DVDs by Alex Avakiantz
“The King of Comedy,” dir. Martin Scorsese
How far would you go to achieve fame? Well, “The King of Comedy” (1983) gives one answer. Rupert Pupkin, portrayed by Robert De Niro, is a middle-aged stand-up comedian in New York City. His time is spent daydreaming and idolizing Jerry Langford, a late-show host played by Jerry Lewis. Disgruntled by his misfortunes and desperate to succeed, Pupkin decides to do what any reasonable human being would: kidnap Langford. Fans of the long-standing De Niro and Scorsese partnership will appreciate the stark contrast between this film and their darker ones, such as “Raging Bull” and “Taxi Driver.” This captivating social commentary cannot be missed.
Media Browsing / DVD TCFHE 093
“World’s Greatest Dad,” dir. Bobcat Goldthwait
This black comedy stars Robin Williams as Lance Clayton, an underachieving high-school teacher and unsuccessful author. When his troubled and unpopular son Kyle suddenly dies, Lance makes it look like a suicide and attributes his own melancholic writing to Kyle, leading everyone to believe that the boy was brilliant and misunderstood. Suddenly, everyone begins to care about Kyle and praises him as a profound martyr. Things quickly get out of hand, and Lance is forced to decide whether or not to come clean. For fans of Williams, this is a must-see. Like his other films, this one is insanely funny. However, his depth of emotion and thought-provoking rhetoric is matched only by his performance in “Good Will Hunting.”
Tacoma Media / DVD TAC-2931
CDs, by Tyler Hartung
“James Blake,” James Blake
The electronic age has introduced many new genres of music, but none that quite compare to what this UK producer/singer-songwriter is conjuring up these days. On his self-titled debut album, Blake walks a dangerously thin line between order and chaos. After listening to the poppy piano chords of his cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” it’s almost shocking that the haunting, muffled beats of “The Wilhelm Scream” hitting your eardrums are coming from the same artist. Blake’s music can be unconventional and almost confusing at times because it draws on so many different elements from genres including pop, soul, and dubstep. But you know what? It also rules. If you like it, look for his new album coming out this month.
Media Center / Cd UNIV 025
“Electric Version,” The New Pornographers
From the moment The New Pornographers’ “Electric Version” opens with a nothing-short-of-spastic drum fill, the Canadian octet keeps the pedal firmly to the metal for all 46 minutes of their sophomore record. The lyrics cover topics like the presence (or absence) of God, ending the practice of medicine, and pretending to be an only child. Dark, right? Not really. The album’s title track encapsulates the young, innocent mood that surrounds most of the 13 songs included on “Electric Version,” even though the group’s songwriting might suggest otherwise. “Electric Version” is an all-out fun album from start to finish. Just try not to get a speeding ticket while blaring it through your car’s sound system.
Tacoma Media / Compact disc TAC-967
Books, by Andrew Rodgers
“Out of the Silent Planet,” by C.S. Lewis
In this first part of a three-book series voted among the top 100 science-fiction and fantasy books and series in an NPR poll, Lewis provides a glimpse of what people in the ’50s and ’60s thought we would find on other planets as a linguist travels to Mars. They thought there would be life there, and that we might learn more about our own social structures by seeing that life function. Filled with what was then thought to be solid science and told in clear, direct, first-person narration, the book will both entertain you and give you great perspective on what people in future generations might think of our own current science.
Odegaard Stacks / PR6023.E926 .O88
“In the Hall of the Dragon King,” by Stephen R. Lawhead
Again the first in a trilogy, this story revolves around a boy named Quentin searching for his place in life. As a priestly acolyte, he is sent on a quest to get a message to a royal palace and from there gets drawn into a war between the king and a sorcerer. Quentin is relatable, despite being passive sometimes. The plot isn’t as complicated or intricate as most fantasy, but it is entertaining. The ending will leave you with a satisfyingly happy feeling, though be warned that it’s a little deus ex machina.
Suzzallo/Allen stacks / PZ7.L41847 In 1996
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