How To Find New Movies At The Library

pex movies

We love unpacking new movies here at the library! There are two lists online that can show you which movies we’ve just gotten.

 

The New Items List

We keep an updated list of new movies and books on the library website. You can find the link to this list under our Quick Links section of the homepage; or you can just click here to see it!

 

The Recently Added Items List

To see the last 50 movies that have been added to the library’s collection, you can use the Recently Added Items list. Go to the library website and click the “Find Materials” link to the top left of the homepage. From the drop-down menu, select “Movies & More.” From there, you can see the most recent movies that we have gotten; or again, you can click here to go straight to the list.

 

All of our DVDs are located on the west side of the second floor. You can also stream movies digitally through Films On Demand, a database we subscribe to.

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “I, Tonya”

In the field of women’s figure skating, the name Tonya Harding will undoubtedly remain the most controversial one. Her story and notoriety continue to draw a wide range of emotional views on her legacy.  Some find her utterly contemptuous and unworthy of the annals of U.S Women’s Figure Skating history. Others view her career as a tragic fall from grace. Many have come to feel that Tonya’s skill and elegance in skating far outshined the stigma of her personal flaws, social class, rough upbringing, and poor life choices that inevitably led to her down fall.

I, Tonya premiered in 2017 set as a biopic drama and dark comedy. The film is based on a number of interviews of those involved throughout Tonya’s life and takes a narrative/mockumentary approach that constantly breaks the fourth wall. The film explicitly states at the beginning that the following dialogues and interviews are unreliable, thus leaving the audience to determine the truth of Tonya Harding’s story.

The film begins with a young four-year old Tonya being enrolled into a skating class by her mother LaVona Golden (played by Allison Janney). The portrayal of LaVona Golden would go on to earn Allison Janney an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in this role. I must take a moment to say that her acting is amazing in this film as she plays arguably the most detestable, foul-mouthed, cold, cruel, irredeemably loathsome woman to ever appear on film. Next we are introduced to Tonya’s coach, Diane Rawlinson, played by Julianne Nicholson. Diane is hesitant to take on training Tonya because she is so young but sees promise in the young girl due to her dedication and skill.

We see throughout Tonya’s childhood and teenage years that she suffers from non-stop verbal and physical abuse from her mother, who rationalizes that it will make her a better skater. The teenage and adult Tonya is played by Margot Robbie, and I feel this is her best performance to date. Despite her tragic upbringing, Tonya’s skill is unmatched and she becomes one of the top female figure skaters in the country; however, she is constantly denied a top prize, first place finish. Tonya blames this on her “white trash background” and her inability and unwillingness to act the part of a debutante on and off the ice.

One day while practicing, Tonya meets Jeff Gillooly (played by Sebastian Stan). Tonya and Jeff begin dating and are soon married. Their relationship is almost instantly toxic as Jeff is very physically abusive to Tonya and their marriage grows strained and dysfunctional at best.  Tonya’s career improves and she gains notoriety as she become the first U.S female skater to land the Triple Axel in competition.  It seems if she will become an Olympic champion, but fate steps in and she fails in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Defeated and depressed, Tonya thinks her days of skating are over, but her former coach Diane returns hoping that she will get in shape and compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics.  This brings about the “incident” to which Tonya’s lasting infamy is attributed.

Leading up to the games, Tonya is tied in skill next to her rival Nancy Kerrigan. Noticing this, Jeff enlists the help of his friend Shawn Eckardt (played by Paul Walter Hauser). Shawn is a moronic individual who styles himself as “Tonya’s bodyguard” and brags about being a counter-terrorist expert. Jeff asks Shawn to send out a death threat against Nancy Kerrigan in order to keep her from preforming in the Winter Olympics. Shawn recruits a couple of small-time crooks even dumber than him to carry out “the mission” as he calls it and it goes downhill from there. I feel the film from this point portrays the events leading up to the “incident” in a faithful way showing the numerous contradictory elements of who knew what and who was responsible.  The dramatic ending, the indictments and the final perspectives are as thought provoking as they are tragic.

