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The Hollywood Librarian and Smoke Signals (thoughts)

May 29, 2010

I’m no one-trick pony, and while books will always be my first love, DVDs contain an important place in my entertainment go-to’s. And recently, I saw one documentary and one movie that left me desperately wanting to post about them. DVDs for the bookish soul coming right up!

The Hollywood Librarian

When I was at the library earlier this week, I knew I’d be spending quite a bit of time cleaning (my parents, niece, and cousin arrive tomorrow, and since my mom has barely been at home this month, I’d like to have the house all fresh for her). So, I bee-lined it to the documentary section of the DVDs and ended up picking out about ten of the most interesting sounding ones (just in case my nerd title was ever in question, I’m fairly certain this clinches it). I’ve watched about half so far, and The Hollywood Librarian is so far my favourite. Its tagline is “a look at librarians through film,” but, honestly, I think that’s more an attempt to appeal to a less nerdy audience than a true description of the documentary. Sure, there are fun clips of librarians from different American movies mixed in, but most of the documentary focuses on talking to various librarians around the US about various topics, with a not-so-subtle message that libraries are critical to community and shouldn’t have to fight for funding. I was on board with all of this! I learned some fun facts, like that US public libraries have more branches than McDonald’s (something to think of the next time you despair over the state of modern society), and got to hear all sorts of librarians talk about how they got into the field, why they love it, their triumphs and struggles, etc. In addition to the everyday people, there’s an occassional better-known figure, like Ray Bradbury or Katherine Hepburn’s sister. Also, in the ‘special features’ section, there was this whole sequence about some of the students from UW Madison’s library science program competing for the Book Cart Drill Team World Championship which was quite possibly the most adorable things sans babies or puppies that I’ve ever seen. The focus is definitely on the US (although there’s an awesome Caribbean librarian that gets quite a bit of face time), so I’m not sure how interesting non-Americans would find it, but I’d highly recommend it to American readers looking to nerd out. :)

Smoke Signals

You know how Sherman Alexie’s face is over in my sidebar under favourite authors? Well, I got to watch the 1998 movie Smoke Signals yesterday, which he wrote the screenplay for! This was the first film entirely cast, written, produced, etc. by American Indians (which I learned via TCM), and it’s seriously as if Alexie’s book-writing style has come to life on screen. :D There are plenty of stories mixed in, wonderful music, laugh-out-loud humour, and a couple scenes that made me tear up (to be honest, not overly difficult, though). It’s only 90 minutes, which is so refreshing since nowadays it seems like almost every movie I see is over two hours, and it does so much that’s delightful! It definitely has a literary feel to it, and the actors all do a great job. Also, one of the main characters (there are two) is a total nerd, which is so fun and adorable! ;) I think more fiction writers should turn their hands to screenplays…An Education, Smoke Signals….both movies I’ve watched recently that left me feeling smarter and more thoughtful at the end. Do y’all have any recommendations for more movies written by book-authors?

Whew! This is my way of easing back into the blogging routine. :) Obviously, I have quite a pile of books that I’ve read and need to review, but I only had half an hour to write this post, and I need more time to reflect on those books. Now, I’m off to run a few errands and then shall be breaking out the vacuum and environmentally friendly cleaners to get the house sparkling for tomorrow. But I’ll probably take a couple blog reading breaks, heehee, so don’t be surprised if you receive a couple random comments from me on old posts! ;)

P.S.: Thank you for all of the lovely, generous, smile-inducing comments on my post yesterday. I’ll be answering everyone individually, but it might take a couple of days! As it is, I’ve been grinning from ear to ear, and I’m so happy to be back in such a marvelous community.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2010 3:07 pm

    Okay, I’m putting Hollywood Librarian on my request list. Bookish movies are rare!

  2. May 29, 2010 3:17 pm

    I’m so glad you are feeling better!Smoke Signals is a favorite at our house. Have you read Alexie’s poetry? It is amazing.

    • June 4, 2010 10:28 pm

      I haven’t read his poetry yet…I’m not generally a poetry reader. But I do intend to try it out! :)

  3. May 29, 2010 3:57 pm

    The Hollywood Librarian sounds like this book I read recently about librarians called This Book is Overdue! It was lots of fun and generally hopeful about the future of libraries.

    I’m very big on them myself.

    • June 4, 2010 10:29 pm

      I’ve heard good things about that book! I wouldn’t say Hollywood Librarian is super hopeful, but it is fun!

