I hadn’t read any Black Panther comics or books and had the same amount of background knowledge of his place in the Marvel Universe as I did about Thor (ie – so very, very little) before seeing the movie based on the character. Oh. My. Gosh. The 2018 film staring Chadwick Boseman was 134 minutes of greatness!! The history and lore of Wakanda, the special effects, the serious moments mixed with humorous moments, all the surprise twists, and getting to watch Chadwick Boseman create an unforgettable, strong, vulnerable hero as King T’Challa. Mr. Boseman passed away on August 29th but his kindness, his vision of what the movie industry could be, and his long list of films, speak to the legacy of this legend, taken too soon. Thank you for all the gifts you gave to us Mr. Chadwick Boseman!
How often have you had the discussion about which was better -the book or the movie? All the time, right? And how often do you pick the movie over the book? Not as often as you pick the book, right? Well, I’ve got a win/win for you this week! You can read the book *and* watch the movie, in any order, and walk away thinking, “that was great!” Are you curious yet?
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson blends his personal experiences and life journey with his drive to create social justice and encourage us all to get involved. I read this book when it first came out, and have enjoyed it as an audio book as well, and I think part of what makes Mr. Stevenson’s book so special is how a reader can emotionally connect to experiences, feeling his pain and his joy, while breaking down those systemic issues surrounding the inequality of our justice system. Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative leading force in the creation of the Legacy Museum as well as the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Mr. Stevenson is changing our World for the better!
“But what about Just Mercy as a movie?” you ask. This movie focused in on how Mr. Stevenson became Mr. Walter McMillian’s lawyer over other experiences in the book. Sometimes it’s that trimming that can leave a reader feeling like something was missing, but I would be surprised to hear that after you watch this film. Instead, I’d guess you might also think of this as an additional chapter to the book?
I hope you read *and* watch Just Mercy, and then -please, let me know what you think!
With all the time that has passed as we are getting to know our new norm, many of us have really missed the opportunity to catch up on the new release DVD and BluRay movies we get through the library. One minute it was award season, and the next minute everything but essential businesses were shut down and you were stuck with what you had on hand or access to. Now that the library is open for curbside service, You can place holds on these new titles and stop by to pick them up.
Okay, Okay…this list is getting long and since I’m limited to how I can format these images and still link them to the catalog, you’ve been scrolling a while. I’ll add more new release DVD and BluRay titles here soon. Place your holds and visit the library for curbside pickup or coffee in the reading garden soon.
I’m going to generalize here and say that you’ve probably watched a fair amount of TV/movies lately. We all have. If you’re looking to expand your viewing beyond private tiger owners, may I suggest you join me on a Philip Seymour Hoffman binge?
Why Philip Seymour Hoffman?
PSH, as I shall refer to him from here, generally plays an addled, yet intriguing character. Not necessarily the protagonist of a fairy tale, but always committed to breathing life into his roles.
Lucky for you, Hoopla has 8 titles featuring PSH you can stream for free with your RRPL library card, including one of my favorites Before the Devil Knows Your Dead. I’ll link them below.
What’s your favorite PSH role?
Something I learned, and continue to learn, as the sister to a brother who has Asperger Syndrome is that autistic people are not typically well understood in North American culture. Maybe this has something to do with who’s doing the storytelling. While a few films about people with autism have been released in recent years, the actors who tell the story aren’t always autistic.
This is what makes Keep the Change—and the fact that it won Best Picture at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival—so important. It is a film about autistic people, based on the lives of real autistic people, played by autistic people. It’s a film that dignifies their lives, validates their experiences, and helps others understand their situations in a way that abled actors couldn’t convey.
In short, Keep the Change is about David, a thirty-something autistic man who, after telling a cop an inappropriate joke, is mandated to join a social skills group at the Jewish Community Center.
But it is about so much more than that. It’s a story about coming to terms with who you are, when you have long denied that you’re different. It’s about being a person with special needs in a family that looks down on and stigmatizes people who have special needs. It is about becoming part of a group of people like you, and admitting that you need their help. It’s about falling in love with one of those people, and the complications of being in a romantic relationship when you’re autistic (for instance, touching each other affectionately or going out on dates can be confusing and hard).
One of the words critics are using to describe Keep the Change is “disarming.” And it is that. The characters have brave, difficult conversations about the behavior of and attitudes toward people with special needs. In a particularly wince-worthy scene, David feels ashamed when his girlfriend, not understanding social cues, embarrasses him in front of a group of Broadway actors. He ends up angrily telling her to shut up, further embarrassing everyone present. While the film portrays the characters empathetically and thoughtfully, it doesn’t sugarcoat or romanticize autism.
The film is also disarming in its sweetness. One scene that brought me to tears was when David took Sarah on a date at Coney Island. The two go on a ride together, and David, feeling overwhelmed by the lights and sounds around him, has a meltdown. Instead of judging him, Sarah gives him a hug. She receives him with tenderness and patience in a way that his family has not.
Another beautiful thing about the film is how vibrant, warm, and genuinely funny the supporting cast of autistic actors are. They are playing real people, not caricatures of autistic people. The joy and power they bring to the film is not something that abled actors playing autistic adults could replicate.
Our society needs stories that dignify and shed light on the lives of autistic people, and Keep the Change is one small but important step in that direction. I am so excited and proud that our library has selected it to be part of our collection.
Let me introduce myself since I’m the newest sub at the Reference Desk. You might also see me around the library shelving for the Circulation Department. I’m Byron. I’ve written movie reviews online for Flixster (now Rotten Tomatoes) and published a collection of 365 of those reviews in my book 100+ Years of Movies. Through some entrepreneurial struggles and not having as much leisure time to read I’ve unfortunately fallen short of my reading goal this year. It seemed silly to me to recommend my top 10 when I only read 22 books all year. Therefore, listed in the order I read them, I present my Top 7!
Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert by Roger Ebert • I regularly read about the art of cinema. As the cover says this contains some of the best of Ebert’s writing throughout forty years of his career. If you are only familiar with his reviews, you can sample his essays and unique interviews here too.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates • Journalist Coates has such important things to say about race relations in America. It is not to be dismissed, but will likely require careful repeat reading of passages to fully grasp everything. Glancing at my co-workers’ posts earlier this week I’ve noticed that at least two others have also recommended this work.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson • Marvel has had certain writers reimagining classic heroes to introduce more diversity. Volume 5 in the series about Muslim American teen Kamala Khan is a return to the excitement of the beginning of the series considering I thought Volumes 3 and 4 went a little off track.
March: Books One, Two, and Three by John Lewis • During 2017 I read all three parts of this graphic novel autobiographical series by Congressman John Lewis. Book One is slightly weaker in structure with so much exposition compared to Book Two and Book Three, however taken together they are all very strong. This period of history comes alive in graphic format.
American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard • I’ve been intrigued by this title for quite awhile. I had to wait several months to check out the ebook on OverDrive. I’ve been struggling to understand recent National election results and have felt the country is more divided than united. America is more complicated than two political parties, red states, and blue states. This book dives into North America’s history and uncovers eleven cultural nations that have been vying for power since the beginning.