Margot Robbie’s performance in this film is superb, and she was nominated for Best Actress. She seamlessly transitions from an aged, bitter narrator to a young, sympathetic protagonist who can’t catch a break in life. Tonya Harding will always remain a controversial character in the history of U.S Women’s Figure skating, but I do feel that this film did its best to humanize her and help us understand the full scope of the situation and those involved.

I, Tonya is available at the Union University Library. Please note it is rated R for intense language throughout, violence and some sexual situations.

 

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Sherlock Holmes”

Director Guy Ritchie is well known for his fast pace and witty British crime dramas. However, when it was announced that he was directing a film about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s trade mark character Sherlock Holmes, many people, including this writer, felt sure it would flop. Much to my surprise, the film wildly exceeded box office performances and my own biased presuppositions.

Sherlock Holmes is a classic and beloved character in the literary world, and it takes a masterful actor to live up to Holmes’ unique quirks and captivating persona. Coming right off the success of Iron Man in 2008, actor Robert Downy Jr was chosen to play the part of Sherlock Holmes. Downy would take a new approach to playing the world’s greatest detective. This incarnation of Holmes appears as a gaunt and skinny man, egocentric and conceited to a fault. Holmes comes off as a lonely genius with no one capable of understanding his own complexities; this is undoubtedly what causes Holmes to antagonize everyone around him and in particular Watson. The only thing that can calm Holmes down and focus his brilliance is the thrill of solving mysteries and investigations.

Jude Law portrays Dr. James Watson as Holmes’ faithful companion and perhaps one true friend. Watson is level headed and quick thinking but tends to react much more by the book in regards to solving crimes. The main antagonist in this film is the evil Lord Henry Blackwood played by Mark Strong. Blackwood is an infamous killer who seeks to bring London to its knees. With his apparent black magic powers and knowledge of the occult, he has locked the whole city into a helpless state of terror.

Meanwhile, Irene Adler is played by Rachel McAdams. Adler is a woman from Holmes’s past, and they hint that they may have been once romantically involved. Adler proves to be a daring character and one of the few people to have bested Holmes (by which he is most impressed).  Lastly we are introduced to Mary Morstan played by Kelly Reilly. Mary is being courted by Watson, who plans to marry her and give up the life of adventure and intrigue. This causes a considerable rift between Watson and Holmes, and Holmes slips further into melancholy as he fears a life without Watson at his side.

This is a fantastic film. It flawlessly blends between quick, well-timed comedy and fast- paced action and adventure, and all the while our iconic duo delves deeper and deeper into the villain’s devious plot. Sherlock Holmes would go on to have a sequel in 2011 and is scheduled for a third in December 2020. I find this film is always satisfying and quite a bit of fun; I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

* This film is available at the Union University Library.  Please note this film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images, and a scene of suggestive material.

 

 

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “The 13th Warrior”

It’s a new year and a great time to review some odd gems of cinema history. In my ongoing review of films that catch my attention and critical acclaim, I hope to shine the spotlight on films that have taken on a cult status.  Although today’s film was not financially successful nor did it achieve fame from a wider audience, it is often taken for granted among the adventure genre of films.

First a bit of background on this film: the 13th Warrior was released in 1999 and it was adapted from a book by the famous Michael Crichton entitled Eaters of the Dead.  Michael Crichton is more widely known for his novel Jurassic Park. During the mid to late 90’s Crichton’s novels were being adapted to film as fast as possible hoping for another big hit like Jurassic Park. Thus enters director John McTeiran, who’s best known for directing action hits like Predator and Die Hard. Although this film seemed like it would be a great success, it ended up coming in way over budget and flopped with audiences at the box office with estimates at a $120-million-dollar loss.

Now I hope to make the case that this film is not nearly as bad as it is made out to be. While it does have some obvious shortcomings, I still think this film shines in its narrative and set design, and the actors really try to give it their all in spite of the problems associated with the filming and production disputes. I think modern audiences can appreciate an adventure piece set in the dark ages due to a renaissance in the popularity of Norse Viking culture and current trends in video games such as the like of Skyrim.

