2021 CIFF Streams Recap

This year I had the opportunity to watch four films through the Cleveland International Film Festival. Though the event couldn’t be held in downtown Cleveland, as is tradition, the streaming option was a welcome alternative during the pandemic.

Spaceboy – Belgium, Director: Olivier Pairoux, Writers: Eusebio Larrea, Olivier Pairoux

Spaceboy is about Jim, a gifted young boy who moves to a new town with his astrophysicist father, Graham.  Jim gets paired up in his new class with a girl named Emma for a science fair. He uses it as an opportunity to put his plans of recreating Kittinger’s ‘Excelsior’ project into action.  Jim’s determination is soon fueled by a personal drive to prove to his father that anything is possible.  This was such a moving story.  I can’t wait for this one to come out in the US.  

Games People Play- Finland, Director: Jenni Toivoniemi, Writer: Jenni Toivoniemi

A group of longtime friends meet at one of their parents’ vacation homes on a remote island in Finland to celebrate one of their birthdays. 

This was a complex story about relationships.  The party seemed to last forever as they disconnected from the world and put their phones down.  They played baseball, cooked and ate, and drank a lot.  There was singing and dancing, and a lot of intimacy.  

It was beautiful and funny story of the intricacies of friendship and self-identity.   

Perfectly Normal Family – Denmark  Director: Malou Reymann, Writers: Maren Louise Käehne, Malou Reymann,Rune Schjøtt

Emma this she has a perfectly normal family until one day her father, Thomas reveals that he is transgender. As Thomas transforms into Agnete, both Emma and Agnete struggle to accept how their relationship will evolve.  The movie does a really good job of shifting the viewers perspective to that of a timid child, naïve to the world, and very uncertain with her own identity.   

Goodbye, Soviet Union – Finland Director: Lauri Randla, Writer: Lauri Randla

Is the coming of age story of Johannes, a courageous young boy living on the cusp of western culture during the collapse of the soviet union.  His mother leaves the Estonian Soviet Republic to work in Finland, leaving Johannes in the care of his grandparents.  It has romance, comedy, and history in it.  I really enjoyed this movie and can’t wait for it to get distribution in the US.  

-Beth

Discover Films @RRPL

Did you know that RRPL is an online provider of entertainment to our patrons? We offer entertainment through the streaming services AcornTV, Hoopla and Kanopy. Simply go to our website here. Click on the streaming service of your choice, create an account with your library card and begin browsing.

On a monthly basis we offer two separate programs, Film Club and Streaming Stories Spotlight, which highlights a film selected from one of our streaming services.

In March, Film Club will be discussing Ex Machina, a 2014 science fiction psychological thriller.  If you are a fan of West World, you will love this film.  It’s a clever sci-fi narrative with high level intrigue and unpredictability.  We will meet on March 25th at 7pm, and you can sign up here.  The film is currently streaming on Kanopy. 

Ex Machina (2014) - IMDb

Also in March, Streaming Stories Spotlight will highlight Float Like A Butterfly, a 2018 film about Irish Travellers, boxing and female emancipation. The film is currently streaming on Hoopla. You can view our review of this film here.

Float Like a Butterfly (2018) - Rotten Tomatoes

Books and Movies to Share on Galentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday, February 14, and whether you love or hate this holiday, it’s hard to deny that it does make for a great excuse to eat copious amounts of chocolate covered strawberries without shame (or is that just me?). I am personally a fan of the holiday, but one of my most favorite holidays is actually the day preceding Valentine’s Day- Galentine’s Day!

Image from NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”

If you are unfamiliar with Galentine’s Day, it was born out of the amazing television show Parks and Recreation. The holiday was the creation of the beloved fictional deputy director of Parks and Recreation in Pawnee, Indiana, Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). The show’s writers centered the 16th episode of the second season around Leslie’s favorite February tradition, Galentine’s Day. Over a brunch of waffles and excessive gift-giving, Leslie celebrates the joy of female friendship with close friends and co-workers. This has now become a legit holiday with companies creating cards for the occasion and businesses offering Galentine’s Day specials.

