Thursday, March 23, 2017

Chance's Corner: McLintock! Review

A wise Indian once asked, "Where's the whiskey?" He sought the answer all across the frontier, practically risking his neck. He found many parties, but alas, no whiskey. His spirit now wanders, restlessly, and it has been said that you can still hear him asking for a nip when the wind blows. Tragic.

McLintock!, pronounced with either a -tick or -tock at the end, depending on who you ask, is a western-inspired retelling of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. The shrew here is the lovely Maureen O'Hara who plays Katherine "Katie" McLintock. Against her better judgement, Katie returns home to her cattle baron husband, G.W. McLintock (John Wayne), only to try to scoop up her daughter (Stefanie Powers) and take her away from the "uncivilized" life and men (particularly Patrick Wayne) on the frontier. Unfortunately, things don't go so smoothly for Mrs. Uppity, because the frontier life is too much fun to give up.

McLintock! doesn't take its plot too seriously. It knows that when the story starts to slack off it's time to throw in some slapstick, and there's plenty of slapstick to enjoy. The brawl in the mud pit is pretty iconic, and so is the ending when the typical gun duel in the middle of the street is replaced with a much-needed spanking. The spanking may irk those who like to throw buzzwords around, but eh... it was fun to see Maureen running around in her knickers. 

McLintock! is available at the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Julie's Journal : What I've Been Reading

The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende - I like books that recommend other books.  I recently read The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser, and while I didn't love it, she recommended several books throughout the story.  One of those was Momo by Michael Ende.  Momo was a little hard to find, but I was able to get a copy of another of Ende's books, The Never Ending Story.  Bastian Balthazar Bux is a lonely kid.  His mother has died, his father is grieving and doesn't seem to notice him, and he is constantly being picked on at school.  His only refuge is books.  One rainy day he ventures into a new bookshop and steals a book that the cantankerous shop keeper is reading.  Bastian takes the book to his school, but rather than attend class, he breaks into the attic and spends the entire day reading.  As the day wears on he finds himself more and more engrossed in the story, until he actually becomes a part of the story.  At first, he is the hero of the story, but his role changes, until he must figure out who he really is in order to return home.  There are 26 chapters in The Never Ending Story and each chapter begins with the next consecutive letter of the alphabet.  The letters are beautifully decorated and made it easy to keep track of my progress through the book.  As the book was translated from German, I am impressed that the English version kept this feature.  I did finally find a copy of the book I originally wanted, Momo, and I'll be reading it soon.  *Unfortunately, The Never Ending Story is not currently available at FCL or at Overdrive.  I had to buy a used copy from Amazon.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough - One of our library patrons recommended that I read this book.  She thought I would like it, and I did find it very interesting.  I don't really know how to describe Behind Her Eyes because it is a book with lots of twists and turns and I don't want to give anything away.  The story centers around Louise, a single mother in London, who works as a secretary in a psychiatrist's office.  She meets a man in a bar and shares a somewhat drunken kiss with him, only to find that he is her new (married) boss, David.  David is married to Adele, a stunningly beautiful woman who Louise meets by accident and becomes friends with.  Adele asks Louise not to mention their friendship to David, and while Louise thinks this is strange, she agrees.  I've been describing Behind Her Eyes as a psychological thriller, and it is, but there is more to it.  I thought I knew where it was going, but the ending was a complete shock.  Behind Her Eyes is available at FCL as a book or audiobook.  *This book is definitely for adults only.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner - I am a sucker for a good retelling of a fairy tale.  Hunted is a lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  Beauty by Robin McKinley was one of the first fairy tale retellings I ever read, and I loved it, so I always like revisiting Beauty and the Beast stories.  Yeva is the youngest of three sisters.  They are the daughters of one of the greatest hunters of the forest.  Their father gave up the hunt for the love of their mother and became a merchant in the city.  When their fortunes are reversed, the family retreats to their hunting cabin where their father attempts to return to hunting to support the family.  However, he is driven to madness because he believes there is something more in the forest than the usual animals.  When one of his dogs returns home without him, Yeva sets out in search of him and becomes a prisoner of the Beast.  While all the familiar elements of the story are present, Beauty's (Yeva's) character is much more fleshed out than we are familiar with.  I thought Hunted was very well done.  Hunted is available at FCL in our Science Fiction/Fantasy section.

