. A select few might also remember him from his short lived Science Fiction series Salvage One. Always he was the mild mannered father- like figure who seemed to get the job done with down- home wisdom and honest effort. So what would you say if I told you that after watching Andy in his first film A Face in the Crowd, I was unable to watch Sheriff Andy without thinking "What a sleezeball?"

2081

This was the shortest film I've ever seen. It was based on Kurt Vonnegut's short story called "Harrison Bergeron". The original story was published in 1961 and this twenty-six minute film adaptation was published in 2009. The film was meant to be dystopian science fiction but it could pass for just about anything. It's the year 2081 and there have been an additional 185 amendments to the US Constitution to remove all inequalities in American society. Harrison Bergeron the lone anarchist rebels against this idea and plants a bomb to mount an insurrection. That's it. If there are any fans of V is for Vendetta then they will probably like this film. The themes are exactly alike; see trailer below.

HEAD AKA - The Monkees HEAD

HeadGrowing up in the sixties I remember The Monkees TV show with fondness. The Monkees was a show about four musicians, Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Mickey Dolenz, struggling to make ends meet and make it big. In the show they never did. In real life they became one of the biggest groups to hit the teen scene since The Beatles. When we think of the The Monkees we tend to think of three things. First that the show was a family show that appealed to the young people of the time. Second, they were, at first, primarily a vocal group. They added their voices to music tracks recorded by others. Even though there were many vocal groups around at the time that did just that because the show was about a band, we felt somehow betrayed when we found this out. By the time their third album came out and they had taken control and played their own instruments the damage had been done, the public had largely turned on them and the show was headed for cancellation. Third, a fact that falls in line with the second, they were manufactured. Prior to the show these four people did not know each other and they were hired to play a band with the hope that they would become one.

This brings us to the movie HEAD. The Monkees wanted to break out of their image and become more relevant. They joined together in a hotel room with show creator Bob Ralfelson and a then unknown actor by the name of Jack Nicholson and came out with the movie HEAD. Although the boys were very involved with the script history repeated itself and their names were not listed on the credits. By the time the movie came out the show had been off the air for a number of months and they had lost their standing as musicians. The film failed completely. It has since become a bit of a cult film and is worth seeing.

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