theBCLMC     

The Long Island University Brooklyn Campus Library Media Center Newsletter 

 

We love movies, among other things.

December 2009, issue 50

"It's not the years, honey.  It's the mileage." 
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)



A Very Special Episode of the BCLMC:
The Fiftieth Issue Extravaganza! 

Well, what do you know about that?  Fifty issues, and the engine's still purring like a kitten.  Break out the champagne.  I started this thing back in May of 2005, with a couple little features about Ossie Davis and Memorable Movie Moms [May, Mother's Day, get it?], and here we are as 2009 rolls to a close and I am still amusing myself and attempting to amuse and enlighten others with bits of the trivial and profound about our collection, written just about every month or so.  I'm not too proud to admit that I'm kind of proud of that. 

If you dig around the past issues a little bit, you'll start to get an idea of where my movie and entertainment interests lie, no matter how impartial I try to be, and while my enthusiasms are definitely wide-ranging, I thought that for this big five-oh ish that I'd invite my Library colleagues, one and all, to contribute.  I invited, cajoled, bullied, threatened, pleaded, bargained, and tap danced, and I got the following contributions, which both illustrate the range and depth of our collections and illuminate the mix of personalities that help make the Library such an important part of campus life. 

I asked everyone to recommend a favorite of theirs in our collection, and to give a reason or two for their pick, or picks, as the case may be.  I give them to you in the order they were given to me, with as little editing as possible, and I hope you find a little something that's new to you, or a new path worth exploring.  And so, without further ado, here they are, your Fiftieth Issue Library Staff Recommendations....

Emily Drabinski, Electronic Resources and Instruction Librarian:
I still think Herbert Biberman's Salt of the Earth is one of the best accounts of union struggles and the indignities of immigrant labor that I have ever seen, read, or heard. Watching the women picket because that is the most strategic way to deploy those bodies in the fight captures so much of what it means to be in solidarity. That the filmmakers were blacklisted at the height of this country's witch hunt for Communists gives the struggle on screen a compelling off-screen dimension, one that is well-documented in the special features on the DVD.

Cristina Muia, Acquisitions Assistant:
The Up Series has to be up there on the documentary list of greats. These films are made every seven years. They began by  following  the lives of a  group of British  school children at age seven. Although, some have passed on, the majority are still alive. Today, these children are 49 years old!   Maybe it is because I m in their age range that I can relate to their lives. Overall, it s truly a step up from how some reality tv shows portray people.

Jane Suda, Reference and Instruction Adjunct Librarian:
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers - Michael Kidd was an amazing choreographer.  This film is his best work.

Rachel Gleiberman, Library Business Manager:

Grizzly Man

Alien

Pride & Prejudice (the 1995 version)

Bridget Jones  Diary

Pretty in Pink

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Shadow of the Vampire

Gone With the Wind

The Sure Thing

 

Lisa Rivera, Media Center:

Well, it was very hard to narrow my list down...I love so many of them.

 

I choose The Heiress starring Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift. Revenge is both sweet and bitter &once done it can change your whole life.

 

My other choice would be Rebecca starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. True love withstands all adversities &even the past.

 

My other choice is Jane Austen s Pride and Prejudice. The contentious and eventually respectful and loving relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy is intriguing &do we really know what we want?

Lisa Burwell, Interlibrary Loan:

These movies I can see over and over and laugh like it s the first time seeing them.

Cooley High

Foxy Brown

Shaft

The Mack

 

Edward Keane, Reference/Instruction Librarian and Acting Periodicals Librarian: A real go-go boot kick in the head...I am nominating Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Like Rock n Roll itself, this film, or even just the anticipation of seeing it, puts me in a Friday Night mood.  The memory of seeing it in a drive-in is one of the few good things about getting old.  I also like how Martin Short and the gang from Arrested Development paid homage to the Old Man and his muscle bound assistant who carries him around like a weird child.

