Saturday, December 26, 2015

Best of 2015: Comedy, Tragedy

Two of the many items [old and new] enjoyed by Burbank Public Library staff during 2015, recommended for your consideration:

Reviewed by Jim C.,
Reference Librarian

Favorite DVD: Frank

The comedy that asks the question, “What is the relationship between musical creativity and mental illness?” This is the story of a band, the Soronprfbs, whose leader wears an obtrusive home-made artificial head over his own head, and never takes it off. In spite of their willful obscurity, the social media skills of new band member Jon enable the Soronprfbs to make it to SXSW, where hijinks ensue.

The movie is also about a guy who destroys something he doesn’t understand. But because it’s a comedy, maybe he redeems himself in the end.

One thing that separates this from the usual “band movie” is that the actors are all good enough musicians to actually play their instruments. Another is that the songs are pretty good. Not for everybody, but recommended to fans of musicians such as Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson or Captain Beefheart.

In 1879 there existed an idiotic theory that although the Arctic Ocean was surrounded by ice, it itself consisted at least partly of warm open water. Partly as a publicity stunt, James Gordon Bennett, the publisher of the then-leading New York newspaper, the Herald, bought a ship, the USS Jeannette, and financed an expedition, officered by the U.S. Navy, to sail north through the Bering Strait in an attempt to break through. When the Jeannette was caught and locked into the ice, she was swept westward along the coast of Northern Siberia.

Although the crew hung together better psychologically than most under the circumstances, when they finally abandoned the ship two years later the expedition turned into a death march. Only those lucky enough to run into local people wandering across the Siberian river delta survived. This book might appeal to fans of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex.

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