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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

12 Films to Look Forward to in 2012

This Sunday night we honor the great films of 2011 with The 84th Annual Academy Awards. Following that prestigious event, audiences and Hollywood will turn their attention to 2012. What movies will slay box offices? What talents will break through into the spotlight? And what films will capture the attention of the next award season? While I don’t have a crystal ball, I have managed to pinpoint 12 films to put on your movie-going radar this year.

The Dark Knight Rises
It’s the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed Batman trilogy, and even though the film doesn’t hit theaters until July, some midnight showings are already sold out. According to MetaCritic, the rumored $250 million production features even more scenes filmed in the IMAX format than 2008's The Dark Knight, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, and Anne Hathaway join the already stellar returning cast. Needless to say, this film is way worthy of all the buzz and buildup.

The Hunger Games
This pick doesn’t need much explanation. The amazing book trilogy will now be a four-part film franchise. It will most likely satiate the movie-going needs of both Twi-Hards and Potterites alike, plus all the rest of us who love either the book series, Jennifer Lawrence, dystopian tales, or all of the above. The buzz on this film is boiling over, so thank goodness it comes out in a month. Watch the trailer here.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Cue the collective groans. I know you’re thinking “Another Spider-Man? C’mon!” But if Christopher Nolan proved anything with his Batman franchise, it’s that reboots can not only be vastly better than the originals, but bring in a lot more bucks, too.

Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and starring The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield and Hollywood sweetheart Emma Stone, the film is based more on the comic book series.Couple these factors with audiences’ overwhelming adoration for all things Spidey, and methinks this will be quite the blockbuster. Plus the trailer looks awesome.

Gangster Squad
Director Ruben Fleischer has changed his pace, switching from modestly budgeted action-comedy like Zombieland and 30 Minutes or Less to a true crime drama set in late 1940s Los Angeles. Not intrigued yet? Well, I have two words for you: Ryan Gosling. Yes, the man of 2011 is staking his claim on 2012, too. Supporting the Gos is Sean Penn, who plays infamous gangster Mickey Cohen, a mogul who started as muscle for Al Capone in Chicago. Gosling and Josh Brolin play the two coppers determined to bring him down. And Emma Stone is the femme fatale coming between them.

The Avengers
Another superhero flick has made my 2012 list. But how could this one not? Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly fame co-writes and directs. In the film, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor (each of whom had their own movies) team up with Nick Fury, Hawkeye, the Incredible Hulk, and Black Widow to stop Thor’s brother Loki from destroying the world. All these superheroes are sure to deliver a lot of great action. Fingers crossed this doesn’t turn into the New Year’s Eve of superhero movies, though.

Originally this film wasn’t on my radar in the slightest, but then The Early Word reported that Cosmopolis beat out Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 and The Hunger Games in MTV’s Movie Brawl for Must-See Movie of 2012. So how did it win millions of votes? While Eastern Promises was incredible, it most likely wasn’t director David Cronenberg that swayed voters. And even though he is loveable, it probably wasn’t Paul Giammati either.

More likely, voters literally went weak in the knees for R. Pat. Yes, Cosmopolis, based off Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel, stars Robert Pattinson. Fans seemed to have banded together to show their support for the heartthrob’s post-vampire career. In addition to MTV, this film also made Paste Magazine and The Playlist’s film previews. Why? All the non-Pattinson reasons listed above.

The Hobbit
Fans of The Lord of the Rings franchise have long been clamoring for a big-screen, big-budget adaptation of The Hobbit. According to Yahoo! Movies, “a change of directors, lawsuits, and the aforementioned bankruptcy of MGM delayed things for a while,” but Peter Jackson is intending to deliver around Christmastime of 2012. If the Oscar-winning first three films and the teaser trailer are any indication, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey should be dazzling.

Pixar is finally making way for a female protagonist. They’re also venturing away from the world of sequels. Set in the Scottish highlands, Brave focuses on a 10th century Scottish princess named Merida. Pixar delivers when it comes to movies, so it’s no surprise that Brave made just about every 2012 film preview.

After some MGM drama and many rumors, the next Daniel Craig Bond film is happening. With Javier Bardem starring as the villain and Sam Mendes directing, there’s much excitement swirling around the 23rd Bond film. Featuring a completely original storyline—that’s right, no Ian Fleming novel here—the film follows Agent 007 as he hunts down the people who attacked MI6, while struggling with his relationship with boss M.

Originally a prequel to Alien, but now simply set in that universe, Ridley Scott has returned to his sci-fi roots for Prometheus. While details of the film are fairly under wraps, we do know it stars the man who can do no wrong, Michael Fassbender, and the original girl with dragon tat, Noomi Rapace. According to The Playlist, “it’s about a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe.” Need your interest furthered piqued? Check out the teaser trailer below.

