Summer TV Recommendations

by Hannah Parks, Ekstrom Library Media Resources

Summer is such a wonderful season. Schedules aren’t so tight, the weather is (usually) sunny, and people seem to be in a better mood than they were during the winter. I love to spend the summer hiking and cycling, but I also enjoy the rainy days, when I have an excuse to stay inside and be lazy. I usually spend these lazy days watching television shows and reading. Once I finish a show’s series or a book, though, I find it difficult to find a new one to start. I usually look for suggestions from friends, which, regarding television shows, aren’t hard to find here in Media Resources.

For those of you who share the same difficulty as I do in finding new shows to watch, I’ve consulted with my fellow Media Resources experts, and we’ve come up with a definitive list of eleven great TV shows to watch this summer, all of which are available through our department’s SGA collection. I’ve limited them to recent shows (aired within the past year) and separated them into genres, in case you’re interested in a specific type of show. I’ve also included their parental ratings.

Need more suggestions? Stop by the Media Department and we’ll help you out!

Arrested Development TV-PG
Community TV-PG
Psych TV-PG
How I Met Your Mother TV-PG

Breaking Bad TV-14
Walking Dead TV-14
Game of Thrones TV-MA
Justified TV-14

Archer TV-MA
Venture Brothers TV-MA
Family Guy TV-14

Encyclopedia of Human Rights

[The following is a guest post from Joanna Thompson, one of our excellent student assistants in Ekstrom Library. Thank you, Joanna!]

cover of The Encyclopedia of Human RightsThe Encyclopedia of Human Rights, edited by David P. Forsythe, is a five-volume compilation of in-depth essays by experts in the many facets of the field of Human Rights.

This encyclopedia is of personal interest to me because of my interest in cultural anthropology and refugee issues. This interest in refugee issues naturally leads me to a discussion about human rights violations around the world.

The publication covers four aspects of human rights: rights, organizations, persons, and situations. Under the category of rights, topics such as freedom from torture and freedom from genocide are discussed. The organizations discussed range from organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to the United Nations Security Council. The people discussed included all of the Nobel laureates who had a pronounced interest in promoting human rights. Finally, the situations are laid out according to country, explaining what the current situation is in regards to human rights and the history or background that led them to that particular situation. Although this Encyclopedia, published in 2009, is for the most part events ranging from 1945-today, it also reaches back to events such as the Holocaust and the Irish Famine and provides an in-depth explanation of colonialism. These are important in this publication as a comparison: In order to understand human rights today, it is important to understand past weaknesses. It is one of the most in-depth publications in the University of Louisville collection regarding topics of human rights, and is a perfect tool for individuals who are interested in promoting human rights and equality in the communities, nations, or around the world.

[The Encyclopedia of Human Rights is available in the Ekstrom Library reference collection at JC571 .E673 2009.]

Jimmy Stewart gets classically political

by Brittney Thompson

Can one person really make a difference? Is all it really takes for one person’s voice to be heard? Director Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) attempts to answer these questions in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Jimmy Stewart (The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, Rear Window) stars as Jefferson Smith, an Everyman character who generations of audiences can’t help but get behind. Jefferson is naïve, but hopeful. As the den father of a boy scouts group, how could he be anything but kind and selfless for sake of his community? Unfortunately, the bigwigs in Washington take him as a simpleton and assume that Jefferson (along with being quite the patriot) will be easy to manipulate into carrying out misdeeds (as long as Jefferson believes what he is doing is for AMERICA) or to set him up as the perfect scapegoat. Ultimately, Mr. Smith is selected by Washington to replace a recently deceased senator if only because he is a ‘good ole boy’ who isn’t quite long in the tooth with politics yet. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington not only has an alluring plotline, but does great things with language. This is a movie that almost everyone knows by one scene (even if they’ve never seen the movie in full): the filibuster ordeal. Here is where some of the best speeches in film history are made. If anything, we could all take a lesson from Jefferson in public speaking. This film also works to spark the audience interests in politics for the previously apolitical. Running time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. The SGA movie collection has two copies.

Experience the Darker Side of Love

by Brittney Thompson

How could one not celebrate Valentine’s Day this year without watching a movie guaranteed to emit second-hand embarrassment from its blundering characters? The Girl in the Cafe is one of those movies that reminds viewers (should one’s February 14th not go swimmingly) things could always be worse. Screenwriter Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary) never fails to do just this to audiences. David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1&2) directs Curtis’s painfully awkward romantic dramedy, The Girl in the Café, starring Bill Nighy (Pirate Radio, Love Actually) as Lawrence: a socially backwards gentleman who works for the British Prime Minister as a well-paid and prestigious number cruncher for the global economy. Lawrence is tired of being alone and by a random twist of fate meets Gina (Kelly Macdonald) in a coffee shop where he decides to take a chance on a follow up date. He eventually brings her along to a G8 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.  This becomes problematic when Lawrence learns of Gina’s outspoken nature. Their relationship is one to make viewers cringe with the highly intense romantic tension that begs resolution. This movie is an emotional train wreck that incites the audience to peek at the screen through fingers—it is a story in which one must see what happens next even though you almost certainly know it won’t be good for any of the characters.  Along with the romantic emotional dilemma the main couple experiences, Curtis and Yates provide audience members a lesson on the more cold-hearted side of how Foreign Policy and Globalization is viewed by those in charge and how it is organized and considered.

