The play’s the thing – 400 years since the death of Shakespeare

On 23 April 2016 it will be 400 years since William Shakespeare died. He is believed to have been born on 23 April 1564. Certainly in the English language, few writers will have left such a legacy as this most celebrated of playwrights.

Shakespeare

As an actor as well as a playwright he performed his own material, and in the four centuries following his death this material has continued to be performed, reinterpreted and reimagined in a huge variety of ways. His language can seem impenetrable, at least at first, but its richness, uncanny relevance, profundity and humour make it all worthwhile.

Some of his plays are performed with great regularity – who hasn’t seen a fluffy version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in some lovely gardens on a pleasant summer evening? (No, MSND is not one of my favourites) Others are far more obscure – King John, anyone?

Very broadly speaking Shakespeare wrote comedies (eg As You Like It), histories (Henry V) and tragedies (Hamlet). Yet a good number of the plays cannot be easily pigeonholed, for example Troilus and Cressida and The Winter’s Tale. As Polonius says:

The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited.

Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2.

As for my favourite Shakespeare? Hard to say – I find Troilus and Cressida fascinating and wish I could have seen the Te Reo Māori version at the 2012 International Shakespeare Festival in London. I love Richard III – a masterful and still influential piece of Tudor propaganda that works just as well played for comedy as deadly serious. Who cannot love Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing – a star truly did dance when she was created.

It’s so hard to choose – Macbeth is so fast paced and profound, and as for Hamlet. Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act 4, Scene 4 might just be my favorite piece of his writing – but what about Richard III, Act 1, Scene 2:

Was ever woman in this humour woo’d?                                                                                         Was ever woman in this humour won?

Exit pursued by a bear.

What’s your favourite Shakespeare?

Brush up on your Shakespeare

#shakespeare400 tweets

Where have all the young men gone?

(Note to reader: This post starts with housework but is actually about kids’ DVDs.)

When it comes to housework, I tend to be a bit all or nothing. Weeks and weeks can go by, and I’ll just do the barest minimum, and then I go crazy-mad and clean just about everything in sight. Like, the other day, I walked into the bathroom just intending to give the vanity a quick wipe, and ended up not leaving till I had cleaned the ceiling, scrubbed the floor, and attacked just about everything else in between. And as if that wasn’t enough, I then walked into the living room, took one look at the couch, which looked frighteningly like this couch* —

crappy-couch-1
Image: ©2011-2015 Crappy Pictures LLC

— and realised I couldn’t live with it a single moment longer and cleaned that too.

It seems I’m a bit the same with blogging…no posts since before Christmas, then all of a sudden, three posts in (almost) as many weeks!

Anyhoo…this post isn’t actually about housework**, it’s about kids DVDs. See, I noticed something the other day while I was popping DVDs back on the shelf… a whole cohort of the TV heroes and heartthrobs of my youth have taken to making — (wait for it… )

— pony movies and shaggy dog tales. Ya huh.

horseRemember Luke Perry from Beverley Hills 90210? Well, he’s swapped dreamboat for dad in Black Beauty (a modern retelling of Anna Sewell’s classic story — though Miss Missy and I thought the stories don’t have that much in common apart from the title). I know he was a teen heartthrob and all, but really, Luke Perry makes a better dad anyway — remember Dylan’s prematurely receding hairline and wrinkled brow?  Luke Perry also stars in A Fine Step and K9 Adventures.

What about Kevin Sorbo from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, remember him? Who could forget those open shirts and woven leather pants? No more mythical Cretan Bulls for him — he’s now roping rodeo bulls in Rodeo Girl.

Apparently Kevin Sorbo actually auditioned for the role of Superman in Lois & Clark, but of course Dean Cain got that role — and now you can see him without a cape in Horse Camp and The Dog Who Saved Summer.

Does anyone remember Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons? My big sister had a bit of a crush on him, as I recall. No more spoiled rich kid for Ricky, now he’s playing the rugged cowboy father in Our Wild Hearts.

