Films to Enlighten Regarding Refugee History

From the heartbreaking scenes of Syrians fleeing their war-torn home countries for Europe to President Trump’s controversial ban that briefly prevented refugees from entering the United States, refugees have dominated the news over the last few years. Displaced persons, asylum seekers, and forced migrants have also served as the subjects of riveting dramas and documentaries about refugeedom. For deeper insight into their fraught and often dangerous journeys, check out the following films available at IU Media Services…

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Changing Fate: The Power Dynamics in ‘Stranger Than Fiction’

The movie Stranger Than Fiction plays with the idea of fate, the unknown, and the inevitability of death. Harold, the main character, has to contemplate these in his adventure to uncover the one pulling his strings to his preordained death. Throughout the movie, I kept wondering about the power dynamics between Harold and his writer Karen in the grand scheme of Harold’s story. Considering that the story doesn’t in fact end with Harold’s death, questions began to arise about how preordained each scene and action is up to the final moments where Harold should in fact die. I personally argue that while Harold may feel that Karen is controlling his every step that she is in fact guiding him to a conclusion that she wanted. I don’t think fate had anything to do with the death that had been outlined for him…

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Some Past Oscar Winners to Catch Up On!

With the 89th Oscars showing on February 26th, people are trying to see all the nominated films before the big ceremony! While most of the films nominated for Best picture are still in theaters, there are 88 other years of great films for you to watch! Here is a small selection of wonderful films that are available at Media Services in Wells Library, so maybe you could have an old-fashioned Oscar party while watching these films! Continue reading “Some Past Oscar Winners to Catch Up On!”

ALA VRT Notable Videos for Adults 2017 Winners

The American Library Association (ALA) Video Round Table Notable Videos for Adults Committee has compiled its 2017 list of Notable Videos for Adults, a list of 15 outstanding films released on video within the past two years and suitable for all libraries serving adults.  Its purpose is to call attention to recent video releases that make a significant contribution to the world of video.  The list is compiled for use by librarians and the general adult populace.

The Notable Videos for Adults Committee selected 15 outstanding titles from among 67 nominees for this year’s list of Notable Videos for Adults.  The availability of closed captions (CC) and/or subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH) is preferred; inclusion and exclusion of the same is indicated below.

3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets (2015) 98 minutes. HBO Documentary Films. DVD.  Ro*Co Films.  Subtitles.  Invoking the controversial “Stand Your Ground” defense, a Florida man opens fire on unarmed African-American teenagers, killing Jordan Davis. [Available for checkout from Media Services]

Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2016) 120 minutes; Firelight Films. DVD. PBS.  CC & SDH.  An historical overview of the rise and fall of a radical social movement that sought to empower African Americans and change the capitalist system.

Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare(2016) 114 minutes. Sternal Entertainment. DVD. Kino Lorber. Subtitles.  Desperate African and Middle Eastern refugees arrive by boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa and residents respond.

The First Monday in May (2016) 91 minutes. Relativity Media. DVD. Magnolia Home Entertainment. SDH.  A fundraiser for the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fashion wing makes multicultural connections between East and West.

Heart of a Dog (2016) 76 minutes. Abramorama. DVD. Criterion Collection. SDH.  Experimental artist Laurie Anderson projects the canine perspective in this non-linear meditation on fear, loss, and love.

How to Change the World  (2016) 110 minutes. Sky Films. DVD. Kino Lorber. CC.This history of the developmental phases of Greenpeace serves as a primer for environmental activism and political organizing for social change.

Last Day of Freedom (2016) 32 minutes. Grasshopper Film. DVD. CC.  His image altered by the animation technique of rotoscoping, the sibling of a death row inmate recounts the military service and PTSD leading up to his brother’s crime and punishment.

Long Story Short (2016) 45 minutes. Icarus Films. DVD. CC.  Based on interviews with residents of California homeless shelters, the filmmaker uses creative audio and visual techniques to distill hundreds of stories of poverty into a single message.

Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine (2015) 89 minutes. Logo Documentary Films. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC.  Friends of the Wyoming student and hate crime victim remember his life while also revealing the depth and longevity of their grief. [Available for checkout from Media Services]

OJ: Made in America (2016) 520 minutes. ESPN Films. DVD. CC.  An encyclopedic analysis of the sociological impact of the murder trial of OJ Simpson, as seen through the lens of race, celebrity, and class. [Available at IUB Law Library]

Sembene! (2016) 89 minutes. Impact Partners. DVD. Kino Lorber. CC.  Ousmane Sembène, a laborer and son of a fisherman, becomes a pioneering and controversial African filmmaker.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry  (2016) 93 minutes.  Music Box Films. DVD. Cinema Guild. SDH.  The women who raised consciousness, organized, and demonstrated for equal rights, tell the history of second wave feminism. [Available from IUPUI Library]

Under the Sun  (2016) 110 minutes. Icarus Films. DVD. Subtitles.  Officially sanctioned footage demonstrates the mesmerizing, pervasive power of rhetoric, repetition, and propaganda in North Korean life. 

Welcome to Leith  (2015) 86 minutes. First Run Features. DVD. SDH.  Residents of Leith, North Dakota, struggle with democratic principles when a white supremacist buys property and moves to their small town. [Available via online streaming]

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2016) 116 minutes. Netflix. DVD. Eagle Vision. Subtitles.  The complex and emotionally charged life of legendary musician and activist Nina Simone is chronicled. [Being cataloged, ask staff]

Be sure to check with Media Services for availability of titles.  “We Like to Watch!” (an old ALA VRT motto!)

~ Monique Threatt

Shameless: A TV Show for Everyone

Recently, the show Shameless has become a household name recently as its popularity has skyrocketed. The story is set in Chicago and follows a dysfunctional family who runs into trouble wherever they go. The plot will keep you guessing and always has you on your toes as the surprises are endless…

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Fantastic Mr. Fox: A Kid’s Film for Adults

Many of the works of the beloved children’s author Roald Dahl have found their way onto the silver screen. From Matilda to The BFG, Dahl’s written work has taken on a second life in the form of film. Perhaps this is because of how unique Dahl’s children’s fiction is, and how readily his material lends itself and adapts to the screen. Dahl’s work is distinctly mature for being stories meant for children. His stories are often darkly comedic and occasionally find themselves bordering the morbid. Anyone who has seen Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory knows that the wicked are punished, often brutally, for their impropriety. Dahl’s stories show how the good and the pure ultimately overcome the iniquitous and immoral. Such mature themes make it difficult to classify film adaptations of his work as “kid’s movies.” But that is the beauty of Dahl’s storytelling: he does not flinch from the notion that children can be adult, or that adults can be childish… Continue reading “Fantastic Mr. Fox: A Kid’s Film for Adults”

Zootopia Analyzed: Disney’s Timely New Classic

When many people think of Disney movies, their minds might go towards the token Princess movies, maybe the classics such as The Jungle Book and The Lion King, or perhaps the many wonderful Disney/Pixar collaborations. Just last year, however, Disney brought us a film that not only rivals the quality of the classics with the same heartwarming story and lovable characters but also goes to infinity and beyond in just about every way that we expect from their live-action films as well. Because of that, Zootopia is not just a kid’s film, but a family film that every viewer can enjoy and relate to; this one improves upon that notion by allowing kids to have fun while provoking adults to think more so than most other animated films will warrant. In my opinion, this film is a great example of how movies can balance not only just a relevant and relatable narrative but also subtle and smart comedy that allows the story to thrive as what it’s meant to be at heart: fun!… Continue reading “Zootopia Analyzed: Disney’s Timely New Classic”

Adapting Media into Films: What Works and What Doesn’t

When books are adapted to movies, it’s impossible to copy the original word for word. Often times subplots, scenes or other elements in the book are left out of the film to meet an acceptable runtime, and this can harm a reader’s appreciate of the film version. Since a book is interpreted differently by all who read it, it’s impossible for the person adapting the work to please every member of the audience. When I watch an adaptation of a book, I’ll often walk out thinking “man, I wish this was more like how I imagined it,” but there’s one movie adaptation that is so faithful to the source material that audiences everywhere thought “man, I wish I imagined the book more like that!” This adaptation is Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, based off of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novels

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