Thursday, April 28, 2016

Staff Picks: Documentary Films

As long as there are action movies, animated fantasies, comedies and wish fulfillment onscreen, audiences will also yearn for the truth—or something close to it. In arriving at Time Out New York's favorite documentaries (from all eras and countries), we bumped up against some thorny questions: What makes a documentary essential? Is it the political or social import? Its popularity? Can we allow for staged scenes? Or must we insist on pure vérité? How "real" is reality? 
~




Looking for a good movie? People spend a lot of time browsing the fiction DVD section at the library, and new fiction DVDs tend to be very popular. But there is also a burgeoning section of non-fiction DVDs, many telling a tale as fascinating as any fictional movie, that you might not think to check out! We've compiled a list of documentaries recommended by staff which you might enjoy. Do you have any documentary recommendations? Let us know in the comments!

The Arts

Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time

Art and Craft

Louvre City

First Position

The Art of the Steal

The Rape of Europa

Pina

Burroughs: The Movie

Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present

Mad Hot Ballroom 

The Hobart Shakespeareans

Rize 

Il Mio Viaggio in Italia

Simon Schama's Power of Art 

Bomb It 


History and Social Issues

The Look of Silence

The Hunting Ground

Dancing Boys of Afghanistan

Shoah

Blackfish


Fashion

Iris

Bill Cunningham New York

The September Issue


Music

Revenge of the Mekons

The Decline of Western Civilization Collection

The Wrecking Crew!

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Amy

20 Feet from Stardom

Searching for Sugar Man

Touch the Sound: A Sound Journey with Evelyn Glennie

20,000 Days on Earth

The Punk Singer

Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends--

Soul Power

Wagner & Me


Pop Culture

Los Angeles Plays Itself

Terms and Conditions May Apply

Best of Enemies

Baraka

Samsara

The Qatsi Trilogy

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Public Speaking

Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman

I'll Have What Phil's Having 

Afghan Star

Examined Life

Helvetica


Biography

A Man Named Pearl

The Wolfpack

Finding Vivian Maier

Man on Wire

Marwencol

The Up Series

Stories We Tell

Cutie and the Boxer

Grey Gardens

Seymour: An Introduction

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl 

Sing Your Song

Eames: The Architect and the Painter


Don't forget to check out our New Non-Fiction and Documentary DVD page regularly! If you'd like a more scholarly approach to non-fiction, try the Great Courses series by the Teaching Company.


Links

Critics' 50 Greatest Documentaries of All Time [Sight & Sound/BFI]

Documentary Films [AMC Filmsite]

Why Documentary Films Are So Important [HuffPost]

Why Documentaries Matter [Reuters Institute]

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Location, Location, Location: Better Call Saul at the Library



Art Sculpture the Book Warden by Melissa Zink wearing Better Call Saul Season 2 Locations T-Shirt.

A guest post written by Eileen O’Connell, Branch Manager of Special Collections.

On June 5, 2015, I got an email asking me to list all of the events booked at Special Collections Library from July through October. The library had been scouted as a location for Season 2 of AMC's Better Call Saul, and the location coordinators wanted to schedule filming dates.

The filming is long over. Season 2 has aired. Season 3 is a go. It's hard to see the plot bending back toward our location, but I'm looking forward to saying hello to the crew if I see them setting up to shoot at Mike's house, which is half a block away from the library. I learned a lot during the weeks I managed a local history library that was briefly a swanky Santa Fe law firm, and there's no better way to befriend librarians than teaching us new things.

I'm a local history librarian in my own hometown. I identify and offer the tools that help researchers piece together how Albuquerque came to be what it is. During the filming, I was immersed in a current in Albuquerque's history that some future librarian will curate and communicate to a future generation. I have no clue how to classify this experience, but I've enjoyed sharing it.

My job during the filming was to open the doors and get out of the way. My Special Collections Library staff and the Library's administration, Maintenance and IT departments worked hard to notify customers about schedule changes and shift equipment and vehicles. Customers were generously tolerant of inconvenience and interruptions. The Albuquerque Film Office and the location coordinators eased and explained the process and ensured that the library's space was respected during filming and restored afterward.

Eight days over three months of set decoration and filming turned into 4 minutes of glorious screen time. I got to watch! I have to say THANK YOU to Better Call Saul production team, cast, and crew: you broadcasted a vision of the Albuquerque landmark that is my professional home to audiences I could never hope to reach.