I was too young to actually watch Miami Vice, but nothing says ’80s TV quite like Don Johnson in a white suite, pastel t-shirt, and shades. Well, he’s dropped the white suit, but he’s still wearing shades in Moondance Alexander. Although it’s a pretty a typical girl-finds-horse-overcomes-odds story, Miss Missy and I did enjoy watching it.

Lastly, even though it’s not a pony story, I have to tell you about A Little Game, which stars Ralph Macchio, otherwise know as The Karate Kid (sorry folks, we don’t have the original at the library, we’ve only got the Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan version). There’s no “wax on, wax off” in this one, but it’s a similar tale of a young protégée and an older mentor, but instead of teaching karate, he’s teaching chess — and of course a few life lessons along the way.

So if the kids are getting bored over the holidays (especially if the rain keeps up!) why not give one of these movies a try? We’ve got plenty of new DVDs for kids, and they’re free to borrow!

*Minus the books propping up the corner. Of course I would never do that, what kind of librarian do you take me for? BTW, if you liked the Crappy Picture, you might enjoy Amber Dusick’s ebooks

**If you actually wanted a post on housework, I wrote one on clutter awhile back

Review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the red carpet premiere of Taika Waititi’s new film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

The film is based on the 1986 novel Wild pork and watercress by legendary literary kiwi bloke, Barry Crump (though recently his ex-wife has revealed that she had a hand in outlining the story).

So how was the movie, and how does it differ from the book?

Ricky and Uncle Hec, Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Ricky and Uncle Hec, Hunt for the Wilderpeople (image supplied)

I found Hunt for the Wilderpeople a delight from beginning to end. It’s a distinctly Kiwi film that features a raft of idiosyncratic characters but which centres on the relationship between an irascible older man and a Māori boy. It’s not so much a film in the vein of “a man alone” as “a man not quite as alone as he’d like to be”.

Needless to say “hijinks ensue”. There are chases, gunplay and eventually grudging respect. If you can imagine a cop “buddy” movie but set in the Ureweras instead of downtown Los Angeles, you’ll start to get an idea of the dynamic and humour. There are also some notable and hilarious cameos.

But it’s not all played for laughs. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Waititi’s films is the way that he reveals the very human vulnerabilities of his characters – whether it’s a neglected Māori boy, a socially awkward couple, or a centuries old vampire – they all have fears, hopes, and insecurities.

In Hunt for the Wilderpeople we slowly get under the skin of taciturn bushman, Uncle Hec (played by the always excellent Sam Neill), and gangsta-wannabe Ricky Baker (played with charm and humour by newcomer Julian Dennison) and we find, despite their obvious differences, that there’s a whole lot of heart and genuine warmth there.

Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker
Julian Dennison as “bad egg”, Ricky Baker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople (image supplied)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is probably in my top five movies of the last couple of years and I’m even considering a rewatch (in a cinema – waiting for it to come out on DVD is just too long).

But is it a good adaptation of the novel? Well, it differs a lot from the book and Waititi has gone on record as saying that he wanted to create a film that was “in the spirit” of the novel rather than being a straight adaption.

Cover of Wild pork and watercressUpdating the novel for a modern audience has meant certain changes – cellphones and selfies were certainly not a thing in the eighties when Crump was writing it. In addition the ending of the movie is a tad more upbeat than that of the source novel, and there’s less of a focus on bushcraft and more of a focus on comedy, all of which makes the movie a more enjoyable experience for me than if it had stuck to the straight and narrow.

But if you’re curious, the novel has been rereleased to with a movie tie-in edition and we’ve got copies of this just ripe for your reserves list (as well as a downloadable e-book version).

More information

In our catalogue

Armageddon is coming!

Woohoo ! I’m so looking forward to going!

Despite having lived in Christchurch for six years now, somehow I’ve never quite made it to Armageddon Expo, the annual celebration for pop culture geeks: always something else to do, somewhere to go, or something else to pay for… But this year it falls on my birthday, so I am going instead of just dropping off the teenagers.