Plot Synopsis

This film’s story begins with our main protagonist, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, played by Antonio Banderas. Ahamd ibn Fadlan is based in part of a real historical figure who would go on to write and describe his time spent as an ambassador to the Volga Vikings. In this adaptation Ahamd ibn Fadlan is forced to travel with 12 Vikings on a sacred mission of honor back to the far north of their homeland because an ancient enemy has returned and is terrorizing a Norse Kingdom. We are introduced to the leader and King of the Viking warriors: Buliwyf, played by Vladimir Kulich.  Buliwyf encompasses all the traits one would expect to find in a Viking, boasting a tall, silent, stoic appearance that can turn in an instant into ferocious fighter steeped in knowledge of Norse religion. His character is loosely based in homage to that of the mythical Beowulf.   The last character that stands out amongst the rest is that of Herger played by the Norwegian actor Dennis Storhøi. Herger’s character has the closest relationship to Ahamd and the two develop a quick friendship. Herger helps to explain the different culture the Vikings possess while being a friendlier and comedic character in stark contrast to the rest of the Vikings.

In summary, the 13th Warrior was a swing and a miss with mainstream audiences and to many it feels like an unfinished film due to some pacing issues. I wouldn’t go as far as some do and rule it out as a bad film, and I wouldn’t suggest it’s a B film either as the tone remains serious throughout and isn’t that campy. I think what’s most important is that I grew up with the film when there weren’t many choices in the genre as the Viking craze was still years off and this film has a very good period piece feel to it. So why not give this film a try- if it’s not the best, it’s at least entertaining!

This film is available at the Union University Library the Logos.

* Please note The 13th Warrior is rated R for violence throughout and some minor language.

**written by Matthew Beyer

 

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

December is here, folks, and that means Christmas movies. I’m sure everyone has a personal favorite or even a family tradition of what makes the best Christmas movie. From It’s a Wonderful Life to Home Alone, to even Die Hard (yes, it’s a Christmas movie): we all like to come together this time of year and watch films that entertain us and fill us with the Christmas spirit. Family is at the heart of this beloved holiday, but as we all know, family doesn’t always equal tranquility, peace on earth, and good will towards all. That being said I think one movie in particular embodies the stresses of the holiday season while highlighting what’s most important, and that film is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

This film holds a special place for me because it’s been a Christmas tradition with my own family. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the third in its series, and it debuted in 1989 and was written by the late great John Hughes. Chevy Chase reprises his role as the lovable yet habitually clumsy family man Clark Griswold.  Beverley D’Angelo also joins the cast once again to portray Clark’s loyal wife Ellen. Clark’s son Rusty is played by a young John Galecki (you may have known him from his reoccurring role in the Big Bang Theory as the character Leonard Hofstadter). Clark’s daughter, Audrey, is played by Juliette Lewis. Lastly we have the character that is both simultaneously lovable and detestable: Cousin Eddie, played by Randy Quaid. Cousin Eddie is an iconic comedic character, one that many of us can relate to. A wacky, distant relative that always seems to be down on his luck, Cousin Eddie always seems to have his hand out due to chronic bad choices and misfortune.

The central plot revolves and round the Griswold family trying to get through the perfect Christmas with both sides of the family’s in-laws coming to their home to visit for the holidays.  This is exacerbated by Cousin Eddie and his family showing up uninvited, which leads to a number of hilarious shenanigans. Clark is also under intense pressure hoping to get his yearly bonus check to cover his holiday expenses. The film ends with the moral that it’s better to give than to receive and that family and relationships are worth more than any material gifts.

*Please note that National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is rated PG-13 for language and some suggestive situations.  It is at the Union University Library so check it out this holiday season.

