Has television captured the zeitgeist?

If you think about the most popular and highly reviewed media of the year, much of it is from television. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Homeland are all having their moment in the sun. Meanwhile, landmark films such as The Master are playing to receptive audiences in arthouses while Resident Evil: Retribution is at … Continue reading “Has television captured the zeitgeist?”

If you think about the most popular and highly reviewed media of the year, much of it is from television. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Homeland are all having their moment in the sun. Meanwhile, landmark films such as The Master are playing to receptive audiences in arthouses while Resident Evil: Retribution is at the top of the box office. Shows like Modern Family are at an intersection of critical acclaim and popularity that movies are increasingly straddling on either side.

Andrew O’Hehir from Salon wrote an intriguing, guaranteed-to-boil-blood article on this subject, asking whether television has replaced film as the medium of our time. O’Hehir argues that traditional film culture, in which powerful movies controlled the national conversation, has eroded since in the past decade. In fact, he argues, “the sense that cinema was where you could find the most engrossing stories and characters […] began to fade after the ‘Jaws‘ and ‘Star Wars‘ era.”

It’s an intriguing read for anyone with a vested interest in film or television culture. At the Emmy Awards last week, Homeland actor Damian Lewis said that we are currently in a “golden age of television.” He might have been on to something.

We’re on Pinterest!

Media Services is now on Pinterest! We’re using Pinterest as a way to visually organize some of the popular titles in our collection. One of the most popular parts of our browseable Home Use binder is the poster section in the back, so we decided to take the next step and put them online. We … Continue reading “We’re on Pinterest!”

Media Services is now on Pinterest! We’re using Pinterest as a way to visually organize some of the popular titles in our collection. One of the most popular parts of our browseable Home Use binder is the poster section in the back, so we decided to take the next step and put them online.

We think this’ll be a fun new way for you to browse our collections. It’s never good to judge a movie by its poster, but hey, it beats judging it by its title!

Follow us on Pinterest to browse our collections be genre, including a pin board for our 100+ television shows. It’s a work in progress, so expect our Pinterest to update rapidly in the near future.

Vanishing of the Bees tomorrow at 12pm

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s watershed environmental book Silent Spring, the School of International Service’s Global Environmental Politics program will screen the film Vanishing of the Bees, a film that looks at the environmental ramifications and causes of the sudden disappearance of honeybees.The screening takes place at 12pm in the Abramson Family … Continue reading “Vanishing of the Bees tomorrow at 12pm”

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s watershed environmental book Silent Spring, the School of International Service’s Global Environmental Politics program will screen the film Vanishing of the Bees, a film that looks at the environmental ramifications and causes of the sudden disappearance of honeybees.

The screening takes place at 12pm in the Abramson Family Founders Room. The event, which is co-sponsored by the American University Library, is part of the day-long “Pesticides, Politics … and Progress?” program. You’re encouraged to stick around for the panel discussions, as well as for a screening of A Chemical Reaction at 5pm that evening in SIS 300.

New Films on Demand titles – September 2012

Great news for students and faculty: Films on Demand, a streaming video platform used by Media Services, has added the collections of California Newsreel to its catalog. California Newsreel is one of the oldest and most reputable social documentary groups. You might recognize them for producing Race: The Power of an Illusion, a documentary frequently … Continue reading “New Films on Demand titles – September 2012”

Great news for students and faculty: Films on Demand, a streaming video platform used by Media Services, has added the collections of California Newsreel to its catalog. California Newsreel is one of the oldest and most reputable social documentary groups. You might recognize them for producing Race: The Power of an Illusion, a documentary frequently used for classes at AU.

A few notable titles include…

The Language You Cry In (1998, 52 min.)
Spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles, this program recounts the remarkable saga of how a nursery rhyme sung by the Gullah people of present-day Georgia was confirmed to be of African origin. When 18th-century slavers sent human cargo from Sierra Leone to America’s coastal South, they also sent a trove of cultural information that had been passed from Mende mothers to their daughters for generations—including a particular song that had been carefully preserved because it was used in funeral rites. With the help of anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, linguists, and the singers themselves, the “nonsense lyrics” of the song found in Georgia were identified as those of the Mende dirge. Portions in other languages with English subtitles.

