‘Tis the Season for Jazz

Photo credits L to R: Lionel Hampton. Hot Jazz. https://go.iu.edu/4pSt; Dexter Gordon. Dexter Blows Hot and Cool, https://go.iu.edu/4pSu; Sarah Vaughan. Hot Jazz. https://go.iu.edu/4pSv. All photos accessed 06 May 2022.

Jazz is one of the few musical genres that originated in the US. The Jazz Age began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in New Orleans. The pioneers of this genre were the African-American community in New Orleans during that era. Artists like Buddy Bolden, Scott Joplin, and Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton blended the rhythmic style of West African music with the harmonies of European music to create the unique sound jazz is known for (the process was much more complex and nuanced, of course, but this generalization captures the basics). The genre then rose to global prominence and further evolved into a magnitude of subgenres, such as Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, Afro-Cuban Jazz (aka Cu-bop), Cool Jazz, and Free Jazz. All the subgenres, however, still included the two fundamental aspects of jazz music: improvisation and tradition.

Improvisation

A hallmark of the jazz genre, improvisation is believed to have been influenced by blues and folk music, which themselves originated in the work songs sung by enslaved Africans during forced labor on US plantations. Improvisation by performers was also a standard feature of the Baroque and Romantic eras of Western classical music. As a musical technique, improvisation highlights the performers themselves rather than a song’s composer by creating a completely unique performance: a defining feature of jazz is that a song never gets played exactly the same way twice. Improvisational freedom allows for the creativity and skills of musicians to be at the forefront of performances by transforming the music as the artist sees fit. Although to some this may sound like random noise, even chaos, only the most dedicated, accomplished performers can create the type of sophisticated solos, improvised in real time, that represent the height of jazz artistry. In other words, it isn’t easy: they just make it look that way.

Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, and Gerry Mulligan. The Sound of Jazz. 06 May 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4pSE

Jazz is an important part of American History, a fact that prompted the designation of April as Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) by the Louisiana Jazz Federation in New Orleans in 1980. In 2001, JAM was elevated to a nationally recognized observance through the efforts of John Hasse, curator of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Since then, national celebrations have paid tribute to past and present jazz musicians as well as the rich history of jazz itself. If you missed the opportunity to immerse yourself in jazz during the busy month of April, consider treating yourself to a summer celebration of our national genre. We have curated a list of jazz-related films, from biopics to romance movies to comedies, that celebrate the history of jazz and explore the themes and traditions of the genre in film. We hope you will agree: any season is the perfect season for jazz!

Mo’ Better Blues (1990)

Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. https://go.iu.edu/4pSW

Musical comedy/drama Mo’ Better Blues is about the career and life of the character Bleek Gilliam, a jazz musician. Bleak is the trumpeter of a very successful jazz band, The Bleek Quintet, with his childhood friend Giant working as the band’s manager. Throughout the film, Bleek tries to solve the issues he created both in his personal and professional life due to his own questionable decision-making skills.

Bird (1988)

Film Poster. Digital Image. Amazon. https://go.iu.edu/4pSX

Bird is a biopic film following the life and untimely death of the legendary jazz musician Charlie ‘Yardbird’ Parker. Bird jumps between montages of Parker’s life from his early childhood to his death at the age of 34, blending his personal history with his wife, bandmates, and friends, with his career as an influential jazz musician.

All Night Long (1962)

Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. https://go.iu.edu/4pT5

All Night Long is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello, set in the 1960s’ London jazz club circuit. The film follows the musical couple Aurelius Rex, a jazz musician, and Delia, a retired singer, at their one-year anniversary party thrown by the wealthy socialite and jazz aficionado Rod Hamilton. Trouble arrives for the happy couple in the form of aspiring jazz drummer Johnny Cousin, the retelling’s version of the Iago character from the original Othello. Johnny sets forth with an elaborate scheme to break the couple up and jump-start his own career. The night turns eventful in unplanned ways as everything for everyone begins to unravel. All Night Long was directed by Basil Dearden.

Chico & Rita (2010)

Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. https://go.iu.edu/4pT6

Chico & Rita follows the titular characters through the late 1940s to the early 1950s. The romance between Chico, a piano player, and Rita, a singer, begins in Cuba in 1948, when Chico sees Rita perform and falls in love with her and her enchanting voice. He then gets an opportunity to play piano for an upcoming performance of hers and leaps at the chance to finally meet Rita. Their love of jazz music and their romantic desire for one another set the stage for a tumultuous romance across their successes, failures, and all the life in between. This animated film was directed by Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando.

Miles Ahead (2015)

Film Poster. Digital Image. IMDb. https://go.iu.edu/4pT8

A biopic on jazz musician Miles Davis, Miles Ahead is an adaptation of Davis’ life after ending his career due to health, personal, and drug problems. The story starts with an interview being done by fictional reporter Dave Braden, who wants to learn Davis’ story. The interview sparks a desire in Davis to return to his musical career and redeem himself in the eyes of the public, his wife, and himself.

Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows) (1958)

Film Poster. Digital Image. Wikipedia. https://go.iu.edu/4pT9

Businessman Julien has fallen in love with his boss’s wife, Florence Carala. Julien and Florence make plans to murder her husband, Simon Carala, and make it look like a suicide so that they can run away together. Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly to plan when a stopped elevator causes a series of unfortunate events for the couple. Ascenseur pour l’echafaud is a romantic crime spree of chaos as the two secret lovers do everything they can to avoid the consequences of their actions. The score is one of many famous jazz film soundtracks of the era.

The Aristocats (1970)

Film Poster. Digital Image. 1stDibs.com. https://go.iu.edu/4pTa

Taking place in 1910s Paris, The Aristocats is a romance between Duchess, the cat of a retired opera star Madame Bonfamille, and Thomas O’Malley, a local street cat. Thomas takes Duchess and her three kittens out to the alley cat jazz scene to appreciate the art of jazz music. Meanwhile, Edgar, the butler for Madame Bonfamille, is upset that he isn’t the primary beneficiary in Madame’s living will, but rather the cats are, and he will only get an inheritance if the cats are removed from the picture. Edgar devises a plan to get rid of the cats, but is thwarted by Thomas and the rest of the alley jazz cats. (Warning: this film contains outdated and insensitive racial/ethnic stereotypes.)

