Random Movie Monday — The Pianist

Today’s random movie is DVD 1794, The Pianist. It’s a fitting random movie for this week leading up to the Academy Awards, since this heartbreaking and at times gut-wrenching film was nominated for six awards, and won three, including Best Actor (Adrien Brody). Brody is still the youngest man in history to win the Best … Continue reading “Random Movie Monday — The Pianist”

Today’s random movie is DVD 1794, The Pianist. It’s a fitting random movie for this week leading up to the Academy Awards, since this heartbreaking and at times gut-wrenching film was nominated for six awards, and won three, including Best Actor (Adrien Brody). Brody is still the youngest man in history to win the Best Actor statuette. Here’s our summary of the movie:


Based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew, who was a brilliant pianist. He watched as his family was shipped off to Nazi labor camps. He managed to escape and lived for years in the
 ruins of Warsaw, hiding from the Nazis.

This movie is, of course, supposed to make the viewer think about the Holocaust, but not in a black-and-white, good versus evil sense. Instead, the film’s director, Roman Polanski, highlights the shades of grey and the frailty and strength of human nature in the worst of situations.

While this film is definitely a one of the best of the 21st century, I always feel a little guilty about watching it. It’s personally hard for me to wrestle with how powerful this film is, and how good it is, with the character of its director, Roman Polanski. He has been a fugitive from justice since 1977, when he plead guilty to sexual assault of a minor, and has faced multiple allegations of sexual assault since then. How can you separate the art from the artist?

A Tribute to Albert Finney

Last week, we lost an icon of 20th century cinema. The actor Albert Finney, who personified the “angry young man” of British cinema of the 1950s, died on February 7th at the age of 82. Finney was born to a lower-middle class family in Salford, England, just outside of Manchester, in 1936. After attending the … Continue reading “A Tribute to Albert Finney”

Last week, we lost an icon of 20th century cinema. The actor Albert Finney, who personified the “angry young man” of British cinema of the 1950s, died on February 7th at the age of 82.


Image from Getty.

Finney was born to a lower-middle class family in Salford, England, just outside of Manchester, in 1936. After attending the Royal Academy of Drama (RADA), Finney had a name for himself as a stage actor before taking film roles. His first film, The Entertainer, was one of the first “kitchen-sink dramas”: films that explored the lives of working class Britons with unrelenting realism, and tried to force British society at large to deal with social problems in the wake of WWII. Since Finney came from a lower-middle/working class family from Northern England, he was an ideal fit for many of the “angry young man” roles that dominated these films. In addition to The Entertainer, he also starred in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Despite his affinity of these working class roles, Finney managed to avoid being typecast. In 1963, just three years after the release of his first two kitchen sink films, Finney earned his first Oscar nomination for his titular role in Tom Jones, a film based on the raunchy 18th century novel. However, he famously scorned the Oscars and other awards, and he never attended the ceremony, despite being nominated a total of five times.

Finney worked consistently between 1956 and 2002, appearing in plays such as The Cherry Orchard, movies like Erin Brockovich and Big Fish,a tv show like the Winston Churchill drama The Gathering Storm. and  After fighting cancer in the mid 2000s, he returned to theaters with small roles in the Jason Bourne trilogy, as well as the James Bond film Skyfall.

We’ll miss Albert Finney’s arresting presence in new films, but the nice thing about DVDs is that you can go back and watch actors like Finney forever. Here are Finney’s films in our collection:

  • Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (DVD 359)
  • Tom Jones (DVD 8107)
  • Erin Brockovich (DVD 306)
  • The Playboys (DVD 6817)
  • Miller’s Crossing (DVD 2457)
  • A Good Year (DVD 3959)
  • The Dresser (DVD 4790)
  • Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (DVD 4201)
  • Skyfall (DVD 5001)
  • Under the Volcano (DVD 8807)
  • Annie (DVD 221)
  • The Bourne Ultimatum (DVD 4953)
  • Amazing Grace (DVD 3420)
  • Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (DVD 13291)
  • Two for the Road (DVD 4562)
  • Big Fish (DVD 4712)

Random Movie Tuesday — American Experience: Cold War Roadshow

Привет! This week’s random movie documents one of my personal favorite historical happenings– Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1959 road trip across the United States. DVD 11777 is one of PBS’ American Experience documentaries, and let me tell you, it’s a good one. Here’s our summary: The story of one of the most bizarre episodes in … Continue reading “Random Movie Tuesday — American Experience: Cold War Roadshow”

Привет! This week’s random movie documents one of my personal favorite historical happenings– Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1959 road trip across the United States. DVD 11777 is one of PBS’ American Experience documentaries, and let me tell you, it’s a good one. Here’s our summary:


The story of one of the most bizarre episodes in the annals of modern history: the unprecedented trip across America in 1959 by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, the world leader of communism and America’s arch nemesis. The visit was an opportunity to halt the escalating threats of the Cold War and chart a new course toward peaceful coexistence. For the American press, it was the media story of the year.

