Jez

Mamma Mia! (2008) & Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Based on the hit Broadway musical of the same name, Mamma Mia! follows a young woman named Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who is about to get married, and wants to invite her birth father, but first she needs to find out who he is. Her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), first came to Greece in her early 20s, and, according to a diary Sophie finds, was with three men around the time of Sophie's conception. In an effort to find out the truth, she invites all three to her wedding.

In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we find Sophie working to transform her mother's Greek villa into a bed & breakfast. She wants to make the grand opening as spectacular as possible to honor Donna's memory. Though a sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, focuses a lot of its time on Donna's youth, showing a younger version (Lily James) first coming to Greece and meeting the three men later questioned to be Sophie's father.

Both films exist in the fantastical world where every moment leads to breaking out in a hit ABBA song. Fans of the Swedish superstars have a lot to love here, with Mamma Mia prominently featuring many of their biggest hits from their Gold album and the sequel finding lesser known, but still enjoyable songs. Featuring an all-star cast, including Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, and Julie Walters, these musicals make a light and enjoyable double feature.

Jez

The Finnish Way by Katja Pantzar (2018)

In 2017, Meik Wiking introduced us to Hygge (and later Lykke) and helped us bring more happiness and comfort to our lives and launching a trend of books on Scandinavian wisdom. Sweden's answer to the Danish hygge was Lagom by Niki Brantmark, focused on simplicity, and now we complete the trifecta with the Finnish.

Like its neighbors, Finland experiences winters with little sunlight (some areas like Lapland seeing as many as 47 days where the sun never makes it above the horizon), creating a serious concern for Seasonal Affect Disorder and depression among its residents. Yet in 2018, Finland ranked #1 on the world happiness index. What's their secret? According to Katja Pantzar, it's the concept of "sisu," which can be roughly translated as "everyday courage."

In her book The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness through the Power of Sisu, Pantzar describes many aspects of life in Finland, including biking everywhere (even in winter), getting out into nature, seeing movement as a kind of medicine, arctic swimming, and, naturally, using the sauna regularly. Together these traits form the type of sturdiness and courage the Finns need to face endless night and any challenge that comes their way.

Jez

Astrology: Using the Wisdom of the Stars in Your Everyday Life (2018)

astroPerhaps due to so much stress and uncertainty in the world today, astrology is seeing a huge burst in popularity, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. DK Publishing’s new book, Astrology: Using the Wisdom of the Stars in Your Everyday Life, is a great introduction for those who want to move beyond their star sign. With beautiful infographics on each page, this guide walks readers through sun, moon, and rising signs; planetary placements; and the historical significance of astrology.

The part I found most helpful was the straightforward way this book explains how to create and read a natal chart and what the significance of each house is—and how all of these aspects work together to create a tool to help readers understand themselves better and potentially better inform decisions for the future.

Interested in astrology or just want to learn enough to understand the memes? Hang out with us next Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m. for our #LibSocial program for ages 18-39: Astrology 101: What Planet Can I Blame for This?
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Jez

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (2018)

proposalNik Paterson has been dating her actor boyfriend for five months, and not very seriously, so she’s taken completely by surprise when he proposes to her at a Dodgers game…on the scoreboard…in front of thousands of people. Nik tries to tell him she can’t—he doesn’t even know her well enough to spell her name correctly, after all—but her boyfriend storms off angrily, making Nik the center of a big scene. A few rows back, Carlos Ibarra and his sister, Angie, are watching everything on the jumbotron and the two come to Nik’s rescue by pretending to be old friends of hers.

After the game, Nik and Carlos start finding excuses to see each other, though neither is looking for anything serious. But as time goes on, feelings start to develop and rules start to break, and Nik needs to get out before she gets too attached.

Filled with lots of humor, I loved this romantic comedy for its well-rounded characters, realistic reactions and situations, and the charming love story at the center. The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (author of The Wedding Date) is a great read for anyone looking for a fun, sexy—and believable—romance. And for more—check out our list of romantic comedies!

https://ippl.info/books-movies-more/76-book-lists/1807-all-time-faves-romantic-comedies
Jez

Tag (2018) R

91dceafsxzl-_sx342_If you want an action movie with low stakes, look no further than TagBased on a true story, five friends have been playing the same game of tag since childhood.  Now in their mid-30s, these men dedicate a month each year to continuing the game, pulling all kinds of tricks in order to tag someone.  A reporter from The Wall Street Journal is doing a piece on Bob (Jon Hamm) when he’s tagged and decides the game is the more interesting story.

One friend, Jerry (Jeremy Renner), has never once been it, so the other four are determined to make this the year it finally happens.  Full of ridiculous action scenes that beautifully spoof Renner’s other movies, this is a fun film with lots of recognizable comedy faces, including Ed Helm, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, and Isla Fisher.

