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Book Notes

March 21, 2013

2012 was a year of great films, future favorites

The year 2012 was a blockbuster year for great films. Several of the movies up for Best Picture would have been runaway favorites almost any other time. They will make for easy pickings for the library when they become available on DVD. 

Since I somehow managed to see four nominated films this year I thought I’d offer my first (and perhaps last) annual review of the best of the best.

I’ll first mention what I missed and why. I didn’t see “The Life of Pi” even though it was apparently a cinematic marvel. I didn’t read the book and the previews didn’t tweak my curiosity. I couldn’t stomach the thought of 2½ hours of constant singing in “Les Miserables,” and the over-the-top blood and guts of “Django Unchainged” made it a non-starter. The other two nominees I had never heard of before the Oscars.

The four I watch, “Argo,” “Lincoln,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Silver Linings Playbook” were all outstanding films, and I couldn’t quibble with any of them winning the Academy Award. Three were based on true-life events and the fourth on a real-life mental health issue. All were powerful movies.

As most of you know, “Argo” won the Best Picture award. I’m happy for Ben Affleck, who directed and starred in the movie. He seems like a class act. The story is both funny and surreal as the CIA concocts a bizarre plan of making a fake movie to get six Americans out of Iran during the 1980 hostage crisis. The six are hiding in the Canadian ambassador’s residence. The idea is to get them to pose as Canadian filmmakers with a fake script and pretend they are scouting Iran for locations. Once done with the fake film they will try to get out of the country using fake Canadian passports.

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Book Notes
  • Libraries provide vital services Some people think that libraries are becoming obsolete due to the Internet and the growing popularity of e-books. Nothing could be further from the truth. Libraries are a repository for more than just the written word and reference materials. They provide a basic need for every community and will for the foreseeable future.

    April 17, 2014

  • WWII collection grows with 'Those Angry Days' The main lesson history teaches us is to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. There’s also an old saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Perhaps the two notions have something in common because we continually prove that history does indeed repeat itself.

    April 10, 2014

  • 'Blue Jasmine' shows talent of troubled Allen It's a shame that Woody Allen is caught up in controversy in his personal life because it deflects from his talent as a filmmaker. You can see the brilliance in his most recent release, "Blue Jasmine" now available for rental at the Cooperstown Library.

    April 3, 2014

  • 'Nebraska' helps give Dern his due Bruce Dern has been a character actor for over half a century yet hadn't really gotten the acclaim he deserves.

    March 27, 2014

  • Book captures both sides of 'Splended Splinter' Ted Williams is an American icon. As the mainstay of the Boston Red Sox from 1939-1960 he was one of baseball’s all-time greats, a first ballot Hall-of-Famer, and perhaps the greatest hitter the sport has ever known. He was admired for his devotion to the game, his service to his country, and his support for children with cancer. But there was an ugly side to him too. Williams’ life was a set of contradictions where his talent and humanity were offset by fits of rage and cold-heartedness.

    March 20, 2014

  • Wouk has amazing body of epic work One of the problems with eulogies is that they only seem to occur posthumously. I often wonder why people who have produced something noteworthy aren't honored until after they die and don't get to hear the acclaim they deserve. In that vein I want to recognize an aging classic novelist while he is still with us.

    March 13, 2014

  • 'Miracle' shows when Olympics were pure The Winter Olympics ended recently and somehow they seemed to have lost their luster. It wasn’t so much that they were in Sochi where most of the events were on tape delay. It was more due to the new events (many we have never heard of) that have diluted the games. The Winter Olympics have gone from an intimate edition of their summer counterpart to one where it appears medal counts and commercialism is all that matters.

    March 6, 2014

  • Sometimes bad films, books called 'Classic' About 40 years ago a movie was made that set the standard for overhyped and underwhelming films. It was "The Great Gatsby" starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Redford was the hottest thing in Hollywood at the time and Time Magazine ran a cover story on the film. When it was finally released it completely bombed.

    February 27, 2014

  • British films that will warm your heart With all the snow and sub-zero temperatures this winter there are enough nights where the easiest thing to do is hunker down and enjoy a good movie. I thought I’d offer a few suggestions with a British twist. These are films with Americans that are filmed in England. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ll warm your heart in the end.

    February 20, 2014

  • Giants-Dodgers rivalry entertains One of the fiercest rivalries in all of sports is the Giants and Dodgers. These two proud franchises have been going at it for well over 100 years. First it was New York vs. Brooklyn. Now it's San Francisco vs. Los Angeles. There's no love lost between them. Victories over each other are sweeter than those over any other team. Even when they're not going head-to-head it feels good when their arch-rival loses. If you're a Giants' fan, hating the Dodgers is a way of life (and vice versa).

    February 13, 2014