This was the tour that blessed us with all the great images of Khrushchev staring adoringly at ears of corn. With this DVD, you’ll get to learn about the story behind those iconic photos.

The cover of Life magazine features a photograph of Russian Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev (1894 – 1971) as he holds an ear of corn aloft during a US tour, October 5, 1959. (Photo by Hank Walker/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Random Movie Wednesday

Apologies for the late random movie, friends. We had a snow day on Monday, and we were too busy frolicking in the snow and napping to post a random movie. This week’s random movie is DVD 677 — Punch-Drunk Love. Here’s our summary: Struggling to cope with his erratic temper, novelty toilet plunger salesman Barry … Continue reading “Random Movie Wednesday”

Apologies for the late random movie, friends. We had a snow day on Monday, and we were too busy frolicking in the snow and napping to post a random movie.

This week’s random movie is DVD 677 — Punch-Drunk Love. Here’s our summary:


Struggling to cope with his erratic temper, novelty toilet plunger salesman Barry Egan spends his days collecting frequent-flyer-mile coupons and dodging the insults of his seven sisters. The promise of a new life emerges when Barry inadvertently attracts the affections of a mysterious woman named Lena. But their budding relationship is threatened when he falls prey to the swindling operator of a phone sex line and her deranged boss.

And this summary doesn’t even mention the pudding. Check it out!

Susan Zirinsky & Broadcast News

On March 6, Susan Zirinsky, an alum of AU’s School of Communications, will become the President and Senior Executive Producer of CBS News: the first women in that position. Zirinsky comes to the role with an impressive resume. During her decades-long career at CBS, she’s covered the Watergate Scandal, the White House, and won one … Continue reading “Susan Zirinsky & Broadcast News”

On March 6, Susan Zirinsky, an alum of AU’s School of Communications, will become the President and Senior Executive Producer of CBS News: the first women in that position. Zirinsky comes to the role with an impressive resume. During her decades-long career at CBS, she’s covered the Watergate Scandal, the White House, and won one Emmy and two Peabody Awards for her work.

Zirinsky also served as the inspiration for Jane Craig, the news producer protagonist in Broadcast News. Zirinsky had an incredible amount of input on the creative direction of the film, and she also served as its executive producer. She even gave Holly Hunter, the actress who portrayed her in the film, some of her own clothes to wear as costumes.

We want to congratulate Zirinsky for her most recent achievement, and we know she’ll do well as the President of CBS News. For all you aspiring journalists and producers out there, we highly recommend Broadcast News, which you can borrow from Media Services. Just ask for DVD 3504.

New African Feature Films Filmography

Ever hear the phrase “there’s an app for that?” Well, the Media Services version of that is “there’s a filmography for that.” We have over a hundred filmographies available on the library website, covering everything from Swedish cinema to LGBTQ films. We recently updated our African Feature Films filmography. We break down, country by country, … Continue reading “New African Feature Films Filmography”

Ever hear the phrase “there’s an app for that?” Well, the Media Services version of that is “there’s a filmography for that.” We have over a hundred filmographies available on the library website, covering everything from Swedish cinema to LGBTQ films. We recently updated our African Feature Films filmography. We break down, country by country, all of the African feature films we have in our physical and digital collections. Twenty-nine of Africa’s fifty-four countries are represented, and our collection is growing. You can check it out here, and find films from Algeria to Guinea-Bissau to Zimbabwe.

Remembering Penny Marshall

Today we mourn Penny Marshall, the trailblazing actress and director, who died on Sunday at the age of 75. Marshall began her career in the entertainment industry in the late 1960s, acting in commercials. In the 1970s, she moved to television shows, playing supporting roles in shows like The Odd Couple before landing a starring … Continue reading “Remembering Penny Marshall”

Today we mourn Penny Marshall, the trailblazing actress and director, who died on Sunday at the age of 75.

Marshall began her career in the entertainment industry in the late 1960s, acting in commercials. In the 1970s, she moved to television shows, playing supporting roles in shows like The Odd Couple before landing a starring role in the comedy Laverne and Shirley. It was on this show that Marshall first began directing, and by the time the show ended she had directed four episodes.

In “Laverne and Shirley”

Over the next decades, Marshall directed cinematic classics like A League of Their Own and Big. With Big, Marshall found commercial and critical success—it was the first movie directed by a woman to own over $100 million at the box office. She also directed Awakenings, an Oscar nominee for Best Picture, and produced Cinderella Man.

Marshall on the set of “A League of Their Own” with Tom Hanks and Geena Davis. 

Take a moment to remember Penny Marshall today and check out her filmography here at Media Services. We actually have a good selection of her acting and directing repertoire.

  • Awakenings (DVD 8861)
  •  A League of Their Own (DVD 1384)
  • Laverne and Shirley, Seasons 1-8 (DVDs 14464-14471)
  • Renaissance Man (DVD 1529)
  •  Big (DVD 4644)
  • Cinderella Man (DVD 9276)
  • Portlandia Season 2 (DVD 7572)

New Acquisitions

Campus Use Paywall: The Business of Scholarship White Right: Meeting the Enemy (DVD 16148) Home Use: Strange Victory (DVD 16149) We The People 2.0 (DVD 16150) Hare Krishna! (DVD 16152) The Last Laugh (DVD 16153) Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (DVD 16154) More DVDs! In this batch, I think I’m most excited for Won’t You … Continue reading “New Acquisitions”

Campus Use

  • Paywall: The Business of Scholarship
  • White Right: Meeting the Enemy (DVD 16148)

Home Use:

  • Strange Victory (DVD 16149)
  • We The People 2.0 (DVD 16150)
  • Hare Krishna! (DVD 16152)
  • The Last Laugh (DVD 16153)
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (DVD 16154)

More DVDs! In this batch, I think I’m most excited for Won’t You Be My Neighbor? All my friends who have seen it cried while they watched it. I teared up just searching for a gif of Mister Rogers. I am so, so ready. 

SomeNew DVDs

The library may be closed all next week, but we have some final new acquisitions to brag about before 2018 comes to a close. Today we added to the shelves… Campus Use: Twenty Years Later (DVD 16140) Home Use Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Criterion Collection (DVD 383) The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo … Continue reading “SomeNew DVDs”

The library may be closed all next week, but we have some final new acquisitions to brag about before 2018 comes to a close. Today we added to the shelves…

Campus Use:

  • Twenty Years Later (DVD 16140)

Home Use

  • Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Criterion Collection (DVD 383)
  • The Rise and Fall of the Brown Buffalo (DVD 16136)
  • Gifted (DVD 16137)
  • Dark Money (DVD 16138)
  • Weighed But Found Wanting (DVD 16139)
  • Women He’s Undressed (DVD 16141)
  • Smithereens (DVD 16142)
  • Women in Love (DVD 16143)
  • White Sun (DVD 16144)
  • You Were never Really Here (DVD 16145)
  • VA: The Human Cost of War (DVD 16146)
  • Zama (DVD 16147)

I have my eye on three of these. Gifted, which starring my second-favorite Hollywood Chris. Women He’s Undressed, which is a documentary about the life and work of Orry-Kelly, a legendary Hollywood costume designer. He designed the costumes for CasablancaAn American in Paris, Some Like it Hot, and Oklahoma! If I get through those, I’ll watch Women in Love, because I’m a sucker for period dramas.

 

Random Movie Monday — I Saw What You Did

Today’s random movie is DVD 14740, I Saw What You Did. This 1965 horror movie will have you on the edge of your seat. Here’s our description: A prank phone call leads to a night of pure terror. With her parents away on an overnight trip, Libby amuses herself by joining her friend Kit, in calling … Continue reading “Random Movie Monday — I Saw What You Did”

Today’s random movie is DVD 14740, I Saw What You Did. This 1965 horror movie will have you on the edge of your seat. Here’s our description:

A prank phone call leads to a night of pure terror. With her parents away on an overnight trip, Libby amuses herself by joining her friend Kit, in calling up strangers and whispering, ‘I saw what you did.’ When Libby dials Steve Marak, a psychopath who just murdered his wife, his jealous neighbor listens in on the call, a conversation that ends with the panicky killer determined to silence them all.

It’s movies like this and When a Stranger Calls that made me swear off horror movies forever.