That Thing You Do (1996)

Promotional Image. Digital Image. The Boston Calendar. https://go.iu.edu/4pTb

Tom Hanks’ That Thing You Do follows an aspiring jazz drummer, Guy Patterson, as he tries to find a life and career in the music industry. He gets his opportunity when the drummer for the local band The Oneders [pronounced “Wonders”] breaks his arm and they need an emergency replacement for the upcoming talent show. Patterson’s musical style and talent win the competition for the band, prompting a string of successes as well as troubles for the band throughout the film. CR

Student staff blogger Cas Regan is a Junior at IU in the Earth Science B.S. program with a minor Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In addition to classes and working for Media Services, they are also the Co-President of the Beekeeping Club at IU.

Five Movies/TV Shows Featuring Developmental Disabilities

A developmental disability is a condition usually diagnosed during a child’s development, prior to adulthood. Developmental disabilities can impair several areas of development, such as physical, learning, language, and/or behavior. Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month encourages increased awareness of the needs of those with developmental disabilities. The observance, celebrated each year in the month of March, also highlights these citizens’ potentials.

The following are five films and TV shows that feature at least one main character with a developmental disability.

Wonder (2017)

Wonder. IMDb.com. 28 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4pEj

Based on the book of the same title by R.J. Palacio, this 2017 film adaptation features August Pullman, a kid born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting fifth grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Beginning from Auggie’s point of view and expanding to include his classmates, his sister, her
boyfriend, and others, the perspectives converge to form a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump. IMDb.com. 28 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4pEk

In this Oscar-winning picture, Forrest Gump, a gentle soul born in a small Alabama town,
happens into one memorable experience after another through a panorama of American history from the 1950s to the present. Throughout his life, he is supported by his love for Jenny, his childhood friend with whom he shares his lifelong memories.

Of Mice and Men (1992)

Scenes from Of Mice and Men. IMDB.com, 28 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4pEl

Based on the novel by John Steinbeck, in this 1992 film migrant farm workers George (Gary Sinise) and Lennie (John Malkovich) travel together, hoping that one day, when they’ve got enough money saved up, they’ll buy a little place of their own and live off the fat of the land, and Lennie will get to tend the rabbits. Lennie likes soft things: rabbits, mice, puppies. He’s a simpleton, a big powerful child, and soft things excite him. That excitement usually leads to trouble, and that trouble keeps them moving.

Ousama Ranking (Ranking of Kings)/様ランキング (2017)

Ranking of Kings wallpaper. Digital Image. OtakuKart. 4 February 2022. https://go.iu.edu/4pEm

The people of the kingdom look down on the young Prince Bojji, who can neither hear nor speak. They call him “The Useless Prince” while jeering at his supposed foolishness. However, while Bojji may not be physically strong, he is certainly not weak of heart. When a chance encounter with a shadow creature should have left him traumatized, it instead makes him believe that he has found a friend amidst those who only choose to notice his shortcomings. He
starts meeting with Kage, the shadow, regularly, to the point where even the otherwise abrasive creature begins to warm up to him.

Kage and Bojji’s unlikely friendship lays the foundation of the prince’s journey, one where he intends to conquer his fears and insecurities. Despite the constant ridicule he faces, Bojji resolves to fulfill his desire of becoming the best king he can be.

The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

Hazel and Gus. The Fault In Our Stars. IMDb.com. 28 March 2922, https://go.iu.edu/4pEo

Based on the book by John Green, this 2014 film adaptation features Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), a 16-year-old cancer patient, who meets and falls in love with Gus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a similarly afflicted teen from her cancer support group. Hazel feels that Gus really understands her. They both share the same acerbic wit and a love of books, especially Grace’s touchstone, “An Imperial Affliction” by Peter Van Houten. When Gus scores an invitation to meet the reclusive author, he and Hazel embark on the adventure of their brief lives. RW

Student blogger Richard Wu is a piano performance major in the Jacobs School of Music and has worked as a Media Services desk staff member since 2021.

Do you have a favorite film featuring characters with developmental disabilities? Let us know in the comments! Media Services

Give Nick Cage a Break and Check Out Mandy

With the approaching release and rave reviews of “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” generations of movie watchers are finally reconsidering their harsh views on Nicolas Cage. I’m as guilty as anyone of using Nick Cage as the butt of a joke (especially in Cards Against Humanity) but I can say without a doubt that the actor has never given a boring performance. I mean, who doesn’t love a spontaneous Nick Cage outburst or self-referential joke thrown randomly in a drama, romcom, horror, or even sci-fi movie?

If you want to view one Cage’s most shocking movies in recent years, our collection has the perfect film for you: Mandy (2018). Written and directed by Panos Cosmatos, Mandy is a psychedelic action horror film starring Nick Cage, Andrea Riseborough, and Linus Roache. Set in the Pacific Northwest in 1983, the peaceful lives of Red Miller (Cage) and his girlfriend Mandy (Riseborough) are savagely shattered by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand (Roache) and a group of motorcycle-riding demons. In response, Red brutally takes his revenge on all of those who wronged him. Immerse yourself in this phantasmagoric world, and expect the unexpected!

MANDY - Official Trailer - YouTube
Mandy (2018) Official Poster. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Z4OcDOwyIx8/movieposter.jpg.

Minor spoiler alert: if that description doesn’t pull you in, just know that there’s a chainsaw duel scene.

To be very clear, this movie is not for the faint of heart: it is for true horror, slasher, and occult movie fans. There is a significant amount of gore and brutality that made even a horror fan like myself squeamish. Between forging his own weapons and fighting different forms of evil, Cage embodies rage and revenge like no other. Even with limited dialogue, his performance showcases his ability to make an unsettling scene comedic in the best way.

