Under the Radar Films: No One Lives

MV5BMjMzMzI0OTgwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzU5ODQxMDE@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_Another pleasant surprise (or unpleasant as the case may be), No One Lives is a horror film with a twist. Luke Evans plays “Driver” (as listed in the credits) ostensibly relocating with his “girlfriend” and driving a BMW towing a trailer. At first glance all seems normal, except that there is something not right about him. His manner of speech and the way he treats his young girlfriend are red flags.

I a parallel story, a gang of thieves is robbing a large mansion when the owners return early interrupting the heist. One of the thieves opens fire and kills the husband, the wife and their teenage son. The gang packs up and takes off to avoid entanglement with the authorities.

During a chance meeting at a steakhouse, the gang member responsible for slaughtering the returning family comes across the Driver and his young traveling companion. The murderous thief leaves but waits for the driver. The thief steals the BMW and trailer. The Driver and his young woman are taken to a warehouse to be tortured for any other material possessions which might make up for the botched robbery attempt. What the thief finds in the trunk sets of a horrifying string of lethal events.

I liked the story and the main twist is a clever idea. The Driver is not what he appears to be and the thieves while definitely not good guys are not the villains in the story. It is a horror film and a gory one at that: several scenes of characters getting shot in the head and blood spattering; a couple scenes of gruesome torture; lots of blood. There is a small amount of nudity, which is always kind of unsettling in films like this. This is definitely not a movie for children.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

No One Lives

Worth a look if you like gory, disturbing films.

Skip it if torture and/or the sight of blood makes you queasy.

-Steve
MDE’s Self Appointed Movie Critic

 

 

 

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The Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library- An Afternoon Getaway

Every day I spend my breaks walking around the pond located next to the library. And every day I observe mama ducks protecting their ducklings, beautiful dragon flies zipping about, and a plethora of bunnies hiding in shady holes. So, if you’re looking for a way to spend a summer afternoon, head on over to the library. Have a picnic in the park, take a stroll around the pond, visit the 9/11 Memorial then come inside to cool off and find a good book or movie to relax with in the evening. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a fantastic way to spend a day with friends, family, or by yourself!

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-SRJ

Under the Radar Movies: The Machinist

MV5BMTkxMjc0Nzk3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDM5MTcyMQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_The Machinist is a criminally overlooked film. Which is unfortunate as it is a meditation on the destructive power of guilt and a very well done film. It is dark and atmospheric which may have put many people off.

Christian Bale plays Trevor Reznik, a machinist who hasn’t slept in over a year. His only “friends” are a prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a single mother who works as a waitress at the diner the Reznik frequents at night after his shift at the machine shop. He has lost a lot of weight, in fact both the prostitute and the waitress tell him that if he gets any thinner, he wouldn’t exist. He starts to hallucinate and begins to see people who may or may not be real.

I’ve watched this film several times. The first time, I didn’t figure out what was going on until the end, when the film reveals Trevor’s dark secret. Each subsequent view reveals more details overlooked on previous viewings.

Christian Bale lost one third of his body weight to play this role and the results are very disturbing: he looks like a flesh-covered skeleton. In places, this film is very hard to watch. One scene in particular with Jennifer Jason Leigh is particularly heartbreaking as Bale’s character descends into madness and takes out his anger on her.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

The Machinist

Worth a look if you like creepy, atmospheric films or are a fan of Christian Bale.

Skip it if you are easily disturbed.

-Steve
MDE’s Self-Appointed Movie Critic

 

Book Review: One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration and Fun by Beckah Krahula

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(Click here to place a hold on this book)

I’m not one to stick with extended-length projects. And this book didn’t change that for me. Rather than providing me with a 6-week long course, it gave me a nice, little week-long adventure of zentangles. A month ago, I didn’t even know what a zentangle was. It was only through a patron’s query that I discovered them and gained an interest in learning how to draw them. Tangles, as they are often called, are unplanned drawings using a pencil, a black pen and a 3.5″ square piece of paper. Meant to be a form of meditation, there is no right or wrong way to draw a tangle.

My initial plan was to get through the book in a few weeks’ time. I thought I could last at least that long. Unfortunately, one week later, life took over and my zentangles went right out the door. But here’s what I gathered in that one week:

1. Zentangles are fun. There is no right or wrong way to draw them, despite the steps that the book walks you through.

2. Zentangles, do, in fact provide a brief retreat away from life. The 15-20 minutes that are spent creating a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants drawing are all-consuming.

3. There is something fulfilling about completing a drawing and I have been pleased with every single one. They are all beautiful.

