The Studio

Music, Movies, and so Much More


Landing on Mars

Curiosity Rover touched down on Mars earlier this week. This is awesome news. Photos are being beamed back to Earth.You can follow Curiosity on Twitter and like NASA’s Curiosity Rover page on Facebook. Yup, we’re getting the real deal at our fingertips. But facts and data aside, over the years Hollywood has churned out dozens of cinematic versions of the Red Planet. Let us know about your favorite Mars themed movie.

In the meantime, I cast my vote for John Carter. That’s right. The Disney big budget science fiction action flick that flopped at the box office. Ha! I loved it. The Library has the movie on DVD and Blu-ray. You’ll have to get on a reserve list. Go ahead. It’s a fun, popcorn movie with a lot of cool special effects and a wild vision of life on Mars.

The movie is based on the first book in the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, published in 1912. John Carter is a Civil War veteran who is mysteriously transported to Mars where he becomes entangled in a war among the planet’s inhabitants, including a huge green warrior creature named Tars Tarkas and Dejah Thoris, the beautiful princess of Helium. Taylor Kitsch (from the TV series Friday Night Lights) is John Carter and Lynn Collins (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) plays Dejah Thoris. There is also a scene stealing Martian dog-creature named Woola.

Before John Carter hit the theaters, the filmmakers intended to make a trilogy. At this point, plans for a sequel are on indefinite hold, even though the film has earned more than expected overseas. Message to Disney: make the sequel, Mars trending now.

Posted under Movies

Once and The Swell Season


The musical Once was a big winner at the 66th annual Tony Awards. It received eight awards, including Best Musical and Best Actor. Wow. I think it’s time to get on the reserve list for the cast recording.

This bittersweet romantic musical is based on the 2006 independent film Once. It tells the story of two musicians who meet, become friends and songwriting collaborators, fall in love, and then go on to pursue their dreams – all over the course of a few days. For more info about the movie Once, check out my review from the Library’s Movie Recommendations Database.

The stars of the movie, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, received an Academy Award for the song “Falling Slowly.” It is one of my favorite Oscar moments, when these surprised musicians took the stage to accept the award, were cut short, and Irglova was brought back on stage to finish her speech. Have a look.

Hansard and Irglova were indeed friends and collaborators before they made Once. It is an instance of life imitating art. They fell in love during the filming of the movie. The fictional characters reflect the raw emotions of the actors playing the parts. Viewing the movie, I was struck by the authentic and vulnerable performances. After winning the Oscar, Hansard and Irglova went on tour under the name The Swell Season. I wish that I could have seen them when they performed in Chicago. Next best thing though, check out these critically acclaimed CDs featuring the duo: The Swell Season, Once: Music from the Motion Picture, and Strict Joy.

But there is more. A film crew followed Hansard and Irglova for about three years, while on tour and also visiting home. The result is a sensitive, insightful documentary called The Swell Season. It was recently released on DVD. Most know that Hansard and Irglova ended their romance. This is shown in the film, via interviews and candid footage. The documentary starts with Hansard and Irglova happily in love, then the realities of being on tour and dealing with fame. The relationship begins to unravel for various reasons. That they can find a way to work together and preserve their bond is inspiring and heartbreaking. I feel like I got to know Hansard and Irglova whose music I admire. Right now I can say that The Swell Season is one of my top picks of the year.

If you have seen Once (the movie or musical) or The Swell Season (the documentary or the group), let us know your thoughts.

Posted under Movies, Music, Reviews

Memorable Movie Scores

I came across this list of the top 25 American film scores from the American Film Institute and was trying to think of some of my favorite movies scores.  Most of my favorites are from foreign films and therefore don’t even appear on this list. Movie scores can sometimes make or break a film. You know a film score is special when you can hear the music and suddenly have the memory of the movie wash over you when you are in the middle of something totally unrelated. One of my earliest tastes of jazz was from Roman Polanski’s first full length feature Knife in the Water with a score by Krzysztof Komeda.

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What are some of your favorite film scores? The Library has many CD compilations of memorable movie music under the call number beginning with L Coll.

Posted under Lists, Movies, Music

Oscar, Oscar, OSCAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most of the things I’m going to talk about here are not original ideas (meaning that though they are my opinions, I’m not the first and only person to voice these comments).  I try my best to be original, but alas, others might not be more original, but they are QUICKER with getting their opinions out there.  I’m digressing…here are my thoughts on the 84th Oscar nominations announced on Tuesday, January 24th and to be presented on Sunday, February 26th.

I was ECSTATIC about Demian Bichir in A Better Life getting a Best Actor nomination and even though a lot of people wanted poor Leonardo DiCaprio to get a nod for J. Edgar, watch both A Better Life and J. Edgar and I dare you to tell me that Leo was robbed! (Be prepared with your pillow for J. Edgar!)

No Young Adult nominations, especially none for potential Best Actress Charlize Theron.  This one, I disagree with…I think Charlize deserved a nod here for this tough, honest performance about life after high school.

