In 1982, Philip K. Dick passed away at the age of 53. He was a well-known author, publishing over 40 works, primarily science fiction. He influenced many authors and filmmakers, and some of his works provided the basis for films such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report. His fiction explored questions on identity, perception, and human nature. Characters often struggled against science fiction elements such as alternate realities, authoritarian governments, and simulacra.
If you’ve enjoyed films like Donnie Darko, Inception, or The Truman Show, you can thank Philip K. Dick for influencing those filmmakers. And that means you’re ready to dive into some of his own works!
Mrs. Ada Harris has lived alone in London since her husband went missing in WWII. Working tirelessly as a house-cleaner to make her living, Mrs. Harris hasn’t allowed herself to want much. But in 1957, when her husband is finally declared deceased and she stumbles into some unexpected money, she decides to treat herself –to a couture Christian Dior dress after spotting one in an apartment she cleans.
Mrs. Harris jets off to Paris and is almost laughed out of the designer’s storefront for being far too ordinary for such a fancy dress. It is only the cash in her hand that gets her dress ordered from the famous design house, which is coincidentally having a hard time making financial ends meet.
As Mrs. Harris patiently waits for her dress to be fitted and sewn, her generosity, honesty, wholesomeness and hopeful outlook can’t help but change all who she encounters and will unwittingly make a lasting mark on the future of the House of Dior’s business plan.
This charming film, which is based on the 1958 novel Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Parisby Paul Gallico, is like a breath of fresh air that will transport you to 1950s England and Paris with impeccable acting, lush sets, and gorgeous period costuming. Watch this old-fashioned story about self-love, hope and not letting life pass you by. In the end, Mrs. Harris Goes to Pariswill leave you feeling that everything will be just fine.
Okay, maybe we’re in Cleveland. And maybe it’s Thursday. But it is Lorne Michaels’ birthday, the creator of the beloved series Saturday Night Live. Through showrunner changes, controversial sketches, and the COVID-19 pandemic, SNL has remained a mainstay in many households. For some, it’s how they learn about a hot new band; for others, it’s how they learn about the latest political scandal. And while the number of laughs per season may ebb and flow, comedy remains a focal point of the show.
Many adored comedians have done their turn on the SNL stage. Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Maya Rudolph, John Belushi, Leslie Jones—the list goes on and on. Even though our favorite stars come and go, they’ve kept the content coming.
Whether you’re waxing nostalgic for the old days or just want to revisit some of the funny people you’ve only seen on SNL, here are some materials to check out that will hopefully satisfy your sense of humor.
Tina Fey starred on, wrote for, and hosted SNL for numerous years. After her nine years on SNL, she went on to create hit shows like 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She’s received Emmy’s, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Writers Guild Awards, and was even nominated for a Grammy and Tony. Her memoir, Bossypants,was a huge hit, staying true to her comedy bona fides.
Credited with saving SNL from cancellation, Eddie Murphy’s genius is practically unmatched. He has had quite the career, from voice acting to singing to stand-up to dramas and back to comedy. He has won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls, an NAACP Image Award for Trading Places,and People’s Choice Awards for Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, and Shrek.
One of the first cast members, Gilda Radner was an accomplished impressionist. After five years on SNL, she left for other pursuits. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away at the age of 42 in 1989 after an extremely tough battle. She wrote a memoir, It’s Always Something, in 1989, a few months before her death, detailing her struggles and successes. Alan Zweibel, a former writer for SNL, wrote a biography for Gilda, sharing stories of their friendship that began on the SNL set and endured until her death.
One of the original cast members, Chevy Chase was also the first cast member to be banned from SNL (though he has appeared in sketches since, so perhaps the ban is not so strict). His comedic chops have been proven time and time again, from the classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to the more recent television show Community.
Kenan Thompson started on SNL in 2003 and has become the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history. Other than SNL, he is probably most known for his time on the Nickelodeon show Kenan and Kel. The pair also starred in the delightful movie Good Burger together in 1997. While not for all senses of humor, it certainly appeals to anyone craving some ridiculous 90s comedy.
Today marks eight years since the passing of Robin Williams. An actor, comedian, legend, hero to many, we’ve all experienced Robin Williams in some way through his work. He was first introduced to me as Genie from Aladdin (1992), though I picture him as the English professor from Dead Poet’s Society (1989) more often now. Whether you laughed along to Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) or enjoyed a more dramatic performance in Good Will Hunting (1997), he certainly has left his mark in Hollywood.
Plenty of biographies have been written about Robin Williams. Here are few books with different perspectives:
In honor of Black History Month, I invite you to take some time to check out the wonderful selection of African American cinema available to stream, for free with your library card of course, on Kanopy. They have a total of 122 films in their expertly curated collection this month! To make choosing your next watch easier, below you will find my top five recommendations for films (four feature length and one short) on Kanopy from some of the best African American filmmakers and actors.
Join us for Film Club on Zoom next Monday to discuss I Will Follow, a featured film of Kanopy’s African American cinema collection. Ava DuVernay’s triumphant feature debut follows successful Maye after her world is turned upside down by tragedy. Hailed by critic Roger Ebert as “… one of the best films I’ve seen about the loss of a loved one,” I Will Follow chronicles a day in the life of a women at a crossroads, and the twelve people who help her move forward into a brave, new world. Register here to receive the Zoom link!
Did you know that Kanopy has a great selection of films for the holidays? You can look at their curated collection of seasonal films available for home streaming here. From classics to comedies, ballet performances to holiday horror (yes, that’s a thing and its awesome) there is something for everyone on Kanopy this December. Take a look below to see my top 5 picks for holiday viewing- including the aforementioned classic Christmas slasher (Black Christmas, 1974) and a documentary all about the weird and wonderful world of Christmas music (Jingle Bell Rocks!, 2013). Hot chocolate and cookies are not required for viewing, but highly recommended. *wink wink*
Enjoy and happy holidays to you and yours this season!
Did you know that RRPL is an online provider of entertainment to our patrons? We offer entertainment through the streaming services 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 May, Film Club will be discussing The Joy Luck Club, a 1993 drama film about the relationships between Chinese-American women and their Chinese immigrant mothers. We will meet on Thursday, May 27 at 7pm and you can sign-up here. The film is currently streaming on Hoopla.
Also in May, Streaming Stories Spotlight will highlight The Lobster, a 2015 surreal black comedy dystopian film. You can view our review of the film here. The film is currently streaming on Kanopy.