Friday, November 15, 2019

Movie Review: “Seth Myers: Lobby Baby”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-MA
Running time: 1 hour, 1 minute

You may remember him from “Saturday Night Live”, behind the Weekend Update desk; or, maybe you’re a fan of the “Late Night with Seth Myers”. Myers steps from out behind the desk and takes his jokes to Minneapolis, for his first streaming standup comedy special.

Myers, who appears very relaxed throughout the entire special, begins by addressing the fact that it might be weird to see him not sitting behind a desk. It might be weird to see my legs, he adds.

A majority of the special is about his family; his wife, and living with their two toddlers, but Myers also talks about his parents and shares a story or two growing up with his brother and interactions with their dad. I found some of his humor to be self-deprecating.

He talks about dating his wife and how she got food poisoning the night before they were married, what it’s like to be a parent, and the unusual way one of his children was born. The special’s title, ‘Lobby Baby’ is somewhat of a giveaway.

He briefly talks about religion and, as is his style, spends a bit of time talking about politics. Now this can be an uncomfortable topic for some, and Myers is aware of that, which is why his special features a first ever ‘skip politics’ button which allows the user to skip over that section of the special.

Directed by comedian Neal Brennan (co-creator of Chappelle’s Show), this special offers a look at what the late-night host is like, when the cameras are off and he doesn’t have his desk.

As a comedy fan, I watched Meyers from his “Saturday Night Live” days and occasionally watch his late-night show. He is funny and so are parts of his special, but my eyes weren’t watering from laughing. However, Myers is an excellent storyteller. I found his personal stories engaging and he has a way of telling them that keeps you interested. While I didn’t find this special to be a gut-buster, I would recommend it. I give it a Netflix thumbs up.




Friday, November 8, 2019

Book Review: “Rabbits for Food” by Binnie Kirshenbaum


Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulation Supervisor of the Windham Public Library

If you liked “All My Puny Sorrows” by Miriam Toews, “Rabbits for Food” might also be for you. While not as sweet or tender as “All My Puny Sorrows”, Kirsenbaum’s book, which like Toews’s tackles mental illness, is funny and heartbreaking all at once.

Bunny, once a novelist, now a woman on the verge of a breakdown, and later a woman institutionalized for that breakdown, is pointed, sardonic, and heartbroken.

Even though she hasn’t washed, dressed, or moved from the couch in weeks, Bunny insists on attending a New Year’s Eve party with her dedicated, sweet, and imperfect husband, Albie. The party is pretentious and obnoxious, and Bunny tries to keep it together but fails. She has a breakdown.

She’s institutionalized. Through her, we meet the other patients (the addicted nurse, the anorexic who starts pulling out her hair, the man who wears his underwear on the outside), the rules (what is allowed and not allowed), the group activities, the awful food. In the absence of the therapy dog, Bunny participates in creative writing and through her loosely interpreted “assignments” we learn about what brought her to this sad place in her life.

This book shifts in time and perspective which is, I think, intentionally disorienting. The feel of the book mimics the strange disassociation that can often mark a depressive episode. This is an emotionally powerful book—I laughed, I cried. I felt truly heartbroken for each of the characters and I rooted for Bunny to be okay. Which (spoiler alert), she kind of is.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Movie Review: “The Laundromat”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Run time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

Based on the book, ‘Secrecy World’ by Jake Bernstein, ‘The Laundromat’ is the story of Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) and her husband, Joe (James Cromwell), who are involved in a tour boat sinking, and Joe dies. Martin realizes the insurance company is taking advantage of her and she wants to get to the bottom of it.

At the movie’s start, a man is describing how his life changed overnight for him and his associate. He feels only one side of the story was told. Now it is his turn to tell his side. We later learn this is Jurgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and his associate is Ramon Fonseca (Antonio Banderas); the movie circles around the dealings of these two. Mossack describes the origins of money and how it has evolved.

We then meet Ellen Martin after her husband has died. The captain (Robert Patrick) is being told that the insurance company won’t pay and/or doesn’t exist. Once Martin finds out she is being taken advantage of she goes on a tour to try and track down the individuals responsible for this fraud. What follows are accounts of all the shady companies and individuals associated with Mossack and Fonseca as they try to explain away why that what they’ve been doing is okay.

This is a biographical movie that was based on a book about the Panama Papers about the leaked financial documents regarding thousands of offshore entities. First, the stuff I liked about the movie: It is mildly funny in spots and has several cameos from some very funny people, and a well-known actor from a popular 1990s sitcom. There is a moment or two that caught me off guard and the end was a surprise, although I had trouble putting it all together in my head.

Now the stuff that confused me or I didn’t like: when I watched the trailer, I thought this was going to be a bit of a revenge story. It is – kind of, however is badly laid out and slow in several areas. I was under the impression this movie centered around Ellen Martin, but it is all over the place for large chunks, characters come and go and come and go and it wasn’t made clear (or maybe it was and I missed it) how they were involved.

