Kimberly C's blog

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

sharkHappy Shark Week! In 1988, the very first Shark Week, an annual event that offers movies and documentaries that promote shark awareness, premiered on the Discovery Channel. Now in its 28th year, Shark Week is more popular than ever.

Of course, this fascination with sharks didn’t start with Shark Week. Thirteen years previously in 1975, Jaws was released to massive critical and fan acclaim. With masterful direction by Steven Spielberg, a script co-written by Peter Benchley (who wrote the novel the film was based on) and Carl Gottlieb, an ominous main theme by John Williams, and memorable performances by stellar actors and an often-faulty mechanical shark, Jaws has become not only a cult classic, but one of the greatest movies of the twentieth century.

Since that time, sharks have repeatedly served as the inspiration for movies – often in a slightly campy, yet terrifying capacity. In fact, many a sci fi creature feature has starred an outrageously unrealistic shark terrorizing beachgoers. But that’s not to say that sharks can’t be friendly. In Pixar’s Finding Nemo, for example, the sharks are learning that “fish are friends, not food!” No matter the role, sharks remain a familiar feature in movies.

If you’re in the mood for a shark movie or two, but missed some of this year’s Shark Week programming, the library has you covered! Check out the list below and request a shark movie today!

Undercover

secretsEarlier this week, I finished watching the first season of Graceland, a current television show about a group of undercover federal agents living and working out of a government-seized beach house in California. The show is addictive, suspenseful and smart, with secrets and lies in every storyline. By the end of the season, my opinions about each character had changed so many times that I wasn’t quite sure who to trust. 

The world of undercover cops and federal agents has long been a source of inspiration for filmmakers. Audiences are fascinated by the idea of cultivating an undercover identity and infiltrating the criminal underworld. There is danger at every turn, secrets to guard and to uncover, and even the smallest misstep can lead to the very real possibility of exposure. Movies about undercover work not only give us a sneak peek into the criminal world, but into the psychology of what it might be like to live a lie. In nearly every undercover movie, there is a point where viewers worry the character might have crossed over the line and is in danger of becoming the very person they are trying to catch. It is this delicate balance between good and evil that invites filmmakers and audiences to explore the world of undercover cops time and again.

Of course, not every movie about undercover cops is dark and suspenseful. Some of them, like Miss Congeniality and 21 Jump Street, take a funnier, more light-hearted approach to undercover work. These movies may not delve as deeply into the psychology of undercover, but they certainly have their place.

If you’re in the mood for an undercover movie this weekend, browse the HCPL catalog and request one today!

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

San AndreasIn my years enthusiastically discussing movies with everyone I meet, I have noticed that even when people have wildly different tastes in films, they always (and this is a blatant generalization) agree on one thing: The Rock. Everyone loves The Rock. He is effortlessly cool and charismatic, imposing in stature, but an overall nice guy with a strong work ethic and a healthy appreciation for his fans.

Despite his immense popularity as an actor, Dwayne Johnson (better known as The Rock) didn’t start out in movies. In college, he played football for the University of Miami and had dreams of eventually going pro. But after a series of injuries left him benched, he turned to professional wrestling, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. The first third-generation professional wrestler for the WWF, Johnson quickly made a name for himself in the ring. 

Kick off Your Sunday Shoes

dancing sculptureA high school dance is a rite of passage for many teenagers. Whether it is Spring Fling, the Homecoming Dance, a Winter Formal or Senior Prom, most people probably have a story or two from their own high school dance. These dances seem so important to the high school experience that they appear as turning points in many movies. In movies that feature a dance, relationships are made and broken on the dance floor, impassioned speeches are delivered, and the mean girls always learn their lesson.

Unfortunately, none of my high school dances involved spontaneous choreographed dancing, elaborately decorated ballrooms, or happily ever after like they do in the movies. But they also didn’t include buckets of blood, tears or murder, so I suppose I can handle the memories of uncoordinated dancing.

Below, I have put together a list of movies that feature a school dance. Although most of the movies don’t revolve around the dance, it does play a crucial part in the plot and the developing relationships of the characters. Which movie dance do you wish you could attend?

Avengers Assemble!

avengersThis weekend The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the highly anticipated next installment in Marvel’s blockbuster superhero movies, hits theaters. Unlike many superhero movies that focus on the origin story of one particular hero, The Avengers brings together a massive cast of actors and actresses. Some of the actors, like Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr, are well-known veterans of film, while others, like Elizabeth Olsen, are relative newcomers not only to the Marvel universe, but to Hollywood.

But one thing all of these actors and actresses have in common is talent and charisma. Below, I have compiled a list of some of the moves and TV shows this group has done outside their work as Marvel superheroes. If you can’t make it to the movies this weekend to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron, or you just want to see what your favorite superhero does in his or her downtime, check out some of these other titles!

Paul Bettany (Jarvis/Vision) A Beautiful Mind; A Knight’s Tale; Inkheart; Master & Commander: The Far Side of The World

Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine)Crash; Flight; Hotel Rwanda; House of Lies; Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve & Thirteen; Traffic

Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man)Chef; Home for the Holidays; The Judge; Sherlock Holmes; Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America)Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer; The Losers; Snowpiercer; Sunshine; TMNT; What’s Your Number?

