Blog Posts by Uncle Will

Posted by Uncle Will on 06/14/17
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What can you do in 39 minutes? Drive to downtown Chicago from Arlington Heights at 4 am? Paint a small closet? Plant 4 huckleberry bushes? How about watching this 2001 Academy Award winning "Best Short Film, Live Action" The Accountant?
Not to be confused with Ben Affleck's new thriller by the same name, this short film was written and produced by actors Ray McKinnon, Walter Groggins, and Lisa Blount. Groggins is best know for his 7 seasons starring in The Shield and in Justified, where he played Boyd Crowder for 74 episodes. Blount was the "pregnant" best friend of Debra Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman.
This DVD's been in our collection since 2009. I can't remember, but I might've been the one that originally requested we purchase it. The film is funny, clever and thought provoking. It has a great tagline: "Can one man, one hard drinking, chain smoking, backwoods accountant, stop a national conspiracy, change the course of history, and save a way of life? It's do-able...but it ain't gonna be purdy." It is well worth the 39 minute investment. You can even watch it while the closet paint dries...
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/04/17
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A great thing about high-definition (HD) is the ability to re-enhance older black & white films. The latest product is one of my all-time favorite films: The Devil's Disciple (1955). It stars 3 Academy Award Best Actors: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, and Sir Laurence Olivier.
The story takes place sometime during the middle of the American Revolutionary War. It's historic fiction. Lancaster plays the Rev. Anthony Anderson, a peace-loving pastor of a small village. His wife is young and very naive. She's played by British actress, Janette Scott, who was only 17 at the time. The heroic and well-preserved Lancaster was 42.
More heroic was Douglas' character, Richard Dudgeon, whose father is hung by the British troops for suspicion of treason against the Crown, at the beginning of the film. Douglas is perfect for the role of the sharp-tongued, rake and ramblin' guy.
Olivier plays "Gentleman Johnny" (true historic figure Gen. John Burgoyne). Through a couple Hitchcockian plot twists and mistaken identities, Olivier is placed in the position to hang one of his co-stars....for King and Country!.
This historic romance is based on the 1901 play written by George Bernard Shaw. Each chapter of the film begins with a narration and Claymation war figurines, which are a cute touch for back in the '50's. This film only runs 83 minutes. My favorite scene is when the "trees fall." Enjoy!
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/13/17
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On Sunday, June 11, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm in the Cardinal Room, I will be leading a discussion of "What's Better: The Book or the Movie." That day we will be discussing a novella by Stephen King. 1982, Stephen King’s Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was one of 4 novellas published in the book Different Seasons. It was adapted to film and released as “Shawshank Redemption” in 1994. The film was nominated for 7 Oscars. Today it remains No. 1 out of the 250 top-rated films of all time by the movie database: IMDb.
Tim Robbins stars as Andy Dufresne, a man arrested for murdering his wife and her lover. In 1948, Andy’s found guilty and given to 2-consecutive life sentences in the fictitious corrections’ facility: Shawshank Prison. There Andy meets Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding, played by Morgan Freeman. In time, the two convicts develop a life-long friendship.
I know that many have never read the book that the movie is based on. The novella is only 110 pages and a very quick read.
If you register for the program, there'll be a book discussion copy that can be checked out for 6 weeks and a DVD for one week at the Info Desk.
Our "What's Better: The Book or the Movie" discussions are usually a raucous event so please sign up and join us!
Crime, drama
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/10/17
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It's been a while since I ran across a good TV series that stars the U.S. Navy. The Last Ship is an action-packed, apocalyptic, tale told in the near future. A pandemic has occurred and billions of the world's population has been annihilated, save for one American warship. 
The warship's commander has a crew of 216 - all who have been on a mission to the artic, observing strict radio silence, for 4 months. When a genius biologist and her lab partner are attacked by Russian helicopters, the "science data" mission changes radically. Eric Dane plays CO CDR Thomas Chandler, happily married, father of two. His character is somewhat like a cross between John Wayne and The Terminator. Rhona Mitra plays Dr. Rachel Scott, who is set on saving the world. Big, bad boy and former My Bodyguard, Adam Baldwin, rounds out a strong cast who are all dedicated, creative, and honorable. In a second season episode, I actually found myself standing up when our flag was raised on a front porch in a Norfolk neighborhood.
The episodes run about 46 minutes - so it's easy to speed through several at a sitting. Since they are located in the TV section of the DVDs, they each are a 2-week checkout. Five seasons are already planned for this TNT series. Currently, we own 3. With how the world is spinning these days, I found this series to be uplifting and hopeful.
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/12/17
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Nowadays there is a lot of competition among TV and filmmakers. Netflix and Amazon appear to be winning over more and more viewers from the 4 major American television networks. One of the problems for American series shows is that they never seem to know when to call it quits. Some shows keep dragging out the story-line until audiences get bored with the redundancy. Why do series from the BBC, Australia, Ireland, and Canada seem to know how to produce tightly written shows year after year?

I recently stumbled upon a gem from BBC Ireland called The Fall. It is a compact 17-show series that stars Gillian Anderson (from The X-Files' fame.) I know that this series has come and gone, but for those of you who missed's not too late to jump aboard.

The story is about a police "huntress" who is brought to Belfast, from the London MET, to hunt for a serial "hunter" of women. The pacing is methodical. The suspense is earned by great scripts and acting.