Friday, March 17, 2017

New Books!

Chance has been busy putting in new books the last couple of days.  See anything you've been wanting to read?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Chance's Corner: Denial Review

Denial is a timely, true account of David Irving v Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, a case where the defendants had to prove in court that the Holocaust actually happened and Hitler historian David Irving was a racist liar. It should just be common fact that the Holocaust is real, based on countless eyewitness accounts, but in a court of law you have to have certifiable proof, and therein lies the problem. There's no photographic evidence, and the Germans blew up their own crematoriums at Auschwitz to mask the goings-on inside the buildings. So how do you prove such an atrocity took place? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.

Denial pretty much fell under my radar upon its initial release, and I'm not sure why it didn't get major attention. It should have been THE movie to see in 2016, since the term Nazi is back in "fashion". Despite all that, Denial is tightly directed and phenomenally acted. Timothy Spall lends a sense of sympathy for the despicable David Irving. I'm not saying Irving's "misunderstood" or a "good person". He isn't, but Spall adds a bit of humanity to him. Tom Wilkinson, even though he's a little late to the party, is his usual great self. If I had to pick on one particular actor, it'd be Rachel Weisz. She's not bad, but her "Queens accent" is a little off-putting, and she wears her heart on her sleeve. One of her lawyers tells her to calm down dozens of times, and she practically shouts back "I AM CALM!" Honey, you're high strung, and you really need to learn to whisper quieter in court.

Denial is now available at the Franklin County Library.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Chance's Corner: Movie Time at the Library (February) + Oscars Results

Another month, more movies!

For those of you who missed the news in January, we're now showing a kid's feature film on the last Thursday of every month, and a feature film for adults on the last Friday of every month. The movies start at 1:30 PM. This month we watched two stellar films.

Queen of Katwe

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That's Disney's formulaic mantra. Well, this time Disney seems to have broken that mantra, or at least tweaked it.

In Queen of Katwe, we're transported to the slum of Katwe, which is located in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Young Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) lives there with her mother (Lupita Nyong'o) and siblings. Their only means of income is selling maize, and the demand for maize is pretty low. While their lives seem pretty bleak, despite the astonishingly bright colors that surround them, they make the best of the situation through their bonds of faith and love. It could just be another case of born in the slums, die in the slums, but a curious Phiona soon stumbles upon a makeshift chess club hosted by missionary Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) that changes her life, and her family's life, forever.

Everyone's singing the praises of the professional actors in Queen of Katwe, which is fair, but newcomer Madina Nalwanga is truly a sight to behold. I would love to see more of her in the future. So, what about the tweaks to the Disney formula I mentioned? Focusing on a girl from Uganda, and showing the realities of slum life, is a start. The subject of prostitution is even addressed, giving the drama a darker edge. Overall, Phiona's story is inspiring, but it's not entirely sugarcoated. This is no princess tale. Phiona's a queen.

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove centers around a grumpy old man, Ove (Rolf Lassgård), that lives an incredibly structured life (and drives a Saab). Every morning at 8, he walks around his condominium to check on the state of things and enforce block association rules. Every day he visits his wife's (Ida Engvoll) grave and puts out fresh flowers. He also goes to work at a factory that he's been at for over 40 years... until he's suddenly fired. Soon afterwards, his whole structured life goes out of balance. Ove thinks it's the end for him, but as fate would have it, it's only a new beginning.

It's odd to find myself saying that a movie involving suicide is cute and funny, but here I am saying it. A lot of that is owed to Rolf Lassgård and Filip Berg, who play old Ove and young Ove, respectively. Rolf has the endearing, growling personality. You just want to give him a big ole bear hug. Filip shows Ove's sweeter, softer side through flashback. Through him, we witness Ove fall in love with his wife, Sonja. It kind of plays out like a Nicholas Sparks movie, but it's quirkier, and better.