I also disagree with no David Fincher nomination for Best Director for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Instead, Terrance Mallick for The Tree of Life gets the nomination.  Really?  Has the Academy seen The Tree of Life?  Can they explain it to me?  Yes, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not a perfect film, but it is highly stylized and exceptionally shot.  The Tree of Life is just exceptionally dull, confusing and BLAH.

No Best Supporting Actress nomination for Shailene Woodley from The Descendents…rather Janet McTeer got a nod for Albert Nobbs.  Haven’t see Nobbs yet, but I think Shailene Woodley doesn’t have much to be upset about.  She’s young and has a full career as an exceptional actress ahead of her.  She’ll get a nomination one day.

No Drive nominations, including nothing for much-talked-about Best Supporting Actor candidate Albert Brooks.  Instead, in this category, the Academy honored Jonah Hill from Moneyball and Max von Sydow from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  I haven’t seen Drive or Extremely Loud so I cannot speak about those, but I did see Moneyball and I fail to see what is the big deal about Jonah Hill’s performance.  Brad Pitt, I understand, but Hill is just so-so.  Any actor could have played this part.  There is nothing exceptional in that performance.

Lastly, I have a MAJOR bone to pick with only ONE nomination for The Ides of March for Adapted Screenplay — notably missing is a Best Picture nod.  The BRILLIANT (sarcasm) Academy decided to give Best Picture nods to instead to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and My FAV (sarcasm) The Tree of LifeThe Ides of March is a strong film.  It is a thriller, a drama, a political statement, a moral dilemma, and a statement of the current political situation in this country.  It is not dull and confusing and mind-boggling, ala The Tree of Life.  Again, I have yet to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close so I cannot speak of that one, but NO IDES OF MARCH is a travesty.  The Academy was very proud of themselves when they announced in 2011 that there would not be a set number of Best Picture nominations…that the amount of Best Picture noms would be based on percentage of votes.  Well, there must be a VERY LARGE percentage of the Academy sniffing glue!

OK – enough of me complaining.  Here are the MAJOR categories with who I think is going to win IN BOLD and who I would love to see win IN RED.  Where there is a just a RED pick, that means what I want to win and what I think will win are one in the same!



‘The Artist’

‘The Descendants’

‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’

‘The Help’


‘Midnight in Paris’


‘The Tree of Life’

‘War Horse’



Woody Allen, ‘Midnight in Paris’

Michel Hazanavicius, ‘The Artist’

Terrence Malick, ‘The Tree of Life’

Alexander Payne, ‘The Descendants’

Martin Scorsese, ‘Hugo’



Demian Bichir, ‘A Better Life’

George Clooney, ‘The Descendants’

Jean Dujardin, ‘The Artist’

Gary Oldman, ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’

Brad Pitt, ‘Moneyball’



Glenn Close, ‘Albert Nobbs’

Viola Davis, “The Help”

Rooney Mara, ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’

Meryl Streep, ‘The Iron Lady’

Michelle Williams, ‘My Week With Marilyn’



Kenneth Branagh, ‘My Week With Marilyn’

Jonah Hill, ‘Moneyball’

Nick Nolte, ‘Warrior’

Christopher Plummer, ‘Beginners’

Max Von Sydow, ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’



Berenice Bejo, ‘The Artist’

Jessica Chastain, ‘The Help’

Melissa McCarthy, ‘Bridesmaids’

Janet McTeer, ‘Albert Nobbs’

Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’



‘Midnight in Paris’

‘Margin Call’

‘A Separation’

‘The Artist’




‘The Descendants’


‘The Ides of March’


‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’

Posted under Movies

Studio podcast 3/16/10 – Terry talks with Sharon about movies

We always have movie suggestions for you!


Titles featured in this podcast:

The Lives of Others

A Serious Man

Freedom Writers

The Illusionist

Gran Torino

Posted under Movies, Podcasts, Reviews

Studio podcast 3/16/10 – some favorite DVDs from the last few years

Here are four movies that I like to watch again & again. This time, Terry is in the studio with me. Do you think that I convinced her to re-watch the Irish movie Once or check out one of my other suggestions? Hmm… How about you!?


Titles featured in this podcast:


Pride & Prejudice

Dear Frankie

Enchanted April

Also mentioned in this podcast:

Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle

Pride and Prejudice starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier

Once: Music from the Motion Picture

The duo Swell Season (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

Posted under Movies, Podcasts, Reviews

Off the top

Sometimes it’s fun to make lists. Does anyone have a list to share? We want to know.

My top five foreign films:

Beauty and the Beast

The Best of Youth

Chungking Express

Pan’s Labyrinth

Princess Mononoke

My top five teen flicks:

Gregory’s Girl


Never Been Kissed

Some Kind of Wonderful

10 Things I Hate About You

My top five movies about food:

Babette’s Feast


Eat Drink Man Woman

Mostly Martha

Tortilla Soup

My top five documentaries:

Ansel Adams

It Might Get Loud


The Story of the Weeping Camel

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Posted under Movies