This week’s random movie is actually a random tv show — DVD 14387, My Three Sons. Here’s our summary:
Steve is a newly widowed father of three boys who tries raising them with the help of Grandpa Bub. With one boy in college, one in high school, and the third in grade school, things are never boring in the Douglas household!
My Three Sons is an old CBS show from the 1960s– happy watching!
I’m usually wary of nationalism and patriotism, especially in the current political climate, but July 4th is the one day of the year where I indulge in a bit of “Heck yeah, America!” I eat a hot dog, watch 1776, and try and find a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence to attend.
This year there’s apparently going to be tanks rolling around DC, so I think it’s appropriate that we take the day to examine whether or not America is living up to its ideals of freedom and equality in addition to celebrating. With that in mind, here are some of Media Services’ picks for Independence day viewing:
1776 (DVD 4969): This is my traditional 4th of July movie. It’s a wonderfully cheesy musical, but where else are you going to see the Founding Fathers sing about how turned on they are by independence and their wives?
John Adams (DVD 4993): This prolific HBO miniseries is a must-watch, even if this John Adams doesn’t sing.
A League of Their Own (DVD 1384): Do you know how hard it is to find a patriotic movie that isn’t focused on white men? It’s very hard. But A League of Their Own is a classic, and you should definitely watch it.
Independence Day (DVD 3111): Watch Will Smith defeat some aliens in the name of America.
The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (DVD 6341-6346, and streaming): Truthfully, I could have put any of Ken Burns’ documentaries on this list, but I decided on the National Parks series because I think we need to be reminded of what we have a duty to protect.
Hidden Figures (DVD 13951): Space Race! Hidden Figures is a great film, and strikes the right tone between celebrating what the US has achieved and examining it– we know we can (and need to) do better.
All the President’s Men (DVD 1789): Celebrate the 4th of July by celebrating the fruits of a free and independent press.
National Treasure (DVD 11187): I mean, come on:
The Sandlot (Streaming): This has a great 4th of July scene, and it perfectly captures what summer is about when you’re a kid.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (DVD 102): Good triumphs in the end, right?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DVD 111478): Ra ra America…. wait a minute. I love this film for a lot of reasons, and I think it’s important to watch on Independence Day because it asks an important question: how much freedom are we willing to sacrifice for ‘safety?’
Today’s random movie is DVD 11863 – Europe’s Secret Armies: Resisting Hitler. Here’s our summary:
Europe’s secret armies is an exploration of the stories behind the resistance and partisan group that formed to fight a hated oppressor. These were civilian armies; made up of ordinary men and women left with no other option but to go underground to strike back. The series hears from those who were not content to bend the knee or were not prepared to be part of Adolf Hitler’s ever-growing third reich. Freedom fighters risked torture, imprisonment and death throughout Europe: France’s maquis, the mountaineers of Crete, heroes and heroines from the Low Countries, Norway, Poland rose up, not least inside the tyrant’s own land, Germany. Includes archival footage, re-creations, and interviews with actual resistance fighters.
I promise I didn’t rig Google’s random number generator. This week’s random movie (DVD 11799) just happens to be one of my favorite movies: Cary Fukunaga’s 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre. Here’s our summary:
When orphaned governess Jane Eyre arrives at imposing Thornfield Hall, she’s intrigued by her brooding, wealthy employer, Rochester. His dark moods and the strange occurrences in the house lead her to discover a terrible secret that he had hoped to hide from her forever.
What this summary leaves out is that Jane Eyre is adapted from the eponymous 1847 novel by Charlotte Bronte. It’s a Gothic novel, but it’s also one of the first English proto-feminist works of fiction. Director Fukunaga and screenwriter Moira Buffini highlight this aspect of the story, unlike other (often longer) adaptations that treat it as a romance. In less than two hours, they fully flesh out a story that’s part scandalous declaration of independence, part coming of age, and part romance.
Add all of that to superb costuming, a sublime score (I’m still upset composer Dario Marianelli wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar), and solid acting from Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, and you’ve just got a really solid film.
Franco Zeffirelli, the famed director behind many a
Shakespeare adaptation, died in Rome this weekend at the age of 96.
His earliest days seemed to predestine him for the drama he would become celebrated for. Born out of wedlock in Florence, Italy, his mother made up his surname based on a mistranslation of a Mozart aria. During WWII, he fought with Italian partisans against Mussolini’s fascist regime before becoming an interpreter for the British army. After the war, he studied at the University of Florence, where he got his first taste of the wonder of stage and opera.
He began his opera career in the 1950s, first working as
a production assistant, then set designer, and later directing productions in
Italy and the United States. He gradually
transitioned into theatre, and he directed Shakespeare productions in London
throughout the 1960s. He became known for his lavish sets and lush costuming,
and he carried these hallmarks with him when he began directing films. His
first film, The Taming of the Shrew (1967),
starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The film was a moderately
successful, but his big break came the next year with Romeo and Juliet. This sumptuous film is still considered one of
the best adaptations of Shakespeare’s tragedy, and thousands of American
students watch it every year in classrooms.
After these two early successes, Zeffirelli took a break
from Shakespeare and focused on making more religious films, such as Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972), and Jesus of Nazareth (1977), which earned
mixed reviews from critics and audiences. After a decade adapting operas for
the big screen, he experienced a sort of career renaissance after the release
of Hamlet (1990), starring Mel
Gibson, and Jane Eyre (1996).
As with many men in Hollywood, Zeffirelli was not without
controversy. He was a demanding, difficult director—some would say abusive, and
allegations of sexual harassment followed him from Romeo and Juliet onwards. Bruce Robinson, who played Benvolio in
that film, later became a screenwriter and based the character of Uncle Monty
from Withnail & I, on the Italian
Zeffirelli will be remembered in Hollywood as beyond as a director who retold our best known stories in sumptuous, lush fantasy worlds. You can find the following of his works in our collection:
Romeo and Juliet (DVD 5806)
La Boheme (DVD 7103)
The Taming of the Shrew (DVD 9159)
Hamlet (DVD 5914)
La Traviata (DVD 2327)
In addition to these DVDs, you can view many of his stage productions through The Metropolitan Opera streaming service, available with your AU credentials.
We have a lot of American History-themed new acquisitions this week, as well as some classic sci-fi and the last of the Best Picture nominees. All of the DVDs are Home Use and free for you to rent from the library.
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (DVD 16255)
Fire Song (DVD 16256)
Sons of Liberty (DVD 16257)
A More Perfect Union (DVD 16259) [No gifs to be found, but have some Tom Hanks explaining the Constitution]
The Crossing (DVD 16260)[Again, no gifs, but Schoolhouse Rock George Washington is always awesome]
It’s a beautiful day outside, so we’re here to bring you… something else. This week’s random movie is DVD 10068, Alucarda. Here’s our summary:
A strange friendship develops between two young girls at a convent, Justine and Alucarda, and their relationship destroys the lives of those around them in a torrent of blood, death and damnation.
… Yikes. I have no stomach for horror movies, and this one throws around death, dismemberment, and horrific camp in a way that only 70s horror movies can. I couldn’t even find a trailer that didn’t have a) dismemberment, b) bathtubs of fake blood, c) lots of stabbing, or d) all of the above. If this is your scene, check it the movie out!
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.
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
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)