Holiday Gift Ideas from the Staff at RRPL

After a very informal poll, here’s our wish list of what we want for the holidays – classics, new releases, fantasy to cookbooks, there’s a little something here for everyone.

BOOKS

Children’s Books:

  • The Crayons’ Christmas by Drew Daywalt
  • Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
  • Christmas Alphabet: 20th Anniversary by Robert Sabuda
  • The Christmas Story by Robert Sabuda
  • The Night Before Christmas Pop-up by Clement Clarke Moore and Robert Sabuda
  • The 12 Days of Christmas : A Pop-Up Celebration by Robert Sabuda

Cookbooks and other Nonfiction:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Keto Baking by Carolyn Ketchum
  • Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over by Alison Roman
  • Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
  • A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness–and a Trove of Letters–Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup
  • Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams by Gabrielle Bernstein
  • National Geographic Spectacle: Rare and Astonishing Photographs
  • Joyful: the Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee

Fiction, Fantasy and Graphic Novels

  • The Overstory by Richard Powers
  • The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern
  • The Starless Sea Erin Morgenstern
  • The Toymakers Robert Dinsdale
  • Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norell Susanna Clarke
  • Harry Potter-Illustrated Editions
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  • Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
  • The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson

Music:

  • Hey, I’m Just Like You by Tegan and Sara (on vinyl)
  • Lost Friends by Middle Kids (on vinyl)
  • Ginger by Brockhampton
  • Chris by Christine and the Queens!
  • Fine Line by Harry Styles

Movies:

  • Yesterday
  • The Paul Newman Collection (set of 7 dvds)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Alita Battle Angel
  • Community. The Complete Second Season. Really the best season with great Christmas and Halloween specials
  • House of X/Powers of X

Also, don’t forget to shop local! Rocky River has many small shops and businesses that would welcome your visit.

Wishing You Joy This Holiday Season!

~ Dori

Ford v Ferrari

I really didn’t know too much about the race going into this film. It seemed like an interesting movie about two men trying to do a nearly impossible challenge. I was curious why this event was highlighted for a biography, as to me it isn’t a world changing event. The movie does an interesting job of explaining car development through experimentation to develop a better car rather than using raw math. If anything, this film pushes home the idea that conceptual knowledge and practical knowledge are two very different things at times.

The movie starts from Carroll Shelby’s (Matt Damon) perspective as he races. We can see how intense and stressful the race is to him. We learn that Shelby can no longer race because his doctor told him his heart can’t take the stress anymore. We’re taken to another race where Ken Miles (Christian Bale) is arguing about his trunk capacity being compliant. Shelby tries to help advocate for Miles and Miles throws a wrench at Shelby. Miles goes on to win the race, but we get a glimpse of their racing relationship.

We’re introduced to the main conflict by a disgruntled Henry Ford II (Tracy Letts), he’s not happy with how Ford sales have been and wants someone to bring him an idea to increase sales. Lee Iacocca (Jon Berthal) shows that people want fashionable cars and not just functional cars and suggests buying Ferrari. Ford goes to buy Ferrari but Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone) turns them down at the last minute insulting the company and Henry Ford II personally. Henry Ford II is infuriated and vows to beat Ferrari at Le Mans. Iacocca is sent to recruit Shelby and his team, offering a “blank check” to build a car that would beat Ferrari at Le Mans.

This film really has a few central dynamics: Ford the company, Shelby’s racing team, and Miles’s family. Shelby and Miles’s relationship are often the highlight, but Shelby is trying to do what’s best for his business and his friend which sometimes conflict with each other. Miles is clearly a great driver and is immensely helpful developing the car, but he can be emotionally extreme and isn’t sure if he should even be a racer at his age. In my opinion, this is one of the best sports films I’ve seen in years. So, I’d recommend it if you want to see an exciting biography. Rated PG-13

Ryan

Zombieland: Double Tap

I really enjoyed the first Zombieland in 2009, so I was excited to hear they were doing another one. The general critical success of this cast is noteworthy with four having Oscar nominations and one winning. While the first movie was about four humans in a world full of zombies, this film focuses on how this isolated group would deal with other humans as well as the rising zombie threat. I found this movie to be an enjoyable sequel. The mix of irreverent comedy and the struggle to survive still makes for a strong combination.

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) narrates the opening of the movie, helping to catch us up on the events since the previous film. He explains that the zombies have evolved over the years into three distinct types and a new, deadlier type. We quickly see them working together as a team by taking down a zombie infestation and making the White House their new home.  We see them as they settle into a domestic life over time. Columbus proposes to Wichita (Emma Stone) which pushes her to leave the group with her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).

A month goes by and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) starts to mention that he feels it’s time for him to move along. He is not happy staying in one place for any length of time and is willing to let Columbus tag along. As they’re discussing this in an abandoned mall, they discover a new survivor called Madison (Zoey Deutch). They take her back to the White House as she’d been living in a freezer to survive. The next day they wake up to a noise only to find Wichita is back. She informs them that Little Rock met a guy her own age called Berkeley (Avan Jogia) and ran off with the car. Worried about their safety and the guy Little Rock is with, the group leaves together with Madison to find the two.

