Your Library Staff at Home- Must Watch Documentaries

Have you watched all the guilty pleasure reality television you can handle? Re-watched all of your favorite classic films? Caught up on all those Oscar-nominated movies that you missed? If you find yourself struggling to find great viewing at home, I’ve put together a list of five stellar documentaries that you can watch at home right now for free!

Faces Places

This utterly charming documentary was recommended to me a while back by Dori, our Adult Services Manager who always has a great film tip up her sleeve, and I finally got around to watching it last week. This delightful film follows 89-year old Agnes Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, and acclaimed 33 year-old French photographer and muralist JR in what is essentially a roadtrip movie through France. Winner of the Golden Eye at the Cannes Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Available through Kanopy.

13th

Netflix recently made a variety of educational documentaries available for free viewing on YouTube- you can view all of the free documentary offerings here. The amazing documentary 13th is one of these offerings and a definite must watch. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. This critically acclaimed film will leave you with much to think about.

Bombshell

Bombshell shares the inspiring story of Austrian actress Hedy Lamarr as she fled an oppressive marriage to create a name for herself as one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies in the 1940s. Viewers learn that behind the glamour and sex appeal was a very talented and inquisitive inventor who created a radio system that is now considered the basis of Bluetooth technology. Lamarr didn’t receive credit for this achievement but this film looks to give her recognition long past due. Available through Kanopy.

I Am Not Your Negro

Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this Oscar-nominated documentary explores the continued peril America faces from institutionalized racism. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends–Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, the book wasn’t completed and consisted of only thirty pages at the time of Baldwin’s death. Filmmaker Raoul Peck utilizes archival footage and Baldwin’s own words to envision the book he never finished, providing an excellent introduction to Baldwin’s work and an intriguing look at racism in America. Available through Kanopy.

Geek Girls

Geek Girls looks at the “hidden half” of fan culture- women! Nerdy ladies open up about their personal experiences in the world of conventions, video games, and other pop culture circles that are burdened by widespread misogyny. While geek communities have recently risen to prominence, very little attention is paid to nerdy women. Filmmaker Gina Hara, struggling with her own geek identity, explores the issue with a cast of geeky women including a feminist geek blogger, a professional gamer, and a NASA engineer. Official selection of the Cleveland International Film Festival. Available through Kanopy.

I hope something sparks your interest from my list! Each and every one of these documentaries is thought-provoking and well worth a watch. I guarantee you will learn something too, which is always what I expect from a good documentary. What are some of your favorite documentaries? I’d love to hear your picks in the comments!

Happy viewing and stay well!

Your Library Staff At Home… Staff Highlight

Krista

Administration

What was your favorite book you read in the last year and why?

Dear Edward - ebook

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano.  It’s about a young man finding his place in the world after he becomes the sole survivor of a plane crash. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting and honest.

What book are you looking forward to reading next?

The Red Lotus - ebook

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian

What are you currently watching?

Re-watching some of my favorite movies like Notting Hill, Julie and Julia, and A Good Year. I just finished Little Fires Everywhere on Hulu and Better Call Saul on Netflix. Currently watching a clever tv series called Community on Netflix.

What are you listening to…music, podcasts?

Listening to classical music in the morning with my coffee. Podcasts: I’m keeping it light and staying away from true crime… Every Little Thing, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Young House Love Has a Podcast

What are you doing to occupy your time during these uncertain times?

I’m walking a lot.  Playing Words with Friends (for the first time) with my daughters who live out of state.  Watching videos of my granddaughter. Cooking and baking more than I care to, only because I like to eat. I’m organizing old photos, cleaning out closets, and recently polished every single antique brass door knob in our house. My husband and I love to hike, and have been exploring all of the Metroparks.

