Archive | May, 2015

See and Listen to the World with Hoopla!: My Favorite International Choices Available on Hoopla

27 May

Hopefully our Hoboken Public Library Resident Cardholders have already been enjoying movies, TV shows, music, and audiobooks from Hoopla, but if you haven’t yet checked it out, do so today!  I listed a few of my highlights for Hoopla’s debut already.  For this post I thought I’d look at some of the great international selections you can check out from Hoopla.  Of course you can find hit American movies like The Big Lebowski or listen to artists like Jay-Z, Delta Rae and of course Hoboken’s own Sinatra, but I’m also having lots of fun enjoying a plethora of International choices available from Hoopla.  In the honor of the eight free checkouts per month you can have from Hoopla, here are eight international choices I have enjoyed.

Farewell My Queen

farewell-my-queen

Image via Hoopla

The French period drama, Les Adieux à la Reine (Farewell My Queen), is set just before and after the fall of the Bastille at the Palace of Versailles.  It is based on the best-selling novel by Chantal Thomas (the print book is available from HPL).  Léa Seydoux stars as Sidonie, one of Marie Antoinette’s servants whose main task is to read novels, fashion magazines, and other publications to her monarch.  Sidonie is clearly in love with the Queen, but Marie Antoinette though giving her special favors and confidences at times also seems cold and aloof at others.  Definitely borrow Farewell My Queen if you are a Francophile or a fan of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette for another distinctive depiction of the Queen, masterfully acted by Diane Kruger.

Mood Indigo (L’Écume des Jours)

mood-indigo

Image via Hoopla

The Surreal Tragic Romance, Mood Indigo is a French movie based on Boris Vian’s 1947 novel Froth on the Daydream.  It stars Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou, who I have been a fan of since another quirky French film, AmelieMood Indigo includes a resident mouse played by a man in a mouse suit, a piano that when played creates cocktails themed to the music, and other unique visuals.  Mood Indigo was co-written and directed by Michel Gondry, who was also responsible for the eccentric American film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and several of Bjork’s music videos.  Fans of Gondry’s work should be captivated by Mood Indigo.

Jack and The Cuckoo Clock Heart

jack-and-the-cuckoo-clock-heart

Image via Hoopla

Jack and The Cuckoo Clock Heart is based on the book La Mécanique du Cœur by Mathias Malzieu and concept album by his band Dionysos.  The music for the movie is also provided by Dionysos and it proves a cooler sound track than many similar animated movies.  The version available from Hoopla has been dubbed in English, but is set in Scotland, France, and Spain.  What I enjoyed about the movie is though it is darkly whimsical and could be described as Steampunk, it does both in a decidedly unique French way so is different from American Steampunk and spooky playful American animations like those of Tim Burton.  The story’s beautiful, but sad ending could provide an opportunity to discuss with older children about grieving and loss.  You can also borrow the CD La Mécanique Du Coeur by Dionysos from Hoopla.

Nocturna

nocturna

Image via Hoopla

If you and the kids in your life enjoyed Monsters, Inc., you should also find this Spanish/French coproduction a delight.  Although it was originally animated in Spanish, the English dubbing synchronization is excellent.  Nocturna tells the story of a young orphan named Tim who is afraid of the dark and only can sleep through the night because of his special star.  One evening his star disappears and when he goes looking for her he encounters the cat shepherd, who introduces him to the world of Nocturna where whimsical humanoid creatures orchestrate everything at night from the tangles children get in their hair to the banging of the window panes.  The traditional style drawn animation has a muted color palate of mostly browns and golds and a unique visual style.

L’Ame Immortelle

jenseit-der-schatten

Image via Hoopla

I mentioned in my last Hoopla related post about being excited to download Austrian Darkwave act, L’Ame Immortelle’s latest album.  Like their earlier recordings, I enjoyed it very much and listened to about a dozen times during the seven days I had it checked out.  Their music features a juxtaposition of electronic music with gritty male vocals with more atmospheric cabaret or almost operaesque female vocals. This seems a fitting style for their many songs of love and longing sung in German and English.  You can borrow several of the recordings on Hoopla; I especially like Jenseits der Schatten featuring the amazing track “Tiefster Winter”, which is for me one of those songs I enjoy listening to over and over again.

Ruby Gloom

ruby-gloom

Image via Hoopla

Fans of Tim Burton, Roman Dirge’s Lenore graphic novels, and Invader Zim, will find charm in Ruby Gloom, a Canadian Animated show.  Ruby Gloom looks like a gothic Raggedy Anne and always stays positive despite living in a gloomy old mansion with her black cat and a raven named Poe.  This whimsically spooky show isn’t too scary for kids, but will be especially appealing to tweens.  I fell in love with Ruby Gloom when I found a clip online so was thrilled to find all three seasons available on Hoopla.

Birthday Massacre

birthday-massacre

Image via Hoopla

For those who want a bit more whimsical darkness from our Northern neighbor this time in musical form, listening to Canadian band Birthday Massacre is a must.  One of my favorite bands they have a goth/emo look, but to me a wider appeal beyond either of those genres.  Their music has a distinctive electronic sound and exclusively use violet tinted imagery with reoccurring motifs like rabbits on their artwork (the founding members met getting fine art degrees) gives them a dark fairy tale like feel.  You can listen to a variety of their albums from Hoopla including their first Nothing and Nowhere and latest Superstition. So check them out; I hope you love them as much as I do.

