The Holidays in Film: National Sibling Day

Like Mother and Father’s Day, the not as well known Sibling Day looks to unite and celebrate siblings and the familial bonds that shape our lives. Unlike Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, National Sibling Day is not yet recognized as a federal holiday. The day was founded by Claudia Evart in honor of her younger siblings who had passed away.

In honor of the holiday, pop in a movie about these siblings real and fictional and spend some quality time with your own sibling!

I Love You Both

A quirky comedy about codependency and what it means to start growing up, I Love You Both is a look into a dysfunctional sibling relationship. The movie is directed, written, and starred in by two real-life siblings, the movie delves into how quickly their cozy codependency turns to unhappiness as they both fall for the same easy-going guy. It’s a short but funny movie, with distinctly millennial-type humor that focuses on the way the two siblings feel stuck in their lives. While the movie doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, it is an enjoyable film.

Lilo and Stitch

If what you want is a bit more kid-friendly, this Disney movie is the perfect way to go. The beautifully done cartoon focuses on the lives of two orphaned sisters, Lilo and Nani, as they cope with sudden changes to their lives in the arrival of the alien experiment Stitch. In typical Disney fashion, the movie is equal parts sweet and heartbreaking with a touching happy ending for the sisters and their family.

This is Where I Leave You

A hilarious and ridiculous comedy, This Is Where I Leave You centers around the Altmans, an estranged family brought together by the passing of their beloved father, Mort. In his will, Mort states that he wants the family to sit Shiva, a Jewish practice of mourning for seven days. For an entire week, the family is forced to tolerate each other, and what ensues is a relatable and hilarious story about a group of people that love each other but don’t particularly like each other.

Rachel Getting Married

This award-winning movie focuses on two sisters when the younger is getting married. Starring Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt, the movie goes into how addiction affects not just a single person’s life, but also their relationship with those that love them. The two sisters, Kym and Rachel, drifted apart due to Kym’s drug usage. Kym has been in rehab for a while and is allowed to leave for a few days for her sister’s wedding. The movie is fraught with a tension-filled love that frequently exists between siblings, and though the story makes it clear that their journey isn’t over by movie’s end, Kym and Rachel part on happy terms brought together by their love for each other.

Shameless

If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, Shameless is the perfect fit. Taking place in Canaryville neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, this Showtime show centers around six dysfunctional siblings and their egomaniac father, trying to make ends meet. This black comedy deals frequently with poverty and class struggle, dealing with the outlandish situations the Gallaghers get themselves into with a lot of humor, resentment, and love. The first seven seasons can be found at the Berwyn Public Library, with season eight on order.

 

To see all of these great stories and more, come check out our display for National Sibling Day right next to the Audio Visual Desk!

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Mary Shelley, The Inventor of Science Fiction

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of the classic gothic horror novel Frankenstein, didn’t just write a book – she invented a genre. The world of science fiction didn’t exist before Mary Shelley got her hands on it. There had been minor forays but it was Mary Shelley who took the concept of threading drama, theme, and theoretical science together to make a novel. To narrow down a handful of movies or books that were inspired by her would be nearly impossible; from Mr. Spock to Ellen Ripley to Han Solo and even to Tony Stark, characters involved in science fiction owe their existence to an 18 year old girl who had a nightmare one summer night.

The unfortunate thing is that not many know about this. Frankenstein was considered amoral and irreligious when it came out, so when the original film adaption came out, it didn’t include much of her original story about a Creator abandoning his Creature and the consequences of bringing life into the world. Despite the fact that there have been quite literally dozens of adaptions in the past decade alone, most of these movies take their inspiration from the original film, and not Mary Shelley’s original novel at all.

The initial inspiration for Frankenstein came from a nightmare Mary Shelley had at a cottage. Mary and a group of writers were staying at a villa together for the summer and the group decided to try their hand at telling ghost stories. Mary, who had already developed a fascination with life and death due to the passing of her mother, the miscarriage of several children, and the suicide of her lover’s wife, spent a while attempting to think of something, suffering from some sort of writer’s block. Finally, she had a nightmare – she saw a horrific human-like creature laid out on a table, and a scientist standing over the Creature. In her nightmare, the scientist shocks the Creature to life and then, horrified by the life he has created, he runs off as the Creature opens it’s horrible, yellow eyes.

