Staff Recommendation – Stonewall Uprising (film)

Stonewall Bar 1969 – Disturbance at Sheridan Square, NYC. Scenes at Christopher St. and 7th Ave. South with police trying to clear crowds. Pictured, Stonewall Inn which was raided one day last week. July 2, 1969

In 60s-era New York, homosexuality was pathologized, criminalized, and punished by law enforcement. The American Psychiatric Association still classified it as a mental disorder, gay sex was punishable by fine or 20 years to life in prison, and routine police raids were conducted of any bars, baths, and spaces queer people were known to frequent.

Despite this, New York was still the big city, and by the 1960s there was a significant queer population that called the Greenwich Village area home, carving out a culture and place for themselves. Yet they were under constant threat.

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-owned gay bar, was raided by police on a routine attack. After several arrests were made, the patrons of the bar, as well as the growing crowd outside snapped – after years of oppression, enough was enough. Sparked by some of the most vulnerable within the queer community – trans people and cross-dressers – the crowd began refusing arrest, physically defending themselves, and attempting to drive the police away, trapping some within the bar itself. The scene became one that some people described as an all-out rebellion which continued for days. In the months that followed, queer liberation organizing sprang into high gear, sparking a seminal event in the American LGBTQ rights movement which drove forward social progress in the coming decades.

Produced as part of the PBS American Experience series, Stonewall Uprising is a collection of interviews and stories by those that lived these events. Archival documents, narrative commentary, and, most of all, eyewitness accounts give shape to this important story throughout the film. There is no better time than Pride Month to learn more about these events where it all began, and how they still reverberate in today’s politics and culture.

This film is available through the library’s subscription database, Academic Video Online (Alexander St. Press), in a series of parts.

— Mike Romano, Music Circulation Assistant

Staff Recommendation: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I love old movies. And I especially love old movies with Cary Grant in them. I could probably write a whole review about the various Cary Grant films available in our library, because I’m sure I’ve gone through most of them at this point.

Despite the fact that Cary Grant is in this film, full of gentlemanly sharp wit and amazing suits, it is Katherine Hepburn who truly steals the show and makes this her movie. A strong-willed, spoiled, and haughty aristocrat from the Main Line, Hepburn’s character finds herself in a series of awkward situations the day leading up to her wedding to an equally wealthy (yet completely dull) second husband. Grant plays her ex-husband, who invites himself to the wedding festivities, with a tabloid reporter (Jimmy Stewart) and photographer in tow disguised as friends of her brother. Hilarity ensues like most of these 1940s “screwball comedies,” including one of my favorite scenes of Hepburn and Stewart drunkenly dancing late into the night before the wedding day.

People sometimes pre-judge black-and-white films like The Philadelphia Story as being boring and stuffy, but this movie is actually really funny. Watch for a great scene right at the beginning of the film involving Hepburn breaking a golf club over her knee.

If you enjoyed this movie as much as I did (Greenfield Library GD2171), check out Bringing Up Baby, (also available in the Greenfield Library, GD1895) another award-winning film starring Grant and Hepburn as love interests, and equally ridiculous.

~ Recommended by Lillian Kinney, Cataloger/Archivist, Greenfield Library

Staff Recommendation: Princess Mononoke

Released in 1999 and holding a 94% audience approval rating, this Miyazaki film was hailed as “The ‘Star Wars’ of animated features!” by the New York Post. Princess Mononoke brings together the world of the spiritual and the realities of man. Similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, and Miyazaki’s later movie Spirited Away, this film exists in a world where fantasy and reality push against each other as humans seek to destroy the old ways to make way for new.

At the center of the story is a young man named Ashitaka, who makes his way to a mining village after being cursed by a dying animal god.  There he meets Lady Eboshi, whose desire to acquire more iron for the village has put her in direct conflict with the nature gods that inhabit the land nearby who are lead by Princess Mononoke, a human girl raised by the wolf god. As his curse spreads, Ashitaka seeks to find a balance between these two opposing forces before both are destroyed by their own short sightedness.

This incredible film asks the questions; ‘Can Man and Nature coexist?’ ‘Is it possible to stand in the middle of conflict, or must we choose sides?’ ‘Who is really the villain?’ ‘Is there a place for those who are different?’With beautiful animation and subtle storytelling, Hayao Miyazaki asks us to come to our own conclusions through the actions of Ashitaka, Lady Eboshi and Princess Mononoke.

You can find this DVD at the Greenfield Library, stop by the circulation desk and ask for call # GD1475

~ Recommended by Lauralee Martin, Greenfield Library Work Study Assistant

Staff Recommendation: Fahrenheit 451

As a librarian and an avid fan of reading in general, I’ve read a lot of books. Well, I’ve read a lot, but there certainly are many books that I still haven’t read yet. Fahrenheit 451, a classic (and often banned) modern novel is one of those books that had me saying to myself, “Why have I never read this?!” Especially since this is a true book lover’s book.

But it’s also more than just that. As Neil Gaiman says in the wonderful introduction to this 60th anniversary edition, “This is a book about caring for things. It’s a love letter to books, but I think, just as much, it’s a love letter to people….” Since I think this book is so magical, I won’t spoil the plot. What I want to focus on is this book’s important message, gloriously amplified by Ray Bradbury’s lyrical descriptions (trust me, he makes describing moonlight sound heavenly).

What I loved so much about Fahrenheit 451 is its striking relevance to our world today, which can often be said for these types of dystopian sci-fi novels. Even though I found myself nodding along to Bradbury’s finger-pointing at the horrible aspects of modern society (which are eerily similar to the world of 2018), I also felt reassured to hear a voice who feels the same way I do. Books matter. Stories matter. People matter. Quiet thought and compassion matters. In a world that seems too loud and insane and imploding in on itself at times, it was refreshing to read the words of an author calling out into the void, saying, “Slow down. Look around you. Care more. Read a book.”

You can check out Fahrenheit 451 from the Greenfield Library at call# PS3503 .R167 F3 2013. This special edition of the book also includes historical context essays and reviews for some in-depth reading.

There is also an audio guide available from Greenfield CDs (GCD409), featuring a radio program and Bradbury discussing his work. We also have the 1966 film available behind the Greenfield circulation desk, just ask for call# GD23Coincidentally, HBO will be premiering a new movie version of Fahrenheit 451, to be released Spring of this year. You can watch the teaser trailer here.

~ Recommended by Lillian Kinney, Cataloger/Archivist at the Greenfield Library

Staff Recommendation: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

 

Philip K. Dick can be regarded as one of the prominent science fiction authors of the 20th century, with many of his works posthumously inspiring film and television adaptations, such as Total Recall, Terminator, The Man in the High Castle, and Minority Report. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is one of these works, establishing the world of Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking film Blade Runner and its recent sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Like the 1982 movie, Do Androids focuses on Rick Deckhard’s search for rogue Nexus-6 androids in a futuristic, yet very bleak, California. If you are familiar with the classic Harrison Ford feature, this novel might not be what you are expecting, but it delights nonetheless. Characters like Pris, Rachael, and Roy will be recognizable to those who have seen the 1982 movie, as well as other entities that parallel elements in both films. While the films touch on themes of empathy and “What does it mean to be human?” Dick expands upon these in more detail, taking a very philosophical approach with his writing, almost along the lines of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. If you are looking for a challenging read that will make you puzzle and ponder the meanings of life, yet in the setting of a post-nuclear war America, this is for you.

Available now in the Greenfield Library open stacks at call #: PS3554 .I3 D6 2017 In addition to this great read, the director’s cut of the Blade Runner film can be found behind the Greenfield Library circulation desk, just ask for call #: GD9 !

~ Recommended by Lillian Kinney, Cataloger/Archivist at the Greenfield Library