Archive for the ‘We Recommend’ Category

We Recommend: Directions (Film)

Directions – Death Cab for Cutie

Directions is the video companion to Death Cab for Cutie’s critically-acclaimed album Plans. The DVD contains fan-made videos for all 12 songs on Plans, along with commentary from the band and two bonus songs and videos not heard on Plans. Directions is a must-watch for any Death Cab for Cutie fans or any fan of music videos in general.

Andrew Naquin, Student Library Assistant

We Recommend: It All Turns on Affection

It All Turns on Affection: The Jefferson Lecture and Other Essays – Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry is the prolific author of short stories, novels, and essays, many of which concern his love for the agrarian way of life. In his 2012 Jeffersonian Lecture, Berry discusses the importance of affection to living a good life. For Berry, affection is a return to the simple, sensory way of life from the high-minded thinking of academia. Berry’s essay is a great read for anyone who is disillusioned by the complications of academic thinking and longs for a partner in a simple way of viewing and relating to the world.
-Andrew Naquin, Student Library Assistant

We Recommend: The Road (Film)

The Road (Film)

Directed by John Hillcoat and starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee

The Road is based on Cormac McCarthy’s book of the same name. It chronicles a man and his son struggling to survive in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Viggo Mortensen masterfully plays a man who’s hope for humanity lies in teaching his son to “carry the fire” of goodness to the new civilization that will rise from the ashes of the apocalypse. This film tugs at your heartstrings by portraying a man’s deep love for his son in times of chrisis. The film also raises a deep ethical question: how far would you go to survive?

-Andrew Naquin, Student Library Assistant

We Recommend: The Confessions of St. Augustine

The Confessions of St. Augustine

One of the greatest thinkers of the Western tradition, Augustine writes his Confessions to chronicle his journey from paganism to Christianity. Blending philosophy and theology, Augustine describes his relationship with God and the struggles he encountered on his path to conversion. This timeless work is a landmark in spiritual autobiographies, for it recounts the tremendous journey of a man from sin to salvation.

-Andrew Naquin, Student Library Assistant

We Recommend: The Carter Family

Will you miss me when I’m gone? : the Carter Family and their legacy in American music by Mark Zwonitzer

The Bristol Sessions, Country Music Foundation Records

Anyone who loves bluegrass, country, Southern gospel and the like will surely be familiar with “The First Family in Country Music.” Mark Zwonitzer’s Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone is a lovely biography of musical pioneers the Carter Family that delves into the history of a family and the culture that shaped them. Be sure to supplement your reading with some ear candy via The Bristol Sessions,  a collection of 1927 recording sessions in Bristol, TN of some of country music’s (then unknown) pioneers.

Elizabeth Kelly, Digital Initiatives Librarian

New volume: Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe

The Monroe Library is proud to add a new volume of the Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe (Complete works of Johannes Brahms), edited by our own Dr. Valerie Goertzen, Associate Professor of Music History. Dr. Goertzen’s volume covers Brahms’ arrangements for piano, four hands, and two pianos of works by other composers.

Being asked to edit a critical edition/complete works volume for a major composer is a coup among scholars in the field. Even beyond the prestige, it is truly a labor of love, with the work taking place over several years. Sixty five volumes are planned and 18 have been published. The Monroe Library is thrilled that our volume has arrived and is available for our students and faculty to use.

Congratulations, Dr. Goertzen!

WE RECOMMEND: Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Definitive gold box collection


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me

I have the great capacity to be a TV junkie. We got rid of cable at my house in large part because no matter how embarrassingly degrading a show was, I could get sucked into the menial drama in no time. My most embarrassing moment in TV viewing might have been the short-lived reality show “Dating in the Dark,” in which contestants—you guessed it!—dated each other in the dark and then had to decide whether their feelings were real once they saw the person through a two-way mirror. I’m not a big believer in “guilty pleasures” but this was a real low point.

So now that we don’t have cable, my TV show viewing is limited to shows on Netflix or on DVD. Since it’s so easy for me to get sucked into a new show, I love having the option to watch the entire run of a series without having to wait for the next episode. And the show that has so far sucked me in the most, that I managed to watch over the course of about a week (30 episodes in 9 days!), is the early 90s cult classic “Twin Peaks.”

I’ve desperately tried to love David Lynch but to me his movies almost always fall flat somewhere along the way. While “Twin Peaks” isn’t perfect (wait until the second season subplot involving James and the manipulative housewife Evelyn), I think this is the best Lynch gets. “Twin Peaks” starts off as a murder mystery when the titular Washington town’s homecoming queen turns up dead. But in true Lynchian fashion things are not always what they seem, and what started off as a simple stranger-comes-to-town crime solver devolves into a supernatural head trip. The ensemble cast includes some of the decade’s up-and-comers (Lynch favorite Kyle MacLachlan, Lara Flynn Boyle, Heather Graham) and surprising appearances by seasoned actors (Piper Laurie, the mom from Carrie; Peggy Lipton, former star of the “Mod Squad” and ex-wife of Quincy Jones; Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn, both stars of the film version of West Side Story). MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper is one of the greatest characters in TV history. The images the viewer takes away from the show are lasting and haunting. Someday I want my bathroom to look like the “Red Room.”

“Twin Peaks” made such an impression on me that I was truly sad when it was over. Over for me, anyway, since it’s actually been off the air since 1991. I watched the show for the first time last summer. I rewatched it in its entirety this winter. This time I think it took about 14 days to watch the whole thing, but that’s because the DVD has some pretty great extras. And the cult of “Twin Peaks” lives on, which I realize now that I understand references to the show. The Log Ladies are a New Orleans band saluting their namesake’s memorable character; “Twin Peaks” festivals occur around the world; and the show’s stars still pop up all over the place (Leland Palmer on “Mad Men?” Awesome!).

The Monroe Library has the full series on DVD with all the excellent extras. There’s also a prequel film called Fire Walk With Me. I’m not a fan, but it’s worth seeing if only to round out your “Twin Peaks” experience. If you’re like me, you’re going to finish watching the series and then jump in your car to come back to the library 10 minutes before closing time to check out the movie. The spooky town of Twin Peaks just has that effect on some of us.

-Elizabeth Kelly, Instruction and Special Collections Librarian

WE RECOMMEND: Roman Holiday dir. William Wyler

Roman Holiday (1953), dir. William Wyler

Roman Holiday cover

Upon returning from a vacation in Italy, I was inspired to revisit a classic film from 1953. Roman Holiday follows the short-lived adventure of a runaway princess in the Eternal City. Audrey Hepburn, in her first starring role, plays Princess Ann. Hepburn’s performance earned her an Academy Award. Ann is heir to the throne of an unidentified country, and is making her way through a press tour of Europe. Frazzled by the constant and structured public appearances, she is given an injection to soothe her nerves. The princess breaks out from the embassy to begin an impromptu tour of the city while in an incoherent state. Joe Bradley, an American journalist played by Gregory Peck, reluctantly assists her.

Both the princess and the reporter attempt to conceal their true identities. Ann introduces herself as Anya, a schoolgirl on the run. Joe claims to be in the fertilizer industry. However, he has already recognized his new companion as the visiting dignitary. Indebted to seemingly everyone in the city, he is eager to publish an exclusive and lucrative interview with the royal. They soon engage in a carefree tour of the city on the back of a scooter.

Roman Holiday was shot entirely on location. The audience experiences the grandeur of many of the city’s famous sights, including the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Victor Emmanuel II monument. Perhaps the most memorable scene in the movie involves the Mouth of Truth. The Church of Santa Maria has a large carving of a face whose mouth is purported to chomp off the hands of liars. Inserting a hand into the monument is problematic given the couple’s ruses. A thoroughly amusing film, Roman Holiday will make you long for a gelato or an espresso at a sidewalk café in some Italian square.

- Malia Willey, Instruction Coordinator

WE RECOMMEND: Pyongyang, A Journey Into North Korea by Guy Delisle

Pyongyang, A Journey Into North Korea by Guy Delisle
Pyongyang front cover

Guy Delisle’s deadpan graphic memoir of his time working in North Korea is as gentle a reflection on the horrors of totalitarianism as can be imagined. An animator and cartoonist, Delisle is sent by his French employer to oversee cheap fill-in production at a firm in Pyongyang. Most of his time is spent working out ways to alleviate the crushing boredom of life in the panopticon–foreign workers in North Korea are constantly accompanied by guides and translators carefully selected for their party loyalty and overall blandness, exploration beyond obviously and hilariously scripted propaganda events is forbidden and the radio only gets one station.  The art sits solidly in the journalistic/memoir comic fashion, blandly approachable in the style of Marjane Satrapi or Joe Sacco. Detail is sparse but movement and characterization are handled quite well, which helps when depicting a country where too many ill-considered dialogue bubbles could land one in a gulag. The narrator’s interior monologue echoes Art Spiegelman’s wry detachment to a level that can feel almost insensitive when dealing with the forced representatives of the most oppressive regime on the planet. That aside, Pyongyang provides an amusing perspective on a fascinating topic.

- Adam Parker, Learning Technologies Developer

WE RECOMMEND: Sullivan’s Travels dir. Preston Sturges

Sullivan’s Travels (1942) dir. Preston Sturges

Sullivan's Travels DVD coverA steam locomotive barrels at high speed through the night, as two men desperately battle it out hand to hand until falling into a river.  This turns into three men in a screening room watching this film.  The director is unhappy, saying “I want to hold a mirror up to life.”  He argues with the studio executives about what kind of films to make in troubled times.  He wants to make a serious social commentary.  The studio wants light, fluffy entertainment.  The director decides to take off to travel, learning what problems common people have.  Everyone is against it; even his butler argues that the poor don’t need serious movies.  The studio threatens to sue him unless they can turn his travels into a publicity stunt.  They follow in a luxurious camper, with cook and staff in tow.  He tries to ditch the crew, but soon he gets into real trouble, first from a farm widow, and then he meets Veronica Lake in a diner.  She becomes his guide and companion through the underside of life.

Sullivan’s Travels is one of the funniest films about film and the place of art in everyday life.  It veers around, from slapstick to despair.  You have seen some of this before:  a kid driving hand-decorated car, prisoners watching a cartoon, even the title of the unmade film are all appropriated by the Coen Brothers in O Brother, Where Art Thou?  As the saying goes, “When you steal, steal from the best.”  And Sturges’ film is one of the best comedies of the nineteen forties or any time.

- Jim Hobbs, Online Services Coordinator