If you missed out, both films are available to check out here at the Franklin County Library! I'd definitely recommend them. Now on to the Oscars! 

I cast my Oscar ballot a couple of weeks ago, and my predictions turned out pretty solid. While I did give Denzel Washington the edge over Casey Affleck for Best Actor, it really wasn't all that surprising to see Affleck run off with the gold because Denzel already has two Oscars at home. The real surprise turned out to be figuring out who the Best Picture winner was thanks to a misplaced duplicate envelope. Even if no one was watching the ceremony live, they know about one of the most embarrassing moments in Oscars history. Congratulations to Moonlight, even though it turned out to be a bittersweet win.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tom's Two Cents : La La Land

I didn't think I was going to like the most highly touted movie of the season: La La Land.  It started out with a massive car jam on an LA freeway that turned into a musical free-for-all, with all these millenials jumping out of their cars and doing a high- energy romp all over the freeway.  My mind went "Harump" and I thought, "Duh, I've been duped by the press--just another teen age musical!"  I was wrong.

After Mia (Emma Stone) had given Steve (Ryan Gosling) the finger for honking at her on the freeway and he bumped into her (really bumped) at the Studio coffee shop where she worked, and after another silly dance number with her and her roomies (in a very upscale apt), the movie finally settled down to what it was really about:  two attractive young people with powerful ambitions--his jazz piano, her’s serious acting--trying to escape being swallowed up in the great yawning maw of Hollywood, at the same time being clearly personally drawn to each other.

Once the movie settles comfortably into their respective stories and how they intertwine, it literally becomes the stuff of which dreams are made, taking them into one amazing dance sequence that finds them literally among the stars above the Griffith Observatory--surely my favorite dance sequence in the whole film.  When Stone and Gosling are together, as Doris Day sang so wondrously in the late 40's, "It's [truly] magic"!  The story they share (love vs ambition) is totally familiar, but the way they tell it is so enchanting, you can virtually convince yourself you're hearing it for the first time.

I've heard comments pro and con about the ending, which I thought perfect and superbly realized and directed.  If you're a Romantic, you may not like it, but as dreamy as it seems at times, this film is not a fairy tale--it's real life, at least as it exists in--well, in La La Land.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February Movies with Friends

Continuing our series of Movies with Friends, this week we will be showing a children's movie Thursday at 1:30 and an adult movie Friday at 1:30.  

The kid's movie with be "Queen of Katwe."  Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her family. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches children how to play chess. Phiona becomes fascinated with the game and soon becomes a top player under Katende's guidance. Her success in local competitions and tournaments opens the door to a bright future and a golden chance to escape from a life of poverty.

The adult movie with be "A Man Called Ove."  Ove (Rolf Lassgård) is the quintessential angry old man next door. An isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife's grave, Ove has given up on life. After a boisterous young family moves in next door and accidentally flattens Ove's mailbox, an unlikely friendship forms.

We hope you'll be able to join us for a movie this week!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Julie's Journal : What's With the Chirping in the Library?

If you've visited the library on certain days in the last couple of weeks, you may have heard unusual loud chirping.

Did you know that you can order baby ducks, chicken, and other fowl, and have them delivered by mail?  Last week, I received an order of ducks and a few chickens from Murray McMurray Hatcheries in Iowa.

Today I have a larger order of baby chicks.

This chick has unusual markings.

I ordered several Araucana chicks with this order.  These are otherwise known as Easter egg chickens because they will lay eggs with shells that are blue and green.  I'm excited about adding them to my flock.  

Today, the chicks will be residing behind the circulation desk in a box on a heating pad until my husband, Jason, is able to come pick them up when he gets off work at about 3:45.  The constant chirping certainly changes the ambiance of the library!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Chance's Corner: Oscar's Season

It's that time of the year when Oscar buzz has turned into Oscar reality. Some hopefuls have become duds. Some underdogs have become contenders. While 2016 gave us an onslaught of remakes and sequels that left many wondering if cinema was dead, there were still a few rays of hope, and many of those rays were nominated for Oscars this year. But who will win?

