Archive for September, 2018


Banned Book Week

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Working in a library finds the staff always talking about books.

We talk about the ones we like, dislike, wouldn’t mind burning, and why we never will.

Banned Books picture

Banned and Challenged Books Image from a friend’s Facebook page

We talk with our patrons about the same thing as well as observations about various books. I remember one conversation in which the patron stated he read Mein Kampft. He read it to see what it was all about. And what he noted was if you could get past all of the hatred in the book, there was a solid economic plan for Germany in those days of incredible inflation.

Other times I have heard patrons talk about how they don’t like the language in some of their favorite authors changing to something a bit harsher, more vulgar. And the sexier novels are not always appreciated either.

Maybe they don’t like the sexuality that is dealing with something abusive or the violence of crime committed by serial killers.

There are a lot of reasons why people hate various books. But there are more reasons why we shouldn’t ban them.

Like it or not, we need these various ideas floating around so we can inspect them and see what works and what doesn’t. As much as I dislike the ideas floating around in the original black Sambo book, I believe we need to see it to remember what we don’t want to be. I have seen other versions of Sambo that are not so racially charged. In those books, Sambo is telling the same folktales and is not some caricature.

We celebrate Banned Book Week in libraries this week because we want to remind people that books shouldn’t be banned, ideas shouldn’t be hidden, people shouldn’t be silenced. And that includes the repugnant ones. Once you start banning books, ideas, people it never ends. There is never a line that stops it.

Did we not learn that from WWII and the Nazis? It started with Jews and worked it way to socialists, intelligentsia, journalists, unions, gypsies, religious groups, etc. There were at least 37 badges in various colors and dots or bars to designate your status in Nazi Germany..

The perks of being a wallflowerSo this week, take the time to watch a banned book turned into a movie. Maybe it is To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck. Maybe it is The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Emma Watson and Ezra Miller about two teens who bring a shy boy into their circle. Maybe it is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone starring Daniel Radcliffe about a wizarding boy who survives an attack that brings him notoriety and danger.

There are many choices because there is no limit to what people seek to ban. That is if you’re so inclined for a banned book turned into a movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Surprise Island

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Finding a good family movie can prove to be difficult.

Boxcar Children Surprise IslandSometimes you find one that has great characters but a story line that makes no sense. Or the dialogue feels right until we get into poop and fart jokes that run continuously.

Sometimes a good family movie works and sometimes they just don’t.

I say all this because I recently watch a Boxcar Children movie, hoping that it would be good.

For those unfamiliar with the back story, the Boxcar Children are a family of four children who were orphaned but have been taking care of themselves thanks to the efforts of the oldest brother, Henry. Older sister, Jesse, is a good cook and can organize just about anything. Younger sister, Violet, has an artistic spirit but is a bit shy. Benny is a rambunctious six year old boy that everyone adores.

At some point they are found by their grandfather, a very rich man who wants to care for his grandchildren. They and their dog, Watch, eventually move in to the older man’s mansion and make a new life.

Boxcar ChildrenIn the newest movie featuring these characters called The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island, summer vacation has finally come. The children are ready for an adventure and their grandfather plans to give them one.

He owns an island, one where he used to spend the summer, exploring the entire island and creating memories. It is his intention to let his grandchildren spend their summer here so they can do the same. He will visit as he can but for the most part they will be on their own along with Captain Daniel who lives in the dock house. And there is Joe who is the captain’s assistant.

There is a mystery to solve and adventures to have and a museum to create.

I enjoyed the way this movie played out. It is what some might call a slice of life movie in which the kids just live using what they find on the island and what ever provisions Joe or Captain Daniel can get from the mainland.

But what kept distracting me from enjoying this movie was the animation. Or maybe I should say the lack of depth in the animation. The characters moved very stiffly as did almost any wild creature, the sky, and the sea.

My Neighbor Totoro IMDb com 4 2013Perhaps I have been spoiled by Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli animation. These three studios put out films that are beautiful to watch and complete with great story lines and dialogue. The Jungle Book by Disney features a four-panel background that moves as Mowgli walks, giving the jungle a lush look. The toys in Toy Story look nearly real with their myriad of expressions. The grass in My Neighbor Totoro blows in waves as the wind streaks along.

But none of this happens in Surpise Island. The grandfather’s mustache barely moves as he speaks. It doesn’t matter that the great Martin Sheen gives voice to this character if it doesn’t look like his mouth is moving right. And that can ruin the rest of the movie along with the story it wants to tell.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Incredibles 2

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This past week we made what might be our last trip to the drive-in for the summer.

You never know, we could make another trip because one must watch scary movies at the drive-in. In reality, I am guessing we are done.

