Off the shelf

DVDs, By Nathaniel Reeves

"Pan’s Labyrinth," dir. Guillermo del Toro

Expertly blurring the line between fairy tales and reality, Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” features 11-year-old Ofelia’s adventure in a fantasy world set against the backdrop of post-Civil War Spain. This is no child’s tale, as Ofelia must endure the horrifying creatures of the fantasy world and the brutality of her fascist stepfather. Actress Ivana Baquero perfectly captures Ofelia’s loss of reality, as the viewer is plunged into the depths of her mind. The beauty of the film lies in the contrast between the bleak reality of war and the ornate labyrinth, both terrifying in their own right. Captivating and complex, del Toro’s vision is presented in an artistic and visually stunning manner that helps make “Pan’s Labyrinth” one of the greatest fantasy films of the 2000s.

Odegaard Media Center / DVD NLHV 060

"The Wackness," dir. Jonathan Levine

In “The Wackness,” director Jonathan Levine provides a highly stylistic and detailed vision of mid-’90s New York City, where Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has just implemented new anti-fun laws. At the heart of the story is the not-so-classic coming-of-age tale of Luke Shapiro, a 17-year-old marijuana dealer surrounded by a cast of colorful characters. Ben Kingsley has a memorable role as Luke’s psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffery Squires, searching for meaning in life himself. The most interesting part of the plot stems from the relationship between Shapiro and Squires, two very different characters ultimately looking for the same thing. Fueled by a clever script, Levine blends music, art, and character development to provide a beautiful take on teenage life in the city.

Odegaard Media Center / DVD SONYHE 087

CDs, By Nathan Taft

"For Emma, Forever Ago," Bon Iver

Recorded entirely by himself in his father’s cabin after suffering a bad break-up, “For Emma, Forever Ago” is the sound of Justin Vernon pouring his heart into 37 minutes of soft, indie rock. The highlight of the album comes in the third track, “Skinny Love,” where Vernon’s crooning vocals pulse back and forth with the acoustic guitar and methodical drums. This is the perfect album for anyone looking to curl up and get away from the world for a little bit.

Tacoma Media / Compact disc TAC-741

"Make Yourself," Incubus

Incubus’s third album, and first that set it on the path toward stardom, “Make Yourself” is composed of 13 outstanding tracks ranging from rock, to reggae, to funk. The fan favorite, “Drive,” blends a beautiful acoustic track with inspiring lyrics, while the psychedelic “The Warmth” starts calm and builds into a spiraling guitar solo that finally flattens out and allows the song to end as calmly as it started. If you only ever listen to one Incubus album, make it this one.

Odegaard Media Center / Cd EPIC 038

Books, By Morgan Gard

"The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer," by Siddhartha Mukherjee

As a practicing oncologist not far out of medical school, Siddhartha Mukherjee was either mismatched or perfectly poised to provide an in-depth account of the history of cancer and its treatment. Either way, the result is a gorgeous study of a disease that has been afflicting mankind and baffling scientists for millennia. From the earliest recognized diagnosis of cancer on an Egyptian scroll (noting “Treatment: There is none”) to the slow discovery of how it infects and attacks, and finally how to fight it off, Mukherjee crafts an intimate picture of an elusive killer in this Pulitzer prize-winning book. It’s a difficult, emotional, and important read.

Odegaard Stacks / RC275 .M85 2010

"The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty," by William Dalrymple

I’m a big history buff, and I have the kind of passion for Indian culture that makes someone shave their head and start listening to Sufi Muslim devotional music, so William Dalrymple’s work is near and dear to me. The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 is remembered as either a violent uprising or a failed war of independence, depending on whom you ask, but Dalrymple turns it into a series of thoughtful and intertwined personal stories that lay bare the tragedy of the whole affair. It also pulls on the largest wealth of knowledge about the Rebellion that has ever been utilized, after the discovery of thousands of well-maintained documents by Dalrymple’s research staff.

Suzzallo/Allan Stacks / DS478 .D27 2007

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