Having an English degree as part of my background, I was interested to see what James McAvoy (Victor Frankenstein) and Daniel Radcliffe (Igor) could add to the classic Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley story of â€śFrankensteinâ€ť. Despite the filmâ€™s title, the movieâ€™s main character is actually Igor, Frankensteinâ€™s assistant whom he saved from a life in the circus. Igor is utterly devoted to Frankenstein for being his personal savior, so much so, that, despite his own beliefs, he fails to stand up against Victor Frankensteinâ€™s manic obsession with the creation of artificial life until the very end of the film. Overall, I wasnâ€™t impressed with the movie: The storyline felt muddy, Igorâ€™s transformation from hunchback to upright man seemed too easy, and I never felt a strong desire to get to the filmâ€™s end and see its outcome (although, those familiar with the story of Frankensteinâ€™s monster already know the storyâ€™s culmination). Not what I would call a true â€śhorrorâ€ť film, â€śVictor Frankensteinâ€ť does its job in shedding light on how a man could become crazed enough to create a horrific version of artificial life, but I certainly donâ€™t feel as though I need to ever watch it again. Overall Rating: C
It's Patrick McDonnell's birthday!
Have your own Eric Carle inspired story time today!
Bridge of Spies is an entertaining Cold War thriller, directed by Steven Spielburg, and starring Tom Hanks as attorney James B. Donovan, and Oscar winner Mark Rylance as Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. It is a little known story of lawyer turned hostage negotiator. Attorney Donovan has been tasked with defending Rudolf Abel against the charges of spying on the United States. In spite of the fact the windows in his living room are shot out, he believes that Abel deserves a proper defense. When the Soviets capture Gary Powers, the pilot of a U-2 U. S. spy plane, Donovan is asked to go to Berlin as a private citizen to negotiate a trade of Powers for Abel. One of the strengths of the movie is the bond of mutual respect and common understanding that develops between Donovan and Able, during a time when trusting your enemy could get you killed. There are several light hearted moments when Donovan asks if Abel is worried. Stone-faced Abel replies, â€śWould it help?â€ť As usual, Tom Hanksâ€™ performance does not disappoint. He deftly plays a man who is part everyman, part genius and all around good guy. This was my first exposure to Mark Rylandâ€™s acting ability. He is superb as Rudolf Abel â€“ definitely an Oscar winning performance! Overall Rating: A
Learn all about a wonderful new picture book that Miss Marisa just LOVES!
Happy National Day of Unplugging!
Celebrate this delicious holiday with a fun pancake recipe and book recommendations!
Grandma, starring Lily Tomlin and Julia Garner, is a comedy-drama about Elle, (Tomlin) an aging poet and author who has just been broken up with by her girlfriend, and is still grieving the death of her life-partner of 38 years. Elle gets a surprise visit from her granddaughter, Sage, (Garner) who is in desperate need of $630 by sundown. The two set out on a road trip to get the money and, along the way, reunite with some interesting characters from Elleâ€™s past. Tomlin is an incredible actor, and I was really looking forward to seeing her in her first leading role in 27 years, but I was a little let down. Many of the reviews I read about this movie called Tomlinâ€™s character grouchy, but lovable. I agree with the grouchy part, but not the lovable part! I really wanted to like her character and, although there were a few moments where she let her guard down, even those ended quickly with a cranky and usually somewhat rough remark. That being said, the movie was very well-acted and will appeal to some, although it does touch on many very sensitive and controversial subjects. Even though it is billed as a comedy-drama, it is quite serious and has many heart-wrenching moments that are definitely suited for a mature audience. Overall Rating: B-
Miss Amanda reviews another great picture book!
Today's paper-weaving craft comes from our annual Black History Celebration.
Straight Outta Compton is a biographical story that follows the lives of the 1988 most notorious and controversial rap group of all time from Compton, California, otherwise known as N.W.A. The stars of this film that portrayed the members of the group were Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella and Paul Giamatti as N.W.A.'s manager Jerry Heller. As the film opens up, Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) shows the audience the dangerous life that he was living in the midst of drugs and gangsters on the streets of Compton. The scenes continue to unfold to show the brutal honest depiction of what it was like for Eazy-E (Mitchell) and the other members of N.W.A. to grow up in the streets of Southern Los Angeles and their daily struggles to become music artists despite their surroundings. These 5 members of N.W.A. were determined to transform hip hop culture with their music no matter what the cost. I was excited to watch this movie because I grew up in this era and N.W.A. was a huge part of cultural history that will never be forgotten! I loved this movie! Overall Rating: A+
Today is Presidents' Day!
