This documentary by Mark Wexler deals with the sometimes scary topic of aging. It presents people in various stages of life and interviews gerontologists, scientific researchers and others involved in final life matters. More well-known interviewees include Jack LaLanne, Ray Bradbury and Suzanne Somers. One subject nears her 114th birthday and earns a Guinness World Record. From Japan to Iceland, some of the world’s hot spots with unusually older population statistics are revealed along with possible causes for increased longevity in those areas. How to Live Forever is entertaining for adults of any age and the plethora of ideas presented from laughter theory to diet guarantees you’ll find something of interest.
Technical Services & Collections Manager
Judging by the circulation of films from Manhattan Public Library, most library customers are well aware of our holdings. We’ve got multiple copies of “Lincoln,” Life of Pi,” “Les Miserables,” and “Wreck-it Ralph,” to name but a few of the many available films. Most folks who hear that the library owns some 8,600+ films are reluctant to believe it, as the shelving would not seem to have that capacity, but so many titles are always checked out at any one time.
In addition to features films, the library has an extensive collection of documentaries. Those do not circulate as much as some of the other offerings, but there are treasures to be found among them. Just recently added are the following which have received excellent reviews:
“Joffrey”: A favorite of the San Francisco Film Festival as well as the Dance on Camera Film Festival, this lovely piece of work follows the historical dance company’s founding in 1956 by creators Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino. Dogged by financial woes, the dance company managed to re-create itself several times to become one of the premier organizations of the world. Of special note is the wealth of historical footage of glorious performances. Testimonials by some of the dancers, choreographers, and the founders themselves allow viewers to trace the growth and tradition-breaking techniques of this highly esteemed company.
“Deadliest Tornadoes”: Though we don’t want to think about it, our region is already immersed in one of our most dangerous seasons of the year. This NOVA PBS presentation recounts the incredibly high occurrences of tornadoes that took place in April of 2011. Extended footage of Joplin’s horrific storm is a quick reminder of the potency of such winds. Interviews with scientists and with weather forecasters demonstrate how wind rotation begins, and victim testimonials highlight an informative program.
“How to Survive a Plague”: This historical documentary follows the path of AIDS activists in the early 1990s who demonstrated in the streets and who demanded that the Food and Drug Administration take immediate action to approve AIDS-fighting drugs. They worked to help identify new treatments and move them through safety trials in record time. Their determination reduced the numbers of AIDS-related deaths and offered new hope to sufferers. This drama earned both the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Gotham Award and was nominated for an Academy Award as well.
“Planet Ocean”: This beautiful film has a two-fold purpose. Stunning footage of ocean currents taken from well above the Earth and shots of the feeding mouths of a coral reef are particularly striking. But this film is also a plea for the protection of the ocean’s vast resources. Researchers cite the drifting of crucial fish populations toward more temperate waters to the north as an alarming trend. They also describe populations, like that of the Bluefin tuna, which are nearing extinction because of over-fishing. This environmental gem was the 2012 Official Cinematography Winner at the Blue Ocean Film Festival.
“You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t”: This film has not yet arrived at MPL, but will be available shortly. A documentary by Scott Kirschenbaum, this touching film recounts the life Of Lee Gorewitz in the Traditions Alzheimer’s & Other Dementia Care Unit in Danville, California. This in-depth character study reveals that many of our perceptions of Alzheimer’s disease are misguided. The film premiered on PBS and has received much praise from physicians and university instructors for its content.
“Secrets of Highclere Castle”: For the many fans of “Downton Abbey,” this PBS special is a rare treat. Highclere Castle is the opulent location for the filming of the Masterpiece classic. Interested viewers can learn about the current owners, Lord and Lady Carnavon, they can listen to the actual butler’s philosophy of service, and they can explore the beautiful rooms and grounds of one of England’s more famous estates. They can also learn about Lady Almina’s huge investment in upkeep and restoration during the 19th century. A visual delight.
