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  • Ross Johnson 2:00 pm on 2016/07/05 Permalink
    Tags: blu-ray, calling all film buffs, , DVD, Movies   

    5 Classics Available for 50% Off in the Criterion Collection Sale 

    The name Criterion Collection has been synonymous with quality of presentation since the company started working in Laserdiscs in the ’80s. Whatever the genre, they’ve made it a mission to treat each film in the collection with a level of respect that matches, and usually surpasses, anyone else in the business. A Criterion edition is pure gold to film buffs, but they don’t just deal in traditionally artsy film-school stuff. Criterion describes its selections as “important” classic and modern movies, which, over the years, has meant that a wide variety of films—screwball comedies, samurai adventures, works of gruesome horror—have made the cut, from popular favorites to obscure gems.

    From July 5-August 1, the entire collection is available at 50 percent off at Barnes & Noble and BN.com. To help you start building your wishlist, here are five recent Criterion releases that only begin to provide a sense of the range and scope of the collection.

    Dr. Strangelove
    Will Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb ever not be relevant? Will humans of some far distant day watch Kubrick’s classic and not find parallels to current militarism and politics? Because after more than 50 years and the end of the Cold War, Kubrick’s diamond-edged satire is as sharp as ever. For that matter, it’s also still hilarious, anchored by a brilliant triple performance from the great Peter Sellers. Criterion has polished up this one with a brand-new 4k transfer, so it’ll be well worth revisiting. Probably for a long time to come.

    The New World
    Though his career began with 1973’s Badlands, The New World, made over 30 years later, was only Terrence Malick’s fourth film. Which is to say that it was, and remains, a true cinematic event. It tells the story of the founding of the Jamestown settlement in the Americas, centered on the historical figures of John Smith and Pocahontas. It’s dreamy and poetic, not to mention beautifully photographed, in the manner of Malick’s best. Criterion has meticulously restored the film for this edition, presented in the director’s preferred extended cut.

    Fantastic Planet
    That René Laloux’s weird sci-fi allegory is now widely available in high-def is one of the wonders of our age. The French and Czechoslovakian film tells of the Draags, giant blue aliens who have brought Earthlings to their world to be treated as pets, zoo exhibits, and, sometimes, wild animals to be hunted. The dynamic is all about racism and imperialism, but this stop-motion animated film is also trippy, psychedelic, and weird in ways that stick with you long after the social messages have faded.

    The In-Laws
    The pairing of Alan Arkin with Columbo himself, Peter Falk, meant big box office business in 1979, and it’s not hard to see why. Arkin is the milquetoast dentist Shelly, whose daughter is engaged to Falk’s Vince, a “businessman” who soon involves Shelly in the aftermath of a robbery of engraving plates from the U.S. Mint. What starts out as a comedy about mismatched in-laws quickly evolves into an elaborate caper film. We’ve seen plenty of variations on the theme in the years since, but this one did it first, and best.

    A Touch of Zen
    Criterion has done an extraordinary job of resurrecting the great works of martial arts filmmaking, including several awesome samurai films from Japan. Zen hails from Taiwan, and tells the story of a disgraced noblewoman who finds refuge in a mysterious, ghostly village before being set upon by the soldiers of a corrupt royal eunuch. It’s not just a story of martial arts action, though; it’s also a meditation on the cost of violence and the dangers of corruption. The movie was a direct inspiration for Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonand is one of the crowning achievements of the Chinese wuxia genre, which typically mixes elaborate fighting with a mystical spiritual quest.

    What are you picking up during the Criterion sale?

  • Jeff Somers 7:30 pm on 2016/06/10 Permalink
    Tags: , air, , Movies, screenplays, the silence of six   

    These Brilliant Abandoned Scripts Are Getting a Second Chance 

    Say you’re a screenwriter with a brilliant idea. You write a script and shop it around. Everyone loves it, but through no fault of your own, you hit a snag. A budget disappears, a contract dispute flares up, and suddenly your high-concept idea gets shelved, then abandoned. All hope is lost, right?

    Not if Adaptive Studios has anything to do with it. This imaginative publisher’s mission is to swoop in and save amazing stories by turning them into novels or other media.

    And now Barnes & Noble is part of that rescue operation as well: we’ll offer a leading selection of Adaptive Studio’s books both in stores and online, starting this month with teen books Air, by Ryan Gattis, and The Silence of Six, by E.C. Myers.
    Air is a thrilling and action-packed coming-of-age story about Grey, who witnesses the death of his mother and finds himself shipped off to live with an aunt in inner-city Baltimore. There he discovers a group of youths who use extreme sports as a form of protest and activism, going after an oppressive police force with death-defying stunts and then posting videos online. As the group becomes more and more popular and influential, everything Grey thinks he knows and believes in will be challenged.