Mandy (2018) [700 × 1000] by Graham Humphreys : r/MoviePosterPorn
Private commissions – Mandy (2018). Graham Humphreys. (2021, February 12). Retrieved April 6, 2022, from https://grahamhumphreys.com/gallery/private-commissions/

Along with the incredibly realistic practical effects and especially entertaining action sequences, the cinematography and editing of this movie really steal the show. The use of primary colors and contrasting hues filtered over the Panavision Primo anamorphic lenses gives a texture and graininess reminiscent of your classic 1970s and 1980s slashers. It creates an immersive experience for viewers that I highly recommend. This unique and gorgeous film gives standard-horror-movie fans like myself a new appreciation for experimental indie and art-house films.

The Last Thing I See: 'Mandy' (2018) Movie Review
McKnight, B. (1970, January 1). ‘mandy’ (2018) Movie Review. The Last Thing I See. Retrieved April 6, 2022, from https://www.thelastthingisee.com/2018/09/mandy-2018-movie-review.html

If horror is not your thing, I still implore you to give Nick Cage another shot. Let yourself be entertained with his unpredictable performances and his ability to never blend into the background of movies. All of his movies may not be Oscar-worthy, but hey, at least they’re entertaining! LS

Student blogger Liz Sheldon joined the Media Services staff in Fall 2021. She hails from Indianapolis and is in her junior year at IU. This is her first blog post for Media Beat.

Selected Nicholas Cage film holdings available via IU Media Services:

Birdy (2014)

World Trade Center (2007)

Windtalkers (2004)

Omnibus, Vinnie Goes To Hollywood (2000) (Nicholas Cage is one of a number of celebrity interviewees who speak about working with English soccer star turned film celebrity Vinnie Jones)

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Wild at Heart (1990)

Raising Arizona (1987)

Moonstruck (1987)

Rumble fish (1983)

Korea Remixed Continues! Eight Recent Korean Films

Outstanding poster art from two recent Korean films. “The Handmaiden and The Wailing Chosen As Two Of The Best Movie Posters From Cannes.” soompi.com. 30 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4lS7

Korean culture has never been more influential or far-reaching, from the Olympic games in Pyeongchang four years ago to the continued spread of K-Pop and Korean cosmetics. The surprising global phenomenon of Squid Game, which became the most watched television show ever on Netflix, occurred simultaneously with the growth in popularity of Korean brands such as Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. Indiana University is celebrating Korea and its global influence throughout the Spring 2022 semester with the Korea Remixed festival. Involving a wide variety of lectures and events, the focus is on highlighting the interplay between the past and the present in Korea, and the remix of the long past with modern culture and technology. Springing off our blog post in late 2021, Ten TV Shows/Films Similar to Squid Game, published in anticipation of Korea Remixed, we are going to continue the celebration with a closer look at some major Korean cinema hits from the last two decades. 

A brief note about our choices. There are several criteria that are important in evaluating the quality and influence of a movie. Some factors we have considered here are: 1) commercial success in terms of box office sales numbers; 2) critical acclaim in the form of aggregate critic ratings; and 3) popular appeal as gauged by viewer or audience scores, along with total number of reviews. For some movies those factors conflict. In this list we are only looking at films that met the criteria in all three areas. 

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War  [태극기 휘날리며 | Taegukgi Hwinallimyeo], 2004 ‧ War/Drama ‧ 2h 20m 

Action Scene from Taegukgi. Digital Image. PopOptiq. 2 December 2012, https://go.iu.edu/4lS6

A tale of two brothers and the horrors of war directed by Kang Je-gyu. The title of this movie, Taegukgi, is also a name for the flag of South Korea. At the time of its release this was the most successful movie in Korean cinema. Taegukgi stars Jang Dong-Gun as Jin-tae and Won Bin as Jin-seok, brothers in the Lee family living in Seoul, South Korea. Jin-tae shines shoes and tries to save up money to pay for his brother’s college education. But it is the summer of 1950, and the brothers are conscripted into the Korean Army in the aftermath of North Korea’s surprise invasion. Jin-tae’s superiors make him an offer, if he can earn the highest honor of the Korean army, they will send his brother home. But as Jin-tae volunteers for dangerous mission after dangerous mission, will his brother and his family like what he has become? Fans of this film may also enjoy  other Korean films about war, such as Silmido, My Way/마이 웨이 (also directed by Kang Je-Gyu), or 71-Into the Fire/포화 속으로.

Oldboy [올드보이 | Oldŭ boi], 2003 ‧ Mystery/Thriller ‧ 2 hours

Oh Dae-Su threatens someone for information. Digital Image. Arch Daily. 17 April 2013, https://go.iu.edu/4lS8

As one of the best neo-noir films of recent years, there are many dystopian elements that will appeal to fans of Squid Game. This tragicomedy may be too violent for some viewers but does feature great cinematography and scenography. Oldboy stars Choi Min-sik as Oh Dae-Su, who is kidnapped and imprisoned in a hotel room. He learns that he has been framed for his wife’s murder. Then fifteen years later he is released, and the story follows his quest to find out who imprisoned him and murdered his wife and exact his revenge. Oldboy is the recipient of numerous awards from across the world. This film has a loose connection with a Japanese Manga of the same name and inspired a 2013 American reinterpretation by Spike Lee.

Ode to My Father [Kukche sijang | 국제시장], 2014 ‧ Drama/War ‧ 2h 10m

Yunjin Kim and Jung-min Hwang in Gukjesijang in Photo by CJ Entertainment. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 25 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4lS9

Starring Hwang Jung-min and Yunjin Kim, Ode to My Father, directed by Yoon Je-kyoon, tells the story of Korea from the Korean War to the present day through the eyes of Deok-soo, a young Korean boy who grows to become a man. When his father goes missing in the beginning stages of the Korean War during the Hungnam Evacuation, he must take responsibility for taking care of his family. Deok-soo’s journey to and through adulthood parallels the rise and growth of Korea. This film highlights the struggles and challenges that Koreans have faced to make their country grow, including migrant labor in West Germany and overseas conflicts in Vietnam. Those who enjoy this film may also enjoy Yoon Je-kyoon’s other work, the disaster movie Haeundae (Tidal Wave).