“The Abolitionists”: This PBS drama follows the interactions of abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, William Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Angelina Grimke. At a time when the country was fast approaching the Civil War, those individuals struggled to expose the horrors of slavery. Their selflessness laid the groundwork for civil rights at a time when violence was a given. This historic piece generates a lasting respect for those courageous few.
For these titles and a wide selection of others, take a look at the many fine documentaries your library has to offer.
Murder, conspiracies, infidelity and scandals start this 6-part mini-series off to a fast-pace. Superbly acted with an intelligent story line filled with suspense and an unpredictable plot, this BBC production of State of Play is television at it’s best. Stephen Collins is a Member of Parliament whose researcher for his energy committee is killed on her way to her job. A young man is shot at around the same time, dismissed as a drug killing by the police. Are these events connected? Soon it becomes public that the MP was having an affair, and reporters Cal McCaffrey and Della Smith begin an investigation, which reveals that Sonia’s death was not an accident. A web of lies unfolds and it remains the job of the investigative reporters to uncover the truth. Twists and turns in the plot will keep you guessing until the end and the ensemble of excellent British actors make the story lines believable–a must-see thriller!
For those of you lucky enough to get a few days off from work or school, Spring Break is a great time to relax with a stack of books or have a movie marathon. Why not celebrate your inner nerd by focusing on techie books or movies?
There are many great techie books out there, but here are a few of my recent favorites:
“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline
It is the year 2044, and the world is a pretty bleak place. Like many others, Wade Watts prefers to spend the majority of his time in the virtual reality world of OASIS, rather than his poverty-stricken real world. For years, Wade and countless others have been searching OASIS for hidden clues that will lead to the billions of dollars amassed by the late OASIS creator, James Halliday. To find the clues, Wade has immersed himself in the life of Halliday, including his obsession with 80’s pop culture. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, suddenly the whole world is watching him, and Wade realizes that some will stop at nothing ,including murder, to be the first to find Halliday’s fortune. If you grew up in the 80’s, this book is particularly enjoyable, since it is filled with references to video games, movies, TV, and music from the 80’s.
“Robopocalypse” by Daniel Wilson
Set in the near-future, this chilling read recounts the history of a massive war between machines and humans. Dr. Wasserman has created an artificial intelligence named Archos who finds a way to kill off his creator and begin his plan to destroy humankind from the earth. Archos slowly takes control of machines all over the world, including toys, factory equipment, domestic service robots, cars, and military equipment. Few humans notice until it is too late. By then, Archos has launched a full-scale coordinated attack all over the world. Millions are killed instantly, and human annihilation seems likely. Be aware that reading this could lead to significant paranoia!
“Epic” by Conor Kostick
Welcome to a planet where violence has been banned and disputes are settled in the fantasy computing game, Epic. Status and wealth are also dependent upon winning in the gaming world. Things seem to be running along smoothly, until Erik’s dad is unfairly punished by the Central Allocations committee that rules the entire planet. Erik and his friends embark on a quest to bring an end to Epic, but must face dangers within Epic and in the real world. This book is great for middle school grades and older, so after you read it yourself, share it with your teens.
If you need a break from reading, check out some movies. Revisit one of these classic techie movies:
In a future world, Sam Lowry, a bureaucrat, tries to correct an administrative error and inadvertently becomes entangled in a revolution.
Deckard is a blade runner, a cop who tracks down replicants (human clones) and terminates them. He comes out of retirement to track down four replicants who have escaped from an off-world colony and returned to earth.
A cyborg is sent from the future to find and kill Sarah Connor, whose son will grow up to lead humanity in a war against machines.
“2001: A Space Odyssey”
Humans find a mysterious artifact buried on the moon, and with the intelligent computer HAL 9000, set off on a quest to Jupiter to try to find the source of the artifact.
Or, try a newer techie movie like one of these:
“The Social Network”
This is the story of how Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard student at the time, created Facebook and became the youngest billionaire in history.