Breaking Dawn Pt. 2
Whether you’re a diehard fan or just happy to see this series end, it’s hard to deny Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 as an anticipated film of 2012. But that’s what many did. Out all the lists I reviewed, only Yahoo! Movies listed Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2 on their film preview. Perhaps four movies were too many for most.

Slated for a November 2012 release, the film will follow newly made vampire Bella and her hubby Edward as they team up with other vampire clans as well as Jacob and his werewolves to protect their hybrid baby from the Volturi. Now those of us who have read the books know this whole plot isn’t as climactic as it sounds, but if the rest of the films are any indication, director Bill Condon and his team are sure going to try to make this final the most epic ever.

Additional 2012 Flicks to Get Excited About
  • The Bourne Legacy

  • World War Z

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

  • Moonrise Kingdom

  • Gravity

  • Men in Black III

  • The Wettest Country
  • Dog Fight
  • Django Unchained
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Master
  • Argo
  • Dark Shadows
  • Lincoln
What movies are you most anticipating in 2012? Did I miss any? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Adele Sweeps the 54th Annual Grammy Awards

Danielle Desmond, our lead music selector and CD standing order expert, recaps this past weekend's Grammy Awards.
In the wake of R&B singer Whitney Houston’s sudden death, the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, had the biggest audience viewing since 1984.

Rapper and Grammy host LL Cool J opened the show addressing audience members with the painful words, “We have a death in our family.” He then led the audiences and viewers in prayer to honor the late Whitney Houston.

As they say, though, “the show must go on,” and the Grammys certainly did, honoring this year’s amazing artists, including the many greats we’ve lost this year. Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt performed Etta James’s “Sunday Kind of Love.” Tony Bennett accepted the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for his duet, “Body and Soul,” with the late Amy Winehouse. And Jennifer Hudson left us with chills after she sang Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Although no one can quite match Houston’s extraordinary and incomparable voice, Hudson did the legendary diva proud.

Another noteworthy performance? The unlikely collaboration of the Beach Boys, Maroon 5, and newcomer hipster band Foster the People. The Beach Boys will start their 50th Anniversary Tour this spring.

Missing from the awards ceremony was Kanye West as well as Jay Z and Beyonce (who were probably at home taking care of their brand new baby daughter, Blu Ivy). Still, many artists attended to proudly accept their awards.

The biggest winner of the night was Adele for her album 21, which went six for six on awards: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Pop Vocal Album, Best Solo Pop Performance, and Best Short Form Music Video.

In addition to sweeping the Grammys, Adele also blew audiences away with a stunning performance of her hit song “Rolling in the Deep.” The wow factor was amplified by the fact that this was Adele’s first performance since her throat surgery back in November. She remembered to thank her doctors in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year.

The Foo Fighters won for Best Rock Album, Rock Song, and Rock Performance. David Grohl told everyone that this was his most meaningful album because it was recorded in his garage. Chris Brown performed early in the night and then took home the award for Best R&B Album. Kanye West, who wasn’t present, won for Best Rap Album.

America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift performed her hit “Mean,” which also won the Grammy for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.

The show wrapped with an unforgettable finale from Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and David Grohl, singing a medley from the Abbey Road album. What a gorgeous and refreshing compilation of “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.”

What did you think of the Grammys? Were there any shocks or snubs in your book? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below, and be sure to shop the full list of winners here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 Audiobook Preview

Audiobook lovers rejoice! The year 2012 looks to be filled with a wealth of literary treasures. Now that Groundhog Day is in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at what lies ahead—aside from six more weeks of winter.

Just released on February 7 was Stay Awake, a new collection of short stories from Dan Chaon. Chaon’s last collection was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2001. Here he returns to the short form for the first time in eleven years after publishing two novels in the meantime.

On Valentine’s Day, readers will fall in love with a trio of books. Sophie Kinsella looks to continue her bestselling ways with I’ve Got Your Number, while Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept, returns with The House I Loved. If you like a little horror with your romance, Anne Rice has the answer with The Wolf Gift.

Finishing out February, there’s Other People We Married on February 21 from Emma Straub, daughter of novelist Peter Straub and a powerful author in her own right. On the 28th, bestseller Jodi Picoult offers Lone Wolf, while Ramona Ausubel makes a conspicuous debut with No One Is Here Except All of Us, a fable of a Jewish village in Romania trying to persevere through the horrors of World War II.

Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. On March 13 she turns her talents to non-fiction with When I Was a Child I Read Books, a collection of essays on a variety of themes. Going in the other direction, Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, tries his hand at fiction in Monday Mornings, about a group of surgeons who confront their failures in weekly “Morbidity and Mortality” meetings.