The Host [괴물 | Gwoemul], 2006 ‧ Horror/Action ‧ 1h 59m

The hunt for the monster. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 25 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4lSa

A monster film directed by Bong Joon-ho. A monster emerges from the Han River and chaos ensues. There are fears that the monster is also the host of a deadly disease and those in close contact must be quarantined. Song Kang-ho stars as Park Gang-du. He is an ordinary man trying to flee the monster with the rest of the panicked crowd, however just as he gets himself to safety, he sees that his daughter in the clutches of the monster. The Host is the story of one man’s search for his daughter and the search for the monster. Those who enjoy this film may also enjoy Bong Joon-ho’s other successful work, Memories of Murder, loosely based on Korea’s first confirmed serial murders.

The Admiral: Roaring Currents [명량 | Myeongryang], 2014 ‧ Action ‧ 2h 6m

The battle rages. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 25 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4lSb

This film, directed and co-written by Kim Han-min, depicts the historical Battle of Myeongnyang. At the time of its release, it was the most successful local film in Korean history. In 1597, Yi Sun-sin, played by Choi Min-sik, commands the navy of the Korean kingdom of Joseon in a heroic victory against the invading Japanese fleet, where his 12 ships overcome the opposing 333 vessels. Yi Sun-sin traps the Japanese fleet into a battle in the Myeongnyang Strait, whose strong and treacherous currents give him an advantage. This battle and Yi Sun-sin may be familiar to those who have played Age of Empires II: The Conquerors, where one scenario in the real-time strategy game has the player take on the role of Yi Sun-sin and defend Korea from Japanese invaders. Kim Han-min has also directed another period film, War of the Arrows, which may be appealing to those who enjoy this film. Another alternative, The Pirates by Lee Seok-hoon, is also a period film.

Extreme Job [ Geukan Jigeop | 극한직업], 2019 ‧ Comedy/Action ‧ 1h 51m

Extreme job in progress. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 25 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4lSc

This film, directed by Lee Byeong-heon, is the second-most-viewed film in South Korean film history. A young squad of undercover detectives has one last chance to save their careers. They must stake out an international drug gang from a chicken restaurant. Things change, however, when they decide to purchase the restaurant when it is going to go out of business. A further unexpected twist occurs when the chicken marinade they throw together becomes a runaway sensation and their diner becomes the hottest spot around. Those who enjoy this comedy may also enjoy another hit directed by Lee Byeong-heon, Twenty.

Train to Busan [부산행 | Busanhaeng], 2016 ‧ Horror/Action ‧ 1h 58m

Passengers in flight. Digital Image. NME. 19 February 2021, https://go.iu.edu/4lSd.

This film is directed by Yeon Sang-ho and stars Gong Yoo as Seok-woo, a fund manager on a high-speed train to Busan taking his daughter to see her mother, who divorced him because he is a workaholic. A chemical leak unleashes a zombie apocalypse that spreads across South Korea. The story follows Seok-woo and the other passengers on the train as they seek to escape the exploding pandemic. The story is somewhat typical of zombie movies. Those who enjoy this film may also be interested in other works by Yeon Sang-ho related to this movie such as the animated prequel Seoul Station and live-action sequel Peninsula.

Honorable Mention: Burning (2018) Poetry (2010), Masquerade (2012), Memories of Murder (2003), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring (2003), The Handmaiden (2016), The Age of Shadows (2016)

Parasite [기생충 | Gisaengchung], 2019 ‧ Thriller/Dark Comedy ‧ 2h 12m

The cast accepts some of the four Oscars won by the film in 2020. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 25 March 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4lSk

This black comedy/thriller film was directed by Bong Joon-ho. It earned the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, a first for a South Korean film. The Kim family struggles to get by on low-paying temporary jobs. Through connections they meet the wealthy Park family. They endeavor to con their way into employment with the family by getting rid of the family’s former employees. The question remains, when will the Kim family’s luck run out and their ruse be revealed? The film addresses themes of social inequality and class conflict. As mentioned previously, Bong Joon-ho is also the director of The Host, as well as Snowpiercer, so fans of his work may consider looking at some of his earlier work such as these films. SM

Student blogger Seth Morrison joined the Media Services staff in Fall 2021. He hails from Arizona and is a graduate student at IU. This is his first blog post for Media Beat.

Strong Female Leads in the Horror Genre

In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to recognize some of the strong female leads in my favorite movie genre – Horror. Characters in horror movies are put through the wringer, and in many cases the female characters are put into the role of the “damsel in distress.” However in these five films, the women are strong and empowered, breaking the “woman as victim” stereotype. According to recent data, nearly 2000 females are murdered by males annually in the United States alone. Given these staggering numbers, it is worth contemplating how women are depicted in horror films, not because Horror is to blame for this femicide epidemic, but because media can and do influence social perceptions and behaviors. As such, the question, “How does the presence of a strong female lead alter the tone of a horror film?” is a compelling one. All of these films are available through IU Libraries’ Media Services: click the linked film title to learn more!

The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 11 Mar 2022,
https://go.iu.edu/4kwj

The Babadook follows single mother Amelia Vanek, played by Essie Davis, as she cares for her son, Sam, whose behavior becomes more and more concerning. One night, Sam asks his mother to read him a book titled Mister Babadook, which features the titular monster within its pages. Not long after, strange events begin to occur, and when Amelia questions Sam about them, he claims that the Babadook is the cause. In addition to navigating these disconcerting occurrences, Amelia Vanek is battling grief from the death of her husband throughout the film, and her perseverance throughout makes her a strong female lead.

The Others (2001)

The Others. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 11 Mar
2022, https://go.iu.edu/4kwk

The Others is a film about a young woman, Grace Stewart, played by Nicole Kidman. The film is set in 1945, and Grace lives in a house with her two photosensitive children and three servants. When she begins to hear voices and footsteps, Grace starts to believe that the house may be haunted. As more and more strange occurrences unfold, Stewart struggles to understand what is happening in her house and who “the others” are that she keeps seeing. Grace Stewart is adamant about protecting her children and their home, doing whatever is necessary to stay safe from the “others.”