“Star Trek” (2009)
Newly commissioned James T. Kirk and his crew of the USS Enterprise head to Vulcan when an emergency arises. Watch this before “Star Trek Into Darkness” comes out in theaters in May.
At the end of the nineteenth century in London, two famous rival magicians battle it out to be the greatest, which results in tragic consequences.
All of these techie books and movies can be found at Manhattan Public Library. Be sure to check out the techie books display in the young adult area for other great techie reads.
Why do the eastern states have more squiggly borders and the western have more straight borders? What does the Civil War have to do with the border of Nevada? If you’re a curious person at all, How the States Got Their Shapes is a fascinating look at our nation’s geography. Brian Unger travels throughout the U.S. talking to the locals and experts about borders, how they came to be and how they affect our lives now. Originally aired on the History Channel, this series will crack you up while you expand your knowledge.
This is probably one of those movies that you will either love or hate. Based on a French play, Carnage features Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, and takes place almost entirely in the living room of a New York City apartment. It details two couples’ attempts to reconcile an incident that occurred between their sons. As the four parents spend more time together, they regress to childlike behavior and grow increasingly frustrated with each other. Great for people watchers, this film allows you to see interpersonal conflict up close. You’ll see the bigger picture and laugh at the ridiculousness into which some situations digress.
This DVD set from the History Channel reviews the history of mankind from the origins of the earth to today. This ambitious project details specific events in human history that became turning points in the evolution of man and societies. It includes the stories of many individuals whose influence and discoveries altered human history, from the discovery of fire and iron to the development of writing, architecture and warfare. Filled with interesting dramatizations, Mankind: The Story of All of Us, illustrates the connections between our past and present and links past events to how our world functions today. Not an in-depth account of human history, this set will tantalize with facts and descriptions of people and events and may prompt the viewer to do more detailed explorations of interesting subjects. Learn more about our world with this fascinating DVD series!
The weather outside is frightful, so it’s a good time to travel vicariously with our DVD collection. My entire family has recently been obsessed with National Geographic’s National Park Collection. Each episode covers a different park with commentary on geology, wildlife, and history. So far we have enjoyed rock climbing in Yosemite, hiking the Appalacian trail, and discovering cowboy hideouts in Canyonlands. An adventure around every bend!
Hell and Back Again covers the story of US Marine Sergeant Nathan Harris. Struck by a machine-gun bullet in Afghanistan, Harris faces the emotional and physical challenges of re-adjusting to civilian life.
Restrepo chronicles a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military.
The Battle for Marjah follows the Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines as they launch the operation to take over the Taliban stronghold Marjah.
How to Fold a Flag tells the stories of a group of U.S. soldiers as they return from Iraq and rebuild their lives, set against the backdrop of the 2008 election.
My Vietnam, Your Iraq covers eight Vietnam War veterans whose children chose to serve in the Iraq war, discussing their pride, challenges and fears.
Body of War – Paralyzed from the chest down after serving in Iraq for just one week, 25-year-old Tomas Young is forced to deal with the realities of war each and every day. For Tomas, learning to cope with his disability meant finding his voice to speak out against the war in Iraq.
The Soldier’s Heart - As the War in Iraq continues, the first measures of it’s psychological toll are coming in. For those who have survived the fighting, the battle is not over.
The Last Ridge: the Uphill Battles of the 10th Mountain Division documents one of the most heroic divisions in World War II with a mix of action shots and soldier’s commentaries and letters home.
In Iwo Jima Red Blood, Black Sand, 21 veterans of the tragic 1945 battle are interviewed.
I also want to mention the Veterans Oral History Project. The Riley County Historical Society recorded interviews with local veterans about their experiences. Although the quality of the recording is a bit rough, this treasure helps us to hold onto their stories.