Here are my predictions:

Best Picture:

La La Land, a jazz-inspired musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I think this one will win because the Academy has a history of appreciating films that remind them of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Examples include Chicago and The Artist. However, Moonlight could possibly overtake La La Land because it's extremely topical.

Best Actor:

This category is still up in the air. Casey Affleck won the Golden Globe (Drama) for Manchester by the Sea, Ryan Gosling won the Golden Globe (Musical/Comedy) for La La Land, and Denzel Washington won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) award for Fences. I think Denzel is the man to beat, though. There's some serious buzz behind Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, but I don't think the Academy is going to swing his way.

Best Actress:

Everyone thought Natalie Portman had this category in the bag for her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, but Isabelle Huppert ran off with the Golden Globe (Drama) for Elle, and Emma Stone took away the Golden Globe (Musical/Comedy) and the SAG award for La La Land. Emma Stone is now the one to beat.

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali has the upper hand in this category for his supporting role in Moonlight, and I think he'll win unless something goes wrong.

Best Supporting Actress:

Viola Davis has already been robbed of an Oscar twice, but here's hoping that the third time is the charm for her performance in Fences.

Best Director Winner Prediction:

It's the ultimate showdown between Damien Chazelle for La La Land and Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, and Damien's odds of delivering the knock-out punch are extremely high.

Best Animated Film Winner Prediction:

Zootopia will most likely snatch up this award, but another Disney film, Moana, may steal it away.

That's my Oscar ballot for this year. We'll see how well I guessed on February 26th!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Fine Forgiveness

Franklin County Library is offering a Fine Forgiveness Campaign during the month of February 2017.

Patrons with overdue materials may return them to the library and ask that the fines be forgiven.
Please take advantage of this opportunity!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tom's Two Cents : The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

Anne Bronte, the younger sister of Charlotte and Emily, has long faded into literary obscurity, if indeed she ever emerged.  She died of consumption at the age of 29, having published two novels under the pseudonym of "Acton Bell" (her sisters were first known as Currer and Ellis Bell), not knowing of course that Charlotte and Emily would later become two of the most famous British novelists of all time.  Emily too died young; only Charlotte, the eldest of the surviving sisters, lived to enjoy fame and some fortune.

 Of Anne's two novels, "Tenant" is the lesser known, and probably the inferior work to "Agnes Grey," which I haven't read.  But it's still a good read, if the modern reader can tolerate what today would be considered excessively "flowery" 19th century prose.  There's nothing in the story itself that's out of sync with modern times--it's about a woman caught in the trap of an abusive marriage to an alcoholic and her attempt to escape that marriage and make a life for herself and her child.  The obstacles to female independence set forth in her age (the early 19th century in England) were virtually insurmountable, and the deck of cards was stacked against women, even women of means, whose fortunes at that time were usually controlled by their husbands.

Helen Huntington, the mysterious "tenant" of the title, is such a woman, trapped by circumstance until a smitten neighbor tries to become her protector, without understanding fully the nature of her marital dilemma.  The novel makes extensive use of letters and journals to tell its back story; indeed much of the novel is told in retrospect, rather than moving consistently forward.  Gilbert Markham, Helen's would-be suitor is no Rochester, much less Heathcliffe, nor is Helen herself a heroine in the class of Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw.  But the book is absorbing, nonetheless, and I would recommend it with some reservations.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Chance's Corner: Movie Time at the Library (January)

We've been showing movies here at the Franklin County Library off and on, but starting this year we're doing something a little different. We'll be showing a kid's feature film on the last Thursday of every month. We'll also be showing a feature film for adults on the last Friday of every month. The movies will start at 1:30 PM.

For the month of January, we watched Pete's Dragon and Sully. Pete's Dragon is a remake of the original 1977 Disney film, but it shares little to no resemblance to the musical classic. Instead, the new Pete's Dragon sets out on its own path, turning Pete into a feral boy and Elliot into a green fuzzball. It's a relatively simple film, and it's pretty cute, but it kind of feels like a rather safe film. Nothing new was brought to the table.