Unlike most American shows, the key plot points are not described in detail repeatedly; since the producers don't think their audiences can add 2 plus 2 and get 4. The stars of this series spend a lot of time in deep thought before they speak. One might find this irritating; however, so much if left to one's imagination while they deliberate. Remember the "eyes are the window to the soul."

Season 3 (the final season) is now in our catalog with not to long of a waiting list. Season's 1 and 2 are ready on the shelves to be checked out. The ADULT thriller is dark and disturbing, but worth the watch.
Posted by Uncle Will on 03/24/17
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Trevor Noah was born in South Africa to a black mother and a white father at the time when a union such as that was a crime under Apartheid rule. Noah's mother had to hide and shelter him for much of his childhood. In a place where Browns were only allowed to live with other Browns; Black only with Blacks; Whites with Whites; etc., a light-skinned African was a beacon of hatred and persecution. Young Noah did not make things easy for his mother, but she taught him to be proud and devout. Most times, she would have to chase him down and beat some sense into him, but his love for her never wavered. This book is humorous and sometimes sad. I had no idea who Noah was before reading this book and wasn't aware that he is a stand-up comic and that he has his own late night TV show in America. Add successful author to his resume. This book has a nice flow to it. I picked it up in our Marketplace just to review it and ended up not being able to put it down. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/22/17
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One of my friends in our Monday Mystery Discussion Group suggested I read Lock In. She said that it was both a mystery and a sci-fi novel; which in itself is novel. John Scalzi is the award winning author of the Old Man's War Novel Series:
Old Man’s War (2005)
The Ghost Brigades (2006)
The Last Colony (2007)
Zoe’s Tale (2008)
The Human Division (2013)
The End of All Things (2015)
Scalzi won the Hugo Award for his stand-novel Redshirts in 2013.
Lock in is a fast-read. It has a lot of dialog that is both witty and thoughtful. The main character, Chris Shane, is as unique a character that I have ever run across in literature. This mystery is a metaphor for future politics, race relations, science, economy, religion, and artificial life. I hope that Scalzi decides to write more books in this series since he only gets to describe the tip of the chunk of ice. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/08/17
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The 1944 film, Laura  was adapted from the sensational mystery, Laura, written by Vera Caspary in 1942. The film was nominated for 4 Oscars and won one for "Best Cinematography, Black-and-White."
Besides being clever, witty, engrossing, endearing, and inspiring, Caspary's novel was unique for the fact that her narrative was written in 3 different points-of-view. This proved challenging for Preminger's film adaptation. He hired 2 women and 1 man to write the screenplay, which also was nominated for an Oscar. The novel is only 197 pages and the film only runs 87 minutes; however, the end product in both is forever memorable.
The film's theme was written by David Raksin & Johnny Mercer. It's been recorded over 400 times. Johnny Mathis' version on his CD A Personal Collection: The Music Of Johnny Mathis is sweet. 
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/28/16
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I used to work with emotionally disturbed boys many, many years ago. That is what they were labeled back in the '70's. What these 8-18 year olds were was basically unloved. I met many boys that were like, Ricky Baker, the main character in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Ricky becomes the key figure in a New Zealand national manhunt when he disappears into the "bush" with his new foster parent, Sam Neill. This film already has won 13 international awards and is arguably the feel good movie of the year.
     The cast is perfect. The humor is dry. The sets are lush. The writer/director is Taika Waititi, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his 12-minute short film in 2005, Two Cars, One Night; which can be viewed in the "special features" that's included in the DVD of another one of his films - Boy.  Waititi also co-wrote and co-starred in last year's hilarious vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows.
     This type of film is usually referred to as "art-house cinema."  It's warm and humorous and is a great film for the holiday season - when sometimes things can a little heavy.
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/23/16
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Watching the first season of Outsiders was sheer escapism. At the top of a mountain dwells a clan that has lived and survive there for over 200 years - no TV, no book learning, no internet, no Republican and Democratic parties.  What they do have is family, blood, tradition, and the will to live.
The Ferrell family is led by the Bren’in. The current one, Lady Ray, is old and near-ready to pass the customary oak (symbol of power) staff on to her eldest son, Big Foster (actor David Morse). Big Foster would be a very poor choice for the next Bren’in – for more reasons than worth the time to list.
Time is the one thing running out for the clan. A powerful energy company wants to make billions mining the coal that lies under the top of the Farrell’s mountain. They will stop at nothing to evict the residents.

What I like most about this new series is the fact that up high on the Ferrell mountaintop, the males still garnish the illusion that they have the most power. Gillian Alexy stars as G'Winveer Farrell, the clan's healer. She is a quiet force that bears close watching. Ryan Hurst (Remember the Titans) who formally held the popular role of "Opie" on Sons of Anarchy, plays Li'l Foster Farrell, the troubled son of Big Foster. He's the shows' gentle giant. Perfect casting and the producers saved on his costume budget because his appearance mirrors his SOA wardrobe – complete down to the untaimed long beard and hair.

Don’t let the title mislead. There is an outsider amongst the insiders on Farrell Mountain. Asa Farrell, played by actor Joe Anderson, fled his family 10 years ago to see the world. He joined the Army and finally, after seeing the error of his ways, returned home, tail tucked, hat in hand, and is immediately tossed in a cage for 6 months to ponder his past and future plight. The tension builds when he learns that the love of his life, G'Winveer, is betrothed to Li'l Foster.

WGN has picked up the option for a 2nd season; so sit back and see which really rules: big business or true love.

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