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Book Notes

March 14, 2013

Blockbusters are not the only movies worth watching

Hollywood makes enough movies that there are always a few that you don’t hear about until they are on DVD. Sometimes they are simply horrible films that end their theater run quickly, but often they are “diamonds in the rough” that made their mark at film festivals.

These movies often appear in our DVD catalog along with the blockbusters and sound intriguing. If the independent reviews are good, the library might take a chance on purchasing it.

I just came across one of those films. “Celeste and Jesse Forever” is an independent film that did well at the Sundance Film Festival. I had never heard of it, or any of the actors in it. It was promoted as a light, romantic comedy dealing with the difficulty of marriage. The reviews made it worth ordering, and I decided to have a look myself.

The premise involves a couple of high school sweethearts who marry young and face marital issues by the time they turn 30. Celeste is successful in her profession while Jesse is unemployed and twiddling his thumbs. She thinks divorce will provide freedom from the stress of living together, but allow them to remain friends. He reluctantly agrees.

The premise is a bit misleading in that it isn’t a time-warp movie but one that starts with them technically separated, divorce at-hand and still spending a lot of time together. Their courtship, wedding and marriage are covered during the opening credits. In fact, you don’t realize that they are already separated until they’re out with friends for dinner and their friends go ballistic about how they’re always together when they’re getting divorced.

The film takes a lot of patience because at first I thought it was just a matter of time before I hit the “stop” button. The early scenes are overplayed and the F-bomb used more often than necessary. Instead of being a tender comedy “Celeste and Jesse Forever” looked like it might be a worthless slapstick with no redeeming value. I hung in there because I couldn’t believe the reviews could be that unreliable.

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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