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Movie Monday

Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

Warning: This film is rated R.

Seth Rogen vehicles have been an almost annual event since 2013, and every year they seem to decline in quality just a little bit. This is the End was widely regarded to be great, Neighbors was thought to be good, and the Interview is just kinda bad. His contribution to cinema this year is a christmas movie called The Night Before, which serves to subvert the current Seth Rogen movie trend. It is hilarious, enjoyable, and surprisingly heartfelt.

The Night Before follows three best friends Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Isaac (Seth Rogen), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) as they spend the night before christmas together, per tradition, with the ultimate goal to attend the greatest party ever, the nutcracker ball. The tradition started years before, when Ethan’s parents died in a car crash leaving him alone on Christmas Eve, until Chris and Isaac came and cheered him up. This year, however, is the last year for the tradition; both Chris and Isaac have moved on and have different things to worry about, one with a family and the other with a sports career.

First and foremost, a comedy ought to be funny, otherwise it’s pretty pointless. This premise leaves a lot of room for hilarity, and delivers fairly well on that promise. Most every scene is funny and had me laughing heartily.

The actors all do well in their roles, delivering their lines with great comic timing. The group’s pot dealer, Mr. Green (Michael Shannon), is a surprisingly wonderful character. He’s unexpectedly funny and welcomely relatable.

Funny movies are not uncommon, released it seems almost every week. Neither are comedies with good actors. Christmas movies are also numerous, it seems ten or twenty are released every year. The Night Before isn’t just like all of these other movies though. It is better than most, unique and defined in an oversaturated field.  What elevates it and truly cements it as an annual Christmas movie, a movie that friends will watch together for years to come, is the heart behind it.

More than a stupid stoner comedy, or a throwaway Christmas movie, The Night Before is a  story about friendship. The pain Ethan feels throughout the movie is real and tangible. The emotions are legitimately affecting. It’s a movie about moving on while still maintaining a connection. There were moments that I started to tear up (although it might be because I’m a bit soft). People will go see it for the jokes, and see it again for the heart.

Are there better Christmas movies? Of course. Not everything works in the film, but all of the problems fade away next to the great moments and great jokes scattered around it. I suspect it will quickly become a Christmas classic.

Check out more Seth Rogan films here!

Image Credit: Taminator on Flickr

Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

Warning: This film is rated R. 

Last year a small film called The Cobbler was released to the public. I say it is small not because of the budget, a respectable 10 million, but because of the gross, a humiliating $24,000. Most people haven’t heard of it, let alone seen it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was one of the few to see it. The Adam Sandler and Dustin Hoffman led film was an absolute mess, one of the worst movies of 2014. This trainwreck was the product of one Tom McCarthy, who wrote and directed the picture. Basically, The Cobbler was all his fault. But fear not, for McCarthy's new film Spotlight just hit screens, and it serves to redeem last year’s blunder.

Spotlight tells the true story of the Boston Globe newspaper uncovering the scandal of child molestation within the Catholic church, and the cover up by various Church officials. A new editor Marty Baron (played by Liev Schreiber) shakes things up at the Globe, suggesting a long term investigation be conducted on the Catholic church. The Spotlight team takes up the case, a secretive 4 person outfit whose very purpose is to thoroughly investigate and uncover scandal. Members Walter (Michael Keaton),  Matt (Brian d'Arcy James), Mike (Mark Ruffalo), and Sacha (Rachel McAdams) dive deeper and deeper into the conspiracy, each revelation exciting and horrifying in equal measure.

The acting in the film is resoundingly wonderful. Several Oscar nods are definitely in store for the cast, who all are excellent. A standout is Mark Ruffalo, who fully embodies his character and gives one of the most dedicated performances I’ve seen all year. Liev Schreiber is also notably excellent, portraying a particularly complex character with unequaled warmth and depth.

The screenplay is beautifully written, intensifying the situation with every scene, revealing new information at a methodical pace. It’s not afraid to take it’s time, wallowing in the struggle of it’s characters, and delivers comic relief at the exact right moments.

