Monday, August 19, 2013

Film Review - White House Down

White House Down is so generic that it almost seems like it was intended to be an homage to by-the-numbers 90s action flicks. The vintage vibe isn’t entirely surprising as director Roland Emmerich is probably still best known for his early blockbusters such as Stargate (1994), Independence Day (1996), and Godzilla (1998). White House Down isn’t bad but it feels dated to the point of being retro and unfortunately not in an intentional, creative way. 

Emmerich is known for spectacle movies with big explosions and high octane action. Destroying famous landmarks is something of a staple of his (think of the iconic scene from Independence Day in which an alien spacecraft destroys the White House) and White House Down nearly hinges on this appeal. Part of the fun of the movie is the rollercoaster ride of just watching these incredible set pieces obliterated in wonderful ways. As the title suggests most of the film takes place in the White House and through the over two hour running time we are treated to an action packed tour of the most famous house in the world in which the blue room, green room, red room, and nearly every other room is shredded by bullets and torn up in fist fights. 

The film’s real strength lies in the chemistry between lead actors Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. In the story Tatum plays a military veteran who is struggling to reconnect with his young daughter as he works a job in security for a congressman. Early on he interviews for a job in the President’s (Jamie Foxx) secret service, mainly to impress his civic minded but emotionally distant daughter. Before the pair can leave the grounds anarchy erupts when a group of armed terrorists infiltrate the building, murder senior officials, and take the rest of the house hostage. When Tatum slips away he runs into a frazzled Jamie Foxx and becomes responsible for the President’s safety and escape. Through the rest of the film the pair plots, sneaks, and fights their way through the White House grounds and to the center of a conspiracy with global ramifications. 

White House Down is both exciting and funny in large part to Tatum and Foxx’s credit. The film is essentially a “buddy cop film” and Tatum and Foxx make an excellent dynamic duo. Channing Tatum has blazed a bright trail for himself in lead action roles like G.I. Joe and his heroic hunk wheelhouse is in full force here. Jamie Foxx, appearing in his first feature film since last year’s critically acclaimed performance in Django Unchained, showcases an unexpectedly masterful talent for comedic relief. Hilarity erupts both from the character’s conflicting personalities and their ridiculous antics. Whether they are cracking jokes while stuck in an elevator shaft or spinning donuts in a limousine through the Rose Garden, the chemistry between Foxx and Tatum is tangible and keeps the film pulsing with energy. 

The film falters with a fair share of generic plot points and forgettable characters. Outside of Tatum and Foxx, none of the other characters are particularly memorable and anyone who has seen an action movie before can probably see the “twists and turns” coming. The bloated running time (137 minutes) seems unnecessary for this type of film and things start to drag near the end. If White House Down had been released twenty years ago with a shorter running time it might have been an action classic. In 2013 it just feels outdated and predictable. 

White House Down is the perfect matinee movie or Red Box rental. There is nothing that is going to “wow” anybody, and there are plenty of shortcomings, but it’s a fun movie and a good time. At the least White House Down is a humorous, nostalgic tip of the hat to the action movies of yesteryear. 

Grade: C+

Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Library Sleeveface - August 14, 2013

The classy lady seen here is relaxing in our Reading Room. Although normally this English singer/actress is noted for her jazzy scats and wide vocal range, she was giving her vocals a rest and unwinding in this quiet comfy space.  This Grammy nominee is none other than Cleo Laine also known as Lady Dankworth. The Carma Wilbert Adult Reading Room is a great space for studying, reading or thinking up your next great novel. If you enjoy scatting and high range vocals you can pick up this album at our next book sale or enjoy any of her of her other jazz filled music CDs from our library system.  Can you guess which of our beautiful employees is depicting this stunning singer? 

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Monday, August 12, 2013

Collinsville Library Tour - Ground Floor

The Collinsville Library has more to offer than you may think. In addition to our vast collection of books, there are many more places to discover and items to enjoy at the library. Please enjoy this photo tour of your local library! Today we will be exploring the Ground Floor of the Library and all it offers.
Before you even get to the side door you probably notice a silver bin on the corner of the parking lot near the History Museum. This sliver bin is actually a book return. Here you can quickly drop off any items you are returning. 

By entering through the side door on the Ground Floor, you first come across our large Community Room where everyone is welcome. In the Community Room you have the benefit of snacks from the vending machines, watching television, playing games at one of our tables or just relaxing and hanging out with friends. This space is aptly named the Florence Burkholder Community Room after the longtime director of the Collinsville Library, a dedicated Librarian who loved her work and the people who supported the library. This room also is available to be rented by organizations, businesses and patrons for programs and professional events by calling us at 618-344-1112. 

As you walk down the hall you will come across our bright blue painted elevator which can take you up to the Main Floor( 1st floor) or the Childrens Floor (2nd floor), and on book sale days, down to the Basement. As you wait for the elevator to arrive you will also find a community board where anyone can post flyers, business cards, ads, coupons, etc. Further down the hall, you will find our FREE magazine rack. Here you can find all different types of magazines to take home for yourself or donate old magazines to share with our community. 

At the end of the hall you will enter the Genealogy Room. This room contains a lot of history about Collinsville and the surrounding towns, old high school yearbooks and many other items pertaining to genealogy. If you want to know more about your family tree this is place to be! This is also a quiet space in the library, so remember to keep your voices low and your cell phones on silent when utilizing this space. 

Connected to the Genealogy Room is the ever popular Computer Lab. Our Computer Lab houses 22 desktop public access terminals (two with scanners), it also includes Internet access, software and e-mail access with Wi-Fi computer access. We also have some wireless laptops to use, and if you just need the Wi-Fi or a quiet place, you are welcome to bring in your own wireless compatible laptop or mobile device. This room also contains a microfilm machine, which allows you view, save and/or print old archived copies of newspapers in our large micro-film collection

Around the corner from the Genealogy Room is two sets of stairs that both lead to our Main Floor and the front entrance. Just opposite the stairs is the lower circ office where you will find one of our smiling employees eager to help you with anything you may need. At this little window you will also find a small bookdrop under the counter where you may drop off any items you are returning. Directly next to the lower circ office, there is a small quiet study room named the Carma Wilbert Reading Room, where you can enjoy a good read, log in some study hours or simply enjoy the peace and quiet. 

Further down the hallway are more restrooms and a multitude of puppets to choose from right before you enter the Ruth Eckart Programming Resource Center or PRC. This Center is a unique combination of multi-media kits and equipment geared to programmers (teachers, homeschoolers, parents, etc) who are looking for additional help in preparing lessons and other educational material for their audiences of any age.  This room also houses our extensive music collection, including numerous vinyl records. There are also die-cut machines for the public to use with our wide collection of die-cut shapes and letters. Always remember to recycle your excess paper in our recycle bins! This room also doubles as a training lab, where our free computer classes and other small events are held. When events aren’t on the schedule, the public is free to use this space as a study area. If you’re looking for an outlet to charge your electronic device this is where you want to be. 

Thanks for taking the time to join us for this tour of all the hidden gems on the Ground Floor of our Library. Like our Facebook Page to see more photos of our Library! Join us soon, for our next tour, which will explore the Library even further!

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Frank "Buster" Wortman Presentation

Join us on Saturday, August 17th from 2:00-3:30 p.m. in the Community Room to hear a fascinating presentation on local legend Frank "Buster" Wortman. Wortman was generally regarded by law enforcement authorities as the old Capone Mob representative for all of Southern Illinois, south of Springfield. Local author Bill Nunes will be giving the presentation, which will be followed by a book signing on his latest book focusing on Wortman. This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited so we recommend you arrive early to get a seat.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Friday, August 09, 2013

Library Sleeveface - August 9, 2013

Who doesn’t love a good deal on books? This young lady sure does! One of the lovely Ray Conniff Singers is back again to pose for us while she peruses our section of books for sale. We sell all hardbacks for only $1.50, paperbacks for .50 cents, audio books for $1.00, and VHS tapes and computer games for .50 each! We are always updating and adding to our little “For Sale” book nook in the library, which is open all hours the library is open. Don’t forget about our bi-monthly booksales that the Friends of the Library organize. Our Friends of the Library book sale are loaded with great deals as well, and you are sure to find a rare gem or two to take home. You will find items for you to enjoy and support the library all at the same time! We always appreciate all our library patrons for supporting us. As the Ray Conniff Singers would say, we love how you love us! Can you guess which of our dazzling library ladies is portraying this vocalist?

Posted by Courtney Locandro, Library Clerk

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Teen Initiative Registration NOW OPEN!

The Collinsville Library and Fairmont City Library are very excited to announce that we have opened registration for the next round of the Teen Initiative!! We will be partnering with the St. Louis Science Center and Gateway R/C to offer programs for 7th-12th graders living in the Mississippi Valley Library District or attending a Unit 10 School. Sign-up today to be a part of these exciting programs, which include robotics, nanotechnology, electricity and even a DNA murder mystery dinner! 

The programs begin in August and are FREE to attend but spaces are limited and registration is required. Teens can participate at either of the MVLD centers, which include both Collinsville and Fairmont City Library Centers. Please call the Collinsville Library at 618-344-1112 or the Fairmont City Library at 618-482-3966 for more information.

Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Adult Summer Reading Program

Congratulations to all of the winners of our adult Summer Reading Program raffle and thank you to everyone who participated! We had some fabulous prizes to give away this year, all thanks to the generous support of some of our local businesses and organizations and to the Friends of the Library for sponsoring our grand prize gift baskets! We couldn't do programs like this without the wonderful support of our community. Please stop in and support those businesses that made this fun and rewarding program possible:

-Bert's Chuckwagon
-Cullop Jennings Florist
-Dairy Queen
-DoubleTree by Hilton & Porters Steakhouse
-Drury Inn
-Envision Vacations
-Friends of the Library
-Gateway Fun Park
-Master Auto Repair
-Pick-a-Place Travel
-Raging Rivers Waterpark
-Wehrenberg Theatres
Posted by Jessica Lawrence, Librarian

Film Review - The Wolverine

The Wolverine is the sixth movie in the tent pole X-Men franchise. Hugh Jackman has been starring as Wolverine for more than a decade and is as fierce, savage, and misunderstood as ever in this sixth film appearance and second solo lead outing. The first Wolverine film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), was and continues to be largely reviled.  While The Wolverine does improve upon its predecessor, and constitute one of the long running series peaks, it is doubtful that it will change your mind on the franchise if you haven’t been convinced by the previous efforts.

The Wolverine is set mostly in Japan and, reminiscent of the 007 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, much of the story, setting, and even action is crafted to vibrantly highlight Japanese culture and custom. Wolverine battles ninjas and yakuza in Japanese gardens and through the streets of Tokyo. More than a few shots are framed by beautiful bright pink lotus trees and through the story Wolverine eats with chopsticks, dons a kimono, and even fights with a samurai sword.
As the title suggests The Wolverine is intensely focused on the title character. Aside from a few surprise cameos by Famke Janssen as her character Jean Gray there is scarcely another recognizable star to accompany Hugh Jackman. He successfully bears the weight of the film largely on his own throughout the two hour running time. There are a few welcomingly involved support characters from the mostly Japanese cast such as Tao Okamoto as the love interest and Rila Fukushima as the sidekick but largely the movie is carried by its namesake character.

Hugh Jackman is up to the task and is truly in top form as his most iconic and beloved character. Despite being thirteen years older than when he first appeared as Wolverine in X-Men he somehow seems to have only become bigger, stronger, and meaner. Like Sean Connery in his last James Bond films Hugh Jackman’s aging in the role has served only to season and experience him – he is every bit as believable as the character as he ever was, if not more so.
The Wolverine is surprisingly refreshing at a time when superhero fatigue could be setting in for movie goers. In contrast to the big budget spectacle films that have dominated the box office this year, The Wolverine feels personal, contemplative, and even intimate. The location oriented approach and grim, shadowy visual style make what is still a film with a $100 million plus budget feel almost “indie” and “artsy” compared to heavyweights like Man of Steel and Iron Man 3. This approach serves The Wolverine well but there are also still plenty of explosions, chases, fights, and spectacle to get excited about. At the very least The Wolverine follows up nicely on 2011’s X-Men First Class and beautifully sets up next year’s highly anticipated X-Men Days of Future Past while at best the film marks a new high note for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

Grade: B-
Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk/Page