Leslie explains, “Every February 13, my ladyfriends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” Unfortunately, this is not the time for brunch gatherings and long evenings at the wine bar, so how can you celebrate? Share some amazing books with your best gal pals or watch a film together online (ideas for how to watch together here)!

Below you’ll find some of my top picks for books (fiction and nonfiction) and films that are perfect for Galentine’s Day celebrating and sharing!

Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

Bridesmaids directed by Paul Feig

Booksmart directed by Olivia Wilde

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship by Gail Caldwell

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Girls Trip directed by Malcom D. Lee

Mean Girls directed by Mark Waters

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Girl Talk: What Science Can Tell Us About Female Friendship by Jacqueline Mroz

Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Wishing you all a safe and happy Galentine’s Day! Happy reading!

RRPL Gift Guide – Gifts for the Science Fiction Nerd in Your Life

Being something of a gigantic nerd myself, I know that it can be difficult to buy holiday presents for that science fiction aficionado in your life. They have all the action figures – excuse me, figurines – they could ever need, and there’s no more space for posters on their walls. Let me, a self-professed nerd, guide you on a journey to the perfect present for your loved one. 

All of these items are available through the library if you’d like to try before you buy, but please make sure to support your local independent bookstore; you can buy online and support indie bookstores with Bookshop.org.

If they love to read:

Gideon the Ninth & Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

I cannot stop raving about this series – in my opinion, these books are the best sci fi I’ve read in years. If the phrase “lesbian necromancers in space” sounds like something your nerd would like, pick up these books! Not a reader? Try gifting them the audiobook versions, which are also excellent.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

A sci-fi love letter to NYC mixed with Lovecraftian horror, the newest book by the author of mega-popular The Fifth Season

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

Has your nerd ever thought about the collateral damage that their favorite superhero creates by smashing two skyscrapers together? Choose Hench for a different take on superheroes.

Redshirts by John Skalzi 

If your nerd loves Star Trek, they’ll love Redshirts, which follows the little guys rather than the starship captains in a ‘legally distinct’ universe from Star Trek.

Star Trek: Picard: The Last Best Hope by Una McCormack

Another entry for Star Trek fans, this book is the prequel to the new series Star Trek: Picard.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery

If your nerd can’t get enough of Baby Yoda, they’ll love this collection of art from the ultra-popular Mandalorian.

If they’re more of a movie person:

Tenet

The biggest film release of the year by one of the most acclaimed directors out there, Christopher Nolan. Your nerd is almost guaranteed to want this movie.

Star Trek: Picard Season One

Another exciting release in 2020, this new Star Trek series brings back the most beloved of starship captains, Jean Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart.

Underwater

This one is more of a horror entry, but still has science fiction elements. A crew of deep-sea researchers must get to safety after their underwater drilling station is hit by an earthquake.

Ex Machina

What happens when a tech genius creates a robotic AI? A sleeper science fiction hit from 2014 starring Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson.

Color Out of Space

Treat your nerd to this flick starring scenery-chewer Nicholas Cage as a farmer whose property is hit by a meteorite, based on an H. P. Lovecraft story.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker

If your nerd is a Star Wars fan, they’ll want to complete their collection with the final installment in the new trilogy that started with The Force Awakens.

Good luck in your hunt for the perfect present, and keep an eye on this blog for many more gift guides from other staff members in the coming week!

Reconnect@RRPL

Goodbye November 2020.

Perhaps I used up all of my “thankful for”s last week but I’ll confess that not only am I am not sorry to see this month go, I’m actually eager to turn the calendar’s page. Are you feeling drained by this year, too? Why don’t we right now decide to take it easy on ourselves on this grey and rainy Monday and last day of November evening blog post (or whenever you are reading this) and seek out a way to shut down for a spell and to relax?

