News Home RSS Feed

Friday, December 27, 2013

John Goodman, Coen Brothers Team Up Again

Written by Jon Williams

Inside Llewyn Davis, released theatrically earlier this month, follows the trials and tribulations of a young folk singer in 1961, flailing through a stalled career following the death of his partner.  It’s among the best films of 2013, garnering critical acclaim and a number of awards and nominations. The movie and the performances have been well regarded, as has its soundtrack, which, like 2000’s O Brother Where Art Thou? (also by the Coen Brothers), was overseen by producer T Bone Burnett.

Also like several other Coen Brothers productions, Inside Llewyn Davis features John Goodman in a prominent role, this time as a fellow musician who berates the title character on an ill-fated trip to Chicago. Goodman’s association with Joel and Ethan Coen dates back to 1987, when he was featured in Raising Arizona. Widely regarded as one of the funniest films of all time, it was one of the earliest efforts from the filmmaking team.

Since then, Goodman has gone on to act onscreen in four more of the Coens’ films: Barton Fink (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000), and Inside Llewyn Davis. In addition, he served as the narrator to their 1994 film The Hudsucker Proxy. Goodman considers his role in Lebowski to be one of his favourites, as his character, Walter Sobchak, is the one for which he’s recognized the most by fans.

Of course, Goodman has had quite a notable career outside of Coen Brothers films as well. He’s best known for his role as Dan Conner, Roseanne’s husband in the sitcom Roseanne, which ran from 1988 to 1997, and he voiced the monster James P. Sullivan in the Disney/Pixar hit Monsters, Inc. and the sequel Monsters University (as well as an appearance in Cars). He’s also played such characters as Santa Claus, Fred Flintstone, and Babe Ruth. Recently he starred as the villain in The Hangover Part III, and next will be seen alongside George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Bill Murray in the upcoming adaptation of The Monuments Men, scheduled to hit theatres in February.

This is just a small sampling of the titles available from CVS Midwest Tape, both from John Goodman and from the Coen Brothers. For more, SmartBrowse ‘John Goodman,’ ‘Joel Coen,’ and ‘Ethan Coen’ on our website.

Friday, December 20, 2013

More Potter in the Works

Written by Kyle Slagley

The story of an orphaned English boy who, within the span of seven years, must grow up and realize that he is a famous wizard who saved the world once and must do so all over again is well known to millions around the world. Put another way, Harry Potter is one of the most famous people who never lived.

Fans of J.K. Rowling’s book series were given a big boost back in September when it was announced that Rowling had cut a deal with Warner Bros (who produced all eight of the Harry Potter films) to produce a film around Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, a supplemental book to the seven-novel series about Potter. Fantastic Beasts is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter line of novels and films; instead it begins 70 years prior to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in New York City. Rowling is hoping to turn the film into a series of its own.

Potter fans tend to be an insatiable bunch, so it’s a good thing Fantastic Beasts isn’t the only piece of news I have to tell. Just this morning I read that Rowling is also bringing Harry Potter to the stage. Unlike Fantastic Beasts, the stage play will reportedly be a prequel to Philosopher’s Stone, and address Potter’s early days as an orphan and misfit.

Writing extensions to a series as beloved and established as Harry Potter is indeed a tricky business. I have to say, choosing a medium other than film was a wise choice on Rowling’s part. Fans grew used to a distinctive style of filmmaking by the time the eighth movie was released, so writing a prequel for the stage gives Rowling a chance to branch out a bit in style without risking as much rejection from die-hard fans of the film.

Moreover, writing the prequel as a stage play has its advantages for the actors – particularly the lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) young men who will be cast as Harry. On film, audiences would expect and demand a younger version of Daniel Radcliffe. On the stage, audiences will likely give the actors more room to interpret the role.

These two projects will be Rowling’s first attempt at writing both a screenplay and a stage script. With no word on a release date for Fantastic Beasts or an opening night for the stage show, fans will have to get by re-reading the book series and re-watching the film series. We’ll keep you updated if we hear more.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Titles Named to National Film Registry

Written by Jon Williams

This morning the U.S. Library of Congress announced this year’s additions to the National Film Registry. The Registry was established in 1988 to recognize and preserve “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films” produced in the U.S.

One of the titles added this year is Disney’s Mary Poppins, which has just been rereleased on DVD and Blu-ray in a digitally restored 50th Anniversary Edition. This is particularly timely due to the upcoming theatrical release of Saving Mr. Banks, the film starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson that details Walt Disney’s efforts to bring Mary Poppins from the page to the screen. Other notable titles being added this year include Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, The Magnificent Seven, and The Right Stuff.

The first class of films was added to the Registry in 1989. This inaugural list included a number of what are widely considered to be the best films of all time. These classics include Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Gone with the Wind, Singin’ in the Rain, Snow White (currently in the DisneyVault), Some Like It Hot, the original Star Wars, and The Wizard of Oz, to name just a few.