Vroom, Vroom...

deloreanTwo weeks ago Furious 7, the highly anticipated addition to The Fast & The Furious movie franchise, released in theaters to huge box office numbers. Much of this box office success is, of course, generated by fans of the series. But a far more solemn reason behind Furious 7’s success is that it was the last movie filmed by Paul Walker before he passed away in a tragic accident last year. The success of this movie stands as a testament not only to the draw of action movies in general, but to Walker’s enduring legacy as a respected and beloved actor.

Movies revolving around cars had long been a staple in Hollywood before The Fast & The Furious premiered in 2001. That franchise is, perhaps, unique in its success, but it is not unique in its portrayal of the culture of cars and the people who drive them. However, a movie doesn’t necessarily have to be about cars for it to feature a recognizable vehicle. In fact, some movie cars are so iconic, like the DeLorean in Back to the Future, that, even though they are not the central plot of the film, they almost become an extra character in the movie.

Below, I have listed a few movies that prominently feature cars. Some of these are firmly entrenched in car culture, while others simply feature an iconic car. Which is your favorite?

Inconceivable!

ferris buellerThe Princess Bride, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Napoleon Dynamite, A Christmas Story, Mean Girls, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Mummy, Airplane!, Pitch Perfect and Clueless.

A seemingly random assortment of movies that all have one thing in common: They are all extremely quotable. They are so quotable that lines from these movies have made their way into everyday conversation. (In fact, one of my younger brothers still retorts, in true Napoleon fashion, “your mom goes to college” when provoked.)  Movie quotes are as important to the longevity of a movie as the acting, the plot, and the visual effects. They are so important, in fact, that the American Film Institute released a list in 2005 of the 100 best movie quotes.

Below, I’ve picked out a few of my favorite quotes from the AFI’s list, 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes. Which quote from the list is your favorite? Is there a quote you think should have been on the list?

  • I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse. The Godfather (#2)
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  • Here’s looking at you, kid. Casablanca (#5)

Teen Tech Week @ The Movies

robotEach year in March, libraries celebrate Teen Tech Week. Hosted by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), a division of the American Library Association, Teen Tech Week promotes technology services in the library through programming geared towards teenagers. At Harris County Public Library, we support our customers in their creative and technological endeavors with programming, books and materials, computers and equipment.

Movies have come a long way in the last 125 years, evolving from minute-long scenes filmed without sound and in black and white, to the feature-length movies of today enhanced digitally in post-production. But no matter how fast technology advances, our imaginations always see endless possibilities: time travel, flying cars, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. For years, filmmakers have explored these potential technological futures – whether positive or negative - through movies.

Just this past weekend Chappie, a film about a robot who can think and feel for himself and his implications for humanity, opened in theaters. Movies like Chappie and the ones on the list below allow us to envision a different future. They inspire audiences to think outside the box and take steps to bring some of those technological advances to pass.

If you’re in the mood for a bit of inspiration this Teen Tech Week, browse the HCPL catalog and request a movie today!

87th Academy Awards

academy awardLast night, the movie award season came to a satisfying conclusion at the 87th Academy Awards, the biggest night of the year for Hollywood. Like always, the live telecast brought the glitz and the glam, the laughs and the tears. First time Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris kicked off the night with an appropriately musical tribute to movie magic. Joined by Anna Kendrick and Jack Black, Harris’ song reminded audiences at home and in the Dolby Theatre why movies are so captivating. It was a charming beginning to a fun night of one-liners, bits, and one show-long magic trick.

Emotions were high throughout the ceremony as winners took to the stage with speeches that ran the gamut of funny (when one of the screenwriters for Birdman thanked his dog Larry), heartfelt (when The Imitation Game screenwriter, Graham Moore, told kids to “stay weird”) and impassioned (the many speeches that mentioned social and political activism). My personal favorite speech of the night was given by supporting actor winner J.K. Simmons, when, after saying his thanks, he closed his speech by strongly advising everyone listening to call their parents, if possible.

Oscar Snubs in Movie History

north by northwest minimalist posterThe goal of the Academy Awards is to honor the best of the best in film and, the majority of the time, they do just that. But sometimes they might get it a little bit wrong. In retrospect, maybe the best picture winner wasn’t quite as outstanding as it seemed. Maybe one of the other nominated films has proven itself an enduring classic, a movie worth re-watching time and again. And sometimes, the best film of the year, the one that reaches classic movie status, wasn’t even nominated.

As happens every year, this year’s Oscar nominees have been met with mixed feelings. There can only be so many nominees in the best picture category and, each year, there are wonderful movies that are left off of the final ballot. This year’s favorite movies not up for a best picture nomination include, among others, a bestselling book made into a film (Gone Girl), a beloved stage musical made into a film (Into the Woods), an inspiring biographical account (Unbroken), and a science fiction epic (Interstellar). But perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of this year’s Oscars is, of course, the absence of The LEGO Movie from the best animated feature nominees. Maybe everything isn’t as awesome as it should be at the Oscars?

If you are suffering from awards season burnout, check out one of these classic films instead! They may not have received a best picture nomination, but they are more than worthy of a second (or third, or fourth…) look!

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