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Staff Picks: Movies

Reel Injun

Today my morning coffee was served to me by a non-Native American wearing a headband with feathers. Some employees at this coffee shop even donned headdresses, while others wore bandanas around their necks and western-style plaid shirts. I can't say I was surprised, as culturally insensitive Halloween costumes have grown inexplicably popular, or at least become much more visible due to the Internet, in the last few years. So popular that a group of students at Ohio University have created two campaigns raising awareness about the issue.

This incident was all the more poignant, and timely, because I recently watched Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian, a 2009 documentary that traces portrayals of Native Americans in Hollywood films, from the silent era to the present, and explores the ways those portrayals shape non-Natives' understanding of Native culture and history. The film features interviews with actors, directors, and American Indian activists, including Sacheen Littlefeather, John Trudell, and Russell Means. Some of the films discussed include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dances WithWolves, Flags of Our Fathers, Smoke Signals, and The Fast Runner, all of which are available at KPL.

This documentary is entertaining, informative, and breaks down common assumptions and stereotypes. Those feather headdresses? They're worn for ceremonial purposes, and only by American Indians of the Great Plains region.

Movie

Reel Injun
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What a great movie!

It would be easy to get caught up in Sandra Bullock’s role as Leigh Anne Tuohy, after all she did a fantastic job, for which she won an academy award for best actress. Since I’m very partial to Sandra Bullock, it would be effortless for me to lose sight of the fact that the movie was based on a true story. It’s a story about real people. The Tuohy family showed compassion, courage and unconditional love to a total stranger and changed his life as well as their own. The Blind Side is a great feel-good, do-good story that shows us we make a difference.

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The Blind Side
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Award Winning Movies at KPL

It wasn’t always so easy to catch movies that cleaned up at awards ceremonies – just as The Hurt Locker did during this year’s awards season, capped by its Best Picture win at this week’s Academy Awards presentation – if you’d missed them in the movie theater during their initial runs.

Becoming a serious film buff in the mid-‘70’s, I’d come away from awards show viewings making mental notes about films I’d missed so I’d remember to catch them in a second run (pre-video boom, award winners could clean up at the box office on return engagements), or perhaps when the film made its debut on network TV, which could take a while (pre-pay channel days, I waited two, perhaps three, years to see Annie Hall - somewhat cut and with commercials - on the small screen). Campus film group showings, or bottom billings on drive-in double features, might have been outside opportunities to view these films in a timely manner, but generally, if you missed them in the theater, you’d be waiting a while to see them again. 

It’s rare these days for any film studio to hold back a title from DVD release just based on awards nominations, at least when the films aren’t end-of-year releases, to keep it on movie screens. What seems to be more common now is for studios to strategically plan DVD release dates just after awards season for maximum sales and rental impact. Precious and Up in the Air – both major awards season contenders and winners – just made their DVD debuts Tuesday, only two days after the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony. Both those titles, as well as The Hurt Locker and a slew of other awards season winners and nominees, are available for KPL patrons’ viewing enjoyment – no need to wait too long to see them… check our holdings and borrow, or reserve, them today! 

Movie

The Hurt Locker
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