Us (2019)

Us. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 11 Mar 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4kwl

Us tells the story of Adelaide (played by Lupita Nyong’o) and her family as they go on vacation. When Adelaide was a child, she encountered her doppelganger on the same beach where they are headed for vacation, causing her to withdraw and stop speaking. The family’s vacation is turned upside down when a group of people dressed completely in red break into their home and corner them. The people are revealed to be the family’s doppelgangers and explain that they want to “untether” themselves from their counterparts. Adelaide’s bravery and strength are vital to her survival, and she is absolutely determined to stop the doppelgangers.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Jennifer’s Body. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 11 Mar 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4kwn

Jennifer’s Body is about two high school girls, Jennifer Check (Megan Fox) and Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (Amanda Seyfried) who one night go to a dive bar to see a band. The bar suddenly is engulfed in flames, and Jennifer leaves with the band. Later that night, Jennifer appears in Needy’s kitchen, covered in blood and eating everything in sight before vomiting a black liquid everywhere. The next day at school, much to Needy’s surprise, Jennifer seems completely fine. After the football captain is found disemboweled, Needy begins to suspect that something is very wrong with Jennifer.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs. Digital Image. IMDb.com.
11 Mar 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4kwo

The Silence of the Lambs depicts Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, who is training in the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI. She is asked to interview Hannibal Lecter, an incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer and former psychiatrist, in order to get information about a new serial killer that they are trying to find. Lecter agrees to help on the condition that he is transferred to a different facility. Lecter then demands a quid pro quo with Starling in exchange for information on the serial killer. Things take a turn when the serial killer kidnaps the daughter of a United States senator, and Starling dives even further into the investigation. Starling is determined and intelligent in getting the information that she needs to find the serial killer and deal with Lecter and proves herself to be crucial in solving the case. CR

Do you have a favorite strong female lead from the Horror genre? If so, let us know in the comments!

Media Services staff member Corinne Regan is a freshman at IU pursuing a Political Science Degree. She is also involved in the Civic Leaders Center and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and listening to music.

Burning: One of the Most Underrated Movies of Recent Memory

Burning. Digital Image. rogerebert.com. 25 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4j0x

In honor of IU’s Korea Remixed celebration this semester, I would like to draw Media Beat readers’ attention to an underrated 2018 gem from one of South Korea’s most talented directors, Lee Chang-dong. His masterpiece, Burning (버닝), based on a short story by widely acclaimed Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, received little awards attention and sadly flew under the radar for many film-goers. Despite receiving high critical praise and featuring one of the most promising rising actors, The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun, the film has already seemed to fade from many people’s memory.

The film has a deceptively simple set-up. A young aspiring writer named Lee Jong-su runs into a woman named Shin Hae-mi, with whom he quickly becomes infatuated. As they start to get to know each other, he is introduced to one of Hae-mi’s friends, Ben, played perfectly by Steven Yeun. Ben clearly comes from a much wealthier, privileged background than Jong-su: he has a glamorous apartment, car, and perfect social skills, whereas Jong-su comes from a broken home, drives around in an old rusty truck, and has trouble expressing himself. Around the halfway point of the film, the three of them go out to Jong-su’s farm for a trip, where Ben reveals to Jong-su a mysterious and strange hobby of his involving burning down greenhouses he finds out in the countryside. Shortly after this trip, Jong-su attempts to contact Hae-mi, but cannot seem to find her and worries that something horrific may have happened to her, and that Ben may be involved.

From L to R: Ah-in Yoo, Jong-seo Jun, and Steven Yeun. Burning. IMDb.com. 25 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4j0w

I will stop there to avoid spoiling the mystery or giving away more of the plot. Lee Chang-dong slowly builds the suspense from this point on in very Hitchcockian fashion as the movie increasingly spins into the realm of a psychological thriller. The film is intentionally vague, without any easy answers given to the audience, allowing for several profoundly different interpretations with the potential to completely alter how film-goers will view each of the characters, or even understand what the movie is trying to say. It is an amazing feat that Chang-dong is able to pull off such an entertaining genre piece that is also so rich in thematic content.

Burning is one of the most relevant and poignant films about contemporary society to come out in the last decade. In a world increasingly rife with division by class, gender, politics, etc., many people are finding it harder and harder to trust one another. That trend is a focal point of the film, in the characters’ inability to trust each other and truly know the others’ motives, as well as through the audience’s struggle to fully know whom to trust while watching the film. There is much more to chew on in terms of how Burning raises and reflects contemporary social dynamics, and the film warrants multiple viewings, but to divulge more would give too much away. I hope I have piqued readers’ interests enough to inspire them to seek out the film out and come to their own conclusions. Korea Remixed is a perfect time to connect with this artistic contribution, and Media Services has this title available on both Blu-Ray and DVD. JG

Janzen Greene studies media and film here at IU. He joined the Media Services staff in Fall 2021, and this is his second post for Media Beat.

Cowboys and Cacciatore: The Origin of the term “Spaghetti Western”

Still from Sergio Leone’s “A Fistful of Dollars”. Digital image. 9 Feb 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4iD1

Though now collectively little more than a drop in the bucket of modern filmmaking, Westerns were once a much more popular movie genre. The 1950s through mid-1970s were widely considered to be the height of the genre, a “golden age” of Westerns with figures like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Gary Cooper drawing crowds. The films were so popular, in fact, that their influence can be found in other films made around the time – in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory from 1971, Mike Teevee is seen wearing a cowboy outfit, referencing the popularity of the genre at the time.

But what is a “Spaghetti” Western? What distinguishes a “Spaghetti” Western from a regular Western?

“Spaghetti” Westerns are a subgenre of Westerns whose name references the circumstances and location of their filming. Generally, a Spaghetti Western is a low-budget film produced by Italian directors (hence the “spaghetti” connection) and filmed in Europe, primarily in Almería and the Tabernas Desert. Unconstrained by Hollywood’s film regulations (and, in particular, the Hays code which restricted film content at the time), Spaghetti Westerns are far more cynical and violent compared to their contemporary Hollywood cousins. Where a Hollywood Western typically idealizes the Old West, its pioneers, and rugged American individualism, the Spaghetti Western tears off this ideological veil, bringing the corruption, violence, and desperation of the time to the fore (though not always on purpose).

