Need a break from the sun? Rent a DVD from the Juneau library

Posted: Sunday, June 27, 2004

In addition to even more Hercule Poirot, Brother Cadfael, and Inspector Lynley mysteries on DVD, we've added some great stand-alone titles to our collections at each of the three public libraries.

"The Edge of the World": This beautiful film is set on a remote Scottish Island in the 1930s and dramatizes the changes a fishing community goes through as its formerly rich fishing grounds become depleted. Ruth and her beloved, Andrew, believe that there is still a living to be made on the island, while Ruth's brother, Robbie, Andrew's best friend, is ready to leave for the mainland. The two young men argue, and finally decide to settle their differences traditionally, through a race to the top of the cliffs. When one man falls to his death, the whole community is changed. Originally filmed in 1937,this is a new digital mastering from the original 35mm nitrate negative, so neither the sound quality nor the picture is perfect, but this is a breathtaking film nonetheless.

"The Blue Diner": Told in both English and Spanish, this is the story of Elena, her mother, and why Elena suddenly loses the ability to speak Spanish, her first language. In her quest to please her mother, Elena is dating the owner of the mortuary she works at, but her heart really belongs to an artist and fellow Puerto Rican, Tito. Suddenly unable to communicate in words, mother and daughter must find a way to keep their relationship from falling apart, which brings Elena in contact with her missing father.

"Copenhagen": In 1941, physicist Werner Heisenberg went to Copenhagen to visit his friend and mentor Niels Bohr and Niels' wife. The visit tore the friendship apart, and to this day no one knows why, though this film suggests some answers. Brilliantly structured and acted, this portrays the men who created the theories leading to the development of atomic weapons.

"Kiss Me Deadly": A film noir classic featuring hard-hitting detective Mike Hammer searching for revenge after being beaten up and seeing the woman he is with murdered. Unlike today's movie detectives, Hammer's no nice guy: he's a pimp, a murderer, and a greedy sadist, and not actually that good a detective, but he is persistent enough to come out on top against a posse of Cold War bad guys. Extra features include a recently discovered alternate ending and the original theatrical trailer.

"Marooned in Iraq": This convoluted film from award-winning director Bahman Ghobadi dramatizes the plight of the Kurds in Iran and Iraq through one family's experiences. Mirza, an elderly Iranian-Kurdish singer, hears that his former wife, who deserted him to marry his best friend and live in Iraq, needs his help. He cons his two sons into accompanying him, and together they trace Hanareh's trail to a women's refugee camp. Along the way, each of the men find what they've been unknowingly longing for. Occasionally humorous, overall this is an emotionally powerful film you won't soon forget.

"A Mighty Wind": From the troupe that created "Best in Show," here is the folk singers' equivalent of "This is Spinal Tap." The fun begins when the son of a legendary folk concert producer decides the best paternal memorial would be a reunion concert featuring some of the big names from the 60's and eventually gets The Folksmen, Mitch and Mickey, and The New Main Singers to agree to reunite for a last great performance. But reuniting is a struggle for some, who still have bitter memories about the past. Lots of special features on this DVD, including interviews with The Folksmen, extra songs, deleted scenes, and audio commentary by the directors, Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy.

"Secondhand Lions": There've always been rumors and mystery surrounding Walter's two eccentric great-uncles, and the summer that he spends with them on their farm gives him time to figure it out. Is it true they were bank robbers? They certainly have enough money. Are the stories they tell about saving kidnapped princesses and adventuring in exotic lands for real? They do have expertise in caring for all kinds of animals, including the lions they got through the mail. A humorous and intelligent family film!

"The Singing Detective": When writer Philip Marlow is hospitalized with acute psoriasis, his fantasies, hallucinations, and memories merge with real life and the mystery he is constructing in his head to create this multi-layered six-part BBC production. Be prepared to stick through the first two episodes in order to make sense of the kaleidoscopic film style; for instance, characters created for his story can appear in Marlow's hospital room, and what seem to be memories can be played out in many ways. Experimental award-winning drama at its best.

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