My only gripe lies not within zentangles themselves, but within the inherently contradictory nature of a book that tries to encapsulate a free-flowing art form. The author points out at the beginning, “There are no expectations or planned goals of accomplishment to worry about attaining or disappointments stemming from unattainable expectations”. Yet, despite the loads of instruction that disagree with the whimsical nature of the art form, the book gave me some amazing tools to create unique tangles, which, without, I would not have known where to begin.

Here are a few of the tangles I created:

my tangles

If you’re looking for a new way to relax and de-stress from the day, zentangle might be for you. Or, if like me, you can’t draw a thing, but want to create something unique then this art form might provide the artistic release you seek.
Check out some of our Zentangle titles and click the links to place a hold.

– SRJ

The Beauty of Zentangle: inspirational examples from 137 tangle artists worldwide by Suzanne McNeill

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Joy of Zentangle: drawing your way to increased creativity, focus, and well-being

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The Zentangle Untangled Workbook: a tangle-a-day to draw your stress away by Kass Hall

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Zentangle Untangled: inspiration and prompts for meditative drawing by Kass Hall

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Music Review: Lights Out by Ingrid Michaelson

 

71VV-kAvR4L__SL1500_.rLights Out by folky/indie, singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson took me completely by surprise; this is not the type of music that I normally listen to. But it snuck up on me with its infectious, catchy beats and joyous, heartfelt lyrics.

Much pop music is vapid, forgettable, and ultimately disposable. Not so with Lights Out, which has an ear-worm quality, but in a good way. The songs play in my head even when I’m not listening to the album itself.

My first introduction to Michaelson’s music was from the above video.  The video is truly a wry homage to Robert Palmers “Simply Irresistible” which I remember fondly from my college days. I like Michaelson’s twist on Palmer’s stylized models.

The song itself is very catchy as well and led me to investigate more of Michaelson’s music, most of which is available for streaming on YouTube. Kudos to her for allowing people to listen to her music before purchasing it. Her music stands on its own and it seems to me that she is confident enough in it to let listeners listen first and then pay for it later.

Other standout songs from Lights Out are “Wonderful Unknown,” “One Night Town,” “Over You,” and “Everyone Is Gonna Love Me Now. ”

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Lights Out

Give it a listen if you  like infectious, catchy pop music which is more complex than it appears on the surface.

Skip it if you don’t want these catchy songs playing in your head even when you’re not listening to them.

-Steve

What is a father?

Not everyone who reads this question will have the same answer. And that’s ok. For some, a father is the man in their life that taught them how to be a functioning citizen of the world, while for others, a father was simply a biological necessity that made their life possible. Whichever end of the spectrum you’re on today, let’s take a moment to thank our dads for whatever role they played in our lives. Here’s a list of some books that pay homage to all things “Dad”.

My Father at 100 by Ron Reagan

my father

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

manhood

Tales from the Dad Side: misadventures in fatherhood by Steve Doocy

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Big Shoes: in celebration of dads and fatherhood by Al Roker

big shoes

Pacify Me : A handbook for the freaked-out new dad by Chris Mancini

pacify

 

-SRJ

Films Worth a Look: Solomon Kane

MV5BMTU5NDMwOTkxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTg5OTM1OA@@._V1_SY317_CR13,0,214,317_AL_Adapted from a story by pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan the Barbarian), Solomon Kane is the story of a ruthless, amoral mercenary who learns that he is damned for his transgressions and his soul will go to hell. He repents his evil ways and tries to live a righteous, moral life. After falling in with a clan of traveling Puritans, the daughter is kidnapped and Kane must return to his mercenary ways to rescue her, even at the cost of his soul. Ultimately, he realizes there is much more at stake than just the fate of his soul.

I must say, this movie is not high art, but it is very enjoyable. It originated with Robert E. Howard, after all. James Purefoy is excellent as the title character. Pete Postlethwaite, Alice Krige and Max Von Sydow turn in competent performances in supporting roles.

Lots of action, swordplay and sorcery propel the storyline. The CGI is dark and gritty and looks realistic. The costumes are well done. The film never spirals down into a sword and sorcery cheese-fest, as some films in this genre are wont to do.

It is nice to see another one of  Howard’s creations come to life on the big screen. But not only that, the film makers have done the story justice by carefully crafting a decent flick.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Solomon Kane

Worth a look if you sword & sorcery flick, or are a fan of Robert E. Howard or Conan the Barbarian.

Skip it if you don’t like bloody sword fighting or films about demons.

-Steve
MDE’s Self Appointed Movie Critic