Diana J. Mitrano, Cataloging Librarian:
Not One Less by Zhang Yimou--heartwarming storytelling without the fancy cinematography and not one big name star. Plus it has a reassuring message that stubbornness is sometimes a virtue.

Suzie Remilien, Reference and Instruction Librarian:
The Robert Graves series I, Claudius combines intrigue and superb acting. I watch it at least once a year!

Peter J. Salber, Coordinator of User Services:
While 1971 was a brilliant year for American film in general (think The French ConnectionKlute, Summer of 42, and  The Last Picture Show), it was dismal for the Western genre (think Big Jake, Catlow, Hannie Caulder, and the acid-infused Zachariah); with one exception: McCabe & Mrs. Miller.
            Robert Altman s turn-of the-century vision of a (north)western mining town and its denizens is at once painterly, elegiac, poetic, and subversive.  Warren Beatty is McCabe, a doomed yet doughty small-time card sharp, and Julie Christie is the whorehouse madam with a heart of opium, who learn to work together in the emerging town of
Presbyterian Church. After achieving a sort of success in their bawd-and-bathhouse business partnership, they are made an offer they shouldn t refuse by a large corporation, from which emerges the tragedy. The film runs against what might be considered the conventions of the western movie.
            There s no high-noon brightness to it, only a dark, sometimes even fuzzy cinematography. No arid desert and butte-iful backgrounds, but evergreen forest and intermittent snowstorms. No showdown in the main street, but rather a gunfight played out by opponents slinking through backyards and alleys. The ultimate mutually-suicidal meeting is witnessed by only the camera, as the townspeople are all off trying to extinguish their burning church.  Beatty s McCabe is the quintessential antihero, bleeding to death in the snow, while Mrs. Miller lies in a deepening drug-induced stupor.
            Not cheerful enough? Then consider the music, mostly by Leonard Cohen, with three songs from his debut album.  The Stranger Song  and Sisters of Mercy  seem to have been written for the film, although they precede it by more than three years.  Written in Cohen s literate and desolate style, the two songs (about a gambler and a house of prostitution, respectively) match the slow and deliberate mood of the film. They also rank among the best examples of 20th-century poetry in English. 
            Lyrics take on a meta-importance as Cohen s song Winter Lady  plays over McCabe s death scene:  Well I lived with a child of snow / when I was a soldier, / and I fought every man for her / until the nights grew colder.   This points to the film s subtext: that just as we have lost the western myth, we have lost the Johnson/Nixon war in
Vietnam.
           To a nation battered and torn by the war, such a movie was almost too much to bear.  A critical success, though a box-office flop, it has become an enduring icon of the era and of Altman s artistic and political vision.  In his book The Great Movies, Roger Ebert wrote that Altman has made a dozen films that can be called great, but one of them is perfect and that one is McCabe & Mrs. Miller."  Try it and see if you agree. 

Janet Marks, Archivist:
At the risk of appearing hopelessly old fashioned, I'll nominate one of my favorites: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.  It is not a gritty, "slice of life" film but rather a sensitively framed portrait of a poor family living in a tenement in
Brooklyn at the turn of the century.  Father, a singing waiter given to drink; mother, who scrubs floors to make ends meet; Neely, the scrappy young son and Francie, the sister on the brink of growing up. There are no stereotypes here; each family member is portrayed with shades of anger, resentment, yearning, love, flaws and triumphs.  Central to the story is Francie, whose favorite reading and dreaming spot is the fire escape overlooking the shared tiny courtyard where a tree (The Tree of Heaven) grows stubbornly and valiantly out of a space in the cement.  It is clear but never heavy handed what this represents. I may be hopelessly old fashioned but, actually, I don't think the film is.

