Monday, February 28, 2011

Library Videos of the Week, February 28, 2011.

The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry, a Reel Deal Productions film for American Experience; produced and directed by Jacqueline Shearer; narrated by Morgan Freeman. Story by Jacqueline Shearer.
Library Call Number: E540.N3 M37 2006.
     The American Experience presents the true story of one of the first African-American regiments fighting in the Civil War. Formed in Boston, Massachusetts, under the direction of white officers, the 54th earned fame in the futile attack on Fort Wagner, one of the Confederate army’s strongholds along the South Carolina coast. Through early photos, painting, dramatic readings from diaries and newspaper accounts, the film documents the true, heroic and tragic story of the 54th’s part in the fight for Union.  Look for this video in the 5th floor collection.

Glory, starring Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher and Denzel Washington, directed by Edward Zwick.
Library Call Number: E656 .G66 2000.
      The drama based on the 54th stars Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, a son of prominent abolitionists, who volunteers to lead one of the Union’s 1sr black regiments, though he is told the enemy have orders to kill white officers of black troops on sight. Taking a raw group of runaway slaves and freedmen, Shaw and his Sergeant train the 54th into a fighting unit fighting the bigotry of the enemy and his own army. Superb performances by Broderick and Andre Braugher as his lifetime friend, Thomas, are overshadowed by the rock-solid Morgan Freeman as the Sergeant Major of the unit and Oscar-winning Denzel Washington as an escaped slave turned Union soldier.                                                                Look for this video soon in the 4th floor Browsing collection.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Browsing Area Book of the Week, February 28, 2011.

The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King.
Library Call Number: PS3561.I4813 G64 2010

     There are a great many people who have used Sherlock Holmes as the protagonist of their novels in the past 25 years, with various levels of success. King’s tenth book in a series succeeds for two reasons: Mary Russell, the wife of Sherlock Holmes, has the prominent role here, and the author is more interested in suspense than in trying to match the deductive plots of Arthur Conan Doyle.
     The story of international intrigue in post-World War I England pits a religious fanatic and his followers, who believe they can unleash psychic powers by human sacrifice, against Holmes and Russell. The heroes are on the run, Russell with a granddaughter and Holmes with his wounded son. Their only dependable ally, Sherlock’s brother Mycroft, has disappeared, and the odds seemed stacked against them. Though this is a sequel to The Language of Bees, it’s not necessary to read them in order; the plot is well-explained and previous events come out when they need to be explained, making this a page-turner by a proficient author, with an understanding of and empathy for her characters.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Browsing Area book of the Week, February 21, 2011.

The Making of African America: the four great migrations by Ira Berlin.
Library Call Number: E185.B473 2010.
          Beginning with the Middle Passage, when Africans were forcibly taken from their homeland, Berlin traces the movement and migrations of Black Americans from Colonial times to the present. After slave ships arrived, slaves were transported across the South in huge numbers to work on plantations in the second migration. During the first half of the 20th century there was a similar movement, though voluntary, as millions of sharecroppers and poor farmers, traveled North, all but abandoning some small towns, seeking industrial jobs in the car factories of Michigan and the slaughterhouses of Illinois and Kansas. They found work making tires and glass in Ohio, boilers, submarines and cookware in Wisconsin, steel in Pennsylvania, warships in New York and New Jersey. Finally, a new influx of immigrants appeared from Africa, South America and the Caribbean. All four movements have had a profound effect on Black history and culture, as well as on America itself.

Library Video of the Week, February 21, 2011

Daughters of the Dust, starring Alva Rogers, Barbara O. Jones and Cora Lee Day. Directed by Julie Dash. Library Call Number: PN1995.9.N4D29 1999.

          An independent film recently named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry, Daughters of the Dust traces the history of the Gullah people, former slaves who lived an isolated existence on the barrier islands of Georgia. With a distinct dialect and cultural heritage stretching back to Africa, the story tells the tale of onf family's migration north in 1902, searching for a better life, the problems of assimilation and the proud heritage they refuse to leave behind.
          When the film was released in 1999, Siskel and Ebert gave it “Two Thumbs Up! A haunting film rich in visual beauty. A mystical examination of what it means to honor and cherish family."

Friday, February 11, 2011

Library Video of the Week, February 14, 2011.

For Love of Liberty: the story of America’s Black Patriots, directed by Frank Martin. Written by Frank Martin and Jeff Stetson. Hosted by Halle Berry, with contributions by Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman and others.

Library Call Number: E185.63 .F67 2009.
          The numbers are impressive: 5,000 African-Americans fought for the American Rebellion, more than 200,000 fought in the Civil War, 380,000 fought and died in World War I France and more than 2 million took up arms in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Yet their story remains underrepresented. This television documentary, through letters, diaries and military reports of action, chronicle the contribution of African American men and women at arms throughout the nation’s history, from its beginning struggle with Great Britain through the current war in Afghanistan.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Library Video of the Week, February 7, 2011.

Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz. Directed by Lee Daniels.  2009.  Library Call Number: PN1995.9.C39 P74 2010.
              There are two basic kinds of movies: escapist action or comedy the viewer might or might not take seriously; and difficult movies that may or may not have the ending you’d like to see. Precious is mostly the second type. Emotionally wrenching—and that’s an understatement--the movie follows the life of teenager Clarisse Precious Jones, (played by Sidibe in her first role) as she moves through 1987 Harlem. Barely literate, obese, pregnant and with one Downs child already, living with a mother who’s abusive enough she should be in jail, the young girl’s life is a living hell. And yet, she will not give up. She clings to dreams and hope, enrolls in an alternative school, finds help from a caring teacher and social worker and eventually has a confrontation with her mother that scorches the screen. The down in this movie is so low that not everyone will be able to cope with it, but the uplifting moments correspondingly soar, the performances have been described as “fearless,” and the message, though mostly grim, holds out the hope that keeps people going. Numerous awards including two Oscars and a Golden Globe for this one.