The movie does make an important point at the end, but it takes a very long time to get there and there is a lot of confusion in between the problem that is pointed out in the beginning and the final solution at the end. Though it has a decent cast, I cannot say I would recommend this movie. I give it two puzzled face emojis.




Friday, October 25, 2019

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Movie Review: “Zombieland: Double Tap”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 mins.

Way, way back in 2009, we were introduced to four characters in a post-apocalyptic world. They were running from (what else), zombies, and choose to identify themselves by where they were from. The first ‘Zombieland’ is very funny and worth watching, but all you really need to know to watch the second film is that Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are still alive ten years later. This movie is called Double Tap, because that is one of the many rules explained throughout both movies.

‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ is funny from the moment you see the image for Columbia Pictures. It begins with Columbus identifying a few types of zombies they’ve discovered through the years.
The group is currently living in the White House and it is described that they were a family making everyday feel like Christmas. Little Rock, the youngest in the group, expresses that she would like to leave and look for people her own age. Wichita and Little Rock leave Columbus and Tallahassee.

Very soon after, Columbus meets Madison (Zoey Deutch) who has been living in a refrigerator at a mall. A little while later, Wichita returns and tells the others Little Rock met a boy, Berkley (Avan Jogia), and they took off together. Madison, Wichita, Columbus and Tallahassee all go looking for Little Rock.

They head to Graceland, because they had all talked of going there, but when the four get there, it’s not as they expected. In a nearby motel (Elvis-themed, of course) Tallahassee meets Nevada (Rosario Dawson).

Meanwhile, Little Rock and Berkley have gone to the pacifist, gun-free, setting of Babylon.
The group meets Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), and what follows is nothing short of mayhem.

Everyone eventually finds Babylon and Little Rock – and after they do - Tallahassee decides to separate from the group, but quickly changes his mind when he sees a hoard of zombies coming for Babylon. Can the group get rid of these zombies before they reach Babylon? Will there be any casualties?

With an all-star cast, Zombieland: Double Tap is fun from start to finish. It reminded me of a much funnier version of the TV show, “The Walking Dead.” They both have a similar premise and similar scenery. This movie is very violent and gruesome, with a lot of blood and some salty language. 

Harrelson and Deutch are great. With clever lines like ‘the King [Elvis] is dead...probably’ along with a surprise here and there, this is the perfect zom-com pre or post Halloween. I give it two zombie limbs, of your choice, up.

Oh, and don’t leave right after the movie; stay for the credits – you won’t regret it!


















Friday, October 18, 2019

Movie Review: “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”

By Matt Pascarella

Not Rated
Run time: 2 hours and 2 mins.

Ok, “Breaking Bad” fans - this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. What happened to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) after the end of the series?  “EL Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” answers this question. If you haven’t seen “Breaking Bad” yet, I highly recommend it.

The story of a chemistry teacher, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), gone bad is one of the greatest shows ever created. This movie does give you a series recap, mainly focusing on Walter and Jesse’s relationship and what Jesse was put through by working with Walter. However, watching the series will give you a better understanding of many of the things that happen throughout the film.

The movie opens with a flashback to Jesse and business associate Mike (Jonathan Banks) talking about starting over and where they would go if they had the chance. Jesse says starting over would enable him to put things right, and Mike corrects him by saying that putting things right is the one thing he can never do.

Fast forward to right where “Breaking Bad” ended for Jesse. He goes to former business partners Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete’s (Charles Baker) house, looking for protection. The news is covering the exact thing Jesse is running from; even interviewing Jesse’s parents. Jesse is a suspect and there are police everywhere. He is very paranoid and suffers flashbacks of his mistreatment during the series.

There is a lot of back and forth between Jesse’s past while working with Walter, and the present. You get a different perspective and interactions with characters from the series.

The police have put a tracker on Jesse’s EL Camino and Badger and Skinny Pete give him a new ride and some cash to get out of town. The EL Camino is left at Badger and Skinny Pete’s house. Jesse rips a page from the phonebook and Skinny Pete gives him an untraceable cellphone.

What follows is a satisfying epilogue (though I do not think this story is over) to Jesse Pinkman’s life, post Walter White.

This movie delivered in the way “Breaking Bad” used to. Writer and creator, Vince Gilligan, has once again hit a homerun. His storytelling ability is fantastic and everything in the “Breaking Bad” universe is gripping and leaves your eyes glued to find out what happens next.

The character development in the series carries over to the film. You definitely see the toll working with Walter has taken on Jesse. There isn’t as much action in ‘EL Camino’ as I thought there would be, but there are definitely moments that catch you off guard and there is a surprise or two you’ll have to see for yourself. The movie has some nice callbacks to significant moments or locations in the series – like the Vacuum cleaner store – and I found the ending mildly satisfying, though it did leave me wanting more. To be fair, if it’s “Breaking Bad”-related, it always leaves you wanting more.