Doc Martin is a surgeon that develops a fear of blood! So begins this British television drama that has won numerous comedy awards. Martin Clunes stars as Dr. Martin Ellingham, a brilliant vascular surgeon who must give up his successful career in London. He begins a new career as a general practitioner in the sleepy seaside village, Portwenn, where he spent his vacations as a child with his aunt. Martin is a doctor without a warm bedside manner. His impossibly cold, gruff and no nonsense manner is the mainstay for much humor as he deals with eccentric backward villagers and falls for the pretty, local school teacher. If you like to laugh, you will love following this really funny British series. Manhattan Public Library owns all five television series plus the made for tv movies produced in 2011.
Louise Brooks was a beautiful silent-film star from Wichita, Kansas who began her career in New York City studying dance at the tender age of 15. Her mother arranged a chaperone to accompany Louise to the glitzy, cosmopolitan city. Laura Moriarty’s latest book, The Chaperone, tells the story of Louise Brooks, but centers on the secret life behind Cora Carlisle, her chaperone. Cora leaves her husband to accompany the troubled and talented Louise for one purpose, to find out more about her background and her first memories of a dark-haired women in a red shawl at ‘The Home for Friendless Girls’. Cora was one of the lucky orphans who came west on an orphan train as she was chosen by a loving Kansas farm couple. Now as a proper, society wife her secret is tugging at her very being.
The history of the war years in Wichita when the city was doubling in population at an amazing rate as the center of the air industry is a fascinating part of the story
Based on the first book–Game of Thrones– in George R.R. Martin’s fantasy saga A Song of Fire and Ice, the award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones is an epic story of violence, war, family, treachery and murder. Filled with scheming families, mysterious lands and intrigue at court in the mythical land of Westeros, HBO has created a sweeping fantasy series. The plot is intricate but the DVD set is accompanied by extras that include descriptions of family relationships, the Seven Kingdoms, maps and other information to assist viewers who have not read the book series. Visually stunning and filled with atmosphere, the film sets are detailed and costumes are lavish, with actors that bring the huge cast of characters vividly to life. The series has won many awards, including Golden Globe and Emmy Awards for Best Television series. Watch the series then read the books while you wait for the DVD set of Season 2 to be released. * Explicit sex and violence make this a series for mature audiences.*
If you enjoyed the documentary Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock, then you’ll like his latest DVD, POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Since fewer people are watching commercials these days, advertisers have had to get more creative in advertising their products. One of common techniques used is product placement in movies and television. In this entertaining DVD Spurlock attempts to make a movie about product placement funded solely by companies using product placement in his movie!. It is a humorous, yet informative look at how advertising affects movies and TV without us even being aware of it much of the time. Spurlock takes the viewer through the entire process of making his movie: the initial steps of trying to get companies as sponsors, consulting lawyers, meeting with corporate executives, creating promotional materials for his movie, etc. Along the way, he interviews a number of different people in the business to get their opinions on how/if movie makers are selling themselves out to advertisers. I found myself chuckling at many different blatant and often ridiculous product placements in the movie .Plus, Spurlock gives a great picture of the contractual obligations movie makers enter into when they sign on for product placement. For instance, Spurlock must now agree to stay in a certain hotel chain, drink only his sponsor’s drink on camera, do an interview on a specific airline, wear sponsors’ clothing, and even take a bath with a pony. Although the viewer gets the feeling Spurlock does not agree with this type of advertising, he remains fairly objective throughout and respectful to those he interviews and with whom he meets.
>Set in the stark and breathtakingly beautiful Connemara area of Ireland, this DVD set continues the story of Jack Driscoll, Sergeant in the local Garda. As one of two policemen in the remote and rural area, Jack is enmeshed in the events of the local community and his work and private lives are intertwined. He is following in his fathers footsteps as the local garda, but is constantly trying to distance himself from the corruption and influence that his father wielded in the community. Jack has grown up in this community and knows the local residents and their families well, making it more difficult for him to investigate crimes. Intelligently written and with compelling stories and complex characters, this police drama differs from many others as it lacks car chases and shootings, instead emphasizing relationships and the dark undercurrents in the community. This set contains 3 2-part stories, all with plot twists and turns, and with excellent acting by the cast. Single-Handed 2 is an engrossing drama about a man trying to maintain his honor when surrounded by corruption–an excellent drama from Irish television. MPL also has the first episodes of Single-Handed available.