Norwegian Wood

norwegian-wood

Image via Hoopla

If you are a fan of Anime (Japanese Animation), which is often geared to an adult audience, Hoopla has a variety of movies and TV shows to choose from.  But besides anime, there are several Japanese cinematic gems to check out with Hoopla.  Norwegian Wood (Noruwei No Mori) is based on Haruki Murakami’s classic coming of age tale about a teenager, Toru Watanabe, who leaves his hometown to go to school in Tokyo after his best friend, Kizuki, commits suicide.  He becomes involved in a love triangle with Kizuki’s girlfriend as well as an alluring fellow student Midori.  The student protests of the 1960s add an interesting historical backdrop for this romantic tale.  Murakami is one of the most popular Japanese author’s worldwide so his works are definitely worth checking out and several are available from Hoopla as audiobooks including the short story collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, whose title story includes characters from Norwegian WoodNorwegian Wood the book is available in print from BCCLS libraries; this and the other movies I have mentioned are also available from BCCLS on DVD.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

The Past, Present, and Future Tech: How to be a Victorian, The End of Absence, and Neuromancer

20 May

In the past 11 ½ years that I’ve been at the library, I’ve seen a huge change in how people access materials and stay connected.  Back in 2013, we had a few people using laptops accessing our wifi, but now along with large amounts using laptops, I see many people using smartphones and tablets as well.  We had a few reference databases when I started, but now you can access even more 24/7 reference resources, eBooks, downloadable music, and now even movies and TV shows from Hoopla.  It truly is an exciting time to be a librarian, as libraries and society quickly evolve in ways Melvil Dewey, Thomas Hatfield (HPL’s first librarian), and other early librarians could not have imagined.  In honor of this I wanted to look at three books that span the tech revolution from life in the early industrial revolution days of Victorian England, our present information revolution, and William Gibson’s classic cyberpunk dystopian view of the future.

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection, by Michael Harris.

end-of-absence

I was intrigued to read Michael Harris’ The End of Absence which focuses on what we as a society and individuals might be losing with all the exciting technology gains we are making.  My life would be very different today without the digital world since I found my current job, my husband, my grad school roommate, my previous apartment, some friends, and three pet cats all online.  Harris likens the current changes to those that followed the invention of the printing press and a move away from oral traditions to the printed word.  The End of Absence is part sociology, part philosophical work, with a bit of memoir thrown in.  I found the studies he quoted were mentioned so briefly and the meandering focus, made me drawn to the more personal aspects of the piece that occurred in the second half including when he attempted Analog August where he attempted to return to the lack of tech of his childhood including taping a cord to tether his cell phone so he couldn’t use it outside his home.  For someone who was taking a stance towards the negatives of technology, he surprisingly met his partner online.  I think in the end, the world The End of Absence describes calls for a need for balance.  Technology has great promise, but should not replace basic human interactions.  As the library has increased our digital offerings, we have also increased programs and study space to feed the need for social interaction and quiet learning that may be even greater now in the evolving digital age.

Neuromancer, by William Gibson.

neuromancer
I couldn’t help when reading The End of Absence thinking of the Cyberpunk genre of science fiction, where the future may be high tech, but society has begun to fall apart.  My husband is a huge fan of cyberpunk including movies like the Matrix and his favorite Blade Runner.  Nothing typifies this genre like William Gibson’s 1984 classic Neuromancer, which I was inspired to reread again twenty some years after I had my first encounter.  The novel tells of a damaged computer hacker, Case, who is “fixed” by his mysterious employer in order for him to assist in an epic dangerous hack.   I felt the slang that Gibson uses for his characters was engaging and the twists and turns the story takes as told from the addled perspective of the main character were exiting even if some of the technology depictions seem now dated.  Although the characters with their criminality are not the most sympathetic bunch, I found there was something very charismatic about Molly, the main female protagonist, who due to having permanently had lenses affixed to her eye sockets can no longer cry, but when sad must spit the way her tear ducts have been rerouted.  She also retractable cat-like claws.  This engaging femme fatale first appeared in Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic and returns in his Mona Lisa OverdriveThe dystopian high tech Japan Gibson created as the main background is compelling, even if as with the rest of his future world, you might not want to live there.

How to be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life, by Ruth Goodman.

how-to-be-a-victorian

All this talk of high tech dystopia, made me long for the simpler times of the past.  Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Victorian does a great job of capturing the Victorian daily life.  What I especially liked is she brings some of her personal experiences as a reenactor to the account so she describes not only what would have been worn such as a corset or tasks which would have done such as doing laundry, but as a modern woman what that experience is like.  It made me realize how often we look back at the past with nostalgia, but that often new technologies free us from hard manual labor.  The book looks at the lives of all levels of Victorian society from the poor, to the working class, to middle class, to the wealthy.  Although Goodman is British and the book was originally published in the UK some specific American differences in lifestyle for the Victorian era are mentioned.  I especially thought the section dealing with medical practices was fascinating with its look at the balance between the new “scientific” beliefs of male doctors as contrasted with the herbal and folk remedies practiced by wives and mothers.  It made me wonder which of our medical practices in another hundred years may appear to be barbaric and silly.  Goodman spends quite a bit of focus on Victorian dress and styling so those looking to create authentic costumes or get inspiration for fanciful Steampunk creations may enjoy her descriptions.  There are some black and white and a few full color illustrations included.  As much fun as going to a recreation Victorian tea party may be, I feel lucky to live in our present era with its washing machines, dishwashers, and other modern conveniences.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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