But to get the best out of it, I need to do my homework.  So :-

Armageddon Pop Culture Expo
Pikachu and The Joker, Armageddon Expo 2015, Flickr 2015-03-07-IMG_6162
  • Where? When? How much?  Programme? The Armageddon website has all the info
  • Watch Star Trek: The Next Generation DVDs as Marina Sirtis will be there, and I loved her character Deanna Troi
  • Also need to watch Stargate again, three guests are from that series, and I only ever saw a few episodes when it was on TV (raising children is hazardous to your TV viewing!)
  • Re-read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.  When I first read it, was one of those “un-put-down-able books” that I stayed up all night reading
  • Find out if any TV/Movie producers will be going, and aim to convince her/him that Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan would make the most AMAZING film!  Could have it’s technical challenges, of course, but I’m sure Weta Workshops would be up for the job!
  • Then there’s the people watching – if previous photos are anything to go by, I think I’ll need to load up my tablet so I know who some of the cosplay characters are
  • Costume!  Eek!  What will I wear?  Not very good at sewing, so hopefully  I love paper: paper-cutting Techniques and Templates for Amazing Toys, Sculptures, Props, and Costumes will do the trick
  • And finally, dust off the credit card, ready to go s-h-o-p-p-i-n-g

Phew! Sorted!  How about you?  Are you going to Armageddon Christchurch this weekend?

Tomorrow is another day

Cover of Gone with the windOne of my favourite books has a poor reputation in some quarters. I read this book in my teens and it contains a story and a character that has stayed with me. Due to this I have decided not to reread it as an adult as I fear I would view it very differently. The book was Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Many now think of Gone with the Wind as is a romance which was reinforced by the movie that concentrated on the Rhett Butler/ Ashley Wilkes/ Scarlett O’Hara angle.

The book is actually much darker. In the book you get to access the selfish thoughts and obsessions of Scarlett’s mind. For example the Scarlett O’Hara of the novel refuses Rhett Butler access to her bedroom as she wants to maintain her 17inch waist. She largely ignores the three children she has (one to each husband which is left out of the movie) and fixates on the husband of one of her closest friends. So what is it about this book and more importantly the book’s heroine that stays with me?

When I look back as an adult I can see her as a manipulative, racist, wannabe adulteress who betrays both friends and family. Yet to my teenage self all I could see was a woman who lived through an awful reversal of fortune to become a successful business woman having refused to conform to behavioral restraints. She was a survivor in the face of every opposition. What could be more appealing to a teenage girl or to me even now?

In the end she may or may not have lost the man of her dreams but despite this she picks herself up again and fights on. People may only remember the lines of Rhett Butler at the end of the movie as “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn” but I prefer to remember the book where the emphasis is on Scarlett when she stands up and declares “Tomorrow is another day”.

She remains determined despite everything she has endured. The fact she is flawed on so many levels makes her relatable and the fact she remains undefeated makes her inspirational. In all she is not a bad heroine for a teenage girl or a grown woman to have.

Conspicuous consumption

For me holidays are always an opportunity to consume, not merely Christmas dinner leftovers and far too many Ferrero Rochers, but also culture. The books, movies and TV shows I haven’t had time for during the year get their chance over the festive break. It’s always a struggle, of course. There’s simply too much to get through.

So how did I do this year? Not too badly actually. Here’s what I managed to cram into a week and a half of public holidays and annual leave.

Movies

I made a real effort this year to grab a bunch of movies I was curious about but never got around to watching. Results were patchy.

  • Housebound – I’d heard good things about this Kiwi horror-comedy and they weren’t wrong. High on the creepy factor but plenty of laughs too. Haunted house meets awkward mother-daughter dynamic. Highly recommended.
  • Spirited Away – Critically acclaimed Japanese animation from Studio Ghibli. I’ve never really been into anime and this movie didn’t change my mind. Just a bit too weird and fantastical for me.
  • Never Let Me Go – I really like Carey Mulligan but when the other two points of a love triangle are Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley, I’m going to struggle. A beautiful film to look at (if you like the colour brown) but quite slow paced. Do not watch if you’re in a bad mood already, as it’s a bit of a downer (based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro).

