Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

This psychological thriller by P. D. Eastman has held fascination for me for many years. The book transports you to an alternate world, a place without the problems and toil brought upon by Man’s hubris, a world without man at all! Instead we are taken to a land of sentient dog’s whose only concerns are leisure activities and head fashions. The book chronicles the endless struggles of the dogs as they attempt to navigate through their hat loving, human less society. The book offers the viewpoints of many different dogs and their various snazzy caps and fun loving hobbies but culminates the story in a twist neither I, nor the books original 1961 audience, nor the countless children who have since stumbled into this books gripping tale for almost sixty years, could have ever anticipated. An ending that lingers with it’s audience long after the final page has been read. It forever asks the eternal question, “shall we ever go where the dogs go?” I sure hope so.

Located in Easy Readers (ER 2 EASTMAN)

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

With every franchise under the sun being rebooted, retooled, and remade, it was only a matter of time until someone realized the potential of a modern day continuation of Ridley Scott’s 1982 genre defining scfi noir, cult masterpiece, Blade Runner. What many expected was a popcorn adventure blockbuster with heavy effects and action, but what was received was a thought provoking character driven thriller. Director Denis Villeneuve knew how sacred the film he was making a sequel to was and continues to be and knew that he had to go far beyond the limits and rules of your average summer blockbuster and make a film that stands on its own, even when compared to its legendary predecessor. The movie presents a world steeped in grit and grime, full of an eerie sense of danger around each neon lit corner and alleyway with well rounded characters whose actions reflect the murky and dower future they inhabit. Far from what you expect but exactly what you deserve, Blade Runner 2049 is well worth your time.

Located in DVDs (DVD BLADE)

2 by Mac Demarco

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

2, the debut full length album from Canadian musician Mac Demarco, offers it’s listener a kind of music that is both refreshingly new yet fittingly retro throughout it’s 31 minutes and 27 second run time. It’s on this album that Demarco solidifies his now trademark style of carefree slacker rock. The album offers variety from track to track, starting with the lighthearted and easygoing “cooking up something good”, to the hauntingly calm and smooth “ode to Viceroy”, and finally ending with the enduring and surprisingly tender “still together.” 2 as an album is the personification of an old soul in a young body, capturing the spirit of the past whilst embracing the future.

Currently unavailable in the system, but try other CDs by Mac Demarco including Salad Days, Another One, and This Old Dog.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

The grisly and deplorable crimes of serial killer Jeffery Dahmer have equally repulsed and fascinated the general public for almost 30 years. But, it is in cartoonist John Bacderf’s autobiographical graphic novel “My Friend Dahmer”, that gives the most intimate deception of Dahmer and his tortured adolescent as well as the closest we may ever come to an explanation as to why his horrid crimes were committed. The novel chronicles the lives of a young Backderf (known as simply “Derf”) and his group of friends as they navigate through high school in the late 70’s. Their paths soon cross with the mysteriously quiet loner of the school, Jeff Dahmer, who’s odd outburst and strange demeanor captivate Derf and his friends. The book gives the perspective of the only group of people who could genuinely, for a time, have called Dahmer their friend, and that’s what makes it such an engaging read. Derf has compiled information from just about everyone who came in contact with Dahmer at this time to paint a well rounded factual depiction of what transpired over the course of their time in school together; it is as interesting as it is tragic. We’re not shown a monster, but a young man who struggled with demons of an unspeakable nature that occupied his every waking moment. Although the book does take a clear stance, no one was more responsible for the crimes of Jeffery Dahmer than Jeffery Dahmer. He and he alone made the choice to give into his demons. This book is the tail end of one boys desperate fight to retain his humanity. A fight that he wouldn’t, or ultimately couldn’t, win.

Located in Graphic Novels (GRAPHIC 921 DAHMER)

Black Mirror

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

Considered by many to be the modern day representation of “The Twilight Zone”, “Black Mirror” is an anthology series taking place in the all too near future with technology and the effects it has on our lives being the only constant element through out the series. To say the series can be dark and unsettling is an understatement, every episode is packed with twists and turns that constantly raise the stakes for the characters and push them to the edge of of their sanity. Part of the stain power of the series lays within it’s anthology format, we are only given one hour to learn and grow with each episodes characters and it is only in that hour that they get to exist. We are never given the opportunity to see what has or will become of them after the credits roll, so whatever is presented as their ending is truly their definitive end. Not many television programs have the guts to get the audience invested into richly envisioned characters and worlds only to never visit them again. It’s bold to say the least. The show also benefits from a lush production design that presents a world with eerily accurate modern technology that could easily exist in our world within the next ten years (something the creators of the show have strived for since the show’s inception). The show is almost the “anti binge watch” show, as it challenges you at the end of each emotionally taxing episode to build up your emotional walls once more to brace for a brand new journey, only to have them ripped down again by the time the screen fades to black within an hour ,as another story, another world, for better but more often for worse, comes to an end.

