The writers for BBC television are masters of comedic twists and eccentric characters making a series like The Detectorists such an enjoyable experience to watch.
Lance and Andy are friends who belong to the local metal detector club, hoping almost against hope, to strike gold. What I love is that both Lance (Mackenzie Crook) and Andy (Toby Jones) are such believably normal people, none of the Hollywood glitz and glamour here. We all know people, who not only look like them but also are obsessed with a unique hobby that occasionally takes over their lives.
The fallout in both their personal lives is poignant…. Lance struggles with his relationships especially his girl friend and new baby, while Andy pines after his wife who’s left him for a younger, better looking man. All the while, the cinematography reveals the beauty of the Suffolk coast of England as the metal detector club trudges around the countryside with high hopes. Land disputes surface and the dynamics within the club members rise and fall with the arrival of newcomers. The stories always gently unfold in a delightfully droll way. The second season was as equally enjoyable and now I am awaiting the arrival of season three, which the library has ordered. Kudos to the BBC and Acorn Media once again!
Kirby Star Allies is a cute and fun platformer for all ages. Released on the Nintendo Switch in the spring of this year, this game finally brings Kirby and friends into the HD realm of video gaming.
The core concept of the game involves having multiple characters that can either be controlled by your friends or by the computer in order to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. The multiplayer works great, allowing friends to drop in and out of game play seamlessly. There are multiple characters from the Kirby universe to play including some brand new characters.
The puzzles are not too tough, and the platforming is pretty basic with the use of Kirby's float ability. The game play is nothing new and if you've ever played a Kirby game before it will seem familiar. Additionally, while there is variety in the levels, the style of play does tend to get repetitive. The game is quite short and can be played easily over the course of a day.
Overall, Kirby Star Allies makes for a great entry level game for both kids and adults. If you are a fan of Kirby or light platforming games such as Mario or Donkey Kong, you will definitely enjoy this one.
One of the most iconic series of fantasy books is the Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien. These books, first published in the 1950s, have long been held as the standard against which all other fantasy novels are measured. Tolkien’s books have incredibly detailed world building, including entire languages that he developed himself. The geography, cultures, history, and characters are all created with such amazing depth. The themes found in Lord of the Rings have vast applicability, which makes them timeless. Every new generation of readers can find things to relate to in these books. They are classics for a reason, and that reason is that they are phenomenal.
There have been a few adaptations of Lord of the Rings, but the most recent and notable are the movies by Peter Jackson.
These films did an excellent job of capturing the essence of the books and presenting them in a different format. Anytime a book is adapted to a movie, there are sacrifices that have to be made. The entire contents, especially in the case of dense novels like Lord of the Rings, would mean a movie that was unwatchable and way too long. Jackson did a wonderful job of choosing the pieces to keep for the movies. His deep love of the books meant he respected the integrity of the original material and he took great care to make something all fans would enjoy.
The story was faithful to the books, and it had excellent pacing. Adding in some of the cut chapters would have meant a lag in a movie, even if it was enjoyable in the books. The casting was well done, which can be tricky for well-known works. People often have preconceptions about characters’ appearances and it is easy to disappoint hard core fans. The casting choices were spot on for all of the characters. The costumes, sets, and effects were also well done. Everything in the movies looked incredible, and like what my imagination created while reading.
The New Zealand landscape was the perfect setting. It is a beautiful country that already looks like it is from a fantastical land. All of these elements came together to create a wonderful series of films that have touched audiences around the world, and encouraged more people to read these wonderful novels.
The Lord of the Rings books and movies have both been around for years now, but they never cease to fill me with wonder. They are truly enjoyable, from the first time through to the eleventy-first.
You can enjoy the books and movies from KPL! You can borrow the books hereor the movies here.
-Ashley, Information Services
What We're Watching
The Death of Stalin
written & directed by Armando Ianucci
The Death of Stalin is a dark comedy combined with historical drama, based on the events surrounding the death of one of the USSR’s most infamous leaders.