The directing, courtesy of our good friend Tom McCarthy, is top notch (unlike his previously mentioned film). The pacing is well executed, as is the minimalistic style. He made a picture that digs deep into the viewer’s skull and refuses to leave even after the credits role.

And that’s how simple it is to make a great film. Great actors coupled with a great script under a great director. It’s really astounding that McCarthy made a film of this caliber after the Cobbler, but it’s a welcome surprise. The story is what really drives the film forward, everything else in service to it. Spotlight is highly recommended for anyone looking for a haunting and cerebral experience, as opposed to just the usual explosions and such. 9/10 

Find more work by Tom McCarthy here!

Image Credit: Steven Saccomanno on Flickr

Arra, Teen Services Coordinator

"City of Bones" will be released this week on Wednesday!  Author Cassandra Clare was very active in the process of making this movie, including attending auditions.  Clare's grandfather was a movie producer so she has an insider view on how movies make it from book to production.  Filming for the second movie "City of Ashes" is set to begin this fall.

Arra, Teen Services Coordinator

Have you seen the new Percy Jackson movie?  Is it as good as the book?  Check out the preview online!


Tana, Arvada Library

Pacific Rim, written by Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham and directed by del Toro, is a fast, flashy, beautiful sendup of two fun Manga/Anime genres, Kaiju and Mecha. Kaiju, Japanese for 'strange creature', is usually translated in English to being "monster" or "giant monster"... as in Godzilla, Rodan or Mothra.  Mecha, on the other hand, is all about Robots and other mechanical objects.  Cyborgs, cars, toasters and those giant Voltron type 'suits,' all count as Mecha in this popular Japanese genre.  Pacific Rim lovingly combines the genres, in the hope that you too, will come to love humongous monsters and ginormous robots!
Here are some examples of Mecha and Kaiju in our collection:


Pam, Standley Lake Library

Did you know that you can check out DVD's of some of your favorite manga titles? The library buys several animated Japanese television programs such as Death Note, Bleach, Claymore, Gray-man and Strike Witches to name just a few of them.  Search the catalog for animated japanese television programs to find them all.

Briana, Evergreen Library

Looking for something unique to do? It's not too late to enjoy a signature Colorado summer event: Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Morrison. Hosted by the Denver Film Society, Film on the Rocks features cult-classic films, show under the stars at stunning Red Rocks. Each film is preceeded by a music performance with movies beginning at dusk. Tickets are $12, available here or at King Soopers locations.

Check out one of these upcoming films!

The Hunger Games: Monday, July 15
The Princess Bride: Tuesday, July 23
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Tuesday, August 13

Photo credit: The Denver Film Society

Erin, Golden Library

The Lone Ranger hits theaters this Friday! If you're not famililar with the story Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into the legend of justice, the Lone Ranger. Be sure and check out the great graphic novel Lone Ranger series by Brett Matthews.

Amy, Edgewater

Supernatural comic book series "Locke and Key" by Joe Hill (Stephen King's son!) was going to be made for TV but will now be on the big screen!  The story centers on the Locke children-after their Father is brutally murdered, the family moves into Keyhouse-their old family home.  They discover the house contains secrets and magical keys that unlock fantastic powers, but there is a dark force that wants the family to open a door that will destroy all the good in their world.  Check out the book series in the meantime!


Jessie, Columbine Library

Vampire Academy, the story of vampire princess Lissa and her guardian-in-training Rose, is finally going to make it to the big screen. The first book in the series starts two years after a horrible incident made Rose and Lissa run away. Now they have been found and returned to St. Vladimir's Academy, where one focuses on mastering magic and the other on physical training, and all students work to retain some part of their humanity despite their bloodsucking nature.

The movie features Zoey Deutch (who was in Beautiful Creatures) as Rose and Lucy Fry as Lissa, and also stars Sarah Hyland from Modern Family as their friend Natalie. It's scheduled to come out on February 14, 2014. Happy Valentine's Day to us all!


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