Read a book review from Miss Amanda!
Matt Damon stars as astronaut Mark Whatney in this sci-fi, space-adventure that is action-packed from the very beginning. During a manned mission to Mars, the crew of the Hermes is hit by an intense storm that forces them to abort their mission and head back to Earth. However, during the storm, Whatney is hit by debris, separated from the rest of his crew, and left unconscious on the desolate planet. His fellow crew members safely board their rocket, and assuming that Whatney has been killed, they begin their flight back home, while mourning the loss of their dear friend and colleague. Back on Earth, NASA too believes that astronaut Whatney was killed during the storm, and holds a press conference to announce the news to the media and the nation. Meanwhile, back on Mars, Mark Whatney has indeed survived the storm (and his resulting injuries), but is far from confident that he will stay alive long enough to alert anyone that he is still there, let alone ever be rescued. The film follows his ingenious efforts to survive alone on a deserted planet, and the dedication of the NASA team to bring him home. Filled with superb effects, action that captivates you until the very end, and witty humor throughout, this film is another stunning success by director Ridley Scott. Overall Rating: A
Today is author and illustrator Anne Rockwell's birthday!
As a chess fan, I knew little about Bobby Fischer, other than the fact that he was a grandmaster, a rock star in the chess world. Pawn Sacrifice, starring Tobey Maguire, depicts the mental strain Fischer experienced, while striving to become the worldâ€™s greatest chess grandmaster. Fischer believed in himself, but he carried demons. This film captures the psychological damage Bobby Fischer experienced, in his rise to the 1972 championship, and how he became a political pawn. The story is interesting, Maguire is convincing as Fischer, but the ending left me hanging. My one criticism is that I would have liked to see more of Bobbyâ€™s life, post 1972, in the film. Overall Rating: B
With winter still hanging around (thanks a lot, Mr. Groundhog!), we are all dressed in layers to try and stay warm. So now is the perfect time to have a story time about CLOTHES!
Guess who's birthday it is today?
Coldplay's new studio album, and presumably their last, is called, "A Head Full of Dreams," and feels like a sweet emotional journey with the goal of making the listener happy. The songs are full of hope, healing thoughts, and messages of acceptance. The album is also full of collaborations, including the likes of BeyoncĂ©, Gwyneth Paltrow and President Obama. No, Iâ€™m not kidding! It seems to flow between a 70's disco feel and Coldplay's millennial sound. My favorite tracks are the title tune, "A Head Full of Dreams," and "Up and Up," which seem to convey Chris Martin's feelings of excitement and optimism after 15 years as a frontman. (The band has announced a tour to promote the album, but has implied they will go their separate ways after that.) Longtime Coldplay fans will probably find this album bittersweet as it seems to be a "goodbye" as well as a prayer for the planet. If you are looking for something upbeat with meaningful lyrics and the classic "piano rock" style, you will definitely enjoy this album. Overall Rating: A
The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein From Miss Melia at Main Library
The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, follows the story of Ben Whittaker (De Niro) as he takes a Senior [Citizen] Intern position at Jules Ostin's (Hathaway) online fashion company. Ostin initially shuns Whittaker, but eventually warms to his presence in her life. Throughout, the film follows two individual story lines. The first of these is Whittaker's struggle to find relevance in the fast paced world of ecommerce. The second storyline focuses on Ostin's decision of whether or not to hire an experienced CEO to run her quickly growing company. Though both of these threads focus on serious topics faced by individuals in today's high-tech world, the movie was lightened by the humor that was woven throughout. In addition, De Niro and Hathaway portrayed their characters excellently and the (eventual) comradery between them was endearing. Overall, The Intern is a heartwarming film that reminds viewers that a person is never too old (or too young) to follow their dream or make a difference. Overall Rating: A
Celebrate National Hat Day by making a dinosaur hat!
