Wednesday, October 28, 2015

25 Best Horror Movies Since 2000

Horror has long been a genre that has captivated humankind.  We like to be scared, there's no way around it.  The rush, the jump, the hands over your eyes, the edge of your seat; all are sought after feelings which keep many people coming back for more.  If you're one of those people who doesn't like horror movies because they scare you then you are missing the point entirely.  That is what they are supposed to do! You wouldn't say, I don't like comedies because they make me laugh right?  At the end of the day, a horror movie that doesn't scare you or at least leave you feeling a little uneasy is a BAD HORROR MOVIE.  That being said, there have been quite a few INCREDIBLE horror films over the course of the last 15 years since we left the slasher flicks of the 80's and 90's behind in favor of more subtle, nuanced fright fests.  AV Club has compiled their picks for the 25 best horror films since the year 2000 and I have to say, the list is pretty great.  Many are foreign, because in case you didn't know, they are almost always better than American made horror as they rarely conform to the intense capitalist agenda that holds sway over everything in this country.  My point is their focus isn't as entirely set on making the next breakout hit.  From zombie sleeper hits like 28 Days Later and it's sequel to period pieces like The Others (Nicole Kidman's best film in my opinion) to monster movies like The Host the list is a comprehensive overview of the best of the best.  Yes, hits like SawInsidious, and Paranormal Activity are left off but that is purposeful.  The point is that while those films are great, there is gold out there beyond what Hollywood spends millions on to market.  So check out some of these sleeper hits and obscurities.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Best Horror Films Since 2000

Modern Horror Trends

As is the case with anything, movies are about making money.  As such, after the commercial success of one or two films that adhere to a certain genre, there is inevitably a trend which develops as Hollywood tries to cash in on whatever is popular.  As we approach Halloween this weekend it seemed only appropriate to have a couple horror themed posts the first of which is an article which I've linked to below from AV Club which details the extent to which horror trends are representative of not just the current generation, but of society as a whole.  The essay uses The Babadook and It Follows as examples of a current trend of horror in the 2010's.  One of hopelessness and a never ending sense of doom and dread.  It's an interesting read and gets you thinking about all the scary flicks from past and present that you'll no doubt be gorging on in the coming days.

New Age of Horror

Friday, October 16, 2015

Hoopla Has Novels Too!!

Beyond the outstanding catalog of music and movies on Hoopla, there is also an ever expanding catalog of books, audio books, and graphic novels.  For some suggestions of where to start, check out the DFL's book blog From Austen to Zusak!!!

From Austen to Zusak

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hoopla Highlights - Music

Hoopla is only 5 days away from launching here at the DFL and I’m already planning my first checkouts.  Last week I highlighted some of the great films Hoopla has in their ever expanding catalog and today, I’ll pick out five albums currently available in their massive music library.  While the albums I’ve chosen today are all new, one of the best aspects of Hoopla is their back catalog.  There are some truly unique, bizarre, and hard to find albums available on the streaming service and while the albums below are fantastic, definitely take advantage of the long list of older albums as they would be hard to find anywhere else.

Honeymoon – Lana Del Rey (2015)

The latest from moody, ethereal alterna-pop star Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon is a tad more uplifting than here previous efforts drawing influences from an eclectic range of genres including jazz and hip hop.  While coming under fire for some controversial comments about suicide earlier this year, the singer is no doubt a talented force in the diluted pop landscape of the 2010’s.

Dodge and Burn – The Dead Weather (2015)

Everyone has heard of Jack White, and the majority are familiar with his most successful foray into the world of rock music as half of the powerful duo The White Stipes in the early aughts.  Fewer people are familiar with some of his side projects, including the roots rock fueled Dead Weather whose third album Dodge and Burn was finally released this year.  White takes a back seat to the other three members and takes on multiple duties playing both guitar and drums as well as providing vocals on some tracks.  If you’ve ever questioned White’s musical flexibility and prowess, look no further than The Dead Weather.