Worldwide exposure is a new thing for The Public Library of ABQ BernCo. We are pretty good at sharing information and entertainment with people that enhances their quality of life. Sweeping crane shots are not our expertise. I will always cherish the way you saw and shared the beauty of Arthur Rossiter's building and Gustave Baumann's decorations beyond our borders. I have forgiven you for turning us into Santa Fe.  A native Albuquerquean's gratitude doesn't go any deeper than that. Congratulations on Season 2, and best of luck with Season 3.

You can find the first season of Better Call Saul in the library catalog, and check out our Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul subject guide!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why You Should Be Watching Mr. Selfridge


Mr. Selfridge is in its fourth and final season, and I am completely addicted. A colleague recommended it to me, mainly because my favorite actor, Jeremy Piven, stars as Harry Selfridge. Because it's a PBS show, Mr. Selfridge doesn't get much publicity, so I thought I'd give you five reasons why you should watch it.

5. The acting is amazing. Every single person who is in Mr. Selfridge does an incredible job bringing their characters to life. It's impossible to watch this show without caring about every character (even if it means you just don't like them--and there are plenty of characters in Mr. Selfridge to dislike).

4. Speaking of characters, the storylines for all of them are intense. This show is an emotional roller coaster; I've laughed, I've cried, I've yelled at the TV. If there's an emotion you can feel, you will at some point.

3. The set and costumes are so visually appealing. Because the show is about a department store, the set has to be amazing, and it is. The displays, especially the window displays, are a highlight; the set wouldn't be as beautiful as it is without them.

When it comes to the costumes, Mr. Selfridge is a period piece, which means the costumes had to be carefully selected to fit the period. I love them, especially the costumes from the fourth season. The costumes take on a life of their own throughout the series; they alone make the show worth watching.

2. Historically, Selfridges was the first department store to be opened in London. The impact this had on the way people shopped was incredible, and it's fun to watch the evolution of Selfridges throughout the series.

And the number one reason you should be watching Mr. Selfridge is Jeremy Piven. Forget everything you know about Jeremy Piven, especially if what you know is Jeremy Piven as Entourage's Ari Gold. He did an amazing job playing Ari Gold, but he does an even better job as Harry Selfridge. I am continually amazed at the range of characters Jeremy Piven can play, because his characters are all so different from each other. For me, he really makes the show; I don't think anyone else could have done a better job portraying Harry Selfridge.

Want to catch up on the first three seasons? Click on the links below to put them on hold!

Mr. Selfridge: The Showman Behind the Retail Empire (season one)
Mr. Selfridge: The Complete Second Season
Mr. Selfridge: Season 3

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Shakespeare at 400

There are events all over the world to celebrate Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death on April 23rd. (As American foodies, we're particularly interested in the "complete culinary works" celebration in Chicago - "Join 38 of Chicago’s most talented chefs for an unprecedented exploration of food and theatrical storytelling in their restaurants across Chicago and throughout 2016. Each chef artfully translates one of Shakespeare’s plays into a featured dish, menu or event at their restaurant, showcasing Chicago’s vibrant restaurant scene." Yum!) Closer to home, the Folger Shakespeare Library's First Folio Tour came through New Mexico recently, and you can find more local Shakespearean events on the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau's Visit Albuquerque site.

Maybe you are not looking to eat like an Elizabethan or attend any events, but still are interested in the life and work of Shakespeare. The library is here to help! Here's a sampling of some items from the library catalog to slake your thirst for the works of the Bard...whoever you think wrote them, because that dispute is alive and well.

New & Novel Books

Vinegar Girl: The Taming of the Shrew Retold by Anne Tyler

How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn to Dusk Guide to Tudor Life by Ruth Goodman

Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays by Tina Packer

The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger's Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare's First Folio by Andrea E. Mays

Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins On Your Favorite Songs by Erik Didriksen

Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro

Selling Shakespeare to Hollywood: The Marketing of Filmed Shakespeare Adaptations From 1989 into the New Millennium by Emma French [eBook]

The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups by Ron Rosenbaum

Shakespeare in the Garden : A Selection of Gardens and an Illustrated Alphabet of Plants by Mick Hales

Shakespeare and Co.: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher, and the Other Players in His Story by Stanley Wells

"Shakespeare" by Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare by Mark Anderson

The Shakespeare Book edited by Stanley Wells

DVD

Shakespeare Uncovered, Seasons 1 and 2
Episodes combine history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis, and the personal passion of their celebrated hosts to tell the story behind the stories of Shakespeare's greatest plays. 

Playing Shakespeare
Collection of acting workshops conducted by the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Slings & Arrows
Based in a fictional Canadian town where legendary theatrical madman Geoffrey Tennant returns to the New Burbage Theatre Festival, the site of his greatest triumph and most humiliating failure, to assume the Artistic Directorship after the sudden death of his mentor, Oliver Welles.