Friday, October 11, 2019

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Movie Review: “In the Tall Grass”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-MA
Run Time: 1 hour and 41 minutes

Based on the novel by Stephen King and son, Joe Hill, “In the Tall Grass” tells the story of a vast field in what appears to be the middle of nowhere that is impossible to get out of...and can be deadly.
Blades of grass sway back and forth and back and forth. The camera slowly zooms in on the tall grass. Brother Cal (Avery Whitted) and sister Becky (Laysla De Oliveira) – who is pregnant – are driving to San Diego. They pull over next to a giant field because Becky is carsick.

Suddenly, they hear screaming and cries for help. A child claims he has been stuck in the field for days. “Something is not right about this,” Becky stated.

The two enter the field and quickly get separated, unable to find each other. After calling out for each other for a while, they decide to bail on the kid and just get out of the field.

Out of nowhere, Becky meets Ross Humbolt (Patrick Wilson) and Cal meets Tobin (Will Buie Jr.). Ross is Tobin’s dad. Tobin says he entered the tall grass

Cut to a man (Harrison Gilbertson) looking for Becky. He comes across their car, and from the looks of it, it’s been there for days. The man goes into the grass and meets Tobin. Tobin knows the man’s name, Travis, and that he is looking for Becky. Travis discovers what happened to Becky.

Here’s where I found the movie a little hard to follow. We either enter a space-time continuum of some sort or it’s a flashback. We see more of Becky and Cal’s story after they entered the tall grass; the whole time they are searching for people they met or people they think are in the tall grass. Tobin gets on Travis’ shoulders and helps them locate a house they use as a vantage point until it just disappears. They meet up with Ross again and try to find a way out; will they?

This was another movie I had semi-high hopes for because it was based on a novel by Stephen King. This movie was not particularly scary or much of a thriller, but it had a few parts where you could see something was or might by building and more than one part where something happened that I didn’t see coming at all.

Multiple parts were visually appealing, and this movie had several different point of view shots that were kind of cool. Some portions of the film were very slow, but it did have a creepiness to it that left you thinking ‘what will happen now?’ There was a mild predictability and I was confused by what was real and what was not. Overall, this was an OK movie, but the end left me wanting more. Worth watching to judge for yourself.

Friday, October 4, 2019

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Movie Review: “Haunt”


By Matt Pascarella

Runtime: 1 hour, 32 min
Rated R

It’s October! And that means scary movies. ‘Haunt’ is from the writers of ‘A Quiet Place’ (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it) and produced by horror movie producer/writer/actor Eli Roth, so immediately I was onboard. It tells the story of six friends who go through an extreme haunted house, only to find out it’s much more than they were expecting.

The movie opens in Carbondale, Illinois where three girls are getting ready to go out on Halloween. They go to a club where they meet a guy who tells them about a haunted house. They meet up with two other friends and head to the haunted house. They are greeted by a silent clown and in order to enter they must deposit their phones in a lock box as well as sign a waiver. In the distance, they hear a woman screaming. They enter the house anyway and the clown closes the door behind them.

As they walk through, it starts out a little cheesy, but soon becomes creepier. They see a few unsettling images. It gets creepier when they come across three doors designed as coffins and they must decide which door to go through. They begin to suspect they are being followed...are they? Things go south quickly when a member of the group becomes seriously hurt. A member of the haunted house offers to help them. This only makes things worse. One member of the group manages to find his way out of the haunted house. He quickly notices the box with their cell phones is missing. Now things go from worse to horrible. The group does eventually find their phones, but has trouble accessing them. Can the group make it out of this haunted house gone very bad?

I went into this movie with high expectations, maybe too high. Eli Roth is a decent horror movie producer/writer and has done movies like the ‘Hostel’ trilogy and ‘Cabin Fever.’ What really drew me in was that it was written by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck who wrote ‘A Quiet Place.’

‘Haunt’ does have a strong start where you wonder about the weird clown who says nothing and what this haunted house could have in it that a waiver would be necessary (I kind of knew, but was still curious how it was going to happen). About halfway through the second act, they kind of lost me. This movie is very, very gruesome and bloody. It has a few jump scares but is not really that scary overall. It drags in the middle and never really regains its momentum.

I got bored once I realized what was about to happen and lost interest in the outcome. This was definitely not worth renting and I wouldn’t recommend it. You should watch anything else instead. Two severed thumbs down.

Friday, September 27, 2019

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Movie Review: “Between Two Ferns: The Movie”


By Matt Pascarella

Runtime: 1 hour 22 minutes
Rated: TV-MA

“Between Two Ferns” started as an Internet talk show on the Funny or Die website, which is run by Will Ferrell. Zach Galifianakis interviews celebrities and asks them invasive, sometimes inappropriate, questions. The interviews often spiral downhill at some point, with the guest taking a crack or two at Galifianakis. Of course, it’s meant to be funny and the interviewees are in on the joke. “Between Two Ferns the Movie” tells the story of Galifianakis and his crew travelling around the country to get ten episodes of the show in order to secure a late-night talk show deal.

