Monday, July 29, 2013

Film Review: Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim is a love letter from director Guillermo Del Toro to his childhood and the movies that inspired him. If you were ever a little boy who loved robots, monsters, and dinosaurs, Pacific Rim is the coolest thing you will ever see. However if these aren’t where your interests lie the two plus hour running time and sometimes cheesy, B-movie feel may leave you looking for an exit.

It’s hard to imagine there being much middle ground on Pacific Rim. This is fanboy fodder in its purest form. The majority of the film is red meat fan service for fans of the genre. If like me you grew up on Godzilla and Transformers, the in depth kaiju profiles and stunning jaegar (robot) fist fights will leave you cheering and bouncing on your chair. Otherwise, while the film does attempt some relationship building and character development, the tongue in cheek, almost goofy feel of the narrative may make you feel like you’ve slipped in to a screening of a SyFy channel movie.

If you’re a movie monster fan, Pacific Rim is at least the best new film for the genre since Peter Jackson’s King Kong in 2005 and succeeds in carving out a fantastic world and mythology to latch on to. In contrast to the bleak, horror presentation of Cloverfield or the light, retro feel of Super 8, Pacific Rim nails a perfect middle ground in which the action is intense and the monsters are fierce but the narrative remains fun and accessible. Pacific Rim certainly shows its influence from Japanese daikaiju movies like Godzilla and Gamera not just in its focus on skyscraping monsters but in the entire tone and atmosphere of the film.

Guillermo Del Toro brings his signature dark, gothic style to the subject with eye popping results. The Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth director is working with a bigger budget and larger scale than ever before and the mix of blockbuster spectacle with his more abstract, intimate style is a beautiful cacophony that results in a unique movie going experience, even for the genre. The shadowy visuals Del Toro is renowned for have never seemed more fitted to a film than this one. Giant monsters fighting is cool but giant monsters fighting in the ocean while it rains, illuminated only by a neon Hong Kong skyline is awesome.

I am in the top percentile of Godzilla nerds so I am admittedly bias towards Pacific Rim. There was really no way I could have not liked this movie and in fact I can confidently say that I love Pacific Rim. However I recognize the same will not be true for everybody and the movie definitely leans towards its niche audience. If you’re just looking for a fun time and big spectacle to go with some popcorn you can’t do much better than Pacific Rim – but if you’re looking for anything else, you better just move along.

Grade: B

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Library Sleeveface - July 29, 2013

Looks like this multi-talented singer/actor/record producer was able to make a quick appearance for us at our sister library in Fairmont City for a photo op. Looking rather laid back in this pose is the highly successful Andy Williams. You can join in the sounds of the Wonderful World of Andy when you stop by our next Library Booksale at the Collinsville Library location or, with your library card, you can order more of his albums within our Polaris Library Systems from libraries all across Southern Illinois. In fact, this traditional pop singer made 42 studio albums with 3 making it Platinum. Can you guess which of our staff members is portraying this debonair young superstar?

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Library Sleeveface - July 24, 2013

The young lady featured here decided she liked flowers so much she wanted to come check out some books to know more about them, but only after stopping to smell the roses.  This young woman is representing the folksy 1960’s trio/quartet The Sandpipers. This American group is perfect for some easy listening, possibly while out gardening or enjoying a lazy summer day. Lucky for you, our library system carries the Sandpiper’s most popular song “Guantanamera” in our LP collection. If you would like this particular Misty Roses record, feel free to purchase it at our next library book sale along with many other records for your own collection. Can you guess which of our library employees is portraying the radiant young woman on this record? 

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Friday, July 19, 2013

Library Sleeveface - July 19, 2013

Little Miss Dynamite likes to belt out those rockabilly/country classics wherever she goes, even trying to get away with it in the library. This 60’s Hall of Famer is Brenda Lee. You can perform your own personal duet with Brenda Lee at home or in your car by ordering some of her albums through our library software Polaris Library Systems or ask a library staff member to assist you in finding out more about Ms. Lee.  If you would like to own this particular record for your collection you can find it at our next booksale on July 23rd from 9am-8pm. In fact, you can fill a bag with all the records you can for only $2.00 per bag! Can you guess which of our library employees is portraying this lady in yellow?

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Friday, July 05, 2013

Film Review: World War Z

World War Z has obvious similarities to zombie flicks such as Zombieland and George Romero’s …Of the Dead series but has mainly been marketed as a disaster film in the vein of The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. World War Z actually falls somewhere in between. It is most similar to other undead/infected thrillers such as I Am Legend and 28 Days Later. While the zombie’s are fierce and terrifying, and there are some truly scary moments, World War Z is too heavy on high pace action and international intrigue to be called a horror movie.

World War Z actually benefits from its identity crisis. The mix of genre elements composes a unique movie going experience that should appeal to a wider audience than just the horror crowd. World War Z is more of a popcorn and soda summer blockbuster than one might expect from the zombie premise.

World War Zis at times legitimately scary and the first third of the film seems to set up what could have been one of the most frightening horror experiences this year. However once the film hits stride, a little over a half-hour in, it suddenly course corrects into a political thriller. Much of the film is comparable to a classic international action film, with continent hopping adventure and memorable, iconic locales from around the globe.

In the film an unknown pathogen has infected large segments of the population and transformed them into mindless, hostile cannibals. The origin of the virus is unknown and the disease has spread all across the world. As societies crumble from China to America, civilization itself is on the verge of collapse. Enter our hero Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a retired military intelligence officer, who is tasked with travelling the globe in order to discover the origin of the outbreak.

How much you enjoy World War Z will largely depend on how much you like Brad Pitt. This is one of those films in which the lead star is so prevalent, and so singular in focus and effort, that the weight of the entire movie rests almost exclusively on his shoulders. In this case Brad Pitt is up to the challenge and his performance, while only ordinary by his standards, holds the film together while engaging him in a dynamic (action star) that we don’t often see him in.

Through the first two acts World War Z works wonderfully, balancing and transitioning fluidly between its diverse elements. Unfortunately the film loses its legs in the third act and limps across the finish line with clich├ęs and an ending boarding on melodrama. There was some highly publicized production trouble and the effect is evident: after a solid hour and a half, the last thirty minutes feel rushed and slapped together.

In a year crammed with big budget action spectacle, and not short on horror, that World War Z is able to find a niche is an impressive feat. World War Z is at the least a unique and daring creative effort. It would have been easy for the filmmakers to cash in on a more traditional action horror experience utilizing the license and seizing on the current craze for zombies. While it doesn’t always work, and there is some definite potential squandered, World War Z strives for and offers something different.

Grade: C+

Posted By: Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

FREE French Classes

We are happy to announce that, beginning in August, the library will be hosting free French classes for adults. You will learn the basics of the French Language and speak with proficiency and ease in a relaxed setting. Students will learn simple vocabulary and phrases to begin to converse in everyday situations. No previous French experience needed and those with some French knowledge are also welcome. These classes are free, but registration is required. Please call 618-344-1112 or visit the Main Desk to sign up. 

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian