BCLMC BROOKLYN CAMPUS LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER
March, 2006: Robert Altman; March Madness; St. Patrick's Day;
Ali Farka Toure; Gordon Parks
"Can we talk about something other than Hollywood for a change? We're educated people." --Griffin Mill [Tim Robbins], The Player
In the Mix: a random shuffle of some movies we've played recently in our Now Playing program:
Other sites we like:
Ali Farka Toure, 1939-2006
Malian guitarist who combined West African music traditions with American blues. We have his collaboration with Ry Cooder on compact disc:
Talking Timbuktu, which also features musicians Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Jim Keltner.
Gordon Parks, 1912-2006
Great American photographer, writer, filmmaker, and composer. Half Past Autumn is a documentary about his life and art; he produced, composed the score, and directed The Learning Tree, based on his own novel; later he directed one of the greatest blaxsploitation films [and the one with the Curtis Mayfield score], Superfly.
Don Knotts, 1924-2006
Googly-eyed comedian was best-known for his TV roles, although he made some successful movies in the 1960's and 70's; alas, the only work of his in the BCLMC is his small but memorable role as the ominously magical TV repairman in Pleasantville.
This issue of BCLMC is brought to you all the way from the back row by Media Assistant Patrick "Jakers!" Jewell. Tell your friends.
The Academy honored the great American director Robert Altman, who just turned 81, with a special Oscar at this year's Academy Awards on March 5th. Altman is part of that long and distinguished list of great moviemakers who never won an Oscar [like who, you say? Hitchcock, Welles, Hawks, Renoir, Kubrick, Lang, Walsh, for starters].
Altman's career is emphatically punctuated by an extraordinary run of great films in the early 70's, beginning with M*A*S*H in 1970 and continuing with McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), The Long Goodbye (1973), Thieves Like Us (1974), California Split (1975), and Nashville (1975). These six films range in genre and tone from satire, war film, comedy, western, detective novel, Depression-era crime film, to political film, eventually culminating in the giant, multi-storyline mosaic that is Nashville, which just might be the Great American Movie.
In the years leading up to this extraordinary run of filmmaking, Altman worked in television and also made a number of low-profile genre films. In the years following Nashville, Altman's career has been spotty but prolific and always interesting. High points include The Player [his 'comeback' film and a sharp little poke at Hollywood - dig that famous opening tracking shot], Short Cuts [based on the stories of Raymond Carver], Vincent and Theo [a harrowingly intense look at the brothers van Gogh], Kansas City [a nice little ode to jazz], and the sharply barbed and remarkably prescient political satire television series Tanner '88.
We have examples from every period of this outsider's career. Altman's style? Naturalistically overlapping dialogue [did you see Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep introduce him at the Oscars?], long pans, zooms, play between focus and out-of-focus visuals, and a fearless approach to a wide variety of genres and subjects. It's almost a cliché to use the word 'maverick' in describing Altman and his career; the man himself likens filmmaking to "building sand castles on the beach."
March Madness usually refers to the NCAA basketball tournament. But since we don't have a lot of basketball films in our collection [Hoosiers, He Got Game, Cornbread, Earl and Me, Love and Basketball], we're going to use the term a little more loosely:
St. Patrick's Day
John Ford's The Quiet Man, of course, is essential Erin go Bragh viewing, the Homeric story of a son of Ireland who returns to the Irish countryside to both escape and honor his past. Here are a few other titles with more than a touch of green to them.
looking for a puppeteer in today's wintry economic climate." --Craig
Schwartz [John Cusack] Being
"Attention. Tonight's movie has been M*A*S*H. Follow the zany antics of our combat surgeons as they cut and stitch their way along the front lines, operating as bombs and bullets burst around them; snatching laughs and love between amputations and penicillin."
Announcer [Sal Viscuso], M*A*S*H
The Media Center is located on the fifth floor of the Library Learning Center. Come up and see us some time.
BCLMC BROOKLYN CAMPUS LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER
Comments? Contact us.
Slonosky, Media Librarian (718) 488-1311