Saturday, June 29, 2013

FREE Movie Nights in July

Get out of the heat this summer and join us for Movie Night every Thursday at 6pm in the Community Room! Admission is FREE and popcorn and soda are sold for $1.00. Check out the movies we will be playing this month!

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Friday, June 28, 2013

Film Review: This is the End

James Franco and Seth Rogen lead an all-star comedy cast composed of Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny Mcbride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, and many more in This Is The End, a movie that is part apocalyptic thriller but mostly party-fare comedy. While This Is The End certainly revels in the same style of humor as films such as Pineapple Express and Superbad, it is able to carve out its own niche with its brand of judgment day side busters. Most of the time This Is The End stays on a fast track of easy laughs but it on occasion opens up and looks inside to depths not commonly seen in this style of comedy.

            In the film the actors all play caricatures of their real life selves. So the movie centers around Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, as Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, going to a big-time party at James Franco’s Hollywood home. There are a string of hilarious cameos from well-known stars such as James Marshall and Emma Watson as well as more unexpected guests like Rihanna and Mindy Kaling. During the course of the party the unthinkable happens: the apocalypse hits. This leaves our central cast fortified in Franco’s home and all hell breaks out (literally) as our ragtag band of misfits face the end of days.

            The cast is in top shape and This Is The End undeniably marks a high point for many of those involved. James Franco is as likable as Danny Mcbride is not, Jonah Hill puts in a uniquely funny performance, and Seth Rogen’s signature dry sarcasm works even better than usual while in contrast to the other star’s styles of comedy. Michael Cera, although he is only in the film for a short time, is one of the funniest characters and breaks out of his usual awkward-geeky mold in dramatic fashion. Only Jay Baruchel left me a little dry and as his role is one of the mild-mannered, down to earth protagonist that we can relate to and see the story through, he gets a pass.

            The movie speeds past “raunchy” all the way to “adults only”. This Is The End is consistently crass and offensive and is only safe for those who know what to expect from this crew. The jokes are funny and there are some legitimate laugh-out-loud moments but much of This Is The End makes an episode of Family Guy look tame. 

            There is a surprising abundance of visual splendor in the film. From the ravaged wreckage of post-apocalyptic Hollywood to hell beasts of CG wonder, This Is The End features some spectacular imagery not usually seen in this kind of film. I was actually left wondering and imagining how the film would look in IMAX.

            There are many ways in which This Is The End breaks out of and subverts the genre norm and it is a better movie because of it. However the film is still very much of the bawdy slacker sub-genre and remains inaccessible for those not accustomed to the style and of more delicate sensibility. By normal standards This Is The End is good if not great but for the genre This Is The End is great if not exceptional.

Grade: B

Posted By: Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Top 10 Signs You Live at the Library

Here at the Collinsville Memorial Library Center we offer free access to such huge amounts of information and entertainment that it is easy to understand how one could become a little addicted.  With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the top ten signs that you may be spending too much time at the library.

10 - You know every employee's schedule by heart.
9 - Other patrons assume you work here.
8 - You've never missed a Thursday night movie - not even Red Dawn!     
7 - You have your packages delivered here.
6 - The Library being closed on Christmas Day really dampens your holiday spirit.
5 - You never check out books, just read them while you are here.
4 - Why use the card catalogue? You know exactly where everything is located.
3 - Our vending machines provide most of your caloric intake.
2 - You consider yourself “late” if you are not here as soon as we open.
1 - You actually read our blog!

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Film Review: Man of Steel

Grade: A-

When superheroes had their first big screen boom in the seventies and eighties, it was Superman who led the charge in 1978's film starring Christopher Reeves in the role. It has been said that Tim Burton's Batman and every other hero movie to come after was only possible in light of the groundbreaking success that was Superman. At that time Superman was without rival the most well known and loved comic book character ever, so it was only natural for the blue wonder to lead the charge from the comic pages to Hollywood. 

 Almost forty years later things have certainly changed. The new Superman film, Man of Steel, comes in the wake of a full decade of big budget, high grossing comic book adaptions and on the tail of 2006's not very popular Superman Returns. While other comic book characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the X-Men have been propelled to greater popularity than ever before with their blockbuster box office smashers, the current craze of superhero mania has been a kryptonite to Superman's long lasting status as top superhero.

 This is most striking in how Man of Steel must now live up to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Batman trilogy, a mirror parallel to the way in which Burton's Batman once had to follow in the footsteps of the earlier Superman success. So does Man of Steel succeed? Yes, for the most part.

It certainly helps that Christopher Nolan, director of the recent Batman films and architect of the closest thing we have to a DC Comics film universe, is a producer on Man of Steel. His guiding hand on the film is evident and manages to subdue director Zack Snyder from making it too much a Snyder film, a measure that anyone who has seen Sucker Punch will be thankful for. Man of Steel manages to tow the line between the gritty realism of Nolan's Batman and the inherently more fantastic and optimistic world of Superman. In comparison to the goofy, comic book feel of Superman Returns, Man of Steel is grave and somber but in comparison to The Dark Knight it's a feel good action flick - which is a good middle ground for Superman in 2013.

Many have wondered if perhaps Superman is just past his time - if the fundamental appeal of the all powerful, morally sound, good ole' boy alien was just more suited to the mid 20th-century than now. The role and significance of characters and mythologies is certainly relative to the time in which they exist, as is evidenced by the ever-booming popularity of the technology centric Iron Man character in the 21st century. However Superman possesses characteristics that are timelessly and universally admired and Man of Steel does a fantastic job of bringing the character into the modern age while retaining everything that he has ever stood for.