Self/less is a science fiction thriller starring Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley and Natalie Martinez. Ben Kingsley plays Damian Hale, a New York real estate mogul dying from cancer. Through the mysterious appearance of a business card, Hale learns about Dr. Albright and his process called shedding. For $250 million, Dr. Albright will transfer Hale's consciousness into a young healthy body which he tells Hale is lab generated. Ryan Reynolds portrays Edward Kitner, Hale's new body and name. Dr. Albright sets Edward/Damian up in a fancy New Orleans mansion and Edward/Damian begins to kick up his heels, reveling in his recaptured youth. Then the disturbing hallucinations begin, causing Edward/Damien to question whether his new body was really lab generated. After reading numerous reviews by professional critics, I was prepared to dislike the movie. Quite the opposite occurred. I enjoyed the movie. How one feels about the film depends upon whether or not you buy into the whole concept of shedding. I did. In addition, Self/less was action packed and offered enough twists to keep me guessing. Overall Rating: B+
Award season is upon us today!
"Timeless". All genres of music have artists who fit this description. In the 70's, 80's and 90's in rock music, there were many. One of which was ELO, the Electric Light Orchestra. Now, after a 15-year break, they have a new album, "Alone In the Universe". Jeff Lynne, lead singer, has such an appealing voice, and the 15-year gap between albums does not seem to have affected this appeal. The band's sound, which I categorized in the 70's as sort of having an orchestral-rock sound, is just as interesting and enjoyable. Whether you are a long time ELO/Jeff Lynne fan, or someone looking for something listenable, the 10 tracks on this album will probably fit the bill. Overall Rating: A
Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear From Miss Melia at Main Library
Celebrate Book Blitz Month with Flat Stanley, Fly Guy, Elephant & Piggie, and Pete the Cat!
The most recent attempt to tell the story of the classic Marvel superhero team, The Fantastic Four, has a lot going for it. The long-running comic book series has a large following and the film features a very talented young cast portraying scientists Rex Reed (Miles Teller) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara), Sue's hot-headed brother, Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Rex's childhood friend, Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). In this version of the story, Rex and Sue are working alongside Victor von Doom and other scientists to perfect inter-dimensional travel to a world that they call Planet Zero. In their enthusiasm, they do not take enough precautions before testing their new machine, and as a result all five main characters experience drastic physical changes after their encounter with a mysterious green goo on the new planet. After Victor is left behind on Planet Zero, the others must learn to use their new superpowers to defeat his plan to destroy the Earth in retaliation. The problem with this film lies in the storytelling. The film is dark, meaning it is not well lit and it is hard to see what is happening. The tone is similarly dark, but also inconsistent. Once the four team members start to develop their powers, it begins to feel like a horror film with terrifying examples of the changes to their bodies. Due to the slow explanations of the work the scientists are doing, the characters are confined to rooms where they stare at computer screens all day. The story suddenly jumps ahead one year and the rushed action sequences at the end seem tacked on in order to make this look like a typical "superhero" movie. The film is disjointed, boring, and devoid of humor or warmth. Overall Rating: D-
Fish in a Tree From Miss Carole at Madison Branch
Shaun the Sheep has made it to the big-screen! In this animated comedy, Shaun the Sheep and his friends at the Mossy Bottom Farm have found themselves bored with the monotony of their daily work schedule, and have decided to take a day off. Led by Shaun and his mischievous antics, they figure out a scheme to trick the farmer. When plans go awry, and the entire flock ends up in the big city, they quickly realize they are in trouble...possibly more than they can handle. They begin to miss the simplicity and safety of the farm, and the main focus of this "day off" becomes getting everyone safely back to Mossy Bottom. This endearing movie offers laughs for the entire family, while proving the life-lesson that "grass isn't always greener on the other side." I never would have thought that a flock of sheep in an animated movie which uses NO dialogue whatsoever, could portray such an important lesson of being content with what you have. The animation (claymation) is so remarkable, that at times I forgot I was watching an animated film! With only sound effects, music, and amazing facial expressions by the characters, the animators of this movie brilliantly tell a story that the whole family can appreciate! Overall Rating: A