This movie has a lot of fun with itself. They have “zombie kills of the week” shown as cartoonish ways to kill zombies around the world. Columbus’s “rules” are mentioned with interesting animations. There are several good action scenes. Overall, it’s a movie that just tries to take a dark sense of humor about this Apocalyptic setting. It honestly doesn’t develop characters quite as much as I’d like, but you still get a sense of their comradery and how well they know each other when they fight zombies. I treat this mostly as a comedy film, and it has several good laughs in it. Rated R.

Ryan

Veterans Day

Veterans Day was on November 11 and on that day we honored those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For those of us who haven’t served, it can be difficult to understand the experience of military service. Here are a few book and movie titles to improve our understanding of what veterans and their families have gone through in the past and continue to experience.

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eatriflebillycatchredeploymentyouknow

~ Dori

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Disney’s live action remakes are much more common now, but the first Maleficent was an experiment in this area. The film explored an alternate perspective from the original story that portrayed Maleficent in a more sympathetic light. The original movie was a tale of betrayal and learning to love again. I honestly didn’t want to see this be about personal relationships with the same light-hearted tone or very dark and dramatic. This movie delivers an original story full of adventure and intrigue. To me, the trailers undersold what they were doing in this film.

The film starts out in the night. We see three humans in the moors (the fairy sanctuary and Maleficent and Aurora’s home), they are there to abduct some creatures and sell them for profit. We see the horned Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) approach them and capture 2 of the intruders. The third human grabs a mushroom creature and escapes back to the kingdom to deliver the creature to the base of the tower. We then see the next morning where Aurora (Ellie Fanning) is holding her royal court. Some of the fairies steal her crown and lead her to a tree where Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) is waiting.

Philip proposes to Aurora, and she accepts. Diaval (Sam Riley) reports this to Maleficent and she storms off to confront Aurora. Maleficent at first doesn’t accept this idea of marriage, but she eventually goes so far as to agree to meet Philip’s parents at a dinner. King John (Robert Lindsay) seems excited for Philip but Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) doesn’t seem happy at the prospect. Maleficent gets in an argument with Queen Ingrith at dinner and gets ready to leave, flourishing her wings. Suddenly, King John falls into a deep sleep, and Maleficent flees only to be shot down. A large figure with wings dives into the water and retrieves wounded Maleficent.

I think the advertising campaign did a poor job describing even the early conflict, so I tried to go a bit further. This movie has three main ideas taking place: the fairy abductions, the struggle of Aurora between her home with the fairies and the human lifestyle, and Maleficent coming to terms with whether fairies can live in peace with human. If it were one or two of these story lines it may feel too simple, but all-together they stand as a stronger narrative. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a high fantasy adventure movie that really improves on the series. The special effects, costume design, and general creativity makes this a great experience to me. Rated PG

Ryan

Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino presents a story about 1969 in Los Angeles, California. Honestly going into this movie, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it. The advertising campaign left me wondering about the plot of the film. The stars of the movie Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie helped intrigue me. I didn’t know if it would be a movie about over-the-top glamour in Hollywood or a glimpse in their lives as they build up the tragedy of the Manson group, either of which didn’t really interest me. Yet, the movie managed to tell a story about the characters in a way that leads to a compelling climax.

The movie opens with stars, Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Pitt) giving an interview. We learn that Rick Dalton is a Western movie and TV star and Cliff Booth is his stuntman and general assistant. Dalton takes a meeting with Hollywood agent Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino) and Schwarz convinces him that his career is declining. This leaves Dalton in an emotional state as he contemplates his career ending, while stuntman Booth drives him home and gives him a bit of a pep talk. Meanwhile, Dalton’s neighbor Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) attends a party where we learn about his wife, actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), and her complicated relationship with her ex-boyfriend Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch).

As the story progresses, it focuses on stuntman Cliff Booth. We learn about a negative encounter he had with actor and stuntman Bruce Lee (Mike Moh). Booth was believed to be responsible for killing his own wife and acquitted on account of being a war hero. Yet, Hollywood was not thrilled to have him around and many people didn’t want to work with him including a particular director. We learn that Booth lives alone with his dog in a trailer far away from Dalton and glamorous Hollywood.

Throughout the movie we see a group of young women dumpster diving and hitchhiking. Booth notices one of the girls (Margaret Qualley) in particular and strikes up small conversations with her. One day she spots him and asks him to drive her to a compound where a group of free-spirited people are living. Upon arriving Booth thinks that something is off with the people who are staying there. We learn that Booth is not to be fooled.

The movie is 2 hours and 41 minutes, but it feels well-paced. The film covers a relatively short period of time with well-woven story-lines including flashbacks and exposition to enhance character knowledge. Tarantino took stories about lives that I didn’t think would interest me and wove them together with a strong climax. I was really surprised how much I liked this film. It’s certainly worth seeing if the topics of the movie, the actors, or Tarantino’s style appeals to you. Rated R.

Ryan

The Chills and Thrills of October

You gotta love October – it’s the first month where you start to feel a little cozy, like sweaters and fires and stew cozy. It’s cuddling up to read books weather, stomping and kicking through rustling leaves weather, knitting weather – as you’ve already guessed, I am a big fan.

October also ends on the perfect note – Halloween – spooky fun where you can dress up as anyone you’d like but there’s also a little nip of horror in the air, a feeling that you can sojourn with the spirits or dance with the devil.

Horror movies and books capture some of that feeling, sometimes reflecting on social and political trends, sometimes just scaring the pants off you! Here are some titles you can check out for yourself:

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Happy Haunting!

~ Dori