The Cleveland Metroparks – CBS Cleveland

 

Your Library Staff at Home -checking in

Hello Friends! Let’s do a little figuring today, shall we? Maybe you can help me figure out why some days the snacks I eat are all crunchy but other days they’re sweet, or why -even though I cooked before March 16, 2020- I feel like I’m constantly making the next meal, or (maybe my favorite thing to ponder) why there’s still a toilet paper shortage -doesn’t everyone who was worried about this have a sizable stash by now, or why there’s so much dust despite daily cleaning?Let me know what you’re thinking -I’m ready to get some answers!

If you need a little background music to do your deep thinking -did you know the Library is now offering Freegal? Maybe you’ve seen something about this on the Library’s social media?

🕺Dance like nobody is watching!💃
Freegal® Music is our new FREE music streaming and download music service. You can download and keep 3 MP3 songs per week and stream 3 hours of music per day!
All you need is your library card number and PIN.

Start downloading or streaming now! 🎶https://www.freegalmusic.com/home
Freegal IOS App 
 https://apple.co/39lG42a
Freegal Android App 
 https://bit.ly/2WOZutX
*Search Rocky River as your location*

I’ve been enjoying! There even some pre-made playlists like: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees or Walk It Off : A Walking Playlist you might want to give a listen!

This week’s shop small adventure was a movie ticket to stream Capital in the Twenty-First Century at home and a snazzy hat to support CIFF44!

Looking ahead to what I can do this week? I’m going to “dine out” with a delivery or curbside pick-up (and future cooking me says, “thanks for the break!”) and I’m going to start reading one new book-either Florida Man by Tom Cooper or Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz, plus revisit a favorite children’s book -maybe something by Roald Dahl?

What do you think you’d like to try this week? Or maybe you want to revisit an old favorite (book, song, and recipe) too? All book title, song name, and reliable recipe suggestions are welcome!

Be kind to yourself

—Stacey

Your Library Staff at Home- Classic Films on Kanopy

We all have films that we’ve always meant to watch, or meant to re-watch, but never seemed to have the time. For me, many of the films I’ve hoped to give another viewing were new and old classics that I wanted to share with my husband, who is very much not a film buff but enthusiastically watches my picks on movie nights.

One of my favorite digital library resources and an amazing place to find classic films is Kanopy. Using your RRPL library card you can get access to an amazing array of films- typically you are allowed 7 “play credits” per month (once you press play on a video, you will automatically use 1 play credit and have 3 days to watch it as many times as you’d like.) To help us all get through these long days of social distancing, Kanopy is currently offering a variety of viewing that is credit-free! You can take a look at all of the credit-free choices available to you here.

So what are some of my top picks for classics on Kanopy right now? Below you will find my top 5 recommendations!

Suspiria (1977)

Image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076786/

This suspenseful Italian classic from Dario Argento is a must-watch for any horror fan. Highly stylized, with an amazing soundtrack and inspiring color palette in nearly every scene, this interesting film follows American ballet dancer Suzy after she arrives in Germany to attend a prestigious ballet academy. Murder, secrets, and the supernatural abound, and she soon discovers the school is much more than it seems. If you saw the 2018 remake of this film (which I also recommend!) make sure to watch the original.

Modern Times (1936)

Image from https://www.criterion.com/films/27526-modern-times

I love Charlie Chaplin movies, and my all-time favorite of his is the romantic comedy City Lights, but Modern Times is a joy to watch and currently available on Kanopy! (Unfortunately, City Lights is not at the moment.) This comedic film was Chaplin’s last time playing the iconic Little Tramp and depicts him working as a factory employee who falls for a woman, while also sliding in some Great Depression commentary amidst the humor.

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038348/

This beautiful French film from Jean Cocteau adapts the classic fairy tale story into a piece of cinematic wonder. We all know the story of a beautiful girl whose love saves the heart and soul of a wild but gentle beast, but the gorgeous cinematography and wonderful performances in this black-and-white version is one of the best adaptations and is a stand-out piece of fantasy film history.

Ikiru (1952)

Image from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044741/

I watched this film for the first time two years ago and was astonished by this touching work from the always impressive Akira Kurosawa. Viewers will follow Kanji, an aging bureaucrat who reassesses his life and priorities after he discovers he has stomach cancer and not much time left. Told in two parts, this movie examines the human condition and will surely leave you with much to contemplate.