The film is what one might want or expect from a Superman movie: it is bombastic, action packed, big, loud, explosive, and good hearted. Man of Steel constantly teeter-totters between non-stop high-octane action to deliberately paced, philosophicalsoul searching drama and achieves this naturally, without jarring the flow of the narrative, through non-linear story structure. I was also glad to not have to sit through a thirty-minute exposition of Clark Kent growing up in Kansas.

Man of Steel hits full stride when the action peaks. As great as the characters and actors are, and as surprisingly solid as the script is, the movie is most in its element when we are flying through the sky with Superman or racing through a crumbling city in one of the many colossal, Transformers scale fist fights. In this way Superman has never been more suited to an age than he is now: finally the full speed, force, and potential of the character is achievable on screen. Superman is as grand and flashy as Batman is dark and brooding, which is exactly the way it should be.

If Man of Steel doesn't quite knock it out of the park it at least makes it most of the way around the bases. The stage is definitely set for a new franchise, one in which I hope star Henry Cavill stays at the helm of. In a very rare occurrence nowadays, I left Man of Steel thinking that a sequel couldn't come soon enough.

Posted By: Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Monday, June 17, 2013

Library Sleevefacing - June 17, 2013

This sassy country singer has been sweet enough to pose for this picture while browsing our non-fiction collection.  This legendary First Lady of Country Music is Loretta Lynn. You can take part in all the honky-tonk fun by checking out or ordering any of Lynn’s music through our new and improved online Card Catalog by Polaris Library Systems.  If you would like to purchase this particular record you can see her Here Again at our next Friends of the Library book sale on July 23rd from 9am- 8pm. You can fill a bag with all the records you can for only $2.00 per bag! Can you guess which of our librarians is this vision in red?

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Friday, June 14, 2013

Film Review: After Earth

Grade: C-

After Earth is a science fiction survival film starring Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith. Although After Earth can be called many things – science fiction, action, space adventure, survival film – it is always primarily a father-son and coming-of-age story. It features plenty of action and CG spectacle but, to its credit and detriment, After Earth lays the morals, lessons, and drama on thicker than is usual for its brand of “popcorn movie” summer fare.

 This effect is of course contingent on the chemistry between Will and Jaden Smith and when working together they mostly succeed. The relationship between the two is palpable and when together they lend the film a deeper sense of gravity. Unfortunately for most of the film they are separated, connected only by chat communication, and each Smith is unable to provide the same kind of punch on their own, much less salvage a generic, vanilla script.

Will Smith especially seems wasted on the film. His role as a strict, authoritarian military father not only fails to play to his strengths as an actor but manages to dry his signature charisma to a crisp. It certainly doesn’t help that he is immobile through most of the film. While yes, it is more of the son’s (Jaden’s) story, and the plot centers around the passing of the torch from father to son, if I were to have Will Smith working for me in a movie I wouldn’t strap him down to a chair for seventy minutes.

As a consequence of this the entire film comes to rest solely on young Jaden’s not quite capable shoulders. While he puts in a passable performance and shows some signs of greater things to come, he is just obviously not ready for this level of play yet (or at least not in this genre). His strengths of sincerity and emotional vulnerability just aren’t up to task for carrying a movie of this scope and even in the under two hour viewing time it is hard not to tire of his more repetitive quirks that begin to border on stagnation.

Director M. Night Shyamalan (The 6th Sense, Signs) has been on rocky road for some time now and while he doesn't dig himself in any deeper with After Earth he also hasn’t made it out of the hole with it either. It is a by the numbers effort that appears content to coast on mediocrity. Contrary to his reputation for absurd twist and turns, After Earth’s main problem is ironically the opposite: nothing happens. If you saw the preview trailer, you know the story – far in the future father and son crash land on an abandoned, uninhabitable Earth and must fight to survive against all manner of hostile Earth predators.

 After Earth has some visual splendor in its magnificent beasts, hyper realistic landscapes, and sci-fi tech but coming on the heels of heavyweights like Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness, After Earth’s smaller budget shows. In comparison the CG is a little more digital and murkier and the mostly tight, close shots don’t “wow” as much as the vast geographies of Oblivion. The cinematography is unremarkable and the only thing that has stuck with me is the abundance of “point of view” shots, which are generally not that effective.

 I wasn’t expecting a lot from After Earth and while I did enjoy parts of the film, it overall felt undercooked. There is a solid concept and mythology behind the story but the movie squanders it.  After Earth isn’t bad but it’s bland, shallow, and simply underwhelming.
By: Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Monday, June 10, 2013

Teen Initiative Finale!

The wrap-up and finale for this round of the Teen Initiative funded by the Project Next Generation grant was held June 6th.  In Collinsville, we had a great group of creative and energetic teens that attended the twelve-week program and completed design projects.  The teens used digital cameras and drawing tablets to create their design project with Mentor Dennis McMurtrey.   For the program finale we enjoyed some refreshments, showcased their projects and awarded certificates and t-shirts with their design on it.  Many congratulations to our project design winners Raleigh Hines and Emily Baima.  A huge thank you to all of the teens for all of their hard work, creativity and dedication to program. 

We have already begun planning and implementing the third round of the Teen Initiative, which will kick-off in August.  We are especially excited about this round because we will be partnering for many of the sessions with the St. Louis Science Center.  In this new round of programming we will be offering programs on robotics, nanotechnology, electricity and circuits, genealogy and even the science of DNA!   For the finale we will be hosting a special DNA Murder Mystery Dinner where the teens will analyze footprints, clothing, hair samples, suspect profiles, and other mysterious trace samples to determine whodunit.  We are very excited for the next round of programming generously funded by the Project Next Generation grant.  We hope to inspire and engage teens in the wonderful array of possibilities available when you introduce technology into the science of everyday life. 

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian