Friday, March 25, 2016

The Cinematic History of Batman and Superman (Part 2 of 2)

    It didn’t take long for the caped heroes to regain favor in movieland. In 2005, Batman Begins introduced a refreshingly realistic take on the character after the extravagance of the Schumacher films. In Batman Begins, director Christopher Nolan sought to portray how such a complex and troubled person as Bruce Wayne would actually be in the real world. Christian Bale proved to be a near perfect fit for the role, imbuing the character with a moody aloofness while still retaining elements of the charismatic playboy persona typical of the young billionaire archetype. The film was a success critically and commercially, ensuring the continuation of the series.
    Around the same time, DC was priming Superman to be reintroduced to moviegoers with 2006’s Superman Returns. Unfortunately, the film underwhelmed and only served to set the character back. The decision to make the film a continuation of the Reeve’s led series of the seventies was an interesting one to say the least and the over-the-top, cartoon feel of the movie was at odds with the grounded presentation of the new Batman series. Ultimately, Superman Returns amounted to an odd one-shot that really did connect more to the original series of films than anything relevant at its time. 

    Luckily for DC, Batman was about to reach new heights with 2008’s The Dark Knight. The second in a planned trilogy for “the Nolanverse”, the film turned the series “what if it was real” lens to the franchise’s most famous villain, The Joker. Actor Heath Ledger gave a haunting performance as the character for which he won an Academy Award. Tragically, the recognition was posthumous as Ledger died of a drug overdose in the months leading up to the film’s premiere. The Dark Knight was (and remains) the most successful DC adaptation ever and is able to count itself among the exclusive company of films to gross more than one billion at the box office worldwide. The conclusion of what is now known as The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, can also lay claim to the one billion box office benchmark, although bloated expectations and the fallout of Ledger’s absence took a toll on the film’s popularity and critical reception.

   When it was announced that Superman would be rebooted, rumors began to swirl about the possibility of a crossover movie with Batman to begin a Justice League cinematic universe that would compete with Marvel’s burgeoning field of Avengers films. Hopes were high that Bale would return as Batman, establishing a continuity with The Dark Knight Trilogy. However, by the time Man of Steel released in 2013, with a young British actor named Henry Cavill as Superman, it was clear that this would be the beginning of a new lineage of DC films.

   The stage is now set for a DC Cinematic Universe to establish the immortal characters of The Justice League for a new generation. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice picks up where Man of Steel left off and introduces Ben Affleck as a grizzled and tested Batman. As the subtitle implies, the confrontation between the two poster boys of DC Comics is only a prelude to the formation of The Justice League, as the film also prominently features Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. As history has shown, however this series of films is received, Batman and Superman will persevere inexorably through time. For now though, for the first time ever, bragging rights are unmistakably and inexcusably on the line - everyone’s watching! 

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Cinematic History of Batman and Superman (Part 1 of 2)

       Before Marvel teamed with Disney to take over the world with their Cinematic Universe, DC Comics’ Batman and Superman were indisputably the most iconic superhero characters ever. Long before Iron Man or Spider-Man made their Hollywood debut, The Caped Crusader and The Man of Steel had already starred in nearly a dozen feature length blockbusters, not to mention countless cartoons, TV shows, comics, and video games. Now, for the first time ever, these two larger-than-life characters are set to appear together and square-off on the big screen. In a way, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film that has been decades in the making.

    Not counting serials or shorts, Superman first appeared in 1951 in Superman and the Mole Men, a small-budget and low key affair that failed to prophesy the character’s potential. Batman made his debut in theaters nationwide with 1966’s Batman, a film adaptation of the popular television series starring Adam West known for its cheesy dry humor, vibrant colors, and “Bat-everything” gadgets. The fifties and sixties were a time of humble origins for superheroes in cinema and it’s hard to imagine that anyone back then could begin to guess the heights the genre would reach. 

    Batman would lay dormant for more than twenty years, as Superman took the spotlight with a series of films starring Christopher Reeve. The first film in 1978, which was just titled Superman, is still considered a classic today (93% on Rotten Tomatoes) and defined the character for a generation. By most measures, Superman was the first superhero film to take the box office by storm and heralded the coming age of comic book blockbusters. The second film, Superman II, was considered a worthy successor but the third and fourth were so abysmal that they retired The Man of Tomorrow from the big screen for the next two decades. 

    Meanwhile, Batman roared back into mainstream culture in a big way with 1989’s Batman by director Tim Burton. The dark aesthetichs and grim presentation of the material was more in line with the tone of the books and was a far cry from the zany and goofy Adam West Batman of the sixties. Michael Keaton played a mysterious and eccentric Bruce Wayne while Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker seemed to cement the archetype of that character (until the blueprint would be rewritten nearly twenty years later). Batman was more successful than anyone would have ever dreamed and practically guaranteed the ascent of a new genre of masked heroes. 

    Burton and Keaton reunited in Batman Returns (1992), which was generally successful and well-received but didn’t quite live up to the gold standard set by the first film. The reigns of the franchise then switched hands to director Joel Schumacher, who plunged the series into mediocrity with Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), two films so maligned as to now almost be considered parody. Val Kilmer starred as the titular character in the former, with George Clooney donning the suit for the latter. All star casts of Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger only contributed to the films’ infamy, leaving some to wonder if the brand had been irreparably damaged. At the end of the 20th century, both Batman and Superman seemed to have run out of steam, with cancelled and abandoned projects muddling through the years and a bad taste left from the deflating end of the previous series.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Booklist's Top Graphic Novels 2016

From historical fiction to memoir to suspense, this year’s top graphic novels, reviewed in Booklist from March 1, 2015, to February 15, 2016, reveal the rich potential in a wide-ranging form that’s only getting better as the years go by.  Click on the titles below to request a copy.  For the full list, visit Booklist's website.

Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker by Julian Voloj. Illus. by Claudia Ahlering. 2015.
Benjy Melendez was instrumental in making peace among Bronx gangs in the 1970s, and Voloj and Ahlering artfully add meaningful context to his story. Ahlering’s photojournalism-inspired art is the perfect complement.

Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart. Illus. by the author. 2016.
With stunning, evocative artwork, Hart tells the heartbreaking tale of his daughter’s death mere weeks before her second birthday and the grief he and his wife faced in the aftermath. Extraordinarily moving and beautifully executed.

Ruins by Peter Kuper. Illus. by the author. 2015.
The stages of a monarch butterfly’s migration to Mexico echo the metamorphosis of a marriage through Kuper’s colorful, expressive artwork and impeccable narrative, which features rich characters and a deliriously luscious setting.

Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father by Carol Tyler. Illus. by the author. 2015.
Tyler’s account of helping her shell-shocked father fill in the blanks from his military service—surely the source of his sudden, verbally abusive rages—is frank, compassionate, and rewarding.

Two Brothers by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Illus. by Fabio Moon. 2015.
In this adaptation of Milton Hatoum’s novel, twins Yaqub and Omar, after years of angry separation, finally reunite and send fissures through their family. Stark, high-contrast artwork emphasizes the simmering tension.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sponsor Spotlight - CMC Electric, Inc.

CMC Electric, Inc.:
"CMC Electric, Inc. is a full-service residential and commercial electrical contractor founded by Collinsville natives Carrie and Michael Cushing (hence the CMC). We do troubleshooting/service work, new construction, and remodeling. We also install backup generators and service parking lot lights. We offer 24-hour emergency service for your safety and peace of mind no matter the time or day."

Q. How long have you been in business?
A. Though we officially established our company in 2007, we publicly launched our business in January 2008

Q. Have you always been at this location?
A. Like most small businesses, we started working out of our home, which was in Collinsville. As we added employees and vehicles, we shared shop space until purchasing our current building. In 2015, we were very excited to finally have our office and shop all under one roof at our current location at 2714 Maryville Rd, Maryville, IL.

Q. Why do your customers choose you? What sets you apart?
A. We are a local, family-owned and operated business. We strive to provide exceptional service at affordable rates without ever being pushy or selling customers services that they don’t want or need. Although we do pride ourselves on the quality we put in new construction homes, we excel at remodel and service work. Homeowners frequently complement us on our friendly and knowledgeable service technicians that take the time to explain the work that needs to be done.

Q. What’s your biggest service/product?
A. The majority of our jobs are service calls, where customers call us out to make changes or troubleshoot a problem in their electrical system. These projects range from replacing outlets and light fixtures to tracing down loose connections. We also do a lot of electrical service replacements/upgrades where we install a new circuit breaker panel inside and outside service including new meter base and conduit.

Q. Do you have an online presence that you’d like to share with potential customers?
A. Find us on Facebook: and on the web: and you can always call us at 618.345.2008

Q. What’s your favorite book?
A. I (Carrie) have always had a hard time answering “favorite” questions. I was never much of a recreational reader until my stint working as a clerk at the Collinsville Library after college, when I was exposed to many great books. Now with young children, I’m usually reading picture books or parenting books, but The Bible is the book that contains all of the answers, therefore I would call it my favorite.


The Collinsville Library is demonstrating our gratitude to our wonderful sponsors with the "Sponsor Spotlight" blog series. Our deepest appreciation goes to these businesses whose contributions ensure that the library can present even better service to the community. If you would like to become a library sponsor, contact us today at 618-344-1112.

Posted by Terry Pierson, Programming Technician

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

St. Patrick's Day Music

It's almost St. Patrick's Day, so we've looked up our favorite Irish bands and made a list of the top ten shamrockin' records available for checkout in our library system (click the titles below to request a copy).

10) Moondance by Van Morrison - Moondancing is a time honored St. Patrick's Day tradition.

09) Songs of Innocence by U2 - Like a leprechaun juggling potatoes in a field of clover, Bono will not be stopped.

08) Hypnotised by The Undertones - 14 tearproof songs about chocolate and girls.

07) If I Should Fall From Grace with God by The Pogues - Shane MacGowan's singing is the aural equivalent of green beer.

06) Forgiven, Not Forgotten by The Corrs - Bodhran anyone?

05) Science & Faith by The Script - This band's light pop rock goes down smoother than a Baileys milkshake.

04) Loveless by My Bloody Valentine - Corned beef, cabbage, and shoegazing!

03) Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? by The Cranberries - Still lingering after all these years.

02) Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club - This band is the craic.

01) The Definitive Collection by Thin Lizzy - The pot of gold at the end of the Irish rock rainbow.

Posted by Grahm Underwood, Library Clerk

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Game of Thrones Graphic Novels

Trying to kill some time before Season 6 of Game of Thrones comes out?  The series has inspired a comic book artist named Tommy Patterson to illustrate while authors Daniel Abraham and George R.R. Martin (the original book series' author) collaborate.  Volume 1 was released in 2012, followed by Volume 2 & Volume 3 in 2013.  There are now four volumes in the series to satisfy your restless soul, all of which you can check out at the Collinsville Memorial Library Center!

Posted by Tara Burke, Library Clerk