The opening features Galifianakis interviewing Matthew McConaughey and it is not going well. There is a small leak in one of the pipes that suddenly bursts and soon floods the room and the studio. Don’t worry, Matthew McConaughey was saved.

We rewind to the previous 48 hours where Galifianakis is shooting a documentary about the show and explains he has been taping his shows for over a decade. He has dreamed of being a network TV personality. You meet his crew: his assistant, Carol (Lauren Lapkus), the camera operator, Cam (Ryan Gaul), and Boom Boom (Jiavani Linayao) who operates the boom microphone.

The studio has been destroyed due to the burst pipes and Galifianakis is called into the office by Will Ferrell who tells him how much he cares about how many clicks his website, funnyordie.com, gets. Galifianakis needs to shoot ten more episodes and Ferrell will give him a late-night contract. Galifianakis and his crew take “Between Two Ferns” on the road.

This movie stays very true to the short interviews that began on the Internet. Galifianakis interviews an abundance of celebrities who are less than thrilled, with a few exceptions, to be on his show. The interviews are funny, stupid funny, and I mean that in the best way possible. There is a lot of dry humor and wit. It can get a little weird in parts. The interviews are insulting, uncomfortable and sometimes raunchy.

Stay for the credits!!! The bloopers might be one of the funniest parts of the entire movie.

Galifianakis plays the part of a disdainful host very well and his supporting cast made this a very fun movie. I only wish there were more interviews. If you are a fan of “Between Two Ferns” or have never heard of it and like dry, deadpan, slightly uncomfortable, humor this movie is for you. I give it two ferns up!

Friday, September 6, 2019

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Movie Review: “Missing Link”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG
Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Adventurer and seeker of mythical beasts, Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), is determined to discover the great and elusive sasquatch. He must go out searching alone in order to do so. When he finds Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis), they go on an adventure of enormous proportions.

The movie begins with Sir Lionel Frost and his assistant, Mr. Lemuel Lint (David Walliams) in a rowboat in search of what we later find is the Loch Ness Monster. Sir Lionel Frost tries to take a picture but fails. His assistant is put in serious danger. After some arguing, his assistant states he has had enough and quits.

Back in Frost’s office he opens a letter from someone tipping him off to the whereabouts of Sasquatch and encourages him to go looking for the creature. Frost goes down to the local explorer’s club and tells them about the letter. The leader, Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Stephen Fry) laughs at Frost, claiming he will not discover the hidden creature. Frost Challenges Lord Piggot-Dunceby and says if he brings back proof of the creature, Lord Piggot-Dunceby will admit he was wrong and grant Frost membership into the club. However, Lord Piggot-Dunceby hires someone to have Frost killed.

A short time after Frost begins his search, he meets mild-mannered sasquatch Mr. Link, or Susan as he later names himself, who explains he wrote the letter. Mr. Link is tired of the Pacific Northwest and wants to be taken to meet his cousins, the yetis, who live in the Himalayas. Frost agrees to take him in exchange for proof of his existence.

On their journey, they are attacked several times by the man hired to kill Frost, Willard Stenk (Timothy Olyphant). Mr. Link is helpful in fending off this wannabe hitman.

In order to get to the Himalayas, Frost needs a map from the widow, Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana), of a former mythical beast seeker. He and Mr. Link go to get it, but the widow is not a fan of Frost and will not let him have the map. Frost and Mr. Link break into Fortnight’s home to get the map and after succeeding, are attacked again by Willard Stenk. Upon seeing this, Fortnight agrees to help them get to the Himalayas.

Later, the group gets a guide to help them find Mr. Link’s Shangri-La. When they are close, they are captured and thrown into a very, very deep pit.

Will the group escape? What will happen to Sir Lionel Frost? Will Mr. Link ever meet his relatives?
My interest in bigfoots and sasquatches drew me to this movie and I was not disappointed. With its star-studded cast, this film delivers on multiple levels: action: humor, heart and it portrays sasquatches in a way you might not have seen before. It’s entertaining for both kids and adults. The stop motion/CGI is great, too. This movie is well worth the rental whether with family or with friends.


Friday, August 23, 2019

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Book Review of Courtney Maum's "Costalegre"

By Jennifer Dupree, Windham Public Library

There are three things I love most in a book, and Courtney Maum’s “Costalegre” hits them all. To start, it’s an epistolary novel, written in diary format. I find the letter writing format challenging as a writer, but delightfully intimate as a reader. It’s difficult to be both in a character’s head (in this case a teenage girl) and to move the story forward. Maum is talented enough to do just that.

