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.

Puzzles, Puzzles, Puzzles!

I enjoy putting together jigsaw puzzles. I never had the time and or patience before a couple of years ago, but due to different health issues, a spinal fusion and then an ankle joint replacement, walking on my lunch breaks was no longer an option for me.In the Everett Public Library staff room, we usually have an ongoing jigsaw puzzle. I was never really interested until I had to sit still and do something different.

Since then, I’ve become one of the most adamant of the staff puzzle club. Anything from a 500 to 1000 piece puzzle is usually there waiting to be pieced together. And like Linda’s latest post pointed out, puzzles help with depression. When deciding to write a post, I thought I might as well write it on something I was personally interested in and so I ventured forth to see the digital offerings that Everett Public Library had about the subject of puzzles. 

Here are some puzzle related digital items that sounded interesting to me:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – In this story a virtual reality world is a vast online utopia where people plug into an “oasis” instead of the grim , poverty stricken reality of the outside world. This story is full of action, puzzles, nerdy romance and the nostalgia of the 1980’s. In this high energy cyberquest, geeks everywhere will feel like they were separated at birth from the author. 

Young Adults who are fans of John Green (Fault in Our Stars) will enjoy the ebook by Arvin Ahmedi called Down and Across. In this  coming of age story a college bound senior, Scott Ferdowsi, sneaks off to D.C. and meets a college girl, Fiora Buchanan, whose ambition is to write crossword puzzles. The main character, Scott, gets himself into all sorts of mayhem like sneaking into bars and picking up girls at the national zoo all while trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to be.

A streaming video I found in the library collection on Kanopy is a 1992 Italian mystery/thriller called Body Puzzle. This film has been described as a fun 90’s giallo. The leading lady, Joanna Paula is a heroine in peril because some sick killer keeps breaking into the house and leaving severed body parts laying around. Needless to say, this title is Not Rated and definitely a slasher film. 

Something more science related is a streaming film called Mastering Rubik’s Cube, which is on Kanopy as well. Are you interested in an easy to learn eight step method for solving this mind bending puzzle? Follow along step by step and you will be solving a Rubik’s Cube in less than three minutes.

A third interesting streaming title on Kanopy is a documentary on artist Rene Magritte.  He makes witty and provoking images that merge his childhood, memories and everyday objects from his Brussel’s apartment into a fantastic, unique puzzle of art.

Some streaming music that came up in my puzzle search that is available from the library is Beggars Banquet by the famous English rock band the Rolling Stones. This streaming album on Hoopla has the song “Jigsaw Puzzle.”

Also the American rock band Saint Motel has a streaming album called Voyeur. I listened to their song “Puzzle Pieces” with its upbeat piano and happy tempo.

Since the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order I’ve completed a couple of jigsaw puzzles, but miss the team effort of my fellow staff members. Oh well, that will come back in time…but now I’m off to order a puzzle of Rene Magritte’s art!

Snow Day Movies

With snow in the forecast, it’s time to enjoy watching movies from the comfort of your living room! If you forget to stock up on DVDs at the library before the snow hits, the library has two FREE movie apps you can use to watch movies digitally: Hoopla and Kanopy. With either of these apps, you just download the app and set up an account with your email address, library card and pin number. Then sign in with your library card and pin number and you can watch movies available in the app for FREE! There is a monthly limit: 6 per month for Hoopla and 8 for Kanopy. It’s another benefit of having an Everett Public Library card!

The movies change a little every month, and this month they have some really wonderful movies for both adults and kids. Here are some of my favorites on Hoopla:

Finding Neverland starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. When his latest play flops, J.M. Barrie starts spending his days at a park near his London home where he meets a young widow and her four adventurous sons. His friendship with the bohemian family sparks his imagination and he ends up writing his greatest play – Peter Pan. This is a MAGICAL movie – totally amazing!

Kinky Boots starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Joel Edgerton. This is an English film about a small family-owned shoe factory that is about to go out of business, unable to compete with lower priced shoes made elsewhere. The young man who has recently inherited the firm is determined to save it and keep the people who work for him employed, and he hits on a creative way to do so – making boots for drag queens! This is a heart-warming film with fantastic music and dancing. No description can possibly do it justice. 

A Long Way Down starring Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots. This is an English film about four people who meet when they all decide to jump off the same building on New Year’s Eve. Unable to watch the others commit suicide, they make an agreement to halt their plans to jump for six weeks. During this time, they become the family they all desperately need. Brilliant acting makes this a very touching and compelling film.

The Price Winner of Defiance, Ohio starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson. This film is based on a true story. In 1950’s Ohio, a housewife with ten kids discovers she has a flair for writing jingles and ad copy and uses that flair to win contests. Her contest winnings paid her family’s bills for many years. Based on a book written by her daughter. This is a very emotional film with first-rate acting. 

Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway starring Lin-Manuel Miranda. This is a documentary about the making of the musical Hamilton. Fascinating and stunningly well made.

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!