 
Jez

The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King (2018)

good-neighborIf you grew up any time between 1968 and 2001, there’s a good chance that Fred Rogers was your childhood. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a slow, peaceful show about friendship and learning, with a kindly gentleman and his friends and a world of make believe. There’s a certain amount of make believe surrounding Rogers himself, with rumors spreading quickly across the internet, especially one about him being a navy seal. The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King—the first authorized biography of Rogers—aims to set the record straight: Fred Rogers was precisely the man you imagined him to be, based off his television persona. But he was also so much kinder and maybe a little stranger than we thought.

King’s biography covers the entirety of Rogers’ life, drawing on television appearances; interviews with Rogers, his family, and his coworkers; and his own personal friendship with the man. In these pages, you’ll learn how Rogers contributed and changed the face of early childhood education, his past as an opera author, what he was like as a parent, and some great behind-the-scenes stories from the many shows he did over the years.

For an extra dose of nostalgia, pick up the audiobook, read by LeVar Burton. When you’re done with the book, check out the movie based on the book, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Jez

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)

moscow3When the Bolsheviks rise to power in Russia in 1922, they decide Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is an unrepentant aristocrat, but he also wrote a poem that made him quite popular among the revolutionists. Opting for a weaker punishment than death, Rostov is sentenced to lifelong house arrest in the Metropol Hotel, directly across the street from the Kremlin.

While Rostov is imprisoned, he is not entirely disconnected from the world, as the grand international hotel hosts many important guests within the Bolshevik party and from all over the world. Over the next three decades, Rostov meets with a large cast of characters, including a high-ranking KGB officer, a chef, a formerly famous actress, and a ten-year-old girl named Nina. Each has an effect on Rostov’s life, but perhaps not as large as the one Rostov has on everyone else.

Whether you read for characters or historical events, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is sure to please. With its winning combination of personalities, humor, secrets, and an excellent narration style, this novel is nothing short of charming.

Want to read more books like A Gentleman in Moscow? Check out our lists of readalikes.

https://ippl.info/books-movies-more/76-book-lists/1748-all-time-faves-if-you-liked-a-gentleman-in-moscow

 
 
 
 
Jez

The Good Place. Season 1 (2016-2017)

91dhcylcfal-_sy445_When we meet Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), she’s just been told that following her death, she’s made it into the “Good Place” due to all of the points she accrued through acts of kindness and humanitarian efforts.  Eleanor is greeted by Michael (played brilliantly by America’s sweetheart, Ted Danson), an immortal being who gives her a tour of the cheerfully colored neighborhood and introduces her to her soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), a former ethics professor who agonizes over every decision.

Everything seems perfect—except for one thing:  Eleanor doesn’t belong in the Good Place. There’s been a mix-up.  She isn’t the Eleanor Shellstrop who worked in third world countries, instead, she’s the Eleanor whose job was to scam people into buying fake medications.  In an effort to keep her secret, Eleanor convinced Chidi to teach her ethics to help her blend in by appearing to be a good person.

The Good Place is a fun, laugh-out-loud comedy that will easily brighten your day.  We even included it on our list of Feel Good TV Favorites!  Check out the first season of The Good Place, and keep season two at the ready so you can immediately binge it after the season one twist.
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Jez

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

pacific-rim-uprisingLast month, I covered Pacific Rim. In the second film, Pacific Rim: Uprising, we meet Pentecost’s son, Jake (John Boyega), who is constantly getting into trouble in a post-dystopian world. He tries to steal tech from an abandoned jaeger and is thwarted by Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a young girl building her own jaeger, which is against the law. Mako—now a major player in the war on kaiju—does her best to keep her adoptive brother in line and eventually offers Jake and Amara a choice: prison or returning to the jaeger academy to help train new recruits. Though the war is supposedly over, a new enemy—a human one—threatens to reopen the rift and allow the kaiju back into our world.

Both movies are full of action and memorable characters and, honestly, who doesn’t love giant robots? Check out both films today and make it an adventure double feature. By the end, you’ll be hoping it doesn’t take another five years for the next movie to be released.
Jez

Pacific Rim (2013) PG-13

pacific_rim_keyartIn Pacific Rim, we’re introduced to a world plagued by monsters called “kaiju,” which are breaking through a dimensional rift and seem intent on destroying all life on Earth. The world’s militaries have found the only logical way to fight back against the kaiju: giant robots (“jaegers”). Former jaeger pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) is called out of retirement to help in the war and gets teamed up with a young recruit, Mako Mori (Rinko Kinkuchi), the adoptive daughter of the Marshal, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). The two are able to mentally bond through a process called “drifting,” which is required to operate a jaeger. Meanwhile, two scientists Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) study the kaijus and find a way to drift with a kaiju brain, giving them inside information on the coming attacks. Battles ensue as the humans fight for the fate of their planet and try to close the rift.

Come back next month for my review of the sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising.
Jez

Thor: Ragnarok (2018) PG-13

thorragnarokWith an overabundance of superhero films, especially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be easy to assume if you’ve seen some, you’ve seen them all. Thor: Ragnarok is the movie that can fix all that. Infused with humor, side eye, and some tongue-in-cheek references, the third Thor movie is a breath of fresh air that is enjoyable for all viewers, not just those deep in Marvel lore. This film can even be watched reasonably easily without having seen the two previous movies or any of the Avengers tie-ins.

20 and 30-something adults can join us for a free viewing of Thor: Ragnarok on Friday, August 3rd at 6:30 p.m. as part of our #LibSocial Popcorn & Pop Culture series. We’ll laugh along to the jokes and admire Jeff Goldblum at his most Goldblum while munching on snacks and meeting new friends. For more information, visit http://libsocial.ippl.info or follow us on Meetup.
Jez

Spotlight: Fast & Furious Films

the_fast_and_the_furious_dvd_coverLAPD officer Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) has gone undercover to take down a team of street racers, but his loyalties are tested when he has to choose between his job and his love of racing. Throughout the eight movies (so far) in the Fast & Furious series, O’Connor and Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) sometimes race against each other and sometimes with each other, but always in the most tricked out cars possible. While the series may look like just a bunch of fast cars, it actually has a strong message about family and loyalty throughout—but there’s definitely fast cars, heists, shootouts, and everything else you could want from an action flick.

My personal favorite is Fast Five, which brings together all of the best characters from the series and sets them on an Ocean’s Eleven style heist and has the best visual tricks. Tokyo Drift (third in the franchise) is a great movie if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to eight movies, but be warned, it’s going to pull at your heartstrings. F&F is infamous for its complicated naming sequence, so here’s a list of the movies in order, including the upcoming 2019 spin-off. Click on the titles to view them in our catalog.
  1. The Fast and the Furious
  2. 2 Fast 2 Furious
  3. Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift
  4. Fast and Furious
  5. Fast Five
  6. Fast and Furious 6
  7. Furious 7
  8. Fate of the Furious
  9. Hobbs & Shaw (in theatres August 2, 2019)
Jez

Comics for a Strange World by Reza Farazmand (2017)

comicsstrangeworldYou’ve likely seen Reza Farazmand’s work floating around the internet, even if you’ve never heard his name. His newest book, Comics for a Strange World, is the second collection from his popular webcomic series Poorly Drawn Lines. Organized by theme, you can consider these short comics the “best of the best” of Farazmand. His humor is offbeat, tongue-in-cheek, and occasionally bleak, but his commentary on technology, humanity, and society will absolutely resonate with a wide audience, especially among Millennials.poorlydrawnlines
Jez

Sourdough by Robin Sloan (2017)

Lois Clearly moved to San Francisco to work in one of the most cutting edge robotics companies, but hasn’t quite settled in and feels listless. One night, Lois receives a menu for a local restaurant and her whole world changes. Every night, Lois orders the spicy soup and sourdough meal, until the owners pick up and move their business overseas, but not before leaving a gift for their “number one eater:” their sourdough starter. Thus begins a journey of self-discovery, baking, email exchanges, and the lost history of a little-known people, all of which lead to an underground, experimental farmer’s market.

Filled with charming and eccentric characters, with a dash of magical realism and a large helping of baking history and tips, Robin Sloan’s Sourdough is a recipe for success for any reader looking for a strange new adventure.
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Jez

When We First Met (2018) TV-14

whenwefirstmetNoah (Adam Devine) has been in love with Avery (Alexandra Daddarrio) for three years, but unfortunately, she’s getting married to Ethan (Robbie Amell), the perfect, polite gentleman she met exactly one day after she met Noah. In the middle of a drunken pity party, Noah finds himself in the photo booth he shared with Avery on the night they met and with a quarter and some wishing, he wakes up three years earlier. He repeats this multiple times, a la Groundhog Day, each time changing an aspect about their first date and things go about as well as you’d expect. The only thing that seems to stay the same in each timeline is his friendship with Avery’s best friend, Carrie (Shelley Henning).

Fans of rom-coms already know how this story is going to end, but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable. Filled with lots of laughs, tender moments, regrettable hairstyle choices (frosted tips in 2017?), and photo strips, When We First Met is a great way to spend an evening.

The movie is currently only available on Netflix, but you can watch it now without an account by checking out one of our Rokus from Tech Takeout, giving you access to Netflix, Hulu, and hundreds of movies for 7 days.