This is Nollywood (2007, 56 min.)
First came Hollywood, then Bollywood, and now Nollywood, Nigeria’s booming film industry, which released 2,000 feature features in 2006 alone. This program explains why Nigerian film production, little known outside its own country until recently, is becoming recognized as a phenomenon with broad implications for the cultural and economic development of Africa. Offering an close look at the technical, economic, and social infrastructure of the industry, the film follows a typical shoot from first day to last, while the director, producer, actors, crew members, and notables from the industry describe how it all works and why they do it.

Color Adjustment (1991, 88 min.)
This award-winning documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Marlon Riggs takes a close look at how network television absorbed deep-seated racial conflict and transformed it into the nonthreatening offerings of 20th-century primetime TV. Narrated by Ruby Dee, the film examines popular programs such as Amos ‘n’ Andy, I Spy, Julia, Good Times, Roots, and The Cosby Show, weaving clips from the shows with news coverage of the civil rights movement. Esther Rolle, Diahann Carroll, Tim Reid and other black performers discuss the impact their acting roles had in shaping race relations. With Norman Lear (All in the Family, The Jeffersons), David Wolper (Roots), Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and others.

Your daily timesink: The Moving Image Archive

The Internet Archive is a terrific website that hosts repositories of old websites, public domain audio, and other abandoned media. One of the most fascinating is their Moving Image Archive. It’s a diverse collection of videos, ranging from stop-motion Lego films to World War II propaganda reels. Take caution if you decide to click on … Continue reading “Your daily timesink: The Moving Image Archive”

The Internet Archive is a terrific website that hosts repositories of old websites, public domain audio, and other abandoned media. One of the most fascinating is their Moving Image Archive. It’s a diverse collection of videos, ranging from stop-motion Lego films to World War II propaganda reels. Take caution if you decide to click on that link: you could lose hours in there.

A few interesting highlights worth investigating:

  • Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive: Television played a critical role in how we understood the events of September 11. This collection includes over 3000 hours of international television taken during the week of the attacks, annotated by time. You can watch the events of the day unfold in real-time on over a dozen channels. This is perhaps the most complete collection that will ever be assembled of such a major event.
  • Film Noir: An assemblage of 90 public domain film noirs, including the classic Detour (in our collection as HU DVD 931).
  • Prelinger Archives: Founded by Rick Prelinger, this collection includes thousands of “ephemeral media” – videos that have been forgotten or abandoned by time, like commercials, public access television, and amateur documentaries. Good examples include Dinner Party, a terrifying instructional film that guilts children into proper table manners, and pro-capitalism cartoon It’s Everybody’s Business.
  • Archiving Virtual Worlds: Several major universities have banded together (with the help of the Library of Congress) to produce this video series that investigates how to preserve digital spaces and worlds. Of particular focus is Tabula Rasa, a huge online role-playing game that was discontinued shortly after it began.

There are nearly one million videos in the collection. One person cannot possibly watch all of them. Have fun!

Media Services Recommends…: Full-time Staff

The Media Services staff frequently gets asked for recommendations. In an effort to help patrons make good choices, we’re posting lists of our favorite movies! These recommendations are from the full-time Media Services staff. Chris Lewis, Media Librarian Adaptation. – HU DVD 699* Scorpio Rising – HU DVD 3297 Rabbit – DVD 4190 Brief Encounter … Continue reading “Media Services Recommends…: Full-time Staff”


The Media Services staff frequently gets asked for recommendations. In an effort to help patrons make good choices, we’re posting lists of our favorite movies!
These recommendations are from the full-time Media Services staff.
Chris Lewis, Media Librarian
Adaptation. – HU DVD 699*
Scorpio Rising – HU DVD 3297
Rabbit – DVD 4190
Brief Encounter – HU DVD 4233
Chicken Soup – DVD 6965
A Day with Timmy Page – HU DVD 10186
Sean Casey, Media Services Project Leader
Ping Pong– HU DVD 737
Unknown Pleasures – HU DVD 858
Giants and Toys – HU DVD 1280
Dragon Inn– HU DVD 5675
Tokyo Drifter – HU DVD 9060