When their leader falls suddenly ill, the Presidium, or central ruling committee, hastily assembles, each member paying their respects while conspiring to advance their own agenda and seize more power.
The key players on this committee are names that viewers may recognize from history: the second-in command: Malenkov, the future leader of the USSR: Khrushchev, the head of the secret police: Beria, and Molotov, of cocktail fame.
The film is written and directed by Armando Ianucci, and based off a graphic novel of the same name.
As the “beloved” leader passes, the committee members try to put forward the façade of working together in unified leadership of the nation, but must stumble over protocol, politics, and public appearances. Then there’s the strange and absurd dance of who is being purged as an enemy of the state, (poor Molotov!) and who is back in, pardoned and no longer on the dreaded lists (Molotov again!).
The Death of Stalin demonstrates clearly the old saying that ‘Comedy is tragedy plus time’ as the film takes the tragedies of Stalin’s murderous regime and finds humour and laughs in the midst of fear.
The 1955 film The Trouble with Harry was not only Alfred Hitchcock’s biggest box-office flop but it also nearly killed him. While filming, an 850-pound camera dropped from the ceiling, narrowly missing the master-of-suspense’s head.
Perhaps this was something of an omen, because the film went on to lose nearly half a million in the theatres. Only recently has it been rediscovered and hailed as Hitchcock’s surrealist masterpiece, with its technicolour scenery and eerie detachment of its characters.
Based on the novella by Jack Trevor Story, The Trouble with Harry is an odd, dark comedy about people in a small town who can't decide what to do with a dead body.
The film stars Shirley MacLaine in her first-ever movie role, a very young Jerry Mathers before he became “The Beav” of Leave it to Beaver fame, and John Forsythe, aka Blake Carrington from Dynasty.
Mathers plays Arnie, a boy who stumbles across the body of Harry Worp in the autumnal Vermont woods. While Arnie runs home to tell his mother, a series of other characters discover the corpse, all believing, for one absurd reason or another, that they will be the prime suspect in Harry’s death. Collectively, they conspire to bury the body instead of report it. Harry goes in and out of the ground three or four times, is responsible for two romances and quite a lot of physical exercise.
Of all his films, The Trouble with Harry was one of Hitchcock’s personal favourites and it’s easy to see why. It has just the right amount of quirky macabre and character exploration that make it very fun to watch. You will even find yourself laughing out loud at very tragic situations. If you watch The Trouble with Harry without the expectations of a “typical” Hitchcock film, you’re sure to be impressed.
Fifty years ago, Barbara Smucker began her work as a librarian at the Kitchener Public Library and 40 years ago, she won the Canada Council’s Children’s Literature award for her book called, Underground to Canada. You can find this gripping tale on the shelves in our Grace Schmidt Room, along with many of her other books.
Smucker’s stories are an important resource of historical fiction that are available to borrow as well. What a legacy of twelve successful books she left behind after her death in 2003!
Having recently re-read several of Smucker’s books, I became interested in her personal story. Smucker was a woman ahead of her time championing civil rights issues in the States in the 1960’s. After moving to Canada in 1969, she began to write books for children. She sensitively unveiled the thoughts and feelings of many marginalized or disadvantaged peoples throughout history. However, she managed to offer hope and courage in the face of adversity. She said, “I try to pick out real people who oppose evil - people who face these evil things with courage. I think that gives kids hope in the face of evil.”
Even as adults, we need authors like Smucker who take you on a historical journey at a personal heart-level. Underground to Canada is an amazing story of two young women slaves and their journey to get to freedom in Canada from the southern United States. Likewise, I learned how Henry and his family felt as refugees displaced from Russia and their ordeal in Berlin in 1946 in Henry’s Red Sea. People are people no matter what time in history, and Barbara Smucker’s stories remain relevant revealing triumph over the odds.
-Anne, Information Services
Kitchener Public Library 85 Queen St. North Kitchener, Ontario N2H2H1 519-743-0271 http://www.kpl.org/