Many Spaghetti Westerns actually eclipsed the popularity of the genre that inspired them, and to this day they serve as inspirations for contemporary film. A number of tropes that continue to influence filmmaking today originated with the “Spaghetti”: western antiheroes; tense, dramatic close-up shots; and a particular style of colorful opening credits among them. These films (and Ennio Morricone in particular) would reinvent the “western sound” into something instantly recognizable and iconic (Masterclass, 2021).

Below are three giants of the Spaghetti Western genre:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Digital Image. 18 Feb 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4iD4

Set during the Civil War, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly stars Clint Eastwood as “The Man with No Name”(or, in the movie, “Blondie”) in this story about a trio of bounty hunters in pursuit of $200,000 worth of buried stolen gold, a fortune that would be worth over 7 million today. A story filled with revenge, confrontation, backstabbing, full of Sergio Leone’s signature lingering close-up shots, this film is widely considered to be the definitive Spaghetti Western. It is the last, and considered the best, in Leone’s trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns collectively referred to as “the Dollars trilogy”, including A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Once Upon A Time In The West. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 18 Feb 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4iD5

Once Upon a Time in the West centers on a pair of conflicts around the fictional town of Flagstone. Directed by Sergio Leone and with a score by the legendary Ennio Morricone (the undisputed king of Spaghetti Western soundtracks), this film was produced after Sergio retired from Westerns following his success with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Paramount Pictures, however, persuaded him to produce one more by providing both the funding and a contract with Henry Fonda (Clint Eastwood turned down a role for this movie). Filled with political and economic corruption, betrayals, and gunfights over a valuable parcel of land, Once Upon a Time in the West is a slower and more thoughtful film, less fiery and spirited than its other noodly siblings.

Django (1966)

Django. Digital Image. IMDb.com. 18 Feb 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4iD6

Directed by Sergio Corbucci, Django follows a Union soldier and his companion who become embroiled in a conflict between revolutionaries and Confederate Red Shirts (linked article requires IU CAS login). The film developed a reputation soon after its release for being incredibly violent (especially for the 1960s) which negatively impacted its reviews at the time. Only later would it develop a more cult-classic following. Despite its myriad murders, back-stabbings, and the brutal violence that permeates the film, Django is one of the few Spaghetti Westerns to have a more positive and upbeat ending, unlike the more cynical, pyrrhic notes on which many other films in this subgenre ended. The more modern Django Unchained (2012) from director Quentin Tarantino takes inspiration from this film, and Franco Nero (the original Django) actually makes a cameo appearance!

It is always illuminating when directors from one country or region take on the history and myth of another. Spaghetti Westerns offer an outsider take that continues to influence filmmakers’ and audiences’ perceptions of the American West, good, bad, and ugly. JS

**Summary credit to each film’s Wikipedia “plot” section: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Once Upon a Time in the West; Django.

Sources used for additional information:

Masterclass Staff. “Spaghetti Western Film Guide: 5 Spaghetti Western Filmmakers.”. Masterclass.com. August 27, 2021. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/spaghetti-western-film-guide#what-is-a-spaghetti-western

Student blogger Joshua Peters holds a BS in Biology and is currently pursuing a Library Science Master’s degree. This is his first semester working in Media Services as well as his first blog post for Media Beat.

Movies, Men, and Mental Health

Eszterhas, Suzy. Sea otter cuddles her pup. Digital Image. The Telegraph. 26 October 2016, https://go.iu.edu/4hBX

Every month of the year is dubbed something strange. “National Hot Tea Month” and “National Oatmeal” month are notable mentions for January. However, there is one January observance of utmost importance – National Mental Wellness month. January is the month of new beginnings, and it’s hard to keep our promises to ourselves. Sometimes by February we have already given up. As January disappears in the rearview, we reflect on how to take care of ourselves and our loved ones in the winter months still ahead. These titles, some available on DVD, some on streaming, all contain stories showing how we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. More titles are available through Media Services to check out or stream. Unsure how? Ask a member of our staff at the desk. We love to help!

Regarding Henry (1991)

Regarding Henry. Digital Image. IMDb.com, 4 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4hBY

Regarding Henry, starring Harrison Ford and Annette Bening, tells the story of a hot-shot lawyer who has everything and nothing. While he has the job, the family, and the swanky New York apartment, he is never satisfied, and there is a disconnect between him and his family. One night, he steps out for cigarettes and is shot in the head, altering his life, personality, and temperament. Henry and his family have to navigate these new changes. Will lies and hurt tear the family apart? Or will it make them stronger than ever? Available on DVD in Media Services (click titles to go to IUCAT records).

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind. Digital Image. IMDb.com, 4 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4hC8

A Beautiful Mind stars Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly and follows the life and diagnosis of the highly intelligent mathematician, John Nash. John Nash’s career takes off as he lands a job with the Department of Defense, he meets Alicia, and everything seems to be going well. But when Soviets attack Nash, threatening his family, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Not everything is as it seems in this important film that highlights mental illness. A Beautiful Mind won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture (2002). Available on DVD and streaming on the Swank streaming platform (CAS Authentication required for streaming).

The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sixth Sense. Digital Image. IMDb.com, 4 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4hC9

The Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, follows a psychologist and child duo. The films covers the aftermath of the psychologist talking down a gun-wielding patient who invaded his home. He meets Cole, a young boy who is shy and often bullied. Cole confides in Dr. Malcolm that he can see and talk to dead people, ghosts. Dr. Malcolm and Cole navigate this strange ability, learning a few things about each other and about themselves. Between Cole and Dr. Malcolm, it can be difficult to discern who is helping the other more.

