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
We are just so excited for Christmas! Enjoy some great music, craft, fingerplay, and book picks from the Children's Department!
Dope stars Malcolm (Shameik Moore), a smart, geeky high school senior from a rough neighborhood in Englewood, California referred to as "The Bottoms". Malcolm (Moore) and his two close friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemens) and Jib (Tony Revolori) bond daily by their studies, playing music in their own punk band, and reminiscing over the culture and hip-hop music from the 90's. Malcolm's dream is to attend Harvard University and to get out of "The Bottoms" for good. He seems to be on the right track until he has a chance encounter with the neighborhood drug dealer Dom (played by rapper A$AP Rocky) who invites Malcolm and his friends to his birthday party one night. Well, that one night of fun turns into a violent drug raid. In Dom's fleeing moment, Dom secretly hides a large amount of Ecstasy in Malcolm's backpack without his knowledge. After this is discovered, the movie "Dope" takes a spin and takes you on a wild adventure with Malcolm, Diggy and Jib running to escape the armed neighborhood thugs who want Dom's stash of drugs, while also leading Malcolm to quite a surprise for his future life plans that he was never expecting! This movie definitely had a different twist to it. I enjoyed it, and would recommend watching it...but "beware", it has a lot of mature content in it! Overall Rating: B+
Help us celebrate the Wright Brothers and their invention of the airplane!
We've got some great crafts and activities available all week at the library to get ready for the new Star Wars movie!
Today marks the birth of William Joyce, author and illustrator.
Diabolical. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is an award-winning six part documentary that systematically peels back the layers of a mysterious New York real estate heir, Robert Durst. Durst, a suspect in three murders, volunteered to be interviewed by the filmmakers of All Good Things. The exceptional sound and picture editing complement the interviews which relentlessly drive forward to a startling reveal. Due to graphic content, The Jinx is recommended for mature audiences. Overall Rating: A+
Rudy's Windy Christmas by Helen Baugh and Ben Mantle From Miss Carole at Madison Branch
This year, why not give the gift of reading for each special person on your list?!
Ricki and the Flash is the story of Linda â€śRickiâ€ť Brummel (Meryl Streep), a woman who walked out on her family to follow her dream of being a rock star. Shortly into the movie, Ricki receives a phone call from her ex-husband, Pete, telling her that their daughter, Julie, is going through a breakdown and needs Rickiâ€™s comfort. The story that follows is one of anger, frustration, and ultimately love as Ricki tries to make things right with her family. The movie itself was a bit hard to get into at the beginning and, if it had featured spontaneous dance numbers, contained enough music and singing to be considered a musical. However, Streepâ€™s portrayal of Ricki was perfect from her mannerisms to her voice to her hair. In addition, Streepâ€™s real-life daughter (Mamie Gummer) played her on screen daughter, and Rick Springfield (famous for the #1 single â€śJessieâ€™s Girl) was the guitarist in Rickiâ€™s band for an added touch of realism. Overall, the movie was enjoyable, but nothing I would need to watch again. Overall Rating: C
Help us celebrate Ed Young's birthday today!
Mr. Holmes portrays the famous detective (Sir Ian McKellen) as an elderly man who has retired to a country estate where he keeps bees and is watched over by a housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her son, Roger (Milo Parker). Holmesâ€™ powers of deduction are still sharp, but his memory is quickly failing. This loss and haunting memories of his final case have spurred him to try writing his own version of the case, rather than relying on the fictionalized story written many years before by Doctor Watson. Aided by the curious and clever Roger, Holmes attempts to recall the truth while simultaneously solving the mystery of his dying bees. The movie beautifully blends scenes of the present day - 1947 on the English coast - with flashbacks to London thirty years earlier. McKellen gives a brilliant performance in both timelines and the young Parker is a worthy sidekick. I particularly enjoyed a brief cameo by Nicholas Rowe who played the great detective as a teenager in The Young Sherlock Holmes. The last time McKellen starred in a film directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) both men were nominated for Oscars. It could happen again. Overall Rating: B+
Waiting by Kevin Henkes From Miss Heather at Butler Branch and Lucas Branch
Max is a highly trained military dog whose handler Kyle Wincott was killed during a nasty firefight in Afghanistan. Max is so traumatized by the event that he wonâ€™t let anyone near him--except Justin, Kyleâ€™s younger brother. The Wilcotts find out that if they donâ€™t take Max in, he will be put down. There are several scenes throughout the movie that will have you reaching for some tissues. An especially emotional event at the beginning of the movie happens when two Marines and Max come to pay their respects at Kyleâ€™s funeral. The last part of the movie is action packed. Some of the situations that the teens and Max get out of are unbelievable. The dog on dog combat scenes had me on the edge of my seat. Even though the movie was predictable at times, it was still enjoyable to watch. Overall Rating: B