Molly Hubbs, Visual Media Collections Coordinator
After Life – HU DVD 208
Strictly Ballroom – HU DVD 882
Freaks – HU DVD 919
I’m Not There – HU DVD 4217
Chungking Express – HU DVD 5293
Todd Chappell, New Media Center Coordinator
Trainspotting – HU DVD 1002
Blade Runner – HU DVD 1064
Hard Boiled – HU DVD 3459
Kikujrio – HU DVD 7826
Ip Man – HU DVD 7876
Phil Salvador, Media Services Supervisor
12 Monkeys – HU DVD 145
The Hudsucker Proxy – HU DVD 1054
Caché – HU DVD 2063
Fargo – HU DVD 2393
The Last Emperor – HU DVD 4098
Burn After Reading – HU DVD 5377

Teddy gets his own documentary

[UPDATE: Oh no, the video is down! It looks like it was put online without permission.] Poor Teddy. As Nationals fans are keenly aware, Teddy Roosevelt has not won a single Presidents Race since the mid-game event event started in 2006. We can all agree that this is a terrible injustice to the legendary Rough … Continue reading “Teddy gets his own documentary”

[UPDATE: Oh no, the video is down! It looks like it was put online without permission.]

Poor Teddy. As Nationals fans are keenly aware, Teddy Roosevelt has not won a single Presidents Race since the mid-game event event started in 2006. We can all agree that this is a terrible injustice to the legendary Rough Rider… but is it a conspiracy?!

ESPN produced this short documentary about Teddy’s heartbreaking losing streak as part of its E:60 miniseries. They went all out, going as far as interviewing Senator John McCain and featuring the narration of noted baseball fan Ken Burns. The production level that ESPN put into this one-off video is really remarkable.

And who knew there was such a loyal, fervent Teddy following?

It not be too late! Seasonal pirate movies

Avast! Today marks International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a holiday on which you do exactly as described. Frankly, we’ll take any excuse to dress up like pirates and speak in a raspy voice. There’s still time to celebrate this dubious holiday. Come visit Media Services and pick up one of these tarrrrrific pirate-related movies, … Continue reading “It not be too late! Seasonal pirate movies”

Avast! Today marks International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a holiday on which you do exactly as described. Frankly, we’ll take any excuse to dress up like pirates and speak in a raspy voice.

There’s still time to celebrate this dubious holiday. Come visit Media Services and pick up one of these tarrrrrific pirate-related movies, ye scurvy dog:

The Pirates of Penzance – HU DVD 915
Mutiny on the Bounty – HU DVD 1954
The Princess Bride – HU DVD 2817
The Adventures of Tintin – HU DVD 2887
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life – HU DVD 5766
Captain Blood – HU DVD 6595
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl – HU DVD 8641
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – HU DVD 8642
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – HU DVD 8643
The Pirate – HU DVD 8784
Blackbeard the Pirate – HU DVD 8786
Buccaneers: The Complete Series – HU DVD 8787
The Pirate Movie – HU DVD 9298

(Media Services does not condone piracy, even the cool kind with gold teeth and buried treasures).

Center for Environmental Filmmaking series begins

Tonight, American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking kicks off its eighth annual film series. In conjunction with Filmmakers for Conservation, the School of Communication will be screening a documentary about environmental conservation every Tuesday evening this semester. Some are even produced by current SOC students! The first in the series, Death at SeaWorld, deals with … Continue reading “Center for Environmental Filmmaking series begins”

Tonight, American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking kicks off its eighth annual film series. In conjunction with Filmmakers for Conservation, the School of Communication will be screening a documentary about environmental conservation every Tuesday evening this semester. Some are even produced by current SOC students!

The first in the series, Death at SeaWorld, deals with the implications of keeping killer whales in captivity. The event will include a panel discussion with the author of Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity, as well as experts in ocean life conservation. Join Justine Schmidt and Professor Chris Palmer at 7 PM in Wechsler Theater for the start of this exciting series.

You asked, we bought! New titles en route

Down in Media Services, we have a suggestion box where patrons can recommend new movies or television shows for us to purchase. We do read them, we promise! In fact, at the discretion of the Media Librarian, we just ordered a few of them. The following popularly requested titles are now working their way through … Continue reading “You asked, we bought! New titles en route”

Down in Media Services, we have a suggestion box where patrons can recommend new movies or television shows for us to purchase. We do read them, we promise!

In fact, at the discretion of the Media Librarian, we just ordered a few of them. The following popularly requested titles are now working their way through our system…

Look for those movies (and our other new acquisitions) in the coming months.