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Unforgiven”

Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece Unforgiven is one of the few Western genre films that managed to receive an Oscar for Best Picture. What makes this even more noteworthy is the fact that Eastwood both directed and starred in his film. The success of Unforgiven  helped to establish Clint Eastwood as an A-list director. Although the film premiered in 1992, Eastwood had the complete script since the early 1980’s; he apparently wanted to wait for the right time and right cast to appear. The leading actors would eventually be Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Richard Harris.

The basic story of Unforgiven is as follows: in the town of Big Whisky, Wyoming, two drunken cowboys disfigure a local prostitute and are treated leniently by the town’s Sherrif. The other prostitutes of the town are outraged and decide to place a bounty on the heads of the cowboys that attacked their friend. An old, notorious outlaw is sought out by a young upstart with the promise of a share in the reward. He reluctantly agrees and garners the help of an old friend to join them as well. The three then set out to find the men responsible.

This great cast and fantastic script makes for a near perfect western. However, as I will elaborate bellow it turns common western themes around quite a bit. If you’re interested you can check it out at the Union University library. Please note this film is rated R for violence and language.

 

 

**** Minor Spoilers Ahead*****

 

 

Clint Eastwood stars as William Munny, a vicious outlaw. In his youth, Munny committed many robberies and murders, but he then reformed, married, and started a family. The film finds Munny with his wife has recently passed away and struggling with an unprosperous farm and two young children. Munny’s longtime outlaw friend, Ned Logan, played by Morgan Freeman, is enlisted to help. Ned has also reformed and settled into a quiet life free from the crimes of his past; however, the reward is too good to pass up. The young gunslinger out to make a name for himself is played by Jamiz Woolvett; he calls himself the “Schofield Kid” due to the revolver he carries. The next character we are introduced to is English Bob played by the late great Richard Harris. English Bob is a famous killer who has made a name for himself working for railroad companies to kill disgruntled Chinese workers. He is accompanied by his biographer W.W. Beauchamp played by Saul Rubinek. Mr. Beauchamp is fascinated with gunfighter tales of the past and he portrays English Bob as a chivalrous and honorable hero in his pulp accounts of the gunman’s exploits. Meanwhile, the story’s central antagonist is that of “Little Bill” Daggett, played by Gene Hackman.  Little Bill is the sheriff of Big Whisky- he sees himself as a man full of grit and power. He commands authority in the town due to his past as a lawman in the tough areas of Kansas and Texas.

The themes and characters expressed in this film are in stark contrast to the common dogma of the Western genre.  The outlaws that set about their mission of revenge on the cowboys are in fact much more emotional and live in guilt of their previous acts. Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of William Munny is very moving as he struggles with the shame of his past and the life of crime that he has returned to. Richard Harris as English Bob also breaks the myths of the Wild West. He carries himself as a noble British gentleman but is in fact a simple, back-shooting murderer as many western outlaw folk heroes tended to be. Gene Hackman’s character of Little Bill Daggett helps to steal the show as he can go from charming and charismatic in one scene to cold, cruel, and quite sadistic- not the traits you want in a lawman. This film blurs the lines of good and evil and perhaps correctly paints the Wild West as rather morally grey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Jaws”

1975: it can be argued that this is the year that the first true “summer movie” was born, Jaws.  By the acclaimed Director Steven Spielberg, Jaws really cemented Spielberg as a first class director; this film would go on to become the highest grossing film up until Star Wars in 1977.

 Jaws taps into the most primitive and frightening aspects of survival: the fear of being hunted and of being prey. We humans are, no doubt, the top predators on land- our technology has made us so- however, in the deep depths of the ocean we are as out of our element as we are in space. This film represents the ultimate clash between man and beast. It’s a modern day Moby Dick.

This film stars Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody, a common man who finds himself in an ever escalating out-of-control situation. As a shark terrorizes the small touristy Island of Amity, it falls to Brody to come up with a plan to stop the ravenous monster. To do this, he enlists the help of Matt Hooper, a marine biologist played by Richard Dreyfuss. Hooper’s character is that of a logical man but sometimes over-confident in his abilities and technology to solve the problem.