“Costalegre” is full of wonder and loneliness, told from the point of view of rich socialite Leonora’s daughter, Lara, who wants nothing more than to be seen. It is in many ways a coming-of-age novel, but it is so much more than that.

It’s also historical fiction, which is my favorite kind of fiction. “Costalegre” is based on the life of Peggy Guggenheim and her daughter, Pegeen. The year is 1937, and the fictional Leonora Callaway loads up a boat full of artists and artwork and flees to Mexico in order to avoid Hitler. They are safe, but they are trapped, too, both by their feelings of survivor guilt and by their actual location. They can’t leave Leonora’s compound unless they want to risk death in the jungle, which some of them do.

My third favorite thing in a novel is anything set in the jungle. “Costalegre” put me in mind of Anne Patchett’s “State of Wonder” and Lily King’s “Euphoria”. The setting is both lush and dangerous, opulent and terrible. I love when books create a physical world that I can nearly touch and hear and smell—not just “see.”  

Maum, whose previous novels include “I Am Having So Much Fun Here without You” and “Touch”, are worth reading if you haven’t already.

Friday, August 16, 2019

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Movie Review: “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”


By Matt Pascarella

PG-13
1 hour 51 minutes

The town of Little Mill Valley is celebrating Halloween. Horror enthusiast, Stella (Zoe Margaret Colletti) is being pestered by her friends, Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) to come out with them. She agrees and the three set out to prank the school bullies. Although their prank is fairly tame, it causes the bullies to crash their car. Stella, Auggie and Chuck are running to save themselves and meet Ramon (Michael Garza), who lets them hide in his car.

The four then break into Sarah Bellows house, a house haunted as it is said Bellows did some unspeakable acts many, many years ago. Stella comes across Sarah Bellows’ book of scary stories and it is rumored that if you say, “Sarah Bellows, tell me a story,” she will. Stella says just that and finds out the rumor is true. What follows are four stories from Sarah’s book that wreak havoc on the town.

Story one is about Harold the scarecrow and how one of the bullies, Tommy (Austin Abrams) dislikes this particular scarecrow. I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s say Harold isn’t fond of Tommy, either.
Stella decides to return the book to Sarah Bellows’ house, but the book finds its way back to Stella’s home; leading into story two.

Auggie is looking for dinner while his parents are away. He finds a stew in the fridge and begins to eat it; he discovers an unpleasant surprise and is soon being chased. Later, Stella claims, “you don’t read the book, the book reads you.”

The group researches Sarah Bellows and learns more about her tragic past.

Story three; The Red Spot: Ruth (Natalie Ganzhorn) has a pimple on the night of a school play. When she goes to the bathroom to take care of it, it has grown – she also gets a surprise.

The group goes to a psychiatric hospital to locate Bellows’ medical records which lead into story four; The Dream: Chuck has a recurring dream where he is trapped down a corridor with white walls. A monster-ish creature appears at every corner until the two eventually meet.

Can Stella save herself and her friends from Sarah Bellows before it’s too late?

This movie is based on the trilogy book series released from 1981-1991, which were popular when I was in elementary school. I don’t recall the stories themselves being particularly unsettling but the artwork of Stephen Gammell, left an uneasiness in your memory that stuck with you.

While this movie does take stories from all three books, it did not leave me with the same unsettling feeling of Gammell’s illustrations. However, this movie has several scenes that make you jump, a few twists and turns and creepy, ominous moments that add nicely to the storyline. I did enjoy “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and would recommend it if you want to get a jump start on your scary movie watching before Halloween.


Friday, August 9, 2019

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Movie Review: “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”


By Kaila Mank

Rated: PG-13
Running time: 2 hours and 16 minutes

After I watched “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”, I did my research, and asked around to see what other people thought of the movie and what they would have liked to see more of.  Don’t get me wrong, although this film, directed by David Leitch, was an overall astounding movie, there was something that had fans leave the “Fast and Furious” series disappointed by the end of the movie.

When I asked, “What is the first thing in your head when I say the words ‘Fast and Furious’?”, some of the most common responses were cars, family, action, thriller, speed, humor, and rivalries.

Something that I always looked forward to in these movies was the cars. There has some been some disappointment that there was very limited car/action in the movie. There was a little bit of trying to show favorite scenes from past “Fast and the Furious” movies but even that wasn't what the viewers and past fans were expecting.

However, the major subject that came up when talking with others about this film, was family. If you are a fan of the movies, you know how important family is to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). They did an amazing job incorporating family scenes into the movie - from Decker “Shaw” (Jason Statham) with his mother Magdalene Shaw (Helen Mirren) in jail while he does his best to do anything he can for her. And that doesn’t include all that he does for his sister, Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), who is the “villain” to the world. He is tries his best to get her out of all sorts of  trouble.

And, it doesn't stop there, there is also Luke “Hobbs” with his family. His daughter, Samantha Hobbs (Eden Estrella), who we have seen repeatedly since “Furious 7”, along with his Hawaiian family he had left years before, creates a connection between viewer and the movie itself.

