Blog Posts by Uncle Will

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. 
memoir
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.

 
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 options for a 2nd season so sit back and see if big business or true love rules out.

Posted by Uncle Will on 10/20/16
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The Dark Valley is precisely what the title says. This dark Danish film, Das finstere Tal (original title), is shot in Val Senales, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. It features a rising young star, Sam Riley, as the brooding, deeply conflicted, stranger who arrives totally unwanted to a remote valley at the foot of the Alps. When asked what his business is (before rudely being told to turn his horse around and ride back the way he came) he says that he's a photographer.

The answer is problematic on many levels. The valley is a closed community that is ruled by a land-baron and his many sons. Male strangers are always turned away. Since no one knows what a photograph is, the novelty is the new visitor's free pass. Winter is coming and once it sets in, the mountain pass will become closed by the snow. The stranger, Greider, in need of lodging, is forced upon a mother and her soon-to-wed daughter.

 
This film's powerful in its lack of color. All the scenes are dark and dreary which helps create the feeling that the valley village is encompassed and even consumed by evil. The plot is a mystery that isn't hard to figure out; however, the film's an ode to the gritty, tight Westerns of the '60's and '70's - a period in films where the hero is a loner, fighting incredible odds, non-supported by the suppressed citizens, but is willing to die for his cause. 
 
This film is a psychological study of man-the-manipulator. It is not for everyone’s taste, but it worth a watch.
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/16/16
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There's been a rash of decent Western films in the last couple of years. My being an old cowboy, I'm always hunting for the next The Unforgiven starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn (1959) or High Noon starring Gary Cooper (1952) or Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992).
 
The Salvation stars Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green (pronouned "grain"). Neither actor has more than a few pages of lines in the entire film; however, both give powerful performances as two independent people - broken completely down by evil doers. I've seen everything that these two actors have appeared in since the beginning of their film careers. What a delightful surprise to find them both in the same film.
 
Rounding out a strong supporting cast is Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jonathan Pryce. This is a film about honor, betrayal, and revenge. It was shot entirely in South Africa. It is an adult film with adult subject matter. It's not what we use to call a "Saturday Afternoon Oater."
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/24/16
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Looking for a new series to watch where there’s no swearing, no gratuitous, graphic sex, nor buckets upon buckets of blood and yet is witty, sexy, and violent? Try Season 1 of The Musketeers, the BBC updated version of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel The Three Musketeers.

All 3 of the musketeers have classically good looks. They all look great in leather, especially Porthos, who in this filmed version is half French, half African and not portrayed as the plump, drunken ox – which he so often is. Athos has deep dark secrets and is cast as the brains of the bunch and the best brooder. Aramis is pleasant on the eye and deviously charming.  D'Artagnan has great hair and thus never wears a hat. Cardinal Richelieu is shown to be his usual villainous self; however, his motivation is based less on greed and personal power than exercising his loyalty and vision for a future France. Liberties are taken in this adaptation. The psychopath, Rochefort, is not even introduced until Season 2.

What draws attention is that all of the female characters are not the typical Hollywood buxom bimbos. The casting is very good. Each actress comes across as the girl-next-door.  Even the Queen Anne character is beautifully flawed. But make no mistake, the femme fatal is the Milady D’Winter.  This is a great part and many actresses love the chance to play "the baddest dudette on the castle block."

Be warned. The first episode is the weakest of the lot. The introduction of all the main characters is like trying to put a size 10 foot in a pair of size 7 shoes. If you stick with this series, it gets better as all the characters grow.
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/03/16
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A Perfect Day isn't like most other films. The story is a typical day-in-the-life for a team of aid workers in the Balkans (c.1995) who are trying removed a dead body from the drinking well of a small village near Bosnia. We learn early on that aid workers must be very careful not to do anything that would constitute them being a threat and then most likely killed. If they had a manual, Chapter One would definitely be entitled "Problem Solving 101."
This film quickly moves to "Advanced Problem Solving" and then onto "graduate studies" and beyond. IMDb lists the genre for this IFC (Independent Film Channel) as being a Comedy/Drama/War film; however, Oscar winner, Tim Robbins' character comes across as the film's lone, class clown. Oscar winner, Benicio Del Toro, is the team's proctor. He has the most sense and experience. Del Toro and Robbins are a formable pair who together have great timing and chemistry.

After watching, I couldn't help feeling honored that I was let into this film by the director. We take so much for granted in life. Most times it can't be helped just because of human nature. We try to make some sort of difference in our short lives. We hope we haven't wasted opportunities.

If you get the chance, checkout this bittersweet film. Don't miss the opportunity.

Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
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Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
 
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