The Bookshop on Film and Page

At the start of the film The Bookshop it is 1959 and a young widow living in a small English town decides to open a bookshop. After six months of negotiations, she is able to purchase an old building that has been vacant for years. That’s when the town grande dame decides that she wants that building for an arts center and tells the young woman that she will have to find another building for her bookshop.

The grande dame is accustomed to the villagers simply acceding to all her demands, no matter how unreasonable. This time, the young woman decides to fight for her dream of opening a bookshop in that building. Big mistake. The grande dame and her husband, a former general, begin an all-out campaign to destroy the young woman who dared to defy them.

This independent British film is available on Kanopy, one of the library’s free video apps. It stars Emily Mortimer as Florence Green, the young widow; Patricia Clarkson as the village grande dame; and Bill Nighy as a reclusive, book-loving widower (who isn’t actually a widower at all).

This is a beautifully made film with a superb cast – the stars all turn in exceptional performances and so do the supporting actors.

If you like British films, you might enjoy The Bookshop.

This film is based on the novel The Bookshop by British author Penelope Fitzgerald, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. We have the novel available in our digital collection as an e-book and also as an audiobook.

Streaming Video

Streaming video has become old hat these days. Still, it’s nice to know that the library has streaming services available. Recently, I took it upon myself to see just what kind of offerings Hoopla has available for patrons of the Everett Public Library. And what I found might amaze you! Well, not really. In fact it’s not that surprising at all, but here it is.

Many of the movies offered by Hoopla are not first run blockbusters. In fact, popular fiction titles are few and far between. But for a person such as myself who is entertained by bad movies and can find good in mediocre movies, there’s a treasure trove of entertainment to be viewed.

Take for example The Radioland Murders. I discovered this movie some years ago and was never able to locate it again. Here we find a murder mystery set in the 1930s with lots of Art Deco, live radio broadcasts, full orchestras in the studio and a killer on the loose. The cast includes a variety of talented actors and the script is well written and entertaining. If you like live radio shows such as The Shadow, you’ll get a kick out of watching the shows be produced, seeing how the sound effects are made, and witnessing the stress of actors receiving scripts just moments before they have to speak the lines. In brief, if you enjoy murder mysteries this movie is well worth checking out. Thank you, Hoopla, for finding this treasure for me once again.

Another title I tried out was The Red House starring Edward G. Robinson. The movie was listed under film noir and I thought it might be based on a mystery by A.A Milne that I had read a few years back. This 1947 film, which in fact has nothing to do with the Milne book, focuses on middle aged siblings who own a small farm. Locals refer to them as the mysterious Martins. Next to their farm stands the Oxhead Woods, which turns out to be the real center of the mystery.

When high school senior Nath goes to work for the Martins, he simply wants to earn some cash. The couple’s adopted daughter Meg obviously has feelings for Nath, but he is planning to marry his girlfriend Tippy and doesn’t even notice Meg’s interest. Early on it becomes apparent that Mr. Martin, Pete, is obsessed with the woods and he tells everyone to avoid them. Something happened in his past in a red house in the woods and Pete hears screaming whenever he’s in those woods. But we don’t learn more about this for quite some time.

Ultimately, the movie is a psychological thriller and I don’t really want to give any more details so as not to give away the thrill of it to. Suffice to say, any time you watch an older movie that apparently has the soundtrack from a hygiene film, well, you know what you’re in for. Kidding aside, The Red House, while sometimes predictable, is still an enjoyable ride.

My final foray into Hoopla came in the guise of a spy thriller/action/comedy titled Operation Endgame. In this movie featuring a talented cast, the director couldn’t decide what type of movie he was making. While the original intent was probably for a spy spoof, the humor never grew much beyond occasional funny dialog. The action seems fine, the gore level adequate. The plot, involving a secret American intelligence group whose members are all trying to kill each other, was sufficiently twisty to satisfy my need for surprise and novelty.

It’s difficult to say much about the plot of this one without giving too much away. What I liked best is that anything could happen, any character could suddenly die. This took away the predictability that this type of movie often suffers from. I moderately recommend this film to anyone who enjoys spydom.