Shakespeare: The Animated Tales 
Animated story telling of twelve of Shakespeare's most popular plays, featuring the voices of actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company.


Shakespeare Retold
Macbeth is the chef in a 3-star restaurant; Beatrice and Benedict are rival co-anchors; Titania and Bottom carouse in a tawdry theme resort; and Petruchio sets out to tame the conservative Kate in a politically incorrect marriage of convenience.

Cymbeline   
2015, modern retelling

Much Ado About Nothing 
2012, contemporary spin  
2003, Kenneth Branagh

Macbeth 
2016, Michael Fassbender 
Throne of Blood, 1957 Japanese adaptation

Romeo & Juliet   
West Side Story, 1961 musical adaptation  
1968, Franco Zeffirelli  
William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, 1996 modern adaptation  
Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, 2013 Indian adaptation  
2014, modern retelling

Coriolanus 
2011, Ralph Fiennes

The Tempest
2011, Julie Taymor

Hamlet
Gamlet, 1964 Russian adaptation
1990 Franco Zeffirelli
1996 Kenneth Branagh

2009 television production

A Midsummer Night's Dream
1935, James Cagney

Othello
1965, Laurence Olivier
Otello, 1996 opera

Julius Caesar
1953, Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Links

Shakespeare 400 [Poets.org]

Shakespeare 400
Shakespeare400 is a consortium of leading cultural, creative and educational organisations, coordinated by King’s College London, which will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016. Through a connected series of public performances, programmes, exhibitions and creative activities in the capital and beyond, partners will celebrate the legacy of Shakespeare during the quatercentenary year.

Shakespeare 400 [Shakespeare's Globe]

Shakespeare's England

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Brilliant Brontes: Jane Eyre: To Thine Own Self Be True


Anne Bronte (1820-1849), Emily Bronte (Thornton, 1818 - Haworth, 1848) and Charlotte Bronte (Thornton, 1816 - Haworth, 1855), English writers, Oil on canvas by Patrick Branwell Bronte (1817-1848), ca 1834. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 19 Dec 2015.

Charlotte Bronte was born on April 21, 1816, and to celebrate, let's reflect on her best known novel Jane Eyre, which is an inspiring and unconventional book that went against the social norms of Charlotte's day. Her heroine Jane Eyre, is a courageous young woman without connections, who is determined to make her way through the world with her own talents, gumption, and integrity. An orphan who is sent to a grim boarding school by her unjust aunt, Jane is a rebellious child, who is too strong to be broken by cruelty, either by her scant relatives or her induction into the Gothic nightmare of the Lowood Institution for girls.

Charlotte Bronte drew on her life experiences and her literary inspiration for the Lowood school came from the Clergy Daughter's Boarding School where Charlotte, Emily and their two elder sisters Maria and Elizabeth attended until brutal conditions wore them out . During their time there, typhoid fever struck the school. The suffering of pupils who perished was not an exaggeration, even by the most dramatic depictions. It was such an inhumane experience that Charlotte's father was urged by the school to withdraw Emily and Charlotte, after the deaths of their older sisters from tuberculosis. Their swift declines were undoubtedly exacerbated by physical abuse, insufficient food, hygiene, and the relentlessly cold and damp conditions. Charlotte Bronte was sued by the headmaster Reverend William Carus-Wilson, and managed to avoid court action by writing an apology, which carried the disclaimer that she had used literary license in her fiction. But I would say that being sued by a churchman is as good as any enthusiastic review if you want to take some literary revenge.

Charlotte's lost sister Maria Bronte experiences an afterlife in the saintly Helen Burns character, a shining New Testament example of turning the other cheek and transcending the unforgivable. Helen Burns alleviates the spiritually abusive atmosphere that prompts Jane Eyre to famously answer the headmaster that in order to avoid damnation and hellfire, "I must keep in good health and not die."

Jane survives and leaves Lowood as a young woman, determined to experience life, albeit as a respectable governess. Jane's inner strength helps her to maintain her dignity in the difficult situation of falling in love with her employer and master of Thornfield Hall, Edward Rochester, who is supposed to be a great Byronic romantic figure, but really is the worst, at least according to Edan Lupecki: Mr. Rochester Is a Creep: A List.

Despite Jane being an orphan and Mr. Rochester's employee, she is too genuine and truthful to keep up a pretense of inequality with Mr. Rochester, who is extraordinarily aggravating in his malicious toying of her sensitive feelings. Pushed to her limits, Jane delivers an impassioned speech:

“Do you think I am an automaton? A machine without feelings? And can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal — as we are!” 