 

Betsy Crenshaw, Reference/Health Services Librarian:

To Kill a Mockingbird, made in 1962, has long been a favorite of mine. In spite of the fact that it was made in 1962 and is set during the Depression,  it reminds me - for reasons good and bad - of  my own childhood. Growing up in Texas and Oklahoma in the 1960 s and 70 s, I witnessed the awful cruelty of societally sanctioned racism and experienced the resultant early awareness of both injustice in the world and the need to combat it. This film, with fine naturalistic performances and a gentle touch for a harsh subject, continues to move me each time I view it.

 

Rodney James, Circulation Assistant: 
Let The Right One In, 2008, is a new addition to the collection. Directed by Thomas Alfredson, it's based on a novel with the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie. Though it is in the genre of horror, it is a touchingly beautiful retelling of the classic vampire tale, centering on the relationship between a twelve year old bullied boy, and his new neighbor, a vampire that has been twelve years old for hundreds of years. Don't get me wrong, it definitely has its horrific moments, but overall, it is a movie about friendship, loyalty, and can you believe it, love. I definitely recommend it!

 

Paul Tremblay, Coordinator of Reference Services:
I can t explain my fascination with Peter Watkins  films. He is not the father of docudrama or nonfiction re-enactment after all but he certainly is the one who exploited the genre to perfection. His fake documentaries  have influenced a number of filmmakers and genres. Edvard Munch (1976) is shot as a documentary produced during the life and time of the nineteenth-century Norwegian painter & years before the invention of motion pictures. Actors were asked to behave as if they are documentary subjects, looking awkwardly at the handheld camera, answering the interviewer s questions, etc. Same with The War Game (1966) in which Watkins pre-constructs  the impact of a nuclear attack on
London. Amazingly enough, the film won the Best Documentary Oscar!! More recently La Commune (Paris 1871) (2000) shows us, again documentary style, how French experimented with provisionary government. Reality TV learned a lot from Watkins, sometimes imitating (read: plagiarizing) his style of reality make-believe. Today s bachelorettes or a bunch of survivors never looked so real & except they re not!

 

Martin Zimerman, Electronic Services Librarian
I like explosions and on-screen chaos (as long as nobody really gets hurt). I loved the entire X-Men series and the Transformers films, as well as the entire Terminator series. The movies don t have to be science-fiction. Bad Boys II was a great example of how much damage can be done to property with the properly executed car chase scenes.

 

Charles Guarria, Acquisitions Librarian:

I recommend Ghost because everyone should have a Ditto  moment.

 

Sheila Tyler, Acquisitions Assistant:
I recommend Devil in a Blue Dress, staring Denzel Washington.  I like a quote he said- A man once told me that you step out of your door in the morning, and you are already in trouble.  The only question is, are you on top of that trouble or not? 

 

Ingrid Wang, Coordinator of Technology and Information Services:

Check out our Chinese movie collection! Start with the following: 

Eat Drink Man Woman

Lust, Caution

Hua Yang Nian Hua

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Farewell My Concubine

Raise the Red Lantern

 


Thanks to all of you who read the BCLMC.  And thanks to my colleagues who've helped make this issue special.  Thanks to Ingrid Wang, who has been nothing but supportive from day one as the person who posts the issues to the Library's website.  Thanks to my old boss, former LIU Media Librarian Andrea Slonosky, who was very generous and encouraging in this pursuit while she was here.   Finally, thanks also to my fellow Media Center Staffer Lisa Rivera, who is an absolute pleasure to work with. 

We'll see you in the New Year with your regularly scheduled issue 51.  Happy and Healthy Holiday Wishes to all!


"All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people." 
My Man Godfrey
(1936)


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This issue of  BCLMC is brought to you all the way from the back row by Media Assistant and Santa's Hipster Patrick Jewell.  Tell your friends. 

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

Questions?  Comments?  Contact us. 
Media Center Staff:
Patrick Jewell,  Media Assistant  (718) 488-3392  Patrick.Jewell@liu.edu
Lisa Rivera,  Media Assistant  (718) 780-4378  Lisa.Cotton@liu.edu