Metropolis (1927)

Image from https://rrpl.kanopy.com/video/metropolis-0

Metropolis is a very famous and influential film and warrants at least one viewing no matter where your film interests lie because of it’s historical importance. The movie takes place in 2026 (just 6 years from now!) and is an amazing science fiction film that looks at a divided future in which workers and the wealthy enjoy wildly different lives. Still entertaining, thought provoking, and visually striking, this silent film will not disappoint.

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 classics on Kanopy and that something strikes your fancy! What are some of your favorite classic films? Have you been watching treasured movies you’ve seen many times over or are you using this time at home to watch all the newer movies you’ve missed in recent years? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!

Thanks for stopping and stay well dear readers.

Your Library Staff at Home – Making & Crafting

I have always bemoaned my lack of time to do many of the things that I really like to do, like knitting, drawing, sewing and baking. Now, during this challenging time, I’ve no excuse; I’ve got the time, plus making is soothing and helps with the anxiety.

First, I’ve got a shawl to finish. I started it, I’m embarrassed to say, about a year and a half ago for a trip to Iceland. My sister Barb and friend Lynn also began their shawls for our trip, but they completed theirs. Mine, on the other hand, is still on the needles. Here’s a shot of Barb and Lynn in their lovely shawls while we were in Iceland and a shot of my unfinished shawl with some bonus pet shots! The bright colors were to help i.d. our bodies in case we fell down a volcano or iceberg – lol. 

The pattern is a traditional Icelandic shawl called Skakki by Helene Magnusson and uses traditional Icelandic wool. I’ll share the finished product next week – I promise!

As I’ve been knitting, I’ve been watching TV, a few movies, and have been listening to books and podcasts. I’ve signed up for Acorn TV through RBDigital and watched all of Agatha Raisin, a funny, tongue-in-cheek murder mystery series set in a small town in England based on the books by M.C. Beaton. I’ve also started an Irish mystery series called Blood, which is much more serious, so I’m taking that one slowly. 

I’ve watched  Jojo Rabbit, which I liked a lot more than I was expecting to, and Ad Astra, which is a deep dive with Brad Pitt into outer space. 

Knitting and listening to audiobooks is an A+ combination. My latest listen is Himself by Jess Kidd, because I wanted an Irish narrator for the St. Patrick’s season. It’s available on the Libby app, which I’m addicted to! Don’t have a library card? It’s not a problem; you can create an instant digital card to access titles. 

As far as podcasts, I really love the BBC Series In Our Time which covers historical events, famous people, science and nature – it’s fascinating. For these times, I enjoy the soothing voice of Krista Tippet at the On Being Podcast and it’s many offshoots. 

creativebug

If you could use some crafting inspiration, check out Creativebug. Log in using your library card and you get access to all kinds of video tutorials. They’ve shared a 7-week Home Crafting Guide to provide inspiration to begin a variety of projects, from easy to complex, with projects for children and adults. Week 1 includes a Kid’s Weaving Lesson and Color Meditation. These suggestions, however, are just the beginning; sign up and explore Creativebug to find something that speaks to you!

I’d love to hear what you’re making, so comment below. Stay safe and stay home!

~ Dori

 

Call of the Wild

Harrison Ford in The Call of the Wild (2020)

I’m always a bit hesitant when I go and to see a movie about a dog as they can often be too silly or too tragic. Based on the trailers, I thought it might have a similar story to Balto, which seemed appealing to me. While most of the film is set in a cold climate, it’s not a film about diverting disaster. This film is about the development of the dog Buck. While it had a slow start, it’s overall an enjoyable film that I think most children would enjoy barring a few intense scenes.  