As for Sully, I was completely blown away. It very well could have been a generic, linear tale about an ensemble of characters who survived the "Miracle on the Hudson", but just as the title implies, this is all about the man himself, and Tom Hanks plays him subtly, yet powerfully. Structurally, this is an incredibly-tight, masterfully-told film. Assuming we already knew what happened, Sully picks up after the forced water landing. I love a film that cuts through the malarkey and gets right down to the meat of the story. The meat here is that while the public immediately labeled Sully a hero, it took the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 15 months to believe it. In the second act, the events leading up to the forced water landing are shown via flashback, and there is a little ensemble action concerning a handful of passengers, but director Clint Eastwood doesn't let the film get bogged down in it.

We'd love to have you join us for our upcoming films in February! Keep checking our Facebook page to see what we'll be showing each month.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Julie's Journal : The Lost Girls by Heather Young

I’ve been in a little bit of a reading slump in this new year.  Nothing seems to have grabbed my attention and held it.  However, Friday, I was looking for something to read over the long weekend and I picked up The Lost Girls by Heather Young.  I was attracted by its menacing, dark blue cover, and the fact that it is a multi-generational story.  The Lost Girls is told from two points of view – that of Lucy and her great-niece Justine.  

Justine is a little lost herself.  She lives in San Diego with her two daughters and a boyfriend she picked up after her long-time partner, and father of her children, left without warning.  Her new boyfriend, Patrick, is a control freak and a master manipulator.  Justine, whose childhood was tumultuous, seems to feel that his manipulation is the price she must pay for finally being loved.  The night he stages a robbery to see if he can scare her into thinking something has happened to him scares her, but she probably would have continued justifying his behavior.  The next day, though, she finds out that Aunt Lucy has died and left Justine her house on a remote lake in Minnesota.  Justine packs up her daughters and drives cross country to the house, trying to leave no clues behind her as to where she has gone.  She arrives in the middle of a Minnesota winter and begins to try and rebuild her life. 

Lucy’s story was much more compelling.  Her baby sister, Emily disappeared on the last day of the summer of 1935.  Nothing has been seen of her since.  It is assumed that Emily tried to run away and perished in the deep woods around the lake.  However, Lucy begins her memoir by writing about the beginning of the summer.  From a well-to-do family, Lucy is eleven years old and feels like her older sister and friend, Lilith is slipping away from her.  She hopes that their annual summer at the lake will help them reconnect.  In truth she spends the summer watching as Lilith grows further and further away from her.  She begins to befriend her younger sister, the previously despised Emily, and makes friends with a boy from the lodge at the lake.   She continues describing the long summer, culminating in Emily’s disappearance. 

Ms. Young’s descriptions of the lake were lovely.  Justine and her daughters arrive in the dead of winter, just before Christmas, and the reader can feel the cold seeping through every crack in the dilapidated house.  The lake is frozen so hard that a car can be driven on it, something this Texas girl has a hard time imagining.  Lucy’s story takes place in the summer, and the cookouts, swimming parties, teenagers hanging out, and the heat come alive.  Ms. Young is very adept in setting the atmosphere of her novel and the summer of Lucy’s story contrasted with the winter of Justine’s is very effective.

Published in August of last year, The Lost Girls, is Ms. Young’s first novel.  I hope we see more from her soon.         

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Poet's Perch : Then Laugh by Bertha Adams Backus

Then Laugh

Build for yourself a strong box,
Fashion each part with care;
When it's strong as your hand can make it,
Put all your troubles there;
Hide there all thought of your failures,
And each bitter cup that you quaff;
Lock all your heartaches within it,
Then sit on the lid and laugh.

Tell no one else its contents,
Never its secrets share;
When you've dropped in your care and worry
Keep them forever there;
Hide them from sight so completely
That the world will never dream half;
Fasten the strong box securely - 
Then sit on the lid and laugh.

Bertha Adams Backus