With the 2013 list announced, there have now been 25 classes of films added to the National Film Registry, bringing the total number of films listed to 625. Although it is a U.S.-centric list, it is a fine collection of essential films that your patrons would love to experience for the first time or revisit over and over again. Make sure to have these movies on your shelves; SmartBrowse ‘National Film Registry’ on our homepage for a complete list of films available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Artists Honoured, Legends Return

Written by Jon Williams

It’s been a big week for news and events in country music.

First and foremost, the American Country Awards were held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. It was a star-studded affair, hosted by Trace Adkins and Danica Patrick and featuring performances by Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, and Kellie Pickler, among others. The awards, voted on by fans, recognize the best of the past year in a variety of categories. The big winners on the night were Florida Georgia Line (six awards) and Blake Shelton (four awards), as well as Luke Bryan, who was named artist of the year. For a complete list of the night’s winners, click here.

That same day, it was announced that a new Johnny Cash album will be released in March, featuring unheard music from the country legend. Out Among the Stars was recorded in the early ‘80s and then never released. The material was mostly forgotten and assumed lost, and has only recently been rediscovered. This will be the fourth album release since Cash’s passing in 2003, the first since American VI: Ain’t No Grave in 2010. Stay tuned for ordering information on the upcoming album.

Finally, Garth Brooks announced this week on Good Morning America that he will begin touring again in 2014. Brooks shocked the music world when he announced his retirement from touring and recording in 2000, at the height of his immense popularity, saying he wanted to spend time with his wife (country singer Trisha Yearwood) and children. Now, with his youngest daughter about to graduate from high school, Brooks is ready to get back to what he does best. In preparation, Brooks has released a 6-disc compilation, Blame It All on My Roots, which features his take on songs which have influenced him over the course of his life and career, a mixture of classic country, classic rock, and more. There’s no word yet on any upcoming releases of new original material, but you have to imagine that’ll be the next step.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Hour of Code" Promotes Computer Knowledge

Written by Kyle Slagley

This week marks the first annual Computer Science Education Week, or CSEdWeek for short. Sponsored by, the week is intended to inspire K-12 students to learn the basics, and hopefully more, of computer science. The week also serves a double-purpose in that it recognizes the December 9th birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who is widely considered to be a pioneer in computing.

The big push during this year’s CSEdWeek is the “Hour of Code” initiative. Big names like Ashton Kutcher, President Obama, and (unsurprisingly) Mark Zuckerberg have been encouraging people to take part in hour-long seminars where participants are taught the basics of computer code.

Beginning Monday morning, I was very happy to see dozens of tweets by libraries in all corners of the U.S. and Canada advocating for “Hour of Code” and CSEdWeek. Loads of libraries are offering their own Hour of Code seminars this week, or at the very least are directing patrons to other local organizations who are hosting.

In case your patrons want some additional material regarding either code or computer science in general, I’ve pulled together a couple of titles you can order from CVS Midwest Tape that might help.

Learn HTML - Explains what HTML is, web pages, scanners, servers, web page design issues, and more. Learn how to create a page or simply be up-to-date with today's technology. Everything viewers need to learn is at their fingertips.

Mastering Java Programming – Vol. 1 & Vol. 2: Learn how to program in Java with step-by-step video lessons. Presuming viewers know nothing about programming at all, viewers will be walked through each concept necessary to write Java programs quickly and effectively. Then continue the Mastering Java series with step-by-step video lessons and example code. The student will learn about keyboard input, for loop, if statements, while loops, math libraries, and much more.

If your patrons have questions regarding a specific type of computing, SmartBrowse “Information Technology” for a complete list of our available titles.

Friday, December 6, 2013

World Mourns Loss of Nelson Mandela

Written by Kyle Slagley

Today, free men and women from all nations are forced to say goodbye to one of the most influential men in history. Nelson Mandela passed away peacefully yesterday at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa, amid his family and friends at the age of 95.

After spending his younger years as a political activist, Mandela was eventually arrested and would spend nearly 30 years in prison for his activities. Just four years after being released from prison, Mandela was elected President of South Africa and served one five-year term from 1994-1999 before voluntarily retiring.

As one of the most influential men of the 20th century, Mandela has fittingly been portrayed by some of Hollywood’s best actors over the years; among them are Morgan Freeman, Sidney Poitier, David Harewood, Dennis Haysbert, Terrence Howard, Clarke Peters, and Idris Elba. Mandela also gave the world a chance to know him through his writing; the most popular in recent years would be Long Walk to Freedom, thanks largely to the film version starring Elba.

Thanks to his tireless courage and commitment to ideals like freedom, education, and peace, many nations across the world feel as though they are saying goodbye to one of their own. Celebrities and heads of state across the world are sharing Mandela’s words today, and many national flags are flying at half-mast.

Because it is incredibly difficult to find words that truly do justice to a man as great as Mandela, I will instead leave you with the words that he himself used to find courage during his many years in prison.

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

For titles by and about Nelson Mandela, visit our website here.