And thus, Frankenstein  was born.

There are of course more obvious stories that take their inspiration from her. Some of theme even wind up being more faithful to her story and themes than the hundreds of adaptions that bare the name Frankenstein. In this list, you’ll find not just adaptions but also works that more heavily derive themselves from her story.

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

There are so many similarities between the creature of Ultron and the creation of the Creature, it’s almost impossible to miss it. Tony Stark, in his bid to create an intelligent suit, winds up creating a robot that is bent on destruction. Two things stand out: firstly, that Tony literally brings Ultron to life with a bolt of lightning – an obvious homage to Mary Shelley. The second is less obvious but still notable: Ultron is an eloquent creature who frequently talks like someone out of the Romantics Era. Much like the Creature, he is an intelligent being with a violent streak.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The popular action sci-fi series that recently got a boot has a surprising amount in common with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Starting with a medical experiment gone astray, Rise of the Planet of the Apes focuses on the relationship between a Creature and it’s father, in this case the ape Cesar and his caretaker Will. Cesar, like the Creature, is capable of kindness and complicated thought, but because of the form he takes, is looked down on by humankind. Granted, Cesar’s life takes on a much happier theme than the Creature’s does, in no small part because Will refuses to abandon Cesar, and Cesar holds onto that feeling – compared to the Creature, who is promptly abandoned by the horrified Victor Frankenstein.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Like her classic novel, the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde combine many of the concepts that were popular with writers during the Romantics Era and threads them with science. Both novels focus on what happens when humans play God, with Shelley focusing a bit more on what makes us human and author Robert Louis Stevenson focusing more on unleashing the id.

The Hulk

The classic Marvel character, the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner is essentially a modern day version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which means it already bares many stylistic similarities. What’s more interesting is that both characters deal with issues surrounding childhood – the Creature is abandoned by Dr. Frankenstein and spends much of the novel hating his father for abandoning him. Bruce Banner’s childhood bares a striking resemblance – Bruce’s father frequently abused him to the point that Bruce started acting out at school as a way to cope with his own feelings of neglect.

Penny Dreadful

The sleeper hit show combines the stories of many gothic horror books including Dracula, Van Helsing, An American Werewolf In London, and Frankenstein. This story is much more faithful to the original book written by Shelley. Frankenstein is a young man instead of a mad old scientist, played by the then 28 year old Harry Treadaway. His Creature, Caliban, is terrifying and eloquent, even quoting literary novels and scripture. Their story starts out the same – young Frankenstein, horrified by what he has created and knowing he can’t control it, abandons Caliban when he first makes him, but Caliban seeks his creator out anyways, with disastrous results.

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Victor Frankenstein (left) and Caliban, Frankenstein’s Creature in Penny Dreadful.

Van Helsing

Despite being one of the most unpopular Van Helsing movies to ever come out, Sommen’s Van Helsing is in many ways more faithful to its adaption of The Creature than the majority of Frankenstein movies. The Creature in this movie  is not the grunting, slow moving Creature from many adaptions, but an intelligent man who seeks a purpose – and to be left alone. Van Helsing even outright states in the movie that while evil may have brought Frankenstein’s Monster into the world, the Creature himself is not actually evil.

 

 

 

Fall Season Break Schlump

As winter finally settles in, many TV shows decide to go on break. Usually their slot in programming is taken up by reruns or reality TV shows, and while those can be a good way to pass the time, sometimes you want a show similar to what you used to watch. If what you want is some unwinding time after a day at work, it can be difficult to get into something so different as a reality TV show, if what you’re used to watching is scripted.

Thankfully, unlike when I was a kid and you just re-watched your VHS copy of Kindergarten Cop until it broke, we have DVDs and On Demand and Netflix and hey, you even have your library and all the digital services we offer to pass the time on those cold snow days.

But….what do you watch? Something new definitely, but not something super different either. Well, in my expert opinion as a binge-watcher, here are some suggestions for your Fall Break Schlump.

