Being a lover of all things food, I thought that the feature film Chef would be right up my alley, and I was absolutely right. In Chef, Carl Casper, played by Jon Favreau (who also wrote and produced the film), loses his job in a restaurant and tries to turn his life around by buying a food truck. As the film progresses, it is easy to relate to the various characters as they react to the storyline with realistic emotions: anger, hurt, despair, disappointment, loyalty and hope, among others. In addition, the film includes several valuable lessons for today’s world, such as the importance of using social media responsibly and appreciating those things that are so easily taken for granted, such as family and good friends. In the end, the film wraps up extremely neat and tidy – almost to the point of being outside believability – but because of all the other wonderful features of the film, it is one that I fully recommend. Overall Rating: B+
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry From Miss Devin at Lexington Branch
Paint or decorate a Book O'Lantern to look like a children's book character.
In this interesting PBS documentary, a group of experts theorize about the mystery behind Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and whether or not he actually painted his most famous work twice. In the early 1900’s, a second portrait surfaced – the so-called “Isleworth Mona Lisa” – that was strikingly similar to the Mona Lisa which hangs in the Louvre in Paris. Scientists and historians were able to use modern techniques to analyze both works of art in an attempt to determine if they were both created by da Vinci himself or if perhaps the Isleworth painting is nothing more than an excellent forgery. The narrative in this documentary goes back and forth, examining all theories, and by the end many questions are still left up to each individual’s own interpretation. While I learned a great deal from this film regarding the overall history of the famous painting, for me the mystery behind it all still remains a total mystery – but that just adds to the iconic charm of Mona Lisa herself. Overall rating: B+
Pete the Cat and the New Guy by Kimberly and James Dean
Bee People: Get Stung is a documentary from director David Knappe that shadows the daily exploits of American rural and urban beekeepers. The Bee Guru, Bee Angel, Bee Medic, Bee Cop and others give attitude and flair when they interact with other beekeepers, whether they retrieve swarms from a barn or extract honey from a city backyard hive. Hilarious, educational, short film clips quiz people on the street to test their bee knowledge. Yes, beekeepers get stung in this film, just as I have, when I visit my own hive. This is one of the best films I’ve seen on beekeeping; the actors entertain, and teach their craft expertly. Overall Raing: A+
True Detective is the story of the partnership of two Louisiana State detectives named Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. The story ranges between 1995, when the newly partnered detectives begin to investigate a ritualistic and gruesome murder, and 2012 when the two are being questioned separately by two officers who are investigating a new crime with ties to the old case. Together the writer and director of this HBO series create a haunting story shot in a surrealistic Louisiana landscape with a leisurely pace that examines not only the crimes in question but the evolving relationship between the two main characters. The show won several Emmy awards, and I cannot express how perfect the casting, directing, and cinematography are in this series. My one complaint is the fact that, as in most HBO and pay-cable series, there is too much use of gratuitous female nudity and a lack of strong female characters to balance the two male leads. Overall Rating: B+
This month's craft ideas come from Miss Melanie, who hosted a Leafy Family Fun program.
The Fault in Our Stars – based on the young adult novel of the same name – focuses on two teenagers named Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus (Ansel Elgort) who form a relationship after meeting in a cancer support group. Throughout the movie, Hazel is very frank about her diagnosis and doesn’t revert to the woe-is-me view point, which is refreshing for a film with such a solemn topic. The acting is superb and the storyline stays (mostly) true to the book itself. My only true complaint is that, at several points, text bubbles representing text messages appear on the screen, and they are written in a font that was difficult for me to read. Overall, it was a great film and one that I may have to go out and purchase. Overall Rating: A-
Arrrrrrrrgh, Mateys! Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day!