The_Incredibles_2 posterBut it was a great one to finish off the summer season – a double feature with The Incredibles 2 and Christopher Robin. I will talk about the latter sometime in the future. But right now I want to talk about the long-awaited sequel to what I think is one of the best movies of all time.

Why did Brad Bird wait so long to make this sequel? I am sure he has some good reasons. Timing was not right, didn’t want a fake storyline to drive the plot, couldn’t figure out how to make Edna a crucial part of the storyline.

I am sure the reasons were endless.

Luckily what we get is a great storyline.

The supers remain in hiding. And when a bad guy shows up, the family tries to stop him. However, their attempts are futile; the bad guy gets away despite our favorite super heroes managing to save the capitol building.

That is when Lucius meets this rich guy named Winston Deavor. He is super rich and super crazy about supers. Winston is the salesman of the company while his sister, Evelyn, is the creative genius who invents items for the future of right now.

They want the supers to be supers again.

And their choice for this job is Elastigirl – Helen.

The reason why becomes clear. Elastigirl is smoother, more about finesse than bombast power. That means less damages, and more feel-good moments.

But for Helen, it is also about guilt. The guilt of not being there for the kids while breaking the law to help supers be legal once more.

the-incredibles-2 meeting

Frozone, Elastigirl, and Mr. Incredible meeting with Winston Deavor

What I loved about the first Incredibles movie is that it explored the idea of giving participation trophies and making everyone feel they’re special.

This movie is exploring the guilt of life. Helen deals with working mother guilt even though she is smart and good at her job. Bob is guilty over not being out doing superhero stuff while wondering if he is doing a good enough job as a dad. Two other characters deals with the guilt of the should-of’s and could-of’s we all face in life when something tragic happens. Their individual response may be different to that guilt but how they deal with it is interesting.

Yes, these guilt issues are a part of the subtext, but we also get a ton of great action scenes. Elastigirl is the star, people love her, even fellow heroes. Jack-Jack is starting to display all of his powers which can be frightening and exciting. Edna is fascinating for all of her fashion personality quirks.

Can you have a movie that is fun and exciting while dealing with all of these emotions? Yes! Just because we are getting a lot of great action scenes with super-powered people doesn’t mean we can’t handle a few emotions along the way. Everyone knows that emotions are so much messier than the end results of a great battle. But dealing with them and coming to a new understanding can be a great adventure.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

A Street Cat Named Bob

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

It seems as if I am writing a lot about redemption stories. The movies I am watching lately are about people who work to create a better life for themselves or others.

This past week I discovered a book that was very popular in England and apparently around the world. It is called A Street Cat named Bob. The story is about how a young man in London changed his life around after adopting a stray cat.

A Street Cat named Bob posterThe story is incredible, powerful because this man was fighting a heroin addiction.

In 2016, a movie was made based on the book written by James Bowen, the street musician who adopted Bob. In the movie, James is played by Luke Treadaway, a British actor who gives a truthful portrayal.

Nothing is sugarcoated in this movie. We start with James trying to make a living singing on the streets with his busted up guitar. As the rain pours, a friend gives him shelter and a chance to get high. With no prospect for food or proper shelter, James takes advantage.

But a near over-dose makes James decide to live. And he is lucky to get a social worker who is tough but believes in him. Val gets him on a methadone program with strict rules. She also acquires a flat for him in a neighborhood that is not the best but it is safer than the streets.

Two things that happen give James hope. First, he meets Betty, a dog walker and volunteer. Then his new home is broken into by Bob, a marmalade tabby. At first James is only going to give the cat a home for the night and send him on his way. But Bob has other plans. He follows James on to the bus and begins to accompany James where ever he performs.

Various factors work on James and we see that he wants something better. And that what kept me watching. I became enraptured with the story of this young man and his efforts to make a better life, to escape the drugs that plagues him. When Bob goes missing and we fear the worst, we see James work through his emotions and fear.

A street cat named bob still

Still of Bob and Luke Treadaway from A Street Cat Named Bob

Most of the time when I watch a British film, I prepare myself for lots of swearing and more violence than usual. But this movie can be watched by teens and those who are more sensitive because there is minimal swearing. Drug use is off screen although we are well aware of it. There is some fighting but again, it is at minimal amounts.

Luke Treadaway gives a nuanced performance as James. He is joined by Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Frogget, and Anthony Head as James’s father. Each has something to add to the story be it supporting character in James’s story or a person who explains his back story a little more.

Perhaps most amazing is the actual cat, Bob, who stars as himself. There are other cats used to portray Bob at various times but he is on screen a good part of the time intereacting with James and others appropriately.

I have a hard time describing this movie because I really enjoyed it. It was such an accidental discovery but one I will be watching again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.