She was the pride of the White Star Line. Built over the course of two years in the shipyards of Belfast, the RMS Titanic was not only the largest ship afloat at the time, but she was also labeled “unsinkable,” due partly to her watertight compartments. On her maiden voyage she carried a wide mix of passengers: steerage quarters were filled with new immigrants, and upper levels hosted the wealthy and famous. She sailed on April 10, 1912 and ran into disaster in the North Atlantic in the late hours of April 15, 1912. While her initial collision with an iceberg was not considered lethal, the fact that some five of her 16 airtight compartments were compromised proved fatal. In a little over two hours, the ship foundered and sank, leaving some 1500 people of over 2200 passengers to perish in the icy sea.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of that terrible tragedy. For those who curious to learn more, there are countless resources available designed to inform about the ship’s specifications, the passenger lists, and the even the resulting courtroom investigations. We can read of survivor testimonials and burial sites for the unfortunate, as well as efforts to salvage the wreckage.
Of course, Walter Lord’s 1955 fascinating book, entitled A Night to Remember, remains a classic. Lord’s account follows the passengers and the crew as each faced the disaster in his or her own fashion. Destined to become a film of the same name, this story remains among the more famous of the retellings.
Dr. Robert Ballard is considered a scientific authority on the event, given his expertise in locating and exploring the wreckage. With the aid of a small robotic submarine, Ballard was able to locate the debris field that others had been unable to pinpoint for so long. Titanic Revealed, a haunting dvd documentary, recalls Ballard’s original discovery. Ballard also assembled an excellent picture book of photographs taken during his exploration. Called Titanic: The Last Great Images, the book offers us eerie glimpses of the crusted bow and the battered remains of children’s shoes found on the ocean floor. The book also offers period photos taken both during the ship’s construction and as she departed.
Another beautifully arranged book of photographs, Titanic: An Illustrated History, involves the work of author Don Lynch. Among other highlights, Lynch presents a foldout of the ship’s layout and interior shots of the first class staircase, the second-class public rooms and the third-class dining room. The book also supplies a valuable overview of the tragedy as it unfolded. Readers can even see the position of various lifeboats over the course of the sinking.
For those who seek a more personal look at the tragedy, Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage seems the perfect book. Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth and Shelia Jemima assembled this fine collection of letters, photos and testimonials. Of particular interest are the personal recollections supplied by the many survivors and the heartbreaking photographs of various memorials, such as the White Star Company’s church service in Southampton.
For those who wish to do more reading on the event, Stephanie Barczewski’s Titanic: A Night Remembered includes detailed biographies of some of the dead. Among them are the ship’s captain, Edward Smith, and band member Wallace Hartley, who played music to the end.
And Brad Matsen, author of Titanic’s Last Secrets, adds more to what we know by retelling the explorations of John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, who not only investigated the wreckage of the Titanic, but also the remains of the Britannic.
Interested in one of this year’s titles? Shadow of the Titanic by Andrew Wilson is one of the finer offerings. Wilson’s take is unique, however, in that he conveys the dismal lives of the survivors after the collision. So many suffered from what we now recognize as survivors’ guilt. For example, Madeleine Astor, widow of John Jacob Astor, went on to marry several more times and eventually lost her portion of the Astor fortune. Duff Gordon, one of the many wealthy, never overcame rumors that he had paid lifeboat rowers to ignore those struggling in the icy waters.
Reflection on the fate of the Titanic leads to thoughts on the nature of heroism, vulnerability, and randomness of chance. The library has an excellent collection of titles that can offer you more about that fateful trip aboard the pride of the White Star Line.