Spoiler alert: Jane and Rochester attempt to get married and if anyone knows of any reason why these two may not be lawfully wed, let's proceed to the attic and meet Mrs. Antoinette Bertha Mason Rochester, the insane, inconvenient first wife who is very much alive and turns out to be the source of deranged laughter cackling throughout Thornfield Hall, a pyromaniac and catalyst for other dangerous acts of mayhem and attempted murder. Bertha is portrayed in ghastly, subhuman terms. Mr. Rochester defensively credits himself for keeping her under the watch of a servant instead of sending her to the madhouse, which he may deserve some points for, due to asylums of that time period being a fate worse than death.

Through ABC Library's subscription to the eResource: Britannica Library, I found this remarkable video of "The Figure of Bertha Mason" by Professor John Bowen , courtesy of  The British Library. The first Mrs. Rochester is seen as a demonic obstacle to Jane's happiness and longed for marriage to Edward Rochester, but from a 21st century perspective, Bertha is the character that genuinely deserves sympathy and rescue, not only from her untreated mental illness, but a spouse who congratulates himself for confining her in the attic and pretending she doesn't exist in between her destructive escapes when the gin-loving and overtaxed servant Grace Poole drops her guard.

In keeping with his track record, Rochester asks Jane to run away with him and be his mistress, since a legal marriage is now out of the question. He paints himself as the wronged party, coerced into an arranged marriage for money. Jane refuses to compromise her morals and declines Rochester's desperate offer, which would reduce her to being one of his many kept and cast aside women. As she struggles with this momentary temptation, a Bronte-esque inner monologue is delivered: "Who in the world cares for you? Who will be injured by what you do? Still indomitable was the reply: "I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was sane, and not mad - as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation."

When Jane runs away from Thornfield Hall, she endures three harrowing days of homelessness and hunger, but is rescued by the Rivers family, composed of two sisters: Diana and Mary Rivers and their cold, aspiring missionary brother St. John. In the course of nursing Jane back to health and securing her a job as a school teacher, it is revealed that they are cousins. Jane's uncle in Madeira dies and leaves her a fortune she eagerly shares with her newfound family.

The steely St. John proposes marriage to Jane, not out of love, but in the hope she'll be his helper on his mission to India. Jane is aghast at yet another terrible proposal, and after several rounds of loveless, baffling negotiations, finally tells St. John, "God did not give me life to throw it away; and to do as you wish me would, I begin to think, be almost equivalent to committing suicide."

You go, Jane!

And go she does indeed, after hearing Mr. Rochester's voice haunting her, all the way back to Thornfield Hall, to find it burned to the ground. The first Mrs. Rochester succeeded in her latest suicidal pyromaniac attempt. Mr. Rochester redeems himself by getting everyone out of the house and even trying to save Bertha, who flings herself from the roof, dashing herself all over the cobblestones. Mr. Rochester is blinded and has to have a hand amputated, but Jane is moved by his inner transformation. Jane is able to return to Rochester on her own terms as a financially independent woman. Their love scene of reunification, forgiveness, and spiritual gratitude are deeply moving.

Jane Eyre is the epitome of Victorian Gothic literature, but as a reader in the 21st century, the fate of Bertha Mason Rochester is about much more than an insane wife, but a tragedy of ignorance. "Bertha Mason's Madness In a Contemporary Context" by Mia Iwama, takes the racism and brutality of Charlotte Bronte's portrayal of Bertha to task. "Bertha Mason, Insane Asylums, and Jane Eyre" by Kayleigh Schultz, defends Rochester's choice to confine Bertha to the attic. Bronte's limited view of mental illnesses, may have come directly from the family's medical handbook.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, chronicles  the life of Antoinette Mason (known in Jane Eyre as Bertha), a West Indian who marries Rochester in Jamaica and returns with him to his home in England. The loveless union and miserable English climate is attributed to Antoinette's descent in mental illness and violence. Rochester banishes her to Thornfield's attic. Most of the book is set in the West Indies, and is narrated alternately by Antoinette and Rochester. Antoinette is given a voice and can be seen in a dynamic and humane light.

Antoinette's Creole ethnicity leaves the reader to speculate about her identity, although Bronte portrays her as having dark hair and a "discoloured black face". Bronte further dehumanized Antoinette by referring to her in a variety of demonic labels. Rochester is also guilty of referring to Antoinette as "gross, impure, depraved’ and of a ‘common mind" and also refers to the "ravings" of a "lunatic" and "demon" so that Rochester feels justified in locking her away without any kind of medical help.