A selection of DVDs

  • They Came Together – I really, really wanted to like this. I’m a massive Amy Poehler fan and I adore Paul Rudd but this attempt to subvert the cliches and tropes of the rom-com failed to hit the mark. I couldn’t help thinking this would have worked brilliantly as an SNL sketch, but just couldn’t stretch to a whole film. Some fun moments but not enough of them, unfortunately.
  • Turbo Kid – Canadian/NZ co-production that had a lot of buzz at last year’s New Zealand International Film Festival. A retro-futuristic post-apocalyptic wasteland, BMXs, extreme cheesiness, that guy off McLeod’s Daughters, and what must have been an absolutely massive fake blood budget. What’s not to love? With knowing nods to everything from Soylent Green, to Mad Max and Cherry 2000, this pastiche/homage to sci-fi was a lot of fun to watch (though sometimes through your fingers because INTESTINES).

Television

  • cover of The White Queen The White Queen – On a whim, for a bit of escapism I started watching this series based on Philipa Gregory’s historical novels The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter and ended binge-watching the whole thing. It covers the turbulent period during which the houses of York and Lancaster were battling for the throne of England, the War of the Roses. It begins with King Edward IV falling for a fetching Lancastrian widow and portrays the power grabs, manipulations and betrayals of his reign and beyond. It was this period of history that inspired George R. R. Martin’s Song of ice and fire novels and this series is similar, in bloodiness, intrigue, and, er, nudity. Not a bad substitute until the next season of Game of Thrones turns up (if you’re into that kind of thing).

Books

  • Cover of Truths, half truths & little white lies: A memoirTruths, half truths & little white lies: A memoir by Nick Frost – Often memoirs of famous people give you the impression that from a young age they were destined for stardom and great things. Nick Frost’s book has you marvelling that he managed to leave the house, let alone have a successful career, what with all the drugs and not being very confident and having a traumatic upbringing. It’s the story of an ordinary man who has struggles and demons just like everybody else and not in a “oh, I’ll just book into The Priory for a bit of rehab, dahling”, showing off kind of way, but the unglamorous “everything’s gone a bit terrible” way. This made me want to read Simon Pegg’s Nerd do well again and compare flatting anecdotes.
  • Concrete Park vol 2 – More violence, betrayal and sci-fi adventures on a prison planet. Waiting not very patiently for volume 3.

So how did you do over the break? Get a few titles ticked off your To Read (or To Watch) list?

If you like… Star Wars

Star Wars DayLess than two weeks to go until Star Wars Day at Central Library Peterborough and then The Force Awakens hits our screens!

If you’re super excited and want something to stop the gap until showtime, how about picking up one of the many books in the Star Wars franchise? I know culturally we tend to look down on tie-in novels (and to be fair some are less than stellar), but most Star Wars books I’ve read have been well-written and tightly plotted.

As a bonus the Star Wars universe is so large that you can pick up a book on a variety of topics. Want to know how the Millennium Falcon is put together? Try the Owner’s Workshop Manual! Want to read the Star Wars trilogy as Shakespeare plays? Start with Verily, A New Hope! And if you want some thrilling fiction then you’ve got a wealth of reading ahead of you.
So where to begin?

Star Wars fiction

Try one of the prolific Star Wars authors or have a look at my Star Wars reading list:

As well as these tried and true authors there are quite a few new Star Wars fiction titles to tempt you too. If you’re not sure where to start with all these novel options give this post from Tor.com “Where to Begin with Star Wars Books” a read first.

Star Wars non-fiction

If that’s not your cup of tea then try some Star Wars-adjacent books like My Best Friend is a Wookiee or the autobiographies of Carrie Fisher (otherwise known as Princess Leia), or try something different again with:

Books for younglings

What about if you’re too young to remember seeing A New Hope at the cinema? You’re in luck, there’s been an influx of Star Wars books aimed at kids and they’re all available at your local library.

Any favourites I’ve missed?

A Blessed life

Cover of Absolute PandemoniumBritish actor Brian Blessed is a force of nature. Everything about him is big, robust, and gung-ho. He’s a boys’ own adventure wrapped in facial hair.

His autobiography, Absolute Pandemonium, is everything you would expect from such a singular creature – full of ripping yarns, scrapes, scraps, and quite a lot of swearing. Oh yes, the language is quite colourful in places.