Also in March, Lyndsay Faye follows up her Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper pastiche with another work of historical crime fiction, The Gods of Gotham. Then, acclaimed writer Lionel Shriver (another National Book Award finalist) presents The New Republic, a novel about terrorism that she originally wrote in 1998 but shelved after the September 11 World Trade Center attacks.

April is the month for heavy hitters on the bestseller lists. First up, on the 3rd, is Mary Higgins Clark with The Lost Years. On the 10th, John Grisham eschews the courtroom for the baseball diamond in Calico Joe. Stephen King follows up 11/22/63 with the eighth installment in his Dark Tower series, The Wind Through the Keyhole, on the 24th. Also on that day, critical lightning rod Jonathan Franzen returns with his latest book of essays, Farther Away.

Further out on the horizon, there’s still plenty to look forward to: Deadlocked, a new Southern Vampire book from Charlaine Harris; Home, by Toni Morrison, a novel about racial inequality and the aftereffects of war; Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; In One Person by venerable author John Irving; and Mortality, the final memoir by firebrand and critic Christopher Hitchens, who passed away in December.

Of course, this is just a small sampling of what awaits us in the world of audiobooks in 2012. What new and upcoming releases are you and your patrons most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below.

For more 2012 previews, click on the links below:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Canada Celebrates Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Queen's ascension to the British throne, and around the country, Canadians are celebrating. According to the Canadian Press, there's been a marked renewal of enthusiasm and support for the monarchy here in Canada. And after Will and Kate's tour of the country last year, we have developed an "appetite for months of festivities honouring one of the longest reigns in the institution's history."

All over the country, we'll celebrate with a myriad of events scheduled throughout the year. Additionally, about 60,000 Canadians will receive a very special honourthe Diamond Jubilee medal, awarded for work in community service. Today the first 60 Canadians, including freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau, Terry Fox's brother Darrell, and entrepreneur Brett Wilson, received their medals.

I’ve kicked off the Jubilee by listening to Elizabeth the Queen on audiobook. I’ve only just started, but so far, I find it quite captivating. How are you and your library celebrating? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Winter Music Preview

2012 is here! Thus, it's time for our Year in Preview series. Here, Karan Davay, one of our CD selectors and marketers, discusses what to look forward to this winter.

As the music industry prepares to honor the best of 2011 at the Grammy’s in February and honor music legends at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April, music artists continue to give us great new music in 2012.

Van Halen kicked off the New Year, quite literally, in Times Square on New Year’s Eve with a billboard announcing their new album, A Different Kind of Truth (February 7), and a U.S. Tour that reunites David Lee Roth with his old band mates.

It isn’t just Van Halen hitting the tour circuit, though. Bruce Springsteen—on the heels of his new album announcement (Wrecking Ball, releasing March 6)—will not only launch a tour, but will make a rare appearance at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas as the keynote speaker. Rolling Stone also has tours predicted for Lady Gaga, Madonna, The Rolling Stones, and others.

Newcomer Lana Del Rey, aka Lizzy Grant, has been creating quite a stir with her new album Born To Die. Her internet viral hit “Video Games,” which Pitchfork Media named “Best New Track, “has led her to the nightly talk show rounds, including the coveted Saturday Night Live spot. Of course, that appearance didn’t necessarily go so well. Still, it’s more press for the breakthrough artist.

Canadian folk singer Kathleen Edwards has also been hitting the talk shows, promoting her latest CD, Voyageur. She has teamed up with her boyfriend, Justin Moore of Bon Iver, who helped co-produced her fourth album.

In the classical world of music, Grammy winning violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk have landed on the Billboard charts with their highly anticipated album, French Impressions.

Reality music shows are also revving up. Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest return to American Idol for its 11th season. Madonna is headlining the Super Bowl on February 5 with special musical guest M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj. Both Madonna and Minaj have new music coming out: MDNA and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded respectively. Following the Super bowl, The Voice starts their second season with judges Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Blake Shelton, and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine returning.

Taylor Swift will be gracing the cover of February’s Vogue catalog. She is chatting up her upcoming fourth album, which will again be about a romance gone badly. Taylor Swift also has a new single off the upcoming Hunger Games soundtrack. There are more artists releasing albums that I’m pretty excited about. Look for CDs from No Doubt, U2, Maroon 5, Adam Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Usher, Ke$ha, Faith Hill, and Rascal Flatts.

CVS Midwest Tape continues to help you stay in tune to the latest and greatest in music. Click here to view our full 2012 Winter Preview, and be sure to check out our Calendar tool to view all upcoming CD releases.