Pressured Viewing

Woman of the year publicity photo
Publicity photograph for the film Woman of the Year, featuring its stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Wikimedia Commons.

Once upon a time there was ‘The Movie’. I’ve never tried to work out how many hours I’ve spent watching them (the hours lost that can never be regained), but as a child/stroppy teenager I would slump down in a chair on a Saturday afternoon at around 3pm to watch the Saturday afternoon matinee.

It would greatly annoy my Dad (extra kudos for me playing the bolshy ‘teen’ card), as he had just purchased his first Colour television set and there I was making a mockery of it all by watching Black and White 1930s and 1940s classics.

Eventually a mockery of a compromise was reached – the kids got the old telly and bickered and argued between themselves for viewing rights whilst the ‘Head of the Household’ watched uninterrupted colourful sport…

Still from His girl Friday
Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the 1940 film His Girl Friday. Wikimedia Commons

Edith Head fashion, sumptuous sets, orchestrated Busby Berkeley choreographed extravanzas all in Black and White!! Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Norma Shearer, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Van Heflin, John Wayne, Rosalind Russell, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn (I could continue ad nauseam but will give you all a break!). It was fantastic.

Fast forward countless years and we have, yet again, ‘The Movie’ – normally taken out of the library for one week. No problem, you would think – given my amazing ability of yesteryear, I could watch the one film countless times – but NO!! Invariably I receive the email gently reminding me that the DVD has to be returned to the library in the next 2/3 days and panic ensues as I haven’t even had time to read the synopsis on the back of the DVD cover.

The number of films and TV series I have had to return without even inserting them into the DVD machine… But now, especially with regard to a TV series, I have a longer time frame to play with:

Two Whole Weeks!!

Until very recently I was watching TV series on DVD such as the Danish production of The Bridge, Shetland, Parade’s End, and Desperate Romantics under immense pressure – two or three episodes a night so that I could return them, haggard and red-eyed, back to the shelves having gone through 3, 4 or even sometimes 5 DVDs in the set.

Times they are a-changing… I’ve even been known to watch in Colour.

Enlightened television

In our household we like a good TV series. In fact, we like to totally immerse ourselves . In the winter of 2010 it was The Wire that captured our lives. Jimmy, Omar, Kima, Lester and the city of Baltimore were beamed into our living room every night for weeks on end. We watched Season 1, 2, 3, and 4, we were addicted. We were drawn in by the complex storylines, well-developed characters and gritty social and political realism. It was a wonderful distraction during a difficult time.

We followed this with more series, a couple being Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire both compulsive and thrilling watches. More recently it has been Enlightened. This was recommended by a couple of colleagues, independent of each other. Librarians can be counted on for their recommendations.

DVDs at South LibraryDVDs at South Library

We watched the ten half-hour episodes in one night and were well satisfied with our viewing. I did say we immersed ourselves. We talked about Enlightened after watching it, we talked about it the next morning, and I continued talking about it when I got to work. It was enlightening.

The series begins with forty year old Amy, played by Laura Dern, returning home to live with her mother after spending the last couple of months at the Open Air Retreat following a self-destructive breakdown. Amy now intends to change herself, she is determined to make the world a better place, and begins each episode with some new age insight. Her good intentions are thwarted by her self obsessed personality and she goes on to create havoc at home and work. This sets the scene for some memorable interactions with her mother, ex-husband and co-workers.

Enlightened is full of irony, very funny and yet is an unsettling watch. In fact, it can be cringe making and compelling at the same time. It is an intriguing watch as Amy’s philosophical awakening gradually uncovers a dark side to corporate America. If you need a good thought provoking television series then look no further. You will not be disappointed.

What television series would you recommend for these last winter days?

A confusion of sorcerous proportions

Will somebody please  explain to me what is going on with George RR Martin and A Game of Thrones?*

Time was when we fantasy nerds inhabited a small but well-furnished bubble positioned to the side of the main pool of readers – people who read ‘normal’ books.  These days, though, every man and his dog seem to be asking for and talking about this hit fantasy series.  And there’s not even any sparkly vampires involved …

I haven’t actually read Martin’s best-selling books, but a significant number of customers are sidling up to the desk here in the library and telling me in confidence, “… normally I NEVER read this kind of book, but they are really amazing!”

So tell me, fantasy newbies, what’s so great about A Game of Thrones?  And should I read the books? Watch the TV series? Both?

(* NOT a rhetorical question, folks.)

Love those lists! Have a play in our new BiblioCommons catalogue

CoverHave you taken a look at our new library catalogue yet? I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring BiblioCommons recently, and I think I like it… a lot. It’s the perfect place for opinionated people like me to go and be, well, opinionated. You can speak your mind about library materials you love or hate, agree or disagree with other people’s comments, tell everyone what (or what not to) read, watch or listen to, and much, much more.

During my adventures in BiblioCommons, I’ve come across lots of weird and wonderful lists other librarians and library users have made. Here is a collection of my favourites (of what I’ve seen so far):

Books

DVDs

CDs

Audiobooks

Long live the 10th Doctor

David Tennant has stepped out of the Tardis for the last time, leaving me (and many other fans) mourning his departure. 

His final outing saw The Doctor saving Earth from being knocked out of orbit by his home planet, Gallifray, which had been brought back in time, and sacrificing himself to save Donna’s grandfather, Wilf.  Sound confusing?  You’re not alone. 

It was a great episode with Tennant showing the range of his character but it was one of those storylines that you really needed to concentrate on and if you missed one subtle hint you ended up being very confused.  There seemed to be a lot of unanswered questions, such as who really is Wilf, why was he so special, and who was the woman who kept appearing to Wilf?  There seem to be plenty of theories out there, including that he is actually a Time Lord whose memories are stored in a pocket watch or some other amulet, similar to The Master in an earlier episode.  If anybody can astonish me with their Doctor Who knowledge by helping to answer some of these questions it’d be greatly appreciated.

David Tennant has been a great Doctor and I’ll miss his wit and humour but I’m sure Matt Smith will bring something new to his character so I am eagerly awaiting the new series.  If you can’t wait for the new series and need a Dr Who hit we have plenty of the DVDs  as well as Dr Who books available at the library.

I’m a gleek!

Fridays have always been the best day of the week in my opinion but now that I have Glee to look forward to every Friday night it is definitely my favourite day.  I’m totally obsessed with this show and I know I’m not the only one.  The  great characters, cool story, singing and dancing make a winning combination and it’s popularity has just been proven with it winning the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical (beating 30 Rock yay!).

I sit down to watch it on Friday nights (and the Glee-peat on Wednesday night on C4) and love every minute of it.  I couldn’t even tell you who my favourite character is because they’re all great, apart from Will Schuster’s wife who really annoys me.

For those of you who love the show and the songs that they sing you can get the first volume of the soundtrack from the library (and hopefully the second volume soon too as it has just been released) and if you’re really keen you could get the music score of the songs so that you can play or sing the songs, or even start up your own Glee club.  They’re all really catchy songs and it’s a great CD to listen to at work to pass the day.

Are you a gleek or are you more of a Sue Silvester who wants to crush Glee?