By any measure Blessed has had an extraordinary life. From humble beginnings in a mining town in South Yorkshire he’s had a career that has seen him steadily employed (when he wasn’t too busy climbing Mount Everest) for over 50 years. He’s appeared in everything from Blackadder and I, Claudius to Flash Gordon and Much Ado About Nothing. And he’s got a few stories to tell, some of which might actually be true.

To give you a bit of insight into what Absolute Pandemonium is like, I thought I’d share a few descriptions of famous people Blessed has met, loved and worked with over the years –

On Peter O’Toole:

Peter O’Toole wasn’t just a man of extremes; he was the man of extremes: Lord Byron with a knuckle-duster, love.

On Prime Minister Harold Mcmillan:

…he was about as animated as a curling stone, though seemed to move slightly slower.

On Orson Welles:

He seemed to be about the size of a rhino. Absolutely enormous, he was, and smoking a cigar that looked more like a log.

On Katharine Hepburn:

Boudicca in slacks

On Geneviève Bujold:

She was effervescent, naughty and very, very beautiful.

On meeting legendary Hollywood producer, Dino De Laurentiis for the first time:

He greeted me warmly, like a long-lost son.

‘Who the hell are you and wada-you-want-a?’

On Timothy Dalton:

Tim’s an incredibly handsome man and looked just like Errol Flynn in the film. A bit of rough compared to me, of course, but he definitely has something.

And finally, on his own good self:

Now, if I ever had to choose one word to describe myself, in addition to virile, sensual, intriguing, dainty, elegant and of course sensitive, it would have to be tenacious.

Definitely recommended for fans of the man himself or the people he’s worked with to get the inside (though possibly exaggerated) story on what they were like – honestly the section on O’Toole is rivetting.

To be honest, towards the end I was a bit over all the anecdotes in which Blessed’s tremendous actorly insight saved the day but I’ll forgive him because if you can’t skite a bit on your own memoir, when can you? It’s also extremely funny and I was hooting with laughter within the first few pages so I can forgive Blessed a bit of ego stroking.

What are your thoughts on Mr Blessed? Delightfully madcap or too much like a foghorn for polite company? I suspect both…

High Fives at South Learning Centre

A few wee things to celebrate at South Learning Centre.
Ep9 Trigger

HNN (Hillmorton Network News) finished off their year in style. I am so proud of their film and media progress, learning and confidence. The students presented to their Year 7/8 peer group. This was very nerve wracking for them with over 100 pairs of eyes scrutinizing them. This was followed by them presenting to school staff – who fired many questions at them ranging from their cross-over learning into other areas, what new skills they learned, and where could their skills take them?

Look out for HNN 2016!

HNN Episode 7

HNN Episode 8

HNN Episode 9

HNN Episode 10

HNN Episode 11

The second celebration is for Beckenham Centennial Film School. This was a hugely successful experience working alongside Beckenham School learning all about their 100 year history. We discovered some great stories of the past, devastating details of the fire and some exciting plans for the future of Beckenham.

Beckenham of Old

Beckenham Now

Beckenham Fire

Future Beckenham

In our Learning Centre, students experience eLearning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or  Learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

 

In a library far, far away…

Are you counting down the days until The Force Awakens hits our screens? Is one month too long to wait? Your pain we at Central Library Peterborough feel!

Star Wars Day

In anticipation of the movie release we have organised a Star Wars Day on Saturday December 12th, so if you enjoy dressing up — or even if you don’t — do come along and enjoy our wide variety of Star Wars themed activities and competitions for the chance to win some great prizes.

Star Wars toys and memorabilia
Star Wars toys and memorabilia at Central Library Peterborough, Flickr File reference: 2015-11-16-IMG_0627

We’ve already got books, DVDs, and memorabilia on display, fiercely protected by Princess Leia. We’re still finalising the details of what should be an awesome afternoon, so if you have any special requests or ideas then please help us: you’re our only hope.

And if you find those droids please send them our way too.

In the meantime, re-watch old episodes and enjoy the massive range of Star Wars library items we have to offer! I’m settling in for a Machete order screening this coming weekend.