The film starts off somewhere in the American South at an unspecified date. We see Buck roaming the town and then he returns home to his master’s home. Buck ruins a feast they were preparing and so Judge Miller (Bradley Whitford) has Buck sleep outside. A stranger arrives in the middle of the night and lures Buck with food. Buck climbs into the back of their wagon and is trapped. Buck is transported via train and boat, while taught to fear his captors. Buck is brought to be sold in the Yukon area of Canada.  

As Buck is lead around the town, he bumps into a John Thornton (Harrison Ford). Buck sees John dropped his harmonica and breaks free long enough to return it to him. Buck is soon sold to a new master named Perrault (Omar Sy) who uses a dog sled team to deliver the mail along with his wife Françoise (Cara Gee). Buck doesn’t understand how to pull a sled at first, but he starts to see some sort of inner wolf that leads him to follow his instincts. Buck comes to help the other dogs as he sees the current pack leader leads out of fear. One day Françoise falls into some ice and Buck races to save her. Saving Francoise amongst other changes shows that Buck is ready to be a valuable member of the pack.

I didn’t know this film was based on a novel called Call of the Wild by Jack London. That helps to explain to me why Buck’s life is told like a series of adventures rather than just being a singular conflict. I do find it appealing that it’s told as a self-exploration story from Buck’s perspective and we see how much the character changes from beginning to end. I would recommend this film to people who want to see a story about the adventures of a dog. While it does have some intense scenes, I do think most children would enjoy it. The story has a few silly moments, but it’s mostly a film about the character exploration of Buck. Rated PG. 

Ryan 

Dolittle

Robert Downey Jr., Emma Thompson, Marion Cotillard, Octavia Spencer, John Cena, Selena Gomez, Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, and Tom Holland in Dolittle (2020)

Based on the initial reviews I expected this movie to be boring or reliant on juvenile humor. I didn’t find this to be true, I’d in fact say it is an adventure movie primarily.  I’ve not read any of the novels, so my experience with the series is limited to Eddie Murphy’s movies of Dr. Dolittle. I found the trailers didn’t tell much about the movie other than the Gorilla was scared, which helps elucidate a concept of the film. Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) isn’t just a medical doctor, he’s a person interested in the world around him and helping those in it. 

 The film starts with an animated backstory narrated by Poly (Emma Thompson) about the early life of Dr. Dolittle. We learn about the untimely death of his wife Lily Dolittle (Kasia Smutniak) and the self-imposed isolation of Dolittle. We then see a boy with his family called Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) hunting against his wishes. He tries to miss a duck only to injure a squirrel. Poly the parakeet sees Tommy distraught by this and leads him to Dr. Dolittle’s wildlife reservation. Tommy gets caught in a trap, meanwhile we see Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) also finds the reservation. 

Dr. Dolittle was going about his daily routine with the animals with a large unkempt beard when he sees Tommy hanging from the net outside. Poly tries to persuade him to help Tommy, but Dr. Dolittle decides to send Chee-Chee, the gorilla, (Rami Malek) to scare Tommy and Rose despite being scared of the humans himself. Rose isn’t scared and walks right past Chee-Chee. Rose tells Dr. Dolittle that the Queen Victoria of England (Jessie Buckley) is unwell and has specifically requested Dr. Dolittle to which he refuses the request. After Tommy brings in the squirrel, Dolittle reluctantly agrees to help it. The animals overhear during the surgery that if the Queen dies, that the reservation that was granted will no longer be Dr. Dolittle’s.  

This film was an enjoyable adventure that was made for the whole family in mind, though it does have some scary scenes for younger audiences. The special effects of the animals are done well enough that you feel they are present in the scenes, but they still have some human characteristics to add to the experience. There are several characters within the movie who have well-developed personalities with relatable flaws. One of the concepts that really made me laugh was Dolittle speaks to the animals in their languages. In Eddie Murphy’s version we’re told that he speaks like the animals, but we never see him talk like the animals. The whole concept is well done, and I hope there will be a sequel. I could imagine each film focusing around a few of the animals introduced in this film to create a deeper connection with the characters. Rated PG. 

Ryan