As far as the rest of the movie goes, there is the action we all expect. In fact, there were times I was on the edge of my seat.

As far as humor goes, this film was one of the most hilarious movies with the “Fast and Furious” theme. And when it comes to rivalries, the oldest one in the books is Hobbs and Shaw who first faced off in 2015 in “Furious 7”.

Overall if you haven't seen “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”, I would highly recommend it, as it is a family oriented movie filled with a bit of comedy.


Friday, August 2, 2019

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Movie Review: “The Lion King”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG
Run Time: 1 hour and 58 minutes

It began just as the original I’d seen as a child. The sun rises over Pride Rock as a variety of animals gather to see the presentation of Simba, the next in line to be king. The 2019 remake of Disney’s “The Lion King” is a live action retelling of the classic movie. Heads up: this review does contain a spoiler or two.

As soon as I saw the baboon Rafiki (John Kani) lift young Simba (JD McCrary) to show the animals
the future king, I definitely felt nostalgic. Zazu (John Oliver), the messenger toucan, addresses Mufasa’s brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Scar is about to eat Zazu and Mufasa (James Earl Jones, reprising his role from the original) interferes. It is apparent from the moment you meet Scar that he is jealous of Simba and wants to be king – and will do what it takes to make that happen.

Mufasa takes Simba on a walk around Pride Rock and explains to Simba, “everything the light touches is our kingdom.” Mufusa goes on to add that someday Simba will be king and that he must respect all creatures, as they are connected in the circle of life.

Mufasa warns Simba to stay away from the elephant graveyard and when Simba runs into Scar later in the film, Scar reiterates this point, only to ensure that Simba goes there.

Simba goes to the elephant graveyard with his best friend Nala (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and is surrounded by hyenas. Just as the hyenas are about to pounce, Mufasa steps in and saves them both.
This next part is a bit of spoiler, so if you’ve never seen “The Lion King” before and don’t want to know, skip to the next paragraph. Scar encourages Simba to work on his roar in a giant gorge, that attracts hyenas and antelope. They begin chasing Simba. Scar alerts Mufasa of Simba’s danger and Mufasa does all he can to save Simba. At one point, Mufasa leaps from the herd and claws his way up the gorge where he pleads with Scar to help him up; only to have Scar throw him to the herd. Simba survives.

Scar blames Simba for what happened and tells him to run away and never return. Scar returns to Pride Rock and tells the others what has happened. Scar is now king.

Simba runs into a Warthog, Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) and a meerkat, Timon (Billy Eichner) and we see Simba grow up (adult Simba voiced by Donald Glover). 

Scar has destroyed Pride Rock and it is now a wasteland, patrolled by hyenas where Simba’s mother Sarabi (Alfre Woodward) and others live in fear and want Scar gone.

We meet adult Nala (Beyonce Knowles-Carter) who runs into Simba, while chasing Timon and Pumba. Nala tells Simba how bad things are at home and that he needs to challenge Scar.
Can Simba stop Scar?

I was skeptical going into this remake of the classic cartoon, but I must admit this was a homerun; a very enjoyable movie I’d recommend seeing on the big screen. It’s funny and emotional and features new versions of the original songs like ‘Circle of Life,’ ‘Hakunata Matata,’ and ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’. The CGI was very good and all in all, I consider this a solid remake for a new generation.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Quote of the week


Movie Review: “Spider Man: Far from Home”


Reviewed by Kaila Mank

Rated: PG- 13
Run time: 2 hours and 9 minutes

For those of us who love the Marvel series, viewers seemed to take a hard turn after the ending of “Avengers: Endgame”. However, after hearing the news about the newly released “Spider-Man: Far From Home” movie, people seemed to be excited but curious how director, Jon Watts, was going to follow the 2.783 billion dollar box office movie of “Avengers: Endgame” that was directed by Joe Russo.

Now Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has made many appearances in previous Marvel movies but is most known for his appearance in the previous Endgame movie, and the first movie in his series “Spiderman: Homecoming”.

In this new movie, our “friendly” neighborhood superhero decided to take a little vacation with his friends, Ned (Jacob Batalon), MJ (Zendaya), and the rest of the gang to Europe. Although this little trip gets interrupted when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) needs Spider Man’s help to uncover the mysterious element creature attacks, creating destruction across the continents. However, when Peter refuses to help Nick because he longs to be a normal kid for a couple weeks, Nick throws a wrench in Peter's plan by “upgrading” his class trip to all the places Nick needs Spider Man to help.

So, when Peter finally does accept the offer to help Nick, he needs to do it on the downlow, so his classmates don't find out. While still trying to impress MJ, Peter meets a new friend, Mysterio (Jake Gyenhaal), who pretends to help Peter defeat these creatures while also helping Peter with his girl problems.