In a sense, Jane Eyre is a codependent's dream come true: a woman changes a moody, brooding man into a devoted companion. On the other hand, Jane Eyre is also about redemption, forgiveness, and being true to oneself; especially in regard to self-sufficiency and not being afraid to go out into the world. Before learning that Bertha/Antoinette is gone, Jane returns to Rochester, not knowing what she'll be walking back into. Jane's love for Rochester is sincere, and in the end he is able to receive her love freely and humbly. The human cost is the mad woman in the attic, Thornfield burned to the ground, and Rochester's blindness and loss of his hand. Bronte offers a conditional happy ending of partial restoration of Rochester's sight, so that he may see his infant son.

I believe that Charlotte Bronte was able to transform her thwarted love for her teacher Constantin Heger into her masterpiece Jane Eyre. In re-reading this novel, I have to wonder how much of Heger was fueled into Rochester and if Charlotte Bronte fantasized about Madame Heger somehow being "out of the picture". There are elements of Jane Eyre, that I would speculate were extremely therapeutic to transform into a creative endeavor.

*This post is part of our year-long Brilliant Brontës challenge! To see more posts, search for the labels "Brontë, challenge" in the blog sidebar.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Best Children's Science Books

It’s never too young to start learning about how the world around us in all ways. And that includes simple introductions to some of the principles about the everyday science that surrounds us. How science is shown in books ranges from text books, or near text book approaches for home use, to the use of stories to bring the subject to life and to make it easier to understand. Understanding the living world is the easiest component of science to get to grips with. Given the threats to our planet, it is also the one that children need to learn about from very young indeed.
~Julia Eccleshare, "What are the best children's books on science?"


Do you have a kid who's already showing an interest in science? Nourish that aptitude with some books from the library catalog! We have lots of titles to get young people started discovering nature, famous scientists, space, and more, even when you are still reading them picture books. Here's some fun reads for the youngsters:

Easy



Animalium by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom  

Buried Sunlight: How Fossil Fuels Have Changed the Earth by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm


Feathers: Not Just For Flying by Melissa Stewart

Elementary School 

Beetle Boy by M. G. Leonard 

Frank Einstein & the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka

The Worm written and illustrated by Elise Gravel

You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey



How the Meteorite Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

The Girl's Guide to a Life in Science by Ram Ramaswamy [eBooks]


For books about children's science fair projects, check the library catalog.  We also have a Science  Project Help LibGuide!
 

Links

Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 [National Science Teachers Association]

The DeBary Children's Science Book Award [The American Phytopathological Society]

Giverny Book Award [15º Laboratory]

Science Books & Films [American Association for the Advancement of Science]

Thursday, April 14, 2016

abcreads recommends: Aya by Marguerite Abouet

Marguerite Abouet is a writer of bandes dessinées - literally, "drawn strips", in the tradition of Hergé's Tintin series and popular with French and Belgian readers. Originally from Côte d'Ivoire, Ms. Abouet (along with her husband and illustrator, Clément Oubrerie) lives in France. Aya is her most famous work:  six bandes dessinées set in Côte d'Ivoire, featuring three young girls and their families. They are translated by Helge Dascher.

Why we love Aya: Set in the 1970s, when Côte d'Ivoire was booming, the reader sees a narrative that "[belies] the news channels' unremittingly tragic narratives and unsettling images"* of African nations. Aya, Adjoua, and Bintou are friends, finishing school, going to dances, getting involved in relationships, hoping for future prosperity. Their story can be a bit of a soap opera, featuring elements such as contested pregnancies and secret second families, but the humor and vibrant characters shine through, and the art highlights the rich beauty of the culture. Be prepared to get caught up in the lives of Aya and her friends as they navigate their adolescent growing pains, all too familiar despite the difference in time and place, and steam on into adulthood.

Find them in the library catalog: 

Aya
A standalone edition of the first book in the series.

Aya: Life in Yop City
Compilation of the first 3 books in the Aya series, published in English under the titles: Aya, Aya of Yop City and Aya: The Secrets Come Out. Aya is 19, and the story is "a wry soap opera revolving around the simple pleasures of private troubles of everyday life in Yop City."**

Aya: Love in Yop City
The final three chapters of the the Aya story - "...in this second volume Aya and her friends begin to make serious decisions about their futures."** This volume also contains extras like recipes and a guide to Ivorian slang.


*from the preface by Alisia Grace Chase, PhD
**from the book blurb