If you like Outlander, you’ll probably like…. Spartacus

The Starz dramas seem to be very different at first glance, considering they take place in vastly different time periods. Regardless of any cosmetic differences however, the two shows are in fact very similar. Both shows deal with historical rebellions and introduce many historical figures into the cast. Surprisingly, both shows also center around love stories. Many fans of Outlander fell in love with the sweeping romance between Claire and Jamie, but Spartacus has sweeping romances of its own. The story starts with the separation of Spartacus and his wife, and follows his desperate attempts to get back to her. The story introduces two more main love stories between Crixus and Naevia, and Agron and Nasir. If the reason you like Outlander is just because you think Sam Hueghan and Catriona Balfe are nice to look at well, Spartacus has Lucy Lawless and Manu Bennett so you’re set in the eye candy department as well.

If you like Once Upon a Time, you’ll probably like…Pushing Daisies

While ABC’s re-imagining of classic Disney stories had some minor trouble with numbers when it started airing, the series is still going strong seven years later. This, despite losing it’s protagonist, shows it is a truly popular show. Much of the appeal comes from it’s unique blend of a complex story, lovable cast of characters, and extravagant costume designs. Because of it’s uniqueness, it can be a difficult show to replace during the winter schlump. So, instead of finding one exactly the same, try something that is just as unique – Pushing Daisies. Pushing Daisies, which is also a fantasy show that aired on ABC, stars Lee Pace of The Hobbit fame as The Piemaker, an odd man who can bring people back to life with a single touch. Known for it’s colorful palette, odd set design, and quirky characters, Pushing Daisies is the perfect placeholder until Once Upon a Time comes back.

If you like Riverdale, you’ll probably like… The O. C.

Ah Riverdale. So completely different than the Archie comics many know and love and yet still so addicting. It could the actors, the writing, or even that people love melodrama no matter what form it comes in that pulls in such a crowd every Monday night. But of course, like most shows, it goes on hiatus and people are left wondering what to do with their time. The answer is, of course, to fill it with more ridiculous melodrama. Since the Riverdale crowd is on the younger side, they likely won’t remember one of the original teen dramas, The O. C. Dealing with the struggles of four teens in California’s Orange County, it has much of a similar pull as Riverdale does. It has beautiful people doing ridiculous things and romance drama every other episode. They even follow a similar theme; while Riverdale tends to focus on the decaying morality in suburbia, the O. C. likes to focus on the hypocrisy of the upper class. So no matter why you got into Riverdale, you can find just that reason in The O. C., except with some slightly outdated references.

If you like Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll probably like… The Good Wife

Shondaland shows are famous for their snappy writing, heartbreaking plot twists, and steamy relationships. Critically acclaimed and going strong in season 14, Grey’s Anatomy is no exception. So if high stakes drama and heartbreak paired with smart writing is what you’re looking for, The Good Wife has this in spades. Also Emmy award winning, The God Wife is based around the struggles of Alicia Florrick, a politician’s wife who re-enters the work force after her husband’s political scandal. Along the way she finds herself embroiled in the political, personal, and social scandals of her friends and colleagues. The show has a sense of gray morality that often leaves the viewer guessing, much the same as another Shonda show, How to Get Away With Murder.

If you like The Walking Dead, you’ll probably like… Battlestar Galactica

Drawing a comparison between a sci-fi cult classic and apocalyptic zombie show may not be the obvious choice, but in the case, it’s true. It’s not just the bare bones of the shows that are similar – with both centering around a group of ragtag survivors stuck together at the end of the world – but Battlestar Galactica shares similar themes that makes The Walking Dead so addicting. The Walking Dead focuses often on the cost of survival – a common theme in the stories of Rick, Carol, and Michonne. In a similar fashion, Battlestar Galactica delves into the morality of what it means to rebuild after devastating loss. And hey, if you only liked The Walking Dead because of the cool fight scenes, Battlestar Galactica also has those, except in space.

written by: kassie

Hispanic Heritage Month

Actors, directors, and producers are not always simply celebrities. They are human beings and citizens as well. This may seem like a no-brainer but the truth is many celebrities get push-back for taking stances on anything from politics to whether they like Marvel or DC better. Despite push-back, especially when it comes to politics, many celebrities feel the backlash is worth it when it comes to taking a stand.

