Random Movie Monday — The American Fiddle Method

What better way to start off the work week than a deep dive into American Fiddle Music? That’s where this week’s random movie (DVD 509) led me, and I am so, so pleased. Here’s our summary:

Fiddle teacher Brian Wicklund guides the student through the basic skills of learning the fiddle, including bow and fiddle position, bowing and fingering technique, secrets for playing in tune, double-string playing, etc.

Ah, takes me back to when I would spend hours playing the Oregon Trail video game. Nothing says nostalgia (or dying of dysentery) like a quality American Fiddle tune.

If you have a fiddle at your disposal, go ahead and check this DVD out! The fiddler, Brian Wicklund, has since moved to an online platform, but you can get the beginning lessons on this DVD without having to go through a paywall.

Remembering Doris Day

Doris Day, the acclaimed and beloved actress died this past Monday, May 13th. For many people, Day is the face of post-war American cinema, and is known not only for her films, but her crooning voice.

Day was born in Ohio in 1922, and was a near-professional dancer before a car accident shattered her leg. Forced to give up dance, she took singing lesson while she recovered, and soon began singing in local clubs. She moved to singing with touring big bands just after WWII, and launched her film career in 1948 with Romance on the High Seas at Warner Brothers. She starred in minor musicals at the studio before landing the lead role in Calamity Jane in 1953.

By the time the 1960s rolled around, she’d stared in films like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, and began starring in romantic dramas with Rock Hudson, such as Pillow Talk. Her films were some of the decade’s most successful, and she regularly topped the box office in the early 60s.

Despite her commercial success and popular appeal, Day garnered an interesting reputation. She was consistently characterized as a sunny, all-American virginal angel, despite the fact that the characters she played were often anything but. Contemporary feminists panned her, but more recent feminist critics have re-examined her movies. Almost all the characters she played in romantic dramas were career women, and they were often more concerned about their professional success than romantic pursuits.

These themes carried over into her situation sitcom, The Doris Day Show, which aired from 1968 to 1973. Though she began the series playing a widow who somewhat reluctantly returns to work as a secretary at a magazine, by the time the final season aired, her children had been written out, and her widow was a seasoned reporter. The show chronicled the life of an American working woman and would influence an entire genre of sitcoms and situation comedies.

You can check out these Doris Day films from Media Services:

  • Calamity Jane (DVD 338)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (DVD 3529)
  • Young Man With a Horn (DVD 337)
  • Love Me or Leave Me (DVD 6664)
  • The Doris Day and Rock Hudson Comedy Collection (DVD 4071)
  • Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (DVD 10649)
  • The Pajama Game (DVD 10603)

Random Movie Monday — The Nin9s

This week’s random movie is DVD 5108, The Nines. Here’s our summary:

The lives of an actor, a television game show personality, and a videogame designer are intertwined, and the lines between fantasy and reality become blurred. Three linked stories that exist in distinct but overlapping parallel universes, each challenging the other’s claim to reality

This movie features Ryan Reynolds and his actual face (as opposed to a Deadpool hood/makeup, or a fluffy, adorable Pokemon), and Melissa McCarthy!

The Myth of Kanopy

We here at Media Services recently changed our Kanopy subscription. Before this semester, library users could watch any Kanopy film at any time, no questions asked. Though Kanopy looks (and markets itself) as the educational equivalent of Netflix or Amazon Prime, instead of paying a flat fee of x dollars/month, the library paid $150 per title.

The cost of Kanopy ate up most of our budget, which is why we switched to a request-only model for two Kanopy collections– Criterion and Kino Lorber. Now, when you want to watch a film from these collections, it has to be approved by our media librarian.

This article from Film Quarterly sums up the Kanopy conundrum quite nicely, and shows that the AU Library isn’t alone in our current predicament.


Correction 5/15/19- Updated to reflect that only two AU Kanopy collections are request-only. All other Kanopy collections we subscribe to are available for instant viewing.

Random Movie Monday

Happy finals season! This week’s random movie is DVD 9895, Silent Naruse, is a collection of two early works of Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse. The two films, Flunky, Work Hard and No Blood Relations are Naruse’s first two films. Both are silent films. Here’s our summary:

Flunky, Work Hard (1931, 28 min): An atypical breezy comedy about a poor insurance salesman trying to provide for his family. No Blood Relation (1932, 79 min.): A maternal-instinct melodrama about an actress desperate to reclaim the daughter she left behind.

I wasn’t able to find clips for these on the internet, but if you’re interested in exploring early Japanese cinema, you should definitely check this DVD out.

Random Movie Monday — Countdown to Zero

Good morning, and happy Monday! The AU campus has begun its own countdown to finals, so it’s probably appropriate that this week’s random movie– DVD 8043 — is a countdown to nuclear armageddon. Here’s our summary:

Tracing the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities with others racing to join them, with the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. The film makes a compelling case for worldwide nuclear disarmament, an issue more topical than ever as over 40 nations have the technical capacity to construct nuclear weapons.

Now if only someone could make a compelling case against finals…

Random Movie Monday — Toxic Tears

With everything in bloom all over campus, today’s random movie focuses on the nastier side of modern agriculture. DVD 10641, Toxic Tears, focuses on the effects of monoculture in India. Here’s our summary:

“The Green Revolution of the mid 20th Century was aimed at greatly reducing starvation in the Third World. But the high-yielding seeds and mono-crops central to its success required heavy use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and water, with a higher cost than the traditional, more natural methods that were abandoned. While the Green Revolution did increase yields of grains and initially benefited farmers, the price paid proved very high in India, leading to heavy indebtedness, disharmony, environmental degradation, and thousands of suicides among farmers. Toxic Tears features farmers, local merchants, and moneylenders in the Southern Punjab region who tell their stories. Two older farmers in one village describe how farming in the past was different from today, and how their sons were forced to take more loans from banks and local moneylenders. Heavily in debt, they took their lives by drinking pesticides, and were among the 25 farmers who committed suicide in recent years in their village. One villager who continued to farm organically describes how the use of pesticides is like a drug addiction, making both farmers and the land dependent upon them, and at great cost. Dr. Vandana Shiva, noted scientist, environmentalist and winner of the Right Livelihood Award, provides additional background and commentary. She believes local moneylenders have indeed benefited, but that the main beneficiaries are the big agricultural companies who provide the seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to local middlemen, with little understanding of the impact of their decisions and products.”