A very happy un-Valentine to you, indeed!

This film is available for checkout by members of the University community in the Media Resources department in Ekstrom library.  It’s a part of the SGA Video Collection.

Curious moviegoer seeking new director?

Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited
by Brittney Thompson

Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) directs The Darjeeling Limited: a story of three brothers, Francis, Peter, and Jack Whitman (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman) reunited one year after not speaking to or seeing one another following the funeral of their father. They travel throughout India on a train called the Darjeeling Limited and manage to get into ridiculous shenanigans (buying a poisonous snake meant for a pet; having one loafer worth thousands of dollars stolen by a shoe-shine boy; facing the threat of being thrown off the train at any moment regardless of how desolate the locations are; attempting to rescue three boys; running around with dozens of heavy and expensive pieces of luggage) before reaching their destination to visit their mother (Anjelica Huston).

The brothers are escapists; their respective problems and shared dysfunctional family prove to be most harrowing during their time together. Francis, the eldest and self-declared leader of the three, recently suffered from a motorcycle accident and remains in bandages and in possession of a cane for the whole of the film. He is overbearing and must know every aspect of his younger brothers’ lives—not because he cares, but because he wants the information that they are not sharing with him. He goes as far as to hold onto their passports to ground them to him. Peter discloses to Jack that he has left his pregnant wife behind in the United States and that the child will be born soon—he will not be present for the birth. He is convinced that he was the closest to their father and his favorite son. Peter has taken some of their father’s belongings such as his razor and prescription sunglasses out of which he can’t see, but insists on wearing both inside and outside. Jack is a writer whose characters in his pieces are striking to him and the people in his life although he won’t admit it. He refuses to let go of a failed relationship with his ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) and allows it to consume his life.

The themes of depression, isolation and loneliness while surrounded with people, familial duty, not to mention responsibility (of lack thereof) and bored wealthy people, are showcased in nearly every Wes Anderson film, but are unique to this dramedy. With loveable and quick-witted characters, audience members are sure to enjoy this fast paced story and be inspired to check out the rest of Anderson’s filmography.

Check out the film in the SGA Collection in the Media Resources Department of Ekstrom Library.

Looking for a fun holiday flick?

Love Actually is all around

by Brittney Thompson

Tired of all the cliché seasonal films that you have seen a billion times? Well, if you liked Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, or Pirate Radio, then Love Actually is the perfect holiday season romantic comedy for you! It has a stellar ensemble cast including (but not limited to) Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant, and Keira Knightley, who star in their own storyline in this networking motion picture. The separate, yet intersecting plotlines include: a newlywed couple, a long time married couple in which the wife doubts her husband’s loyalty, a young woman who must decide between a brother who needs her or having a love life, a scorned writer who moves to France for a few weeks, a man grieving the loss of his wife and learning how to be a single father rearing his step-son, a down and out aging pop star trying to make a comeback with a Christmas-centric hit single, the newly elected Prime Minister dealing with responsibility and his heart, a young Englishman who leaves his home country in order to get a dates with women in America, and a pair of body doubles on a film set who connect. Some of the most fun parts about the movie are the moments when the audience finds out just how all of the characters know one another. The actors bring out their designated character roles so well that the viewer is lead to believe they are real life people. We feel sorry for them, laugh with them, laugh at them, and cry with them. Writer and Director of the film, Richard Curtis, keeps his audience entertained from the exposition until the credits roll.

Ekstrom Library’s Media Resources Department has 3 copies in the SGA Collection for the University community’s viewing pleasure.

Two minutes to glory

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Kentucky Derby this week and found this item in the Ekstrom Reference Collection [Ref. SF357 .K4 B76 2007]:

The first few chapters give an overview of the history and traditions of the Derby, but it’s the second section that caught my eye. For every Kentucky Derby from 1875 to 2006 it gives a two page spread with stats and stories of the big day.
One of my favorite stories tells of the lead up to the 1955 Derby. Willie Shoemaker was slotted to ride Swaps for the big race, but got injured in another race in April. With a swollen knee and a doctor’s recommendation not to ride for three to four weeks, Shoemaker arrived in Louisville determined to race. He and his agent went to a health club to try to soak his knee in a whirlpool, but it didn’t help. Then a young man on the University of Louisville’s football team saw what was happening and offered to try to get Shoemaker into the university’s athletics department where they had a much better whirlpool.  
The whirlpool treatment at UofL reduced the swelling and Shoemaker was able to ride in the Derby. He and Swaps won the race by a length and a half. And the young football player who helped him? That was Johnny Unitas.