The newest offering for the long running Godzilla movie series stars Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe and Bryan Cranston. The movie certainly has spectacular special effects, and I like the way the creators made Godzilla both menacing and powerful and yet almost endearing in their nod to the original rotund monster. This rendition of Godzilla also resurrects some of the earlier films' portrayals of Godzilla as hero and protector of humanity as it battles against impressive creatures who threaten to destroy civilization. The overall acting is fine, but time after time the absurd coincidences in which characters happen to be in the right place at the right time make believing in the enormous creatures seem easy. Still, it is great to see the iconic monster hit the big screen once again, and if you like great action and superb special effects, you may enjoy this movie. Overall Rating: B-
Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore reunite in this romantic comedy to play single parents Jim and Lauren who meet on a terrible blind date. Although they have no intentions of seeing each other again, they manage (by total coincidence) to end up at the same African safari resort for a spring break vacation with their kids. Their families are forced to interact during activities at the resort – some hilarious, and others kind of heart-warming – which of course leads Jim and Lauren to fall in love and their kids to get along like a real “blended” family. Like most Adam Sandler movies that I’ve seen, this film has its quirky and corny moments throughout, but the on-screen chemistry between Sandler and Barrymore is unmistakable, and almost magical. If you enjoyed their previous movie together (“50 First Dates”) like I did, then I believe you will be entertained by this film as well. Overall rating B+
Robert Doherty, also known for other television shows such as Medium (2005), Tru Calling (2003), and Star Trek: Voyager (1995), presents a compelling modern re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved, iconic Victorian characters, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, in the CBS series Elementary. Set in present day New York City, Sherlock, played by the brilliant and multifaceted Jonny Lee Miller, is portrayed as a recovering drug addict, while the classic character of “John Watson” has been changed to Joan Watson, played by the ever charismatic Lucy Liu. Joan, who was once a surgeon, is now Sherlock’s sober companion and eventually develops into Holmes’ deductive protégée. Season two of Elementary follows in the footsteps of season one with a solid, intriguing, season-long story arc, interspersed with the typical police procedural, deductive, “who done it” episodes. Though it is a different take on Doyle’s classic, Victorian Holmes, Doherty’s Elementary is a successful and fresh reinterpretation. Overall Rating: A-
Buckeye Book Award Voting
Mystery of the Fallen Giants is a National Geographic documentary, investigating the sudden death of five Asian elephants found in a dry riverbed in rural India. The first officials on the scene, the forest department, ruled out poaching and attributed the deaths to a lightning strike. Others suspected that the pachyderms were poisoned by villagers retaliating for crops damaged by elephants; if poisoning was the cause of death, a criminal investigation would criticize the forest department for not protecting the endangered species. The forest department, a forensic pathologist, a chief elephant warden, a professor of lightning, and a world wildlife fund member speculated on the cause of the lost lives. The investigation into the mysterious deaths was methodical and informative; answers unfolded gradually in interesting ways. Overall Rating: B
Our Crafting with Kids feature is on creating collages.
The Midnight Library From Miss Caroline at Main Library
Only Lovers Left Alive is the newest film from director Jim Jarmusch starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as a vampire couple named Adam and Eve that has spent centuries together. Not a lot happens in this movie: Adam creates moody rock music on his antique guitars while Eve speed reads in multiple languages and the couple goes for long moonlight drives while discussing scientific theories and the damage that humans aka “zombies” have done to the planet. A brief visit from Eve’s bratty younger sister, Ava, forces the couple to take some action, but for the most part this film is a languorous look at a long-term relationship between two beautiful creatures. This film may favor style over substance, but that style is beautifully atmospheric and brilliantly acted. Overall Rating: B
It's hard to believe that summer vacation is already over and it's time to go back to school!
Bug story time ideas
The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton, follows the story of three women who all find that they are dating or married to the same man, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Although the women had three distinct personalities, which allowed for some humorous antics, I felt that the movie was fairly predictable and had a weak storyline. During two separate occasions, I also felt that the film was trying so hard to be funny that it crossed the line between funny and obnoxious, something that does not appeal to me. Overall, I think the acting was decent, and the movie did make the hour and a half I used to watch it pass by quickly. However, I don’t ever need to watch it again, and I am glad that I didn’t spend money to see it in the theater. Overall Rating: C