*Currently this show is only available on Netflix, so if you have a Netflix subscription, try it*

Amadeus (1984)

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

Love, betrayal, selfishness, passion, and above all, music! These are the themes that form the core of Milo’s Foreman’s 1984 Academy Award winning classic “Amadeus.” The film follows the story of the now eldery composer Antonio Salieri, having attempted suicide he is sent to a mental institution where a young priest asks the once great composer to unburden himself from his sins. What follows is a three hour saga as Salieri confesses both his hatred and admiration to the one man he considers to undoubtedly be the voice of God: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, brilliantly portrayed as a spoiled and entitled savant by Tom Hucle. The film is enriched by it’s incredible attention to detail from its costumes, set design and most importantly its performers. It’s the performances of Hucle’s Mozart and F. Murray Abraham’s Academy Award winning work as Salieri that anchor the film and give it its lasting effect that lingers with the viewer far after the credits have rolled. The question was once asked “If there are literally hundreds of films about Beethoven, why is there only one about Mozart?” The answer? There only needed to be one, and it is a masterpiece.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Deadpool (2016)

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

2016 was very much a “make or break” year for the superhero genre. It saw no less than 7 major Hollywood releases, all seeking to please fans and critics alike whilst also taking home a healthy box office return. It came as a shock to the film industry and fans alike when perhaps what appeared to be the most unconventional of those 7 superhero films wound up not only being one of the most refreshing takes on the superhero genre, but also a box office juggernaut. Deadpool, the directorial debut of Tim Miller, spins off from the X-men franchise and follows wise cracking assassin Wade Wilson as he attempts to seek revenge against the people who mutated and disfigured him. What’s so striking and distinct about Deadpool is how it refuses to stick to the normality’s of a conventional superhero movie. It’s first and foremost a raunchy R-rated comedy, it just so happens that it stars a comic book character. This film is liberated by its leads irreverent take on the world and his attitude towards heroism. “Deadpool” works so well because it’s not tying to follow a formula or be like anything that has come before it, but instead, embraces the weirdness of its source material and crafts a story that can stand on its own without having to constantly reference past events of the X-Men films. When the film does pull from the ‘X-Men lore’ it’s organic and serves the story. The producers, writers, and especially the film’s lead took a huge chance on this film and sacrificed a lot to make a very different and distinct kind of movie that they hoped would resonate with audiences . If its 783 million dollar box office return is any indication, they succeeded.

Located in DVDs (DVD DEADPOOL)

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

Finding a fresh take on a character that has been around for 40 years is never an easy task, especially if that character has become a beloved pop culture icon. But the first volume in Marvel’s Darth Vader series finds a way to do just that. Taking place after the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, we follow a now disgraced Darth Vader as he tries to not only win back the favor of The Emperor, but craft a secret plot to locate the young X-wing pilot who destroyed the Death Star and find out his identity. This series shows the day to day workings of The Lord of the Sith, and it is nothing short of fascinating. What is striking about this comic is how it manages to inject humor into the story without toning down Vader’s true brutal nature. Often times, Vader finds himself as the straight man to characters far more comfortable joking around then himself. The realistic art style brings depth to each panel, giving emotion to Vader’s lifeless mask and hulking dark figure. The entire comic adds insight to the character of Vader and gives readers a far more intimate depiction of Vader than film audiences have been able to experience. A must read for any Star Wars fan or any one interested in knowing what really lurks behind the mask of one of cinemas greatest villains.

Located in Graphic Novels (GRAPHIC STAR WARS)

The Dark Crystal (1982)

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

“In another time, in another place, in an the age of wonder…”, this is how Jim Henson and Frank Oz’s 1982 mystical puppet epic, The Dark Crystal, begins its weird tale. We follow a young Gelfling by the name of Jen, the last of an ancient elven like race who races against time to heal the ancient and immensely power dark crystal. The film was also the first in the history of cinema to have an entirely puppet/animatronic cast and feature no human beings through out it’s entire 93 minute run time. Admittedly, some of the faces of the puppets do occasionally dip into the “uncanny valley”, but the story and craftsmen ship behind the film make up for this fault in spades. From every mountain top to every blade of grass, the love that went into shaping an entire from scratch (a task that would more than likely be handled by a CGI depart these days) shows a rich world with depth that only Jim Henson could deliver. Often times much darker than anything Henson had done before or afterwards, this movie is not for the faint of heart and is geared more towards young adults, which only adds to the appeal in my opinion.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Reviewed by Zach S (Library Staff)

Hayao Miyazaki has crafted some of the most breath taking and magical animated feature films ever created. Often, his films present a grand and immersive atmosphere that engulf the viewer with a sense of awe, taking us to a world that we know is fictitious but is presented with such depth, detail, wonder, and love that the audience is emotionally drained by the time the credits start to roll. But for a filmmaker that has crafted astounding large scale animated features, it’s 1989’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, that has left the biggest impact (at least on myself). A small and contained story about a 13 year old with who goes out into the world to discover herself and learn the witch’s way, this movie features no demons, monsters, or even a straight up villain. We simply follow Kiki on her journey, and it’s being a companion on her journey that is the best part. We soar up in the sky with Kiki and feel the wind blow through her hair (flying being a major element in almost every Miyazaki picture), we feel her all too human fear of being the strangers in a new community not only as a witch but as a 13 year old girl .The film doesn’t need to follow any contrived notions that other animated pictures fall prey too all too often. Seeing Kiki live her life and interact with the beautiful world around her is ultimately what entices the viewer. This movie is nothing short of magic.

Located in Children’s DVDs (J DVD KIKI’S)