My way tonight will be popping in The Return of the King, the third and final film in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. We (re)watched the first two films over Thanksgiving weekend, and despite the fact that we were not able to gather with loved-ones, we were still reminded how nice it is to spend some of our other “old friends.” Gandalf, Frodo, Sam and the rest of the Middle Earth gang helped fill an obvious void, and time spent with them was a bit of a respite from scrolling through news and dodging the already prevalent holiday shopping ads. It helped, too, that we chose a favorite where we know the good guys win in the end.

Do you need a brain-break too? Why not pick up your favorite ‘oldie but goodie,’ or put your favorite titles on hold and see if your DVD player still works? ~Carol

Reconnect@RRPL – Streaming Review

Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Adam Sandler, Tim Meadows, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Kenan Thompson, Kelli Berglund, Karan Brar, and Noah Schnapp in Hubie Halloween (2020)

I’m a fan of Halloween films and Adam Sandler Films, so Hubie Halloween was an easy choice. Adam Sandler has created several other films in the Halloween theme with the Hotel Transylvania series looking to make its fourth film. This film is targeting an older demographic with the type of humor he has in this film. This film hovers between scary and comedic throughout, with I believe it landing on the comedic side. Sandler’s character is foolish in many ways, but his ingenuity and sincerity stand out.

The film starts out at a mental health facility with Orderly Hal (Ben Stiller) discovering one of his patients has escaped. We’re then introduced to Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler) riding his bicycle down the street. As he’s riding, various children pelt eggs at him while he deftly dodges them. Hubie then goes to work at a deli where Mr. Landolfa (Ray Liotta) and Mike Mundi (Karan Brar) scare Hubie as a prank. Officer Steve Downey (Kevin James) is alerted that there is an escaped patient from the mental health facility who may be heading towards the town. Hubie suddenly knocks on Steve’s window to tell him that there was a boy buying an abnormal amount of toilet paper and eggs. Steve isn’t interested and the boy who Hubie tried to report chases him home.

When Hubie gets home, he meets his new neighbor Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi). Walter seems very kind; but he warns Hubie that if he hears any weird noises from his house in the middle of the night, then he should ignore them and not come inside. We’re introduced to several characters over time leading to Halloween night. Hubie is trying to keep everyone safe, and he ends up at a high school party trying to get them to obey laws and be safe. Mike Mundi decides to play a prank on Hubie by getting someone else to say there is a child lost in the corn maze. Tommy (Noah Schnapp) and Megan (Paris Berelc) leave the party deciding the prank on Hubie is mean-spirited. After Hubie learns there isn’t anyone to save in the maze, he finds Mike Mundi tied up and then Mike is abducted by something strange.

This film has a lot of characters and I had to leave out some fairly large ones in the second half of the film to get to the suspenseful part. Hubie’s character is at first seen as a fool, but we see there are other people who respect him. I enjoyed the overall humor in the film with Adam Sandler’s character diverging from many of his other comedic characters in that Hubie is afraid and he doesn’t get mad at other people. To use Sandler’s other films to categorize this one, I’d say it has the range of storylines from films like Grown Ups but Sandler is a more extreme character like in You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Overall, this film is filled with cameos and fun scenes. I think it even has some decent lessons about being kind to others. So, I’d recommend this as a fun Halloween film aimed at teens. Rated PG-13.

Ryan

Favorite Horror Films on Kanopy

Spooky season is finally here! Personally, I enjoy all things supernatural, spooky, and scary year-round but October is the month I can recommend my favorite books and films to those who reserve their scares just for the month of Halloween.

Kanopy has some really great horror films available for viewing right now, including some of my favorites from the past decade or so. Including an atmospheric German witch tale, a deeply disturbing story of grief and possession, and an Iranian vampire western (yes, you read that correctly) there is an amazing variety of top-notch scares waiting for you. So dim the lights, warm up some apple cider, and queue up on of these films.

Keep your eyes peeled here next Thursday to read about some of my most favorite horror books. If you love reading horror too (it is truly a wide ranging genre full of such talent!) join me later this month for Novel Scares book club where we will be discussing The Good House by Tananarive Due on Zoom.

What are some of your favorite scary movies to watch around Halloween? Share in the comments!