    The Silence of Six is a paranoid thriller about teen hacker Max Stein, who sees his best friend Evan commit suicide live on the internet. Evan’s last words were “What is the Silence of Six, and what are you going to do about it?” Following his friend’s death, Max finds himself thrust into a dangerous, confusing race to evade the sinister corporate forces chasing after him. As Max fives into the Dark Web and hacktivist groups in his desperate search for the truth about the Silence of Six, he has plenty of trouble just staying one step ahead of his pursuers.

    More on the horizon
    Adaptive has a robust roster of new books coming out in the next few months, several of which will be available exclusively at Barnes & Noble. These include the adult books DC Trip and Pasta Wars; the graphic novel Turnskin; the teen books Bleeding Earth, Against All Silence, Outward Blonde, Dawn of Spies, and the movie tie-in edition for Coin Heist; and the kids’ books Memory Thief and SPOOKS.

    Develop your story at B-Fest
    Adaptive Studios’ creative process will be on full display at Barnes & Noble’s National Teen Book Festival, B-Fest. On Sunday, June 12th, at 2 p.m., in all 640 stores nationwide, teen writers can take Adaptive’s Story Development Workshop, during which they’ll learn how to write a log line (a brief conceptual synopsis), create a spark page (a more involved synopsis that details plot, character, and even tone and overall message of a story), and reimagine popular characters. Don’t miss it!

    Read more about Adaptive Studios here

  • Diana Biller 9:00 pm on 2016/02/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , Movies, starry night   

    A Book For Every Kind of Awards Night Watcher 

    The 88th Academy Awards®, hosted by Chris Rock, will begin at 5:30 p.m. PST this Sunday, and will end sometime in March. But since, in the grand tradition of the star-studded awards night, I haven’t actually seen any of the movies nominated for Best Picture, I’ll go down the awards list until I find a movie I can remark on…ah. Inside Out (nominated for Best Animated Film and Best Writing, Original Screenplay) was a charming film, and I wish it all the best for the night.

    So I don’t watch it for the movies—the dresses are more than enough for me, combined with the stoically gracious faces of the losers. There are a lot of reasons to watch the Oscars®: the movies, the feeling of getting an inside glimpse into the glamorous world of Hollywood, getting to throw a party. And for every kind of Oscar® watcher, there’s a book to get you ready for the big night.

    If you watch the Academy Awards® for the movies, read The Age of Movies: Selected Writings of Pauline Kael, by Pauline Kael
    Witty, bold, and controversial, Pauline Kael’s movie criticism is a must read for any serious film lover. This collection includes essays on defining films like Bonnie and ClydeThe Godfather, and Last Tango in Paris, along with many more, and allows the reader to better understand the movies that laid the foundation for those being honored this year. Entertaining, blunt, and incisive, Kael’s writing will keep you engrossed until the last page, and likely leave you jonesing for more.

    If you watch the Academy Awards® for that Old Hollywood Glamour, read Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
    Hollywood glamour isn’t exactly what it used to be, but Walter’s Beautiful Ruins can help put you in the right mood. A major hit on its release in 2013, the story whizzes through the decades and around the world—opening with a dying starlet in Italy in 1962, and traveling to Edinburgh, to the set of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra, and to the Hollywood of today. A big-hearted book that’s both touching and entertaining, it blends romance, tragedy, Hollywood tell-all, and history into one gorgeous read.

    If you watch the Academy Awards® for the dresses, read Scruples, by Judith Krantz
    When Scruples was first published, over 25 years ago, it took the publishing world by storm and made Rodeo Drive the cultural touchstone it is today. A lush, juicy story about an ugly duckling turned swan who opens a luxury Beverly Hills boutique and enters the glamorous world of Hollywood fashion, Scruples is an especially good choice for pre–awards night reading, given that a major portion of the book revolves around the event. The ultimate in guilty pleasure reading (much like the Oscars® are the ultimate in guilty pleasure watching).

    If you watch the Academy Awards® so you can throw a party, read Party Girl, by Rachel Hollis
    If you’ve ever been drawn to the revolting extravagance of Hollywood parties, this is the book for you. Drawing from the author’s experience as a party planner in Hollywood, the story follows Landon Brinkley, a small-town Texas girl who finds herself thrown into the middle of a world where dropping a million dollars on a child’s birthday party is normal and working 80 hours a week to bring an event to life is required. A fun, fizzy read, with a lot of humor and a perfect dash of romance, Party Girl will make you appreciate the humble charms of your own awards night party.

    If you’re boycotting the Academy Awards®, read Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood, by Donald Bogle
    This delightfully entertaining book takes a long, glamorous look at a little-talked about subject: Black Hollywood. Picking up in 1915 and stretching over six decades, historian Bogle takes the reader on an informative journey through the lives of famous black actors like Hattie McDaniel and Lena Horne, as well as other black luminaries in the movie industry. Illustrated with over 100 beautiful photographs, Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams is a rare treat: a deliciously fun read that’s as important as it is entertaining.

    ACADEMY AWARDS® and OSCAR® are the registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

  • Melissa Albert 4:47 pm on 2015/12/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , Movies,   

    Great Books on the Big Screen 

    Winter is the perfect time to hit the movies: the theater provides respite from the cold, it’s the perfect family escape in between holiday meals and cookie bakeoffs, and it’s way easier to sneak in snacks when you’re wearing a parka. Before you see these 10 film adaptations—high-octane thrillers, thoughtful dramas, and everything in between—read the books that inspired them, stories so moving they just had to be retold onscreen.

    The Revenant, by Michael Punke
    This adaptation of the amazing semi-true story of fur trapper Hugh Glass will star Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy as two men on either side of a dark vendetta. When Hugh (Dicaprio) suffers terrible injuries in a bear attack, the assumption is that he’ll soon be dead, so the leader of his expedition orders two men to stay with him, and bury him when he dies. The men instead abandon Glass, stealing everything he’d need to survive. And yet Glass does survive, then sets out for revenge. A gripping, tense story anchored by peerless research and rich descriptions of early 19th-century life in the unsettled wilderness of the American Northwest.

    Brooklyn, by Colm Tóibín
    Award-winning Irish author Tóibín nabbed his dream hometown cast—including Oscar nominees Saoirse Ronan and Jim Broadbent—and no less than Nick Hornby to pen the screenplay for the adaptation of his 2009 novel about a small-town Irish girl in the years after World War II who dreams of a better life in Brooklyn. The film, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, was directed by Irish theater veteran John Crowley (who also directed several episodes of HBO’s True Detective).

    Trumbo, by Bruce Cook
    Emmy winner Bryan Cranston stars as legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the film adaptation inspired by Cook’s 1977 biography. Trumbo was a celebrated, highly paid talent in Hollywood during the Golden Age of movie-making—until the 1940s, when, with the Red Scare in full swing, Senator Joseph McCarthy made Tinseltown ground zero for a Communist witch hunt. Refusing to reveal the identities of other Hollywood players involved in Communist organizations, Trumbo was placed on the infamous “black list,” and barred from working in the industry for more than a decade (at least under his own name—films he wrote won two Oscars during his period of exile). The film, by Jay Roach, who previously adapted the 2008 election drama Game Change, follows the arc of Trumbo’s life and career and also stars Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, and Louis C.K.

    The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff
    Eddie Redmayne brings his post-Oscar glow to the story of Lili Elbe, artist and transgender pioneer, told in this adaptation of Ebershoff’s 2000 novel. The natural drama of Elbe’s life-altering journey, and its effects on her marriage, are well-suited to the big screen, but also make for a compelling read. Her story is one of love, ambition, and identity, and an unconventional look at an unconventional 20th-century woman.

    The Martian, by Andy Weir
    Weir’s debut novel is possibly the biggest self-publishing success story of all time, going from a self-published release, to a best-selling hardcover, to theaters in less than two years. Anyone who gripped the armrests watching Sandra Bullock struggling to survive the cold indifference of space in Gravity will get a similar thrill watching Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet, forced to endure the tortures inflicted upon him by director Ridley Scott.

    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick
    Academy Award–winning director Ron Howard brings his sure touch to this adaptation of Philbrick’s harrowing true-life account of the 1820 sinking of the whaleship Essex by an enraged sperm whale, the incident that inspired Herman Melville to pen a little novel called Moby-Dick. The cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Ben Whishaw.

    The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith
    Nobody does sexual obsession like Patricia Highsmith. In the forthcoming adaptation of her cult classic novel The Price of Salt (to be released in theaters with its alternate title, Carol), Rooney Mara’s dissatisfied shopgirl has a chance meeting with Cate Blanchett’s elegant housewife, and love, dreams of escape, and blackmail follow. We can’t wait to see what Todd Haynes, known for his incredible direction of women, does with this one.

    Deep Down Dark, by Héctor Tobar
    Antonio Banderas stars in and Patricia Riggen directs this taut real-time drama, adapted for screen as The 33 from Tobar’s 2014 book. Both tell the story of the 2010 mining incident in Chile, in which 33 miners were trapped underground for more than two months, at a mine infamous for its safety violations and previous fatalities. They survived a disastrous collapse and, starting 17 days after the accident, managed to communicate with the surface, first by notes and then by video. The telling of their trials underground, their courage under fire, and the events leading up to their rescue will star Banderas as Mario Sepúlveda, who served as spokesperson for the miners throughout the ordeal.

    13 Hours, by Mitchell Zuckoff
    On September 11, 2012, terrorists attacked a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Lybia. What happened next has been the subject of endless investigation, speculation, news articles, even hearings. Over the course of the 13-hour attack, six security personnel fought back, saving lives and serving as the primary subjects of Mitchell Zuckoff’s thrilling nonfiction account. Big-screen vet Michael Bay directs cast including John Krasinki and Pablo Schreiber.

    The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis
    The latest film adaptation from The Blind Side and Moneyball author Michael Lewis is a darkly funny account of the 2008 financial crash, told through the story of a handful of finance world outsiders who saw it coming before anyone else did. Come for the all-star cast (Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell), stay for the sharpest, most entertaining explanation of how it all went down that you’ll ever get (outside of reading the book, of course).

  • Diana Biller 5:06 pm on 2015/08/13 Permalink
    Tags: , , Movies, , Steve Jobs, Tech   

    Read All About Steve Jobs before You See His Life Play Out Onscreen 

    It’s been four years since the death of Steve Jobs, one of the most controversial and fascinating figures of the modern age, and we still haven’t run out of things to say about him. This year will see two new entries into the Jobs genre: Steve Jobs, a biopic written by Aaron Sorkin, and Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, an unauthorized documentary from Alex Gibney, the man behind the HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.

    By turns brilliant and callous, generous and seemingly cruel, Job’s complicated legacy still casts a long shadow…and makes for great reading. Here are five standout books to read before you see the movies.

    Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
    Authorized by Jobs himself, this bestselling biography is based on over forty interviews with its subject, as well as over a hundred interviews with friends, family, colleagues, and competitors. It’s also the source material for the Sorkin film (which will star Michael Fassbender in the title role). Steve Jobs isn’t just about the man, though—it’s also the story of the technology that Jobs created and influenced, and the company that he built, lost, rejoined, and led to worldwide dominance. A must-read for anyone interested in Jobs, computers, or Apple.

    Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader, by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli
    The second major Jobs biography, Becoming Steve Jobs should be read alongside Steve Jobs. Focusing more on the psychology of Jobs than on the technology he created, Schlender and Tetzeli follow his personal growth from a brash, arrogant upstart to the man we’re familiar with today. Drawing from interviews with family and high-level colleagues like Tim Cook, Ed Catmull, and John Lasseter, as well as from Schlender’s 25 years as a tech journalist working with Jobs himself, Becoming Steve Jobs offers significant new information from a personal angle.

    The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Isaacson
    Also from Isaacson comes this follow-up focusing on the people who drove the digital revolution, including Jobs. Beginning with Ada Lovelace, the 19th century woman who is frequently called the first computer programmer, The Innovators traces a path through the most fascinating minds of the last two hundred years—from Vannevar Bush, to Alan Turing, to Larry Page. Isaacson mixes engaging anecdotes with unknown and forgotten history, creating a delightful read that’s also hugely informative.

    Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull, with Amy Wallace
    When we talk about Steve Jobs we usually talk about Apple, but along with Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, Jobs also co-founded Pixar. Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. takes readers inside Pixar and shares the creative management principles that he credits with the company’s success. Named a best book of the year by the Huffington Post, Financial Times, and Forbes (who said that it “just might be the business book ever written”), this is the perfect book for anyone looking to add a little creativity to their business.

    Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success, by Ken Segall
    Written by ad agency creative director Ken Segall, the guy who named the iMac, Insanely Simple follows Steve Jobs in a different way: through the philosophy of simplicity that still defines Apple today. Partly an entertaining behind-the-scenes look at Apple’s branding and marketing, and partly a self-help guide for businesses trying to stand out from the crowd, the book contains plenty of fascinating anecdotes and provides a unique look at Apple’s growth over the last two decades.

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