So there you have it. Oh, and let us not forget the best feature of Hoopla: It’s free! So you can take a chance on a movie that may or may not be outstanding. And, I recommend that you do so. But please, do not start with Nude Nuns with Big Guns (I did not make this up!). Slide into an easier title first before tackling the big guns.

Kanopy for the Holidays

Logging into Kanopy is like going to the coolest video store on the planet. You remember those, right? You’d walk in and the place was curated with a cineaste’s top picks. You were absolutely guaranteed a serendipitous encounter with the sublime, strange, or some combination therein. Kanopy allows anyone to catch anything: from contemporary hits & classics to documentaries, including The Great Courses (there are 3,124 courses from Learning Spanish to Music as a Mirror of History), to world cinema including classics by the likes of Fellini & Bergman, to obscure & wonderful Films Noir like Lured and Sudden Fear, to utter schlock that may shock…

But just in time for the holidays, Kanopy has something for you. And it’s all free!

From contemporary classics like We Need to Talk about Kevin to Christopher Nolan’s Memento, Kanopy stocks a wonderful collection of new movies. But last year’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople is really very special. The film is as wild as the title may suggest. From New Zealand and the director of the also-recommended vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows, Wilderpeople is the story of perpetual foster child Ricky Baker. Ricky has finally found his dream family…or the family that has the patience and kindness to handle this violent, clumsy, arson-prone problem child with a heart of gold. Unfortunately, his foster-mother quickly dies. Her husband, played by the great Sam Neill, goes walkabout to grieve her. Ricky runs away, but bumps into him in the process. They become fugitives, which is even crazier…and funnier than it sounds. Critics called it: “Deeply delightful,” “Infectiously entertaining adventure,” and “a deliciously good time.” If this sounds like what you’re hunting for, hunt no further than New Zealand’s biggest hit film of all time, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Echoes of Moonrise Kingdom and great buddy pictures abound. Watch it.

And I also mentioned Film Noir, everyone’s favorite Classical Hollywood genre (really a style) of film, so named by the French when our films flooded their country post-World War II. Because, well, they were really dark or black (as you’d imagine, noir is the French word for that). The cycle of films (roughly 1941-1959) are paranoid and filled with beautiful shadows, tough, fast-talking characters, and some of the wildest angles and deepest meaning of any American films you’ll see. The director of Lured, Douglas Sirk, is renowned for incredibly rich and evocative 50’s melodramas like Imitation of Life, but in 1947 he directed a young Lucille Ball as a dance hall girl in danger of falling prey to a serial killer on the foggy London streets. If Ball wasn’t enough, we also are treated to the suave George Sanders and the inimitable Boris Karloff as a crazed fashion designer. This lovely film is restored so you can enjoy what Entertainment Weekly calls “an atmospheric sensual pleasure.” And you can’t find it in any local library’s DVD collection…only on Kanopy!

If you’re dreaming of a…weird Christmas, you will want to check out our Christmas in Connecticut or Remember the Night DVD’s. Both are bizarre: they’re timely treats that are salty, yet sweet. But, why wait? Sidle over to Kanopy where you can stream the darkest, and perhaps strangest, of Christmas films. Alongside Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas is notorious as the first modern slasher film. It stands alone as the first “seasonal slasher,” arriving in 1974, four years before John Carpenter’s Halloween. But what I really like about the film is its inventive cinematography that helps to convey its utter creepiness. This psychological horror, rather than visceral  terror (meaning: not much of a body count), is conveyed by the use of a special harness Bob Clark (who would later direct Christmas Story) devised and attached to the killer. We experience much of the film from the killer’s point of view, implicating us in his spine-chilling misdeeds. And don’t miss out on the killer performances! A young Margot Kidder is the cynical sister in this sorority alongside former Juliet (of 1968’s Romeo and Juliet fame) Olivia Hussey’s sweetly sentimental side. SCTV personality Andrea Martin and John Saxon also make appearances.

So, get over to Kanopy to experience the finest in streaming video content. All free! All you need is your library card!! What? Don’t have one of those? Just sign up at epls.org and start streaming great content right away!