23 Live Sex Acts – Against Me! (2015)

Against Me! is no doubt one of my favorite “modern” punk bands.  They’ve never sacrificed their genuine love and appreciation for the genre while still taking classic sounds and transforming them for a new generation of punks.  This album which compiles live tracks that span the bands career and were recorded at a variety of venues is a MUST LISTEN for fans of the band, or punk music in general.    After coming out as transgender, singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gable) defied the musical landscape of which she was a part and became a beacon of hope for women and LGBTQ supporters in a scene which has been largely unaccepting in the past.  In that way, she reminded us all of what the genre is really about.

1989 – Ryan Adams (2015)

Ryan Adams is certainly an anomaly.  Having performed songs which span a wide array of genres, the singer songwriter decided to descend into the world of pop music for his latest release.  The album is a track by track cover of Taylor Swifts critically acclaimed album “1989”, albeit with a much harsher tone.  The country fueled alternative rock interpretations of Swifts songs highlight almost every genre Adam’s has been associated with in the past and in that sense, covering Swifts songs seems almost too easy for the 40 year old rocker.  Released to widely positive reviews, this is an album for fans of so many kinds of music and may be just what Swift haters need to acknowledge the young songwriters talents.

Beyond the Pale – Jim Gaffigan (2006)

While not a music album, I felt it important to highlight Hoopla’s variety of comedy albums which are interfiled with their music selection.  Nearly a decade old, Jim Gaffigan’s Beyond the Pale was the comedians sixth to date and certainly one of his funniest.  In the dry, soft, often sarcastic tone which has come to define the comedian’s sets, Gaffigan offers insights into a wide array of topics including hot pockets, vegetarians, and heaven.  If you’re not familiar with him, this is a fantastic intro to his catalog.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Today's Playlist

1. My Mother Tells Me - Haybaby
2. Skin - Pinkwash
3. Rocket Man - Elton John
4. I Don't Care - Grave Ideas
5. Parenthetical Press Kit - ESH the Monolith
6. Rudderless - The Lemonheads
7. Green Eyes - Coldplay
8. Pop Punk Mutiny - Arm Candy
9. Better Bet - Gravel
10. Perfect Love - Radio Control

Hoopla Highlights - Movies

Hoopla is set to launch here at the DFL on October 19th!  There are SO MANY amazing films to see and with no holds or waiting, you can watch wherever you want, whenever you want.  Below is a small sampling of the large selection of movies in all genres that will be available to all DFL library card holders.  Next week I'll profile some of the incredible music selection available just before we go live.  Time to get excited!


Nominated for several Academy Awards, this incredible true story about a mothers half century long search for her adopted son will make you laugh and pull at your heartstrings all at once.  Judy Dench and Steve Coogan have a magical chemistry and provide us with a film that transcends the medium.

Django Unchained

This Quentin Tarantino directed “Western” stars Jamie Foxx as escaped slave Django who enters into an agreement with bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz in an attempt to rescue his wife from the clutches of an evil slaveholder named Calvin Candie.  The supporting roles by Christopher Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio are stupendous and the films storyline is both unique, refreshing, and action packed.  Tatantino’s style is easily recognizable and makes the 2 hour+ timeline fly by.  You find yourself anxiously awaiting the next turn of events throughout each and every scene; truly a cinematic triumph.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

The life of Nelson Mandela is a difficult one to portray.  His story was one marred by tragedy and wrongful persecution.  And yet his triumph is an uplifting ray of hope amidst so much suffering.  Idris Elba’s portrayal of the South African president before, during and after the horrors of apartheid is an incredible achievement.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

This heist movie gone rogue has achieved a level of cult success since its initial release in 1998 and has an intriguing and unqiue plot which keeps you guessing up until the very end.  While the sheer number of characters and complex storyline leave you confused at times, all is made clear by the films climax.  The movie feels like a dirty, British version of any number of more mainstream crime films albeit with a grittier aesthetic.  Jason Statham is in his element, long before he was the heartthrob with an accent in The Italian Job.

Return to the Wild

The story of Christopher McCandless is one of tragedy and inspiration.  It’s a tale of life itself and what it means to be alive.  This documentary film examines the popular book “Into the Wild” which tells the tale of the young McCandless’ trek into the Alaskan wilderness and subsequent death from starvation.  With new interviews, letters, and personal accounts, the film sheds new light on the life of a young man who in the words of Henry David Thoreau, just wanted trek into the woods and live deliberately.