To honor this year’s theme for Hispanic Heritage Month, we could take a look at celebrities that have taken a stance. Some pushed for better representation of Latinos in film and TV, some are activists outside of their acting jobs, and some broke new ground in their fields through innovation. All have shaped the industry into what it is today and continue to push for change in the future.

 

Gina Torres, leading actress in Serenity

Born to Cuban parents in the Bronx, actress Gina Torres is outspoken about how she is continually denied roles because of stereotypes surrounding Latinos. Despite being fluent in Spanish and identifying as a proud Latina, Torres is often denied roles because she does not look like a stereotypical Latina due to her mixed ancestry. This combined with a physical form many over the years have called Amazonian – she is 5’10” and works out a lot –  has made it difficult for her to find decent roles over the years. As she has found her voice in the industry, Torres has continued to speak out about the diversity found in the Latino community as well as diversity found among women. Despite her problems, she carved a niche for herself in scifi acting with roles in Xena, Angel, and her iconic role as ex-soldier Zoe Washburne in Serenity before branching out into hit TV shows such as Hannibal and Suits.

Jorge R. Gutiérrez,  co-writer and director of The Book of Life

Born and raised in Mexico before coming to the U.S. to study animation, Gutiérrez is well-known for exploring his love of Mexican culture through his work.. The Book of Life, his first animated movie, was born out of the idea that the writing and production teams of movies should be just as diverse as the actors and characters. Being Mexican-American, he desperately wanted to write a movie centered around Dia de los Muertos. Gutiérrez was rejected by four different animation companies because the companies felt a story about a Mexican holiday wasn’t universal. Gutiérrez finally convinced Dreamworks to fund him, along with help from producer Guillermo del Toro, and got his story off the ground. As The Book of Life went on to be a box office hit, Gutiérrez helped propel Mexican-Americans to the forefront of entertainment, proving that stories starring people from all walks of life can have universal appeal.

Guillermo del Toro, producer of The Book of Life and screenplay writer, producer, and director of El Laberinto del Fauno

Famous for his amazing and complex creatures in film, Guillermo del Toro has long been a pioneer behind the camera. He writes often from his point of view as a Mexican immigrant to the United States, as evident in the world building behind his film El Laberinto del Fauno or the story behind The Shape of Water. In addition to these types of stories, he also tends to feature main characters that seek redemption through love and heroism but in a unique way; many of his heroes feature complex makeups and prosthetics to make them look monstrous such as Hellboy or the kaiju aliens and jaeger robots in Pacific Rim. His optimism has always fueled his writing and directing style, as has his love of special effects and monsters.  Not only has he shaped the special effects industry’s past, but he strives to push the limits of the industry going forwards as well.

Sandra Cisneros, author of Caramelo which is available through hoopla

Sandra Cisneros is perhaps one of the most well known Latino authors. Born right nearby in Chicago, she was one of 7 children brought up in a very impoverished home. Leading a very lonely and isolated life due to the constant moving around that her family did, Cisneros developed a passion for writing at a young age. Much of her work is inspired by her own life and deals with poverty, the cultural hybridity of being Mexican-American, and the isolation of being the only girl among seven children. Despite her stories centering around her own culture and her heritage, Cisneros is known all over the world. Many of her books have been translated into dozens of different languages and are sold all over the world. Her words gave a voice to Latinos and specifically to Chicanos, putting their struggle and culture in the forefront of literature. Caramelo, while not her most famous book, is semi-autobiographical and award-winning.

John Leguizamo, supporting actor in Moulin Rouge and recurring actor in season 12 of ER

Colombian born actor John Leguizamo is a prolific artist and activist who has appeared in over 100 films over the course of his career. Despite this long list of credits to his name, Leguizamo ran into issues gaining parts because he is Latino. Frustrated by the stereotyped roles he was forced into, Leguizamo started writing and producing his own plays and scripts such as “Latin History for Morons” and “Ghetto Klown.” Additionally, Leguizamo has founded a number of projects to help break stereotypes against Latinos such as the Break the Mold Project and was chosen as Global Ambassador for the Arts for the Puerto Rican Day Parade. He has come under fire many times for this project as well as his comments against racism in Hollywood, politics, and real life but continues speaking out for Latinos.