February 2010

Celebrate National Library Week

Times are tough for us all and we need libraries even more.  I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir on this one, but it is important to be reminded of how awesome librarians are and how important we are in helping our communities thrive in these tough economic times.  In fact “Communities Thrive @ your library” is the theme of National Library Week 2010.  Especially with our own very serious budget issues, and the increased need for library services, we all deserve a huge pat on the back for working in or supporting librarianship.

The American Library Association provides promotional materials on their website including a Tough Economy Toolkit, but to be honest, as peachy as all that is I would rather just focus on the fact that none-other than Mr. Neil Gaiman is the Honorary Chair!  Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and gushy inside?!  You can find the banner featured in this post, a PDF with Neil Gaiman, and many other materials on the ALA website.  National Library Week is April 11-17.  It doesn’t matter if you are an employed or unemployed librarian, or a patron of libraries.  We all should be able to agree that Neil Gaiman is an excellent choice.


Marie Antoinette

Sofia Coppola’s genius as a filmmaker is showcased in her film Marie Antoinette; a masterpiece that blends popular music, historic locations, and a story thick with the luxury and loneliness of Versailles.  Based loosely on the life of Marie Antoinette (Queen of France), the film (written and directed by Coppola) takes a sympathetic look at one of history’s favorite villainesses.  Coppola takes on the task of making a bio-pic that isn’t just another film set in the past, while also not intruding on the story with modernity.  She succeeds with a film that captures both the time period and the timelessness of her desperation, drunken rock star youth, and utter loneliness.  Criticism has come from the lack of historical context or accuracy, but this is not a documentary.  Rather it is a piece of art about a lonely girl.

Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette

Kirsten Dunst dazzels as the young royal.  The film is completely from Marie’s perspective, and Dunst does not disappoint with her subtle portrayal of the Dauphine of France.  Most of the film is told without words and Dunst is able to fit into the role convincingly.  She plays Marie as a teenager, which is what she was when she arrived in France and married King Louis XVI.  She is lonely, given to excess, and tries to woo her husband (knowing full well that everything depends on that).  There is no mistaking the pressure on Marie Antoinette to produce an heir to the thrown; her loneliness, her desperation to “inspire” her husband, her diversions in drink and shoping, and her desire to fit in with the catty crowd in the royal court are all perfectly portrayed by Dunst.

King Louis XVI & Marie AntoinetteJason Schwartzman is a wonderful choice as her husband King Louis XVI.  He is totally sexually uninterested in Marie Antoinette.  He would much rather make keys than make love to his wife (much to the dismay of the young woman, who clearly is not secure in her position without a male child).  Schwartzman is refreshing as a nerdy sort of king, with a good heart, versus a confident and sexually aggressive royal that blames his wife.  Rather, Schwartzman is just completely disinterested.  He tries to be kind, but it is clear that this is dysfunctional for both parties.

Obviously, what sets this film apart is the use of modern music such as Adam and the Ants, the Cure, Bow Wow Wow, and the Strokes instead of strictly period music.  Personally I was skeptical that I would even like this film due to the music.  Not that I don’t enjoy it, but making it work in this type of film is a huge challenge.  I was pleasantly surprised to find myself so deeply invested in the story, the visuals, and the sounds that it was not at all jarring for me when modern music was included and furthermore it added a sweet layer of the contemporary to the entire film.

However, it is also the visual splendor of the film that takes your breath away.  In making this film, it must be nice to be have Coppola connections.  They had unprecedented access to Versailles.  You cannot buy sets as lavash as the real thing.  There is no comparison.  If you want to see more, watch the special features (including the making-of and a humorous “Cribs with Louis XVI”).  Additionally, the costumes are divine.  It is not surprising that the film won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

Find this item at a library near you!

As as side note, you now can receive emails when there are new posts on Librarians are Weird (check the side bar).  Additionally, all items that are available from libraries that participate in WorldCat will be listed together.  You can click on the WorldCat icon in the sidebar to find our complete list or in each individual post you can still find links to “Find this item at a library near you!”  If you have a WorldCat account you can even follow the Librarians are Weird list.  This has been done in a further attempt to make your life even easier!


Tin Man Cast

Oz will never be the same. Tin Man, a SciFi Channel mini-series production, is one of the best interpretations of L. Frank Baum’s magical world that I have ever seen (and that is saying something). It is hard to beat a cast that includes the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Alan Cumming, Neal McDonaugh, Raoul Trujillo, and Richard Dreyfus; but it is Kathleen Robertson that steals the show as the best villain that the O.Z. has ever seen, Azkadellia. Not one of the performances is less than stellar in this epic story. This is not the fluffy, feel good Oz. This is the harsh and cruel world of the O.Z.

DG (Zooey Deschanel) is a waitress “of 20 annuals” that doesn’t feel at home in her small Midwest town where she and her parents live, but it isn’t long before a storm comes. It isn’t just any storm. It brings with it soldiers sent after DG. She is taken away in the storm and wakes up to find herself in a strange and beautiful land (that looks a lot like Endor), and sets out first to find her parents who were also lost in the storm. Later her quest deepens as she tries to find herself and unlock the secrets of her past. While eluding the evil sorceress that controls the O.Z. (or “Outer Zone”), DG bans together with a small band of resistance fighters, and comes to realize she might just be the key to stopping Azkadellia’s reign of terror and torture.

DG and Azkadellia

DG and Azkadellia

Along the way, there are many references and twists on the old Oz. Of course instead of Dorothy Gale we have DG; the hip, charming, and cute as a button rebel fighter with a good heart. You have the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wizard, and many more; but they are new interpretations. For example, there is reference to the scarecrow in Glitch (Cummings), a man that has had his brain removed by Azkadellia. And instead of a man literally made of tin with no heart, you have a good man that has had his heart hardened by the O.Z. and seeks revenge (McDonough). Where you once had a cowardly lion, you now have a lion/human psychic (Trujillo), whose entire species has been used and tortured by Azkadellia. The Mystic Man (Dreyfus) replaces the Great and Powerful Oz (and so on). Azkadellia, the new wicked witch, commands an army of mobats and storm troopers. The mobats, monkey bats, are reason enough to watch Tin Man. Especially cool is the fact that when they aren’t flying around the mobats are on her body as super-sexy tattoos.

The Collector’s Edition boasts many special features including a must watch behind the scenes called Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, and interviews with the cast and crew of Tin Man. You can go even further and watch a special on the set with the director, but the behind the scenes is the better of the two. Also, there is of course a gag reel if you are into that sort of thing.

You can find this item at a library near you!

Additionally, the website for Tin Man is worth a look-see (especially if you have a good, fast connection). The official website is at http://www.syfy.com/tinman/ and you can browse the cast, a gallery, a forum, and general about information, but you also can get a tour through the O.Z. (http://www.syfy.com/tinman/oz/).