The Shining (1980)

The Shining. Digital Image. IMDb.com, 4 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4hCb

The Shining stars Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, directed by Stanley Kubrick. Jack and Wendy Torrance agree to be caretakers of a remote mountain lodge that shuts down for the winter. The Sheriff, before he leaves, warns Jack and Wendy’s son, Danny, not to go into Room 237, as they share a gift they call the “shining,” which gives them the ability to see ghosts. Strange and sinister things begin to happen. Will the family survive the winter or be consumed by the cold and the terror?

Rain Man (1988)

Rain Man. Digital Image. IMDb.com, 4 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4hCd

Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, follows two brothers who have to drive across the country to claim their inheritance following their father’s death. Raymond, Charlie’s estranged brother, is twice-exceptional, having both autism and Savant Syndrome. Raymond has been kept in a facility since an incident involving Charlie occurred. The two have to go cross country to get their money back while sticking to Raymond’s strict daily routines, all while getting to know each other. Will Charlie have the patience required to adapt? Or will he forego the whole thing and destroy any hope of a relationship with this brother?

Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting. Digital Image. IMDb.com, 4 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4hCe

In Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon plays a humble yet arrogant custodian whose life turns around when he solves a math problem on a chalkboard during one of his shifts. After a brawl gets him in trouble, he’s legally ordered to attend classes and therapy sessions. Will must navigate these uncharted waters as every aspect of his life changes: career, identity, romance, friendships, and more. Can he change for the better or Will will always be hunting for good?

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? Digital Image. IMDb.com, 4 February 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4hCg

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape stars Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Juliette Lewis. Johnny Depp plays Gilbert Grape, a young grocery store clerk also serving as family patriarch after his father dies by suicide. He looks after his younger brother, Arnie, who displays signs of autism, and who repeatedly gets into trouble. Gilbert and Arnie’s mother is so overweight that she can’t leave their house, let alone take care of Arnie. Gilbert meets Becky and confides in her, but is their connection enough? Or will life get the best of Gilbert Grape?

All of these titles center around an alpha male who must learn to change for the better, mostly through therapy. All of them must deal with trauma, social reputation, and personal growth through the experience of an inconvenient truth. Regardless, they all have to open up and be willing to change, which is no easy feat considering the social pressure on males to maintain control of their emotions. Watch to find out more!

If you or anyone you know is struggling with a mental health crisis, contact the National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255. For IU Mental Health Service options, go to https://go.iu.edu/4hCh.

Student blogger Abby Welch is a junior studying Media and Cinema Arts with a focus in Screenwriting. Her two minors are Spanish and History, and she hopes to be accepted into the 4+1 Masters of Library Sciences Program in spring of 2022. On campus, she is involved in Women in Media and Sigma Kappa. In her sparse spare time, she enjoys reading romance novels, writing and developing screenplays, exploring Bloomington with friends, and trying to convince her picky boyfriend to try new restaurants.

Her favorite thing about working in Media Services is choosing a film to play on the lobby monitor and having patrons sing praises about the selection upon entering!

5 Sidney Poitier Films that Defied Black Stereotypes

Photo credits L to R: Sidney Poitier. news.sky.com 21 January 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4h04; Sidney Poitier. IMDb.com. 21 January 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4h05; Sidney Poitier. achievement.org, 21 January 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4h06.

Bahamian-American actor, film director, and diplomat Sidney Poitier is widely considered one of the most important and influential figures in the history of Black cinema.  He landed his first film role playing a high school student in Blackboard Jungle in 1955, kickstarting a barrier-breaking career.  He went on to win numerous accolades, including a Grammy Award, two Golden Globes, and a British Academy Film Award.  Poitier’s landmark achievement was being the first black actor to win the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and in 2001 he received an Academy Honorary Award for lifetime achievement.  Other honors he received include the AFI Life Achievement Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, a BAFTA Fellowship, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Sidney Poitier in For Love of Ivy, 1968.  Digital Image.  Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Poitier

More important than his many decorations, however, was the legacy he left behind—one that inspired an entire generation of black actors that came after him.  Part of that legacy came from his refusal to do certain roles.  Speaking to Oprah on the topic, Poitier said, “I was the most successful black actor in the history of the country.  I was not in control of the kinds of films I was offered, but I was totally in control of the kinds of films I would do.  So I came to the mix with that power—the power to say, ‘No, I will not do that.’  I did that from the beginning.… [The] films I did were designed not just for blacks but for the mainstream.  I was in concert with maybe a half-dozen filmmakers and they were all white.  And they chose to make films that would make a statement to the mainstream audience about the awful nature of racism.”*

His choice to be selective of the roles he took—to purposefully avoid demeaning stereotypes—left a powerful impact on the film industry and on the black actors who came after him.  Sadly, on January 6th, 2022, Sidney Poitier died in his Beverly Hills home at the age of 94.  He is survived by his wife Joanna Shimkus and five daughters.  While Poitier’s life work certainly can’t be summed up into a list of five films, we wanted to share some of his most popular movies with you.  So, without further ado, here are five Sidney Poitier films that defied black stereotypes.

The Defiant Ones (1958)

Theatrical Release Poster.  Digital Image.  Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Defiant_Ones

The Defiant Ones tells the story of two convicts escaping a work gang, John “Joker” Jackson (Tony Curtis) and Noah Cullen (Sidney Poitier).  Forced to work together to attain their freedom due to the chains that bind them, the two must overcome their race-driven hatred for each other in order to elude their captors.  The film was nominated for 21 different awards, including the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for both Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier, making Poitier the first black actor to receive the nomination.  While he lost the Oscar this time around, Poitier won the BAFTA award for Best Foreign Actor.  The Defiant Ones also took home the Oscars for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay, and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.

A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

A Raisin in the Sun.  Digital Image.  Wikipedia, 21 January 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4h08

Based on the 1959 play by Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun follows the Youngers, a Black family living in poverty, as they struggled to decide what to do with a $10,000 life insurance check.  Poitier was praised for his portrayal of Walter Lee Younger in the film and received the Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor for the role.  In 2005, the United States National Film Registry, in association with the Library of Congress, selected the film for preservation due to its cultural and historical significance.