The third member of the cast that sets out to eventually confront the shark is that of Captain Quint of the Orca, a shark fishing vessel. Quint is played by the famous English actor Robert Shaw. Quint’s character has a deep hatred of sharks and scoffs at others as they attempt to solve the problem. Eventually he offers his help in catching the mighty fish for ten thousand dollars.

One man who stands in sheer denial of the problems facing the island is Mayor Larry Vaughn, played by Murray Hamilton. Mayor Vaughn downplays the havoc the shark causes as freak accidents and is quick to believe that the problem has been dealt with when another larger shark is caught in its place. Vaughn cares only for the prospected tourism of the upcoming 4th of July and the money it will bring the Island.

The last main character of the film is that of the Great White shark itself. Originally a large mechanical shark was designed to be featured heavily in the film, but technical breakdowns made that impossible. Thus Spielberg was forced to take a minimalist approach to this horrific monster. This proved to be outstandingly successful idea, as the ominous and now famous score from the legendary John Williams brought the stalking beast to life. Many who have never seen the film know and recognize its theme “duunnn dunnn… duuuunnnn duun…” The audience soon learns that is the sound of impending doom.

Jaws is still recognized as the number one scariest movie of all time, since it had the very real effect of keeping people out of the water. It was immortalized in 2001 by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States Film Registry because it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Jaws is rated PG, but don’t let that fool you- it features some graphic scenes of violence including (“spoiler alert!”) shark attacks and some language.

It can be checked out at our library here.

 

*written by Matthew Beyer

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Fargo”

The Coen brothers have consistently produced groundbreaking and hallmark films, and their 1996 motion picture Fargo stands the test of time.  This film features a dark comedic take on a criminal plot that spirals out of control leading from one disaster to another.  This film stars Francis McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Harve Presnell and Kristin Rudrud.

The film’s plot revolves around Jerry Lundegaard (Macey), who is a sleazy car salesmen that has fallen into debt due to fraud and money laundering and orchestrated a plot to have his own wife Jean Lundegaard (Kristin Rudrud) kidnapped and ransomed to her wealthy father Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell). The two small-time bumbling criminals Mr. Lundergarrd entrusts with this scandalous endeavor are Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi), who plays a tough talking albeit inept wannabe gangster, and his partner Gaear Grimsrud, played by the fantastic character actor Peter Stormare as a soft-spoken sociopath with a thousand yard stare.

The protagonist at the heart of this story is Chief of Police Marge Gunderson played by Francis McDormand. This role would go on to net McDormand an Academy Award for Best Actress. Marge Gunderson is a pregnant police chief struggling to piece together the trail of murder and mayhem left in the wake of the incompetent henchmen that Jerry Lundegaard hired.

What makes this film so memorable is the setting in which it takes place:  the backcountry of Minnesota and the snowy and glamorous metropolitan expanse of Fargo, North Dakota. The geographic location was a key choice for the Coen brothers due to the particular accent that is spoken there.  The dialect featured so heavily in the film is that of “Minnesota nice.” As part of its Wikipedia entry states:

The cultural characteristics of “Minnesota nice” include polite friendliness, an aversion to confrontation, a tendency toward understatement, a disinclination to make a fuss or stand out, emotional restraint, and self-deprecation.

With this in mind, you’ll find yourself incapable of keeping yourself from quoting this film’s unique dialogue.

Finally, I feel that William H. Macey’s portrayal of Jerry Lundegaard is superb. Jerry Lundegaard is a hopeless loser and a sorry excuse for a criminal. He time and again fails to cover his tracks and his pathetic downfall is a great example of why crime doesn’t pay. Marge Gunderson sums it up perfectly in one of her last lines at the end as she laments the calamity of the whole situation. “And for what? For a little bit of money? There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that?”

Fargo is a great dark comedy drama, but it’s not suitable for the whole family as it is rated R for violence and language. Whether you are watching it for its memorable quirky dialogue or its star-studded performances, Fargo is a great film don’tcha know.

****And it’s available for check out at Union’s Library***

*written by Matthew Beyer