Imagine the shock that comes to Peter when he finds out he passed on the one thing Tony Stark left behind for him to someone who was trying to create chaos among the continents. Although, as you might think, Spider Man would win in the end even though Mysterio put up a fight. However, in this case, the world was turned against Spiderman after some fake footage was released to the world - leaving it wide open for another movie.

If you haven't seen “Spider Man: Far from Home” yet, I would highly recommend taking a trip to your local theater to watch the latest Spider Man adventure film. It is an excellent addition to not just the Marvel series but also the Spider-Man series, too.








Friday, July 19, 2019

Quote of the week


Movie Review: “Crawl”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Run time: 1h 27min

A category 5 hurricane hits Florida hard. Mass evacuations, almost all roads closed, rain and high winds creating a path of destruction, people told to get out of their homes and stay out. However, Haley (Kaya Scodelario) has been calling her dad and not heard back from him. She decides to go, amidst the warnings to do the opposite, and see if he is ok.

The movie opens with Haley at a swim practice. Afterwards, she talks to her sister who is concerned about their father, Dave (Barry Pepper). Haley says she will go check on him.

On her way, she is stopped and told to turn around as the roads are too dangerous and conditions too severe. She ignores the warnings and goes to find her dad. She travels first to his condo and then to the house she grew up in and, after seeing blood marks on a pipe in the basement, finds her dad unconscious in the basement and badly hurt.

As she begins to move him, an alligator bursts through the wall and slowly walks toward her. This is one of several unexpected events that happen throughout the movie. She is able to get herself and her dad to safety. Haley leaves her father to go retrieve her phone so she can call 9-1-1. She is quickly found by the alligator who clamps down on her leg and drags her. She fights it off but realizes there are two alligators. She now has a huge gash in her leg.

As the basement is filling up with water fast, Haley spots some looters who are robbing a nearby gas station. She tries to signal for their help, but before she is able to get their attention, alligators kill the looters. The same thing happens to the police when they arrive at Haley’s home.

Haley is able to save her father from the alligator attacks and tells him, “I should have never come back here.” Her dad tells her, “We do not give up.”

In looking for a way out, she finds a group of alligator eggs that have hatched, and some that haven’t. An alligator bites her arm, but she escapes.

Can Haley and her dad escape and get to safety? Or will only one of them survive? Can they protect themselves from the multitude of alligators swimming below?

I can say with almost no shame, that I am a fan of the “Sharknado” movies. So, when I saw a disaster movie about alligators, I figured it was worth a trip to the theater. And I was right. This movie is fast paced, and action packed. There are several moments that really catch you off guard, or make you jump – I love that. Watching Haley and Dave try to escape definitely gets your heart pumping. This movie even has an emotional moment or two thrown in. I won’t go so far as to say this is up to the high quality and cinematic excellence of a “Sharknado” movie, but it’s a solid thriller and a fun ride. I would recommend it.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Movie Review: “Midsommar”

By Emily Maier

Rated: R
Runtime: 147 mins

In the wake of a family tragedy, Dani decides to join her boyfriend, Christian, on a month-long trip to Sweden in an attempt to forget her own trauma and to keep their crumbling relationship intact. Their mutual friend, Pelle, comes from a small, pagan commune that invites them to join their midsummer celebrations. However, something doesn’t seem right about the community, and Dani’s group struggles to chalk everything up to cultural differences, especially when things turn bloody.

“Midsommar” is Ari Aster’s second feature-length film, debuting a year after his first movie, “Hereditary.” Because “Hereditary” was my favorite movie of 2018, I was beyond excited to see what Aster would produce next. From the looks of “Midsommar,” the director is sticking to what he does best: capturing painfully human emotions.

The entire cast does a great job, but Florence Pugh (Dani) definitely steals the show. I was impressed with every scene, whether she was meekly trying to appease her boyfriend, gleefully dancing, or uttering gut-wrenching sobs. One of my favorite things about Aster’s films is that he’s not afraid to let his actor’s get ugly – in fact, he seems to encourage them to contort their faces to show intense, visceral emotions. Another notable cast member was Will Poulter, playing one of Christian’s friends (Mark), who brought a surprising amount of humor to a very dark movie.

As with “Hereditary,” “Midsommar” is a commentary on grief. The film begins with events grounded in reality, but gradually becomes more surreal as the plot progresses. The bizarre, cult-related events allow the story to symbolically discuss the real-world problems presented in the first half. At its core, Aster calls “Midsommar” a breakup movie. Though it might not be immediately apparent, the film follows a pattern of conflict, misery, anger, and – ultimately – a strange sense of release. This emotional journey, combined with the nightmarish cult practices, culminates in a truly unhinged experience.