Lilies of the Field (1963)

Lilies of the Field. Digital Image. IMDb.com, 21 January 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4h0a

In Lilies of the Field, based off a book of the same name by William Edmund Barret, ex-G.I. Homer Smith (Sidney Poitier) “stumbles upon five German refugee nuns in Arizona and helps them build a chapel.”**  The film was widely praised by critics and won numerous awards, including the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.  Poitier similarly won the Golden Globe for best actor and was nominated for the BAFTA for Best Foreign Actor.  In 2020, the film was also selected by the United States Film Registry for preservation at the Library of Congress.

To Sir, With Love (1967)

UK Theatrical Release Poster.  Digital Image.  Wikipedia. https://go.iu.edu/4h0b

While waiting for an answer about an engineering job, immigrant Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) takes a teaching position at North Quay Secondary School in London’s East End.  He treats the rowdy students with his own brand of discipline, insisting they treat each other with respect.  While not as appreciated by critics as well as some of his other films, To Sir, With Love is often considered a Poitier classic.

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

In The Heat of the Night. Digital Image. Wikipediahttps://go.iu.edu/4h0c

Philadelphia homicide detective Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) reluctantly finds himself working with racist police chief Gillespie in Sparta, Mississippi, to solve the murder of industrialist Philip Colbert.  Tibbs and Gillespie soon find they have to work to overcome their prejudices in order to find the killer and bring him to justice.  In the Heat of the Night was widely praised by critics and experienced general success.  While Poitier himself received no awards for his role, he was nominated for a BAFTA and Golden Globe, and the film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.


*“Oprah Talks to Sidney Poitier.”  O, The Oprah Magazine (October, 2000).  17 January 2022, https://go.iu.edu/4h0d

**Summary credit to the film’s IUCAT entry


Kathryn Edom is a composer and aspiring music librarian in her second semester of IU’s MLS (Library Sciences) program.  She previously attended Sacramento State University and University of Oregon where she received her BM and MM (respectively) in music composition.  On top of her courses, she currently juggles three different library jobs, and in her limited spare time, enjoys reading, writing music, playing Animal Crossing, and watching Oregon football.

Top Five Cozy Christmas Movies to Make You Feel Festive

The end of finals is almost near, which means nothing can stand between you and feeling festive! From SNL alum Will Ferrell to classic characters like the Muppets, this list has something for everyone. We recommend enjoying these movies with a roaring fire and mug of hot cocoa for maximum coziness.

Home Alone

“When eight-year-old Kevin McCallister’s family rushes off on a holiday trip to Paris three days before Christmas, they accidentally leave the youngster behind to deck the halls with a barrage of booby traps to keep out a bumbling pair of burglars who have discovered that this tough little tyke is home alone.”* Shot in the Chicagoland town of Winnetka, Home Alone is a classic take on an extraordinary Midwestern Christmas. It reminds us to count carefully and take home security very seriously.

Stream via Feature Films for Education (IU users only, authentication required) or check out the DVD in Media Services. All titles contain links to the IUCAT record for the film.

A Christmas Story

“In 1940s Indiana, nine-year-old Ralphie dreams of his ideal Christmas gift: a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot carbine action air rifle. But when gruff dad and doting mom regularly respond with “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Ralphie mounts a full-scale Santa-begging campaign. He encounters a slew of calamities from snowsuit paralysis to the dreaded tongue-on-a-frozen-flagpole gambit.”* Set in Hammond, Indiana, and filmed in Cleveland, Ohio, this movie is another tale of a not-so-ordinary Midwestern Christmas. It taught us about bundling up, soap poisoning, and enjoying Christmas with our families.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

“’Tis the season for love, laughter, and one of the most cherished stories of all time! Join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and all the hilarious Muppets in this merry, magical version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale. Academy Award winner Michael Caine (Best Supporting Actor, 1999, The Cider House Rules) gives a performance that’s anything but ‘Bah, humbug!’ as greedy, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge. One fateful Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Together with kind, humble Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) and his family, the Spirits open Scrooge’s eyes—and his heart—to the true meaning of Christmas. Filled with original music and dazzling special effects, this restored and remastered 20th Anniversary Edition of The Muppet Christmas Carol will become a holiday tradition your family will treasure all the days of the year.”* Our favorite puppets star in one of the greatest Christmas stories ever told. The Muppets’ silly humor works alongside impeccable acting to make this film a heartwarming classic.

Elf

“A human baby accidentally ends up at the North Pole and grows up among the elf community. Buddy, as he comes to be known, knows that he’s ‘special’. When he’s 30, Buddy learns from Santa that he’s really a human. He decides to go in search of his father, to find out where he belongs. He walks to Manhattan and is immediately run over by a cab. His father at first rejects him and Buddy ends up in a department store where other elves are working. But all the while, things are looking bad for Santa Claus. When Santa crashes his sleigh in Central Park, it’s Buddy’s moment to shine.”* SNL alum Will Ferrell delivers an outstanding performance in one of his first major roles outside the comedy show. Full of iconic lines, the film gave us the quotes, “I love smiling. Smiling’s my favorite!” and “Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad!”. Turn on Elf for timeless holiday laughs.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

“You Better Watch Out! He’s green… he’s mean… and he hates Christmas! The Grinch is a bad-tempered hairy green creature, who lives inside a cave atop Mount Crumpit, overlooking the village of Whoville. As the Whos of Whoville frantically prepare for their yuletide celebrations, The Grinch decides to put a stop to Christmas once and for all and steals all their presents and decorations on Christmas Eve…only to finally come to learn that the true spirit of Christmas goes much deeper than tinsel and toys. The hilarious Jim Carrey spectacularly brings The Grinch to life in this magical live-action comedy which is based on the wonderfully quirky and well-loved book Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.** This green monster has taught generations the true meaning of Christmas. The Grinch’s antics almost stop Christmas, but not before one small Who helps him grow a heart. This movie will deliver on the laughs and the “awws”, making it a hit for the whole family. KN

Student blogger Kate Naughton is a new Media Services student staff member who joined us this semester. She is studying marketing.

*Summary credit to the film’s IUCAT entry. ** Summary credit to Amazon