American SniperMany of the bigger recent movies have either been original scripts or based on novels, so 2015 may be a bit different in that there are some big numbers coming up based on non-fiction work.

The reviews have been best with American sniper, based on the Chris Kyle bestseller about the man who holds the record as the deadliest sniper in American military history for his confirmed 150 killings. Clint Eastwood has directed the film version which has Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, In the heart of the sea, is a gripping read about the sinking of the Essex and its fatal encounter with a whale.  Ron Howard has directed the film version with Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy  – and Ben Whishaw as the author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is an interesting account of the author’s 1100 mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Advance reviews have been enthusiastic for the film version with Reese Witherspoon.

Reviews have been less enthusiastic for Angelina Jolie’s directorial account of another bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, about Olympic runner Louis Zamperini and some critics felt it was a gruelling slog that didn’t justify its “if you can take it, you can make it” tagline.

If you have extra Sky channels you may have seen the adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy (Rob Lowe as Kennedy) and coming up is Killing Jesus with Kelsey Grammar as King Herod.

I was busy, as librarians often are, returning items one day and to my surprise, I noticed I had returned three DVDs, one right after the other, in the right order, which uncannily mirrored a pretty large chunk of my life so far – all in three movie titles!

We Bought a Zoo encapsulated the child raising years, where at times my kids were monkeys, other times brainless chickens, and the teenage years were more like herding rabid hyenas into a bag.

Look Back in Anger were the divorce years. Bitter and twisted times, I was a wronged woman who wasn’t always kind, nor brimming with forgiveness.

The Spectacular Now is my present life. Well, not always spectacular, but often filled with much fun, love, laughter and music and more than a little dollop of gratitude.

Book cover of the grapes of wrathIt made me think of other movies or book whose titles could encapsulate a life.

The Grapes of Wrath could document the mornings after when I should have known better, and perhaps Someday, Someday Maybe, would aptly sum up my exercise regimen. What I Know for Sure, is that I know very little, and The Hunger Games covers that time period between morning tea and lunch.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is what I will tell you over Three Cups of Tea.

So, are there books or movies that remind you of your life, or parts of it? Can you encapsulate your life so far in three titles?

posterRoadshow Films and Christchurch City Libraries are giving you the chance to WIN one of 20 double passes to the movie 12 Years a slave.

12 Years a slave tells the incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.  Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.
12 Years a slave in cinemas, February 6, 2014.

You can also read or listen to the book from our libraries.

View the movie trailer here
Rated:R16 – Contains graphic violence and sexual violence

How can you win? Just email and tell us the name of the slave whose story this is –  email us at competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com including your name, phone number, library card number and address. We’ll get in touch with the winners and hook you up with the tickets.

  • The competition is open to Christchurch City Libraries members.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • Competition closes on Sunday 9 February.
  • Winners contacted on 10 February.

Please note: Tickets valid from 20 February at Event, Reading, Hoyts, Berkeley, Rialto or any participating independent cinema. Not valid on Saturdays after 5pm, on public holidays or at any “La Premier”, Cinema Delux, Gold Class, D-Box, Gold Lounge, Imax or Circle Lounge screeings. This voucher must be taken as offered and is not exchangeable, transferable or redeemable for cash and does not constitute a reserved seat. Cinemas reserve the right to refuse vouchers deemed invalid or tampered with. This ticket cannot be re-sold.

poster for MandelaRoadshow Films and Christchurch City Libraries are giving you the chance to WIN one of 20 double passes to the movie Mandela: long walk to freedom.

Based on his autobiography of the same name, this epic motion picture spans Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life, from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. Mandela: long walk to freedom is the thrilling story of an ordinary man who rose to the challenge of his times and triumphed – an intimate portrait of the making of a modern icon. Idris Elba (Prometheus) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (Skyfall) stars as Winnie Mandela, with Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directing.

Mandela: long walk to freedom, in cinemas on January 30, 2014.

View the movie trailer and visit www.mandelamovie.co.nz . Rated: M- Violence and offensive language

How can you win? Just email and tell us the name of the prison where Mandela served most of his time –  email us at competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com including your name, phone number, library card number and address. We’ll get in touch with the winners and hook you up with the tickets.

  • The competition is open to Christchurch City Libraries members.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • Competition closes on Friday 31 January.
  • Winners announced on 3 February.

Please note: Tickets valid from 13 February at Event, Reading, Hoyts, Berkeley, Rialto or any participating independent cinema. Not valid on Satudays after 5pm, on public holidays or at any La Premiere, Cinema Delux, Gold Class, D-Box, Gold Lounge, Imax or Circle Lounge screenings. This voucher must be taken as offered and is not exchangeable, transferable or redeemable for cash and does not constitute a reserved seat. Cinemas reserve the right to refuse vouchers deemed invalid or tampered with. This ticket cannot be resold.

The Golden Globes were on yesterday, and coming soon are the Oscars and Baftas. Part of the joy of movies lies in their soundtracks. Our free music download service Freegal has:

To find more, search on soundtrack, or look at Soundtrack under Genre. There are also sections for Bollywood and Tamil soundtracks.
Cover of Between a smile and a teaCover of The sound of pictures

You can find more soundtracks in our catalogue by searching for Motion Picture Music and by using other music databases in the Source.

poster for August: Osage CountyJust in time for the holiday season, Roadshow Films  and Christchurch City Libraries are giving you the chance to WIN one of 20 double passes to the movie August: Osage County.

Based on the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts, the film looks at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family. Their paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.

The large cast features Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The movie is in cinemas on January 1.

View the movie trailer and visit www.augustosagecountymovie.co.nz to check the classification

So how can you win? Just email and tell us who is your favourite actor among the names we mentioned –  email us at competition@christchurchcitylibraries.com including your name, phone number, library card number and address. We’ll get in touch with the winners and hook you up with the tickets.

  • The competition is open to Christchurch City Libraries members.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • Competition closes on Friday 20 December.
  • Winners announced on 23 December.

Books as a single entity are all very well, but I’ve been thinking lately about the individual words that make up the things I read.

cover of Outer Dark

Cormac McCarthy will do that to you. Pick up any of his books, from The Road, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner,  to No Country For Old Men, Suttree, and the two that are coming out as movies this year, The Counsellor and Child of God and there is a wealth of wondrous words throughout.

Then the sun buckled and dark fell like a shout – Outer Dark

I’m currently reading Outer Dark, written in 1968. It is set in the last part of the 19th century, as near as I can tell, and this bleak, gut wrenching book is filled with wonderful words that fit this period and I found myself writing some unknown words on my bookmark to check later in the dictionary. He is known for making up words and I love this about him, he feels unfettered by just the English language, despite having a rich love of it.

…the house was grown with a rich velour of moss and lichen and brooded in a palpable miasma of rot. – Outer Dark

It had me thinking about how each word crafted into a piece of writing adds to the whole, some you don’t notice, but some leave you amazed or confused or thoroughly impressed. Does Mr McCarthy for example, go hunting dictionaries for words that are obscure to colour this prose, or is he just incredibly well read? His turn of phrase and the pictures he conjures in my mind are just beautiful sometimes, well, often. I often hear myself saying words like ‘cool’, or ‘awesome’ out loud to myself as I read, obviously I don’t share his breadth and depth of language.

By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp – The Road

So I’ve compiled a little list of some of the discovered words from Outer Dark:

  • moiled – whirled or churned ceaselessly; twist; eddy.
  • penduluming: what a pendulum can be caught doing when it feels inclined to.
  • palmoutward- not a new word, he must have decided to run the two words together, just because he could.
  • malediction – the utterance of a curse.
  • recrements – refuse separated from anything; dross.
  • consubstantial -of one and the same substance, essence, or nature.
  • moonwraught – another lovely combo-word.
  • revenant – a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.

My two favourite words at present would have to plinth and moist, just for the way they sound when you say them.

McCarthy is rarely interviewed, avoids book tours or signings, and said about this:

I don’t think it’s good for your head, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to write a book, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it. You probably should be doing it.

Do you have favourite words, or authors whose use of language you find inspiring?

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