Movies to Watch this Earth Day

earthday2012.thumbnail.pngWe can all observe Earth Day this year by educating ourselves about the challenges that face our environment and what we can do about it. Try some of the titles suggested below to get started:

The age of stupid [videodisc] — Pete Postlethwaite stars as an archivist living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, who spends his days looking at old footage from the years leading up to 2015 - when a cataclysmic climate change took place.

Bag it [videodisc] by produced and directed by Suzan Beraza — The story of an average American guy who makes a pledge to stop using plastic bags.

Levon Helm 1940-2012

Levon Helm, singer and drummer for the legendary rock group The Band died April 19 at the age of 71. His distinctive voice can be heard on such classic songs as "The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down," "Up on Cripple Creek," and "The Weight." After the group's famed farewell performance in 1976 (dubbed The Last Waltz) Helm embarked on a solo musical career. In 1980 Helm appeared in the film Coal Miner's Daughter with Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn's father.

Casablanca's 70th Anniversary

Casablanca, one of the greatest American films, celebrates it's 70th anniversary this year. When it was released in 1942, it was just one of many films produced that year, and although it won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, it wasn't until years later that its reputation among both critics and viewers has consistenly placed it on lists of the greatest films of all time. Directed by Michael Curtiz, and starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Peter Lorre, the film is the story of ex-freedom fighter Rick Blaine who now runs a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco during the early years of World War II. His life is upended when his true love, Ilsa — who had abandoned him in Paris during the Nazi invasion — walks into the club one night — with her husband, a renowned Resistance leader.

Titanic's 100th Anniversary

April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the luxury liner RMS Titanic. The largest ship afloat in the world at the time — and widely believed to be "unsinkable" — the Titanic left Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to New York City on April 10. Four days later, the ship collided with an iceberg late in the evening of April 14, and sank in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 2:20 in the morning of the 15th. The Titanic's passengers included some of the world's wealthiest people, including John Jacob Astor, Isidor Straus, Benjamin Guggenheim, and the 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown. Of these, only Brown survived. In all, 1,517 of the approximatley 2,200 people aboard were lost, mainly because the ship only carried enough lifeboats to accomodate a third of the passengers and crew. Although the wreck of the liner was discovered on the bottom of the sea in 1985, it is gradually disintegrating.

The Artist

The Artist has become the first silent film to win the Oscar for Best Picture since 1929 when the film Wings won the award at the very first Oscars ceremony. For more great films of the silent era try some of these titles from the Library's collection:

Broken blossoms [videodisc] by United Artists — A young Chinaman in London's squalid Limehouse district hopes to spread the peaceful philosophy of his Eastern religion. There he befriends a pitiful street waif who is mistreated by her brutal father.

City lights [videodisc] by a comedy romance in pantomime written and directed by Charles Chaplin — A tramp wins the love of a blind flower girl and attempts to obtain money from a millionaire to help her regain her sight

David Kelly, 1929-2012

Veteran Irish actor David Kelly has passed away at the age of 82. Kelly was a familiar face in British television, as well as on the Irish stage. American audiences would most likely recognize him as Grandpa Joe in Tim Burton's adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or from his role in the Irish comedy Waking Ned Devine. For more films featuring David Kelly try one of these from the library's collection:

Greenfingers [videodisc]

Into the West [videodisc]

The Italian job [videodisc]

Stardust [videodisc]

25 New Documentaries You Shouldn't Miss

American teacher (DVD) [videorecording] — Profiles of four teachers in different areas of the country reveal the frustrating realities of today's teachers and the reasons why so many of our best educators leave the profession altogether.

At the edge of the world [videodisc] — The story of the efforts of the controversial Sea Shepherd Antarctic Campaign against a Japanese whaling fleet.

Billy the Kid [videodisc] — A fascinating look at the myth behind the man who in just a few short years transformed himself from a skinny orphan boy to the most feared man in the West.

Buck [videodisc] — The life and career of real life "horse whisperer" Buck Brannaman.

Ben Gazzara

Veteran stage and film actor Ben Gazzara died over the weekend. He was 81. Best known for his role in the classic film Anatomy of a Murder with James Stewart, he appeared in several notable films throughout his long career, including Husbands and The killing of a Chinese bookie with director John Cassavetes. He is also remembered for his starring role in the 1960s television series Run for Your Life in which he played a lawyer with a terminal illness determined to make the most of his remaining time. On stage, Mr. Gazzara originated the role of Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and was nominated for a Tony in 1955 for his performance in A Hatful of Rain. For a complete list of his films click here.

Black History Month

We owe the celebration of Black History Month to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the son of slaves who went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard. He launched Negro History Week in 1926 in order to bring national attention to the contributions of blacks throughout American history. Woodson chose the second week of February for this recognition because it marks the birthdays of two men whose lives greatly influenced the black American population — Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The celebration evolved into Black History Month in 1976.

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