The dark content starkly contrasts with the bright, beautiful cinematography. Traditionally, daytime is a “safe” time in horror movies, so keeping most of the horror in the sunlight added a sense of eeriness to the film. Much like “Hereditary,” “Midsommar” doesn’t rely on traditional jump scares for its horror, instead using disturbing visuals and implications. While not traditionally scary, “Midsommar” still had to fight for an R rating instead of NC17 due to “disturbing ritualistic violence, grisly images, and strong sexual content,” so consider yourself warned.

Despite the similarities, “Midsommar” didn’t captivate me the same way “Hereditary” did. Though I was invested in the story, certain elements only felt included for shock value and others felt completely unrelated to the plot. It’s possible the symbolism of some scenes went over my head or the unknown is meant to scare the audience, but either way, “Midsommar” was definitely not as straightforward as its predecessor. I also felt “Midsommar” was a little too long, coming in at two and a half hours.

That being said, I did enjoy the movie. Aster pours a palpable amount of care into his work, which makes each story unique, passionate, and thoughtful. I love his films because they haunt you; they keep you thinking about hidden details and meanings long after you’ve left the theater. While I’d love to wholeheartedly recommend this movie, I know it won’t be for everyone. If you don’t mind heavy symbolism and graphic imagery, definitely check out “Midsommar” this summer. You’d be supporting a bold piece of work from a budding director.




Book Review of “History of Wolves” by Emily Fridlund

Reviewed by Jennifer Dupree, Circulations Supervisor at the Windham Public Library

“History of Wolves”, a novel by Emily Fridlund, is a dark, suspenseful coming-of-age novel. Fifteen-year-old Madeline, who introduces herself as Linda, lives on an abandoned commune in the Minnesota woods with people who might be her parents or who might just be the people who stayed when everyone else left. She is strange, self-sufficient, defiant, inquisitive.

Linda’s story begins with the arrival of a new history teacher, Mr. Grierson, who Linda tries awkwardly to seduce. With all the feelings of unrequited lust and not-belonging, Linda meets the new people across the lake: young mother Patra and her four-year-old son Paul.

The storyline of Mr. Grierson and the beautiful Lily (another student) will play out in fragments alongside the bigger story of Paul’s death. We learn very early on that Paul has died, but Fridlund takes her time revealing how and why. We see Linda become immersed in this life with Patra and Paul, with their snacks and walks in the woods and bedtime rituals.

In the deep Minnesota woods, it feels like a fairytale. And then Patra’s strange scientist husband shows up and like with every fairytale witch, that’s when the story begins to unravel. The reader starts to put clues together before Linda does, but eventually she gets it. It is what she does and doesn’t do that haunts her well into her adult life.

The two plots converge on a few central questions: How much do you have to know to be culpable? What is justice? Is a lie of omission the same as a lie? Who gets to decide who is forgiven and when?
I like novels that don’t wrap up with neat answers, and so I appreciated that the adult Linda we meet is still wrestling with all the questions that summer brought forth.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

“My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Lettermen”


By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-MA
2 Seasons, 11 episodes

David Letterman has returned, (kind of) and this time things are a little different. This isn’t any version of his Late Show. “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” is a Netflix show where Letterman interviews fascinating people; all whom you’ve probably heard of, but maybe not.
The first season of the show featured Barack Obama, George Clooney, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Tina Fey and Howard Stern. The recently released new season features interviews with Kanye West, Ellen DeGeneres, Tiffany Haddish, Lewis Hamilton and Melinda Gates.

The set is different, simplistic; no band, two chairs and that’s pretty much it. In these interviews, Letterman sits down and has sometimes eye-opening discussions with well-known individuals. Letterman usually focuses the conversation on their career, but the discussion can get in-depth and personal.

Comedian Tiffany Haddish spoke of growing up in the foster care system. Letterman discusses Formula One car racing with Lewis Hamilton, how he got involved and what that entailed for him and his family. President Obama spoke of life after the presidency. The viewer learns that Tina Fey’s first name is actually Elizabeth and her dad was a veteran who studied journalism. Howard Stern spoke of his rough childhood.

Letterman has done his research and, similar to his late-night show, you learn new things about someone you may have thought you knew. Unlike his talk show, Letterman spends roughly an hour with these guests, and you don’t just learn one or two things about them, you learn quite a bit. And the interviews are engaging, with bits of humor. In between the interview segments, you see Letterman learning more about his guest. For example, Letterman took to the racetrack with Formula One race car driver, Hamilton and when Letterman interviewed Kayne West, they spent time in West’s enormous closet talking about sneakers and clothes. He went gardening with Tiffany Haddish.
Letterman continues to be an excellent interviewer, in my opinion, and gives his guests the opportunity to be funny, while also asking the right questions to get to the best interview possible.

I love a good interview and learning new things about people I find it immensely interesting and entertaining. If you were/are a fan of David Letterman, and like interviews, mixed with a little bit of comedy, I recommend this Netflix series. Dave, if you happen to read this, my only complaint of your show, is I’m not a fan of the beard.