  4. May 29, 2010 5:13 pm

    The Hollywood Librarian is indeed a total nerd out delight, but I think it also highlights that stereotypes of the profession do not hold water in a rapidly changing information age. ALA conference is here in DC next month and I personally cannot wait for the book cart drills!

    • June 4, 2010 10:29 pm

      I agree re: stereotypes! Do you take part in the book cart drills?

  5. May 29, 2010 5:57 pm

    Love documentaries <3 And The Hollywood Librarian sounds like one I'd love to check out. :D I hope you do more posts on DVDs. :D

    • June 4, 2010 10:36 pm

      Aww; thanks! I watch quite a few dvds, so perhaps I’ll start talking about the book-ish ones more frequently.

  6. May 29, 2010 7:46 pm

    Second best thing to books about books are movies about books! Thanks for the tip!

  7. May 29, 2010 8:18 pm

    I MUST check out that Holly Librarian DVD!

    I love Smoke Signals. I watched it in an American Ethnic Literature class in college.

    Great choices!

    • June 4, 2010 10:39 pm

      I think you’d definitely like Hollywood Librarian! That lit class sounds like fun. :)

  8. May 29, 2010 10:18 pm

    Glad to see you back, Eva!

    Both movies sound good to me. I should probably watch Hollywood Librarians to see what the colleagues have to say. Isn’t the Book Cart Drill Team competition just the coolest? :)

    • June 4, 2010 10:40 pm

      I wish you had been interviewed for the docu! I’d have been squealing, hehe.

  9. May 30, 2010 5:14 am

    Both the documentary and the movie look wonderful! It is sad that libraries have to fight for funding today. One of my friends is a librarian and I think she will love watching this documentary (if she has not watched it already) and so I am going to send a link of your post to her :)

    • June 4, 2010 10:42 pm

      It is sad re: funding. I’m glad my current library system is v well funded! I hope your friend enjoys it. :)

  10. May 30, 2010 6:37 am

    They both sound really great, especially the first one (yep, I’m putting it out there that I’m a huge nerd too, in case people didn’t realize that already!).

  11. Kathleen permalink
    May 30, 2010 6:58 am

    I just the love getting DVDs at the library. I’m always finding treasures there that I would never discover on Netflix. I think I would enjoy both of these but The Hollywood Librarian sounds particularly appealing to me. I do feel better knowing there are more branches of the library than McDonalds.

    • June 4, 2010 10:43 pm

      I love getting DVDs at the library too. And isn’t that fact reassuring?!

  12. May 30, 2010 9:19 am

    Glad you’re back Eva!

  13. May 30, 2010 10:24 am

    Oh, I watched that movie a long while back and thought it was very very good. Glad to see you thought the same. Welcome back!

  14. May 30, 2010 12:57 pm

    I’ll have to check out the first one. As for Smoke Signals…it’s a Sherman Alexie tale, so what’s not to love? :)

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and back with us. You’re always missed!

    • June 4, 2010 10:45 pm

      It’s based on two stories from Lone Ranger and Tonto, etc. I suppose that’ll be my next Alexie read now! And thanks for the kind words Becky. :)

  15. Nari permalink
    May 31, 2010 11:15 pm

    I really liked The Hollywood Librarian, although my main complaint is that too many topics were crammed into such a short span of time. 2 hours is not enough time to discuss all things books, libraries and librarians. =p But this is basically the only DVD out there that gives a contemporary look at libraries today, and for that, I think it is a fantastic find!

    I hope you enjoy the rest of the documentary, especially the second half when they talk about the Salinas Libraries closing. I got very teary eyed during that part!

    • June 4, 2010 10:47 pm

      I agree; it felt a bit rushed at times. But it was still interesting! I got teary eyed during the Salinas bits; I lived in Monterey for a bit and had friends in Salinas, so it felt even more personal.

  16. June 1, 2010 5:33 am

    that library movie sounds awesome. I love being a nerd.

  17. June 1, 2010 8:45 am

    Thanks for the shout-out for “The Hollywood Librarian”, Eva! We are the distributors for the film and we love it, too. I’m glad your public library had a copy and you had a chance to watch it!

    If you want any more information about the film, you can go here:

    or here:

  18. stacybuckeye permalink
    June 1, 2010 10:33 am

    I didn’t realize that Alexie wrote the screenplay for Smoke Signals. It’s gong on my list right now!
    Glad to see you back :)

    • June 4, 2010 10:50 pm

      Yep: it’s based on two of his short stories! :)

  19. June 1, 2010 3:23 pm

    Sooo need to see The Hollywood Librarian. I’m adding it to my Netflix list asap!

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