First impressions: ‘The Librarians’

“This is the library, not the rodeo.”

I have done a few “first impressions” posts on this blog, which are not as in-depth as my usual film analysis posts; instead, they’re more straightforward reviews of my initial thoughts, impressions, and yes, personal biases. (If you’re interested in other “first impressions,” click here for the one about Monsters University, or the one about The Amazing Spider-Man, or the one about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.) As you could see from last week’s post, I was pretty excited about the upcoming TV premiere of “The Librarians,” a series spin-off from the popular “The Librarian” TV movies starring Noah Wyle as librarian adventurer Flynn Carsen.

And after watching the 2-hour premiere this past Sunday, I can say that yes, I’m still excited. 🙂

Here’s what I posted on Facebook immediately after the first scene:

First impressions: The Librarians Facebook post
First impressions: The Librarians Facebook post

What made me cheer? This exchange between Flynn and Eve:

Eve:  How’d you know all that?

Flynn:  I’m the librarian.

And here was my husband’s reaction:

My husband's Facebook post about The Librarians premiere episode
My husband’s Facebook post about The Librarians premiere episode

I have a soft spot for “The Librarian” TV movies, which are admittedly cheesy, corny, and nerdy. They’re also fun. And that irrepressible, playful spirit all through the TV movies — lifelong learning is THE BEST, y’all! — also inhabits the spin-off series. I also have a soft spot for genre films or television that are unapologetic about their genre; I appreciate total commitment to whatever genre they’re going for. (See also my eternal love for films like SaltWhere Eagles DareDesk Set, EntrapmentEver AfterPitch Perfect, and even cheesy classics like White Christmas.)

You know what you’re getting in “The Librarians,” and I can appreciate that. I want cheesy, corny, nerdy, adventurous fun that also packs a LOT of learning. After all, that’s what this entire blog is about! 😉

I like that this series harkens back to the old serials of the early film era; there is something sweetly old-fashioned about this series, for all their casting of new, younger librarians. I like the throwaway moments like when Flynn stops to marvel at and repeat little-used and cool-sounding words like “vexing.” (Yes, I have been known to do that same thing in real life. The most recent times were for the words “voluminous” and “verisimilitude.”) I also like how much the TV series includes elements and inside jokes that reference the original TV movie — even bringing in the Papyrus font from the original movie’s credits! The series creators are playing to their fans, and yes, I am one.

I also like that the series is filmed in and around Portland, where I live. And that Oregon got mentioned in the 2nd episode. Go Oregon! (Read this review from our local paper, The Oregonian, which also includes some info about Portland locations used in the series.)

So, what’s “The Librarians” all about? There are 10 episodes listed on the TV show’s website, and the premiere included the first 2 episodes, “And the Crown of King Arthur” and “And the Sword in the Stone.” (By the way, extended episodes are freely available now on iTunes; you can also access them through the TV show website.) Someone is killing off librarians — I know, I gasped, too! — and Flynn, with the help of new guardian Eve (Rebecca Romijn), sets off to round up three remaining librarian candidates. In a clever link to the original TV movie, they were invited to interview for the librarian position that ultimately went to Flynn.

Screenshot from The Librarians TV premiere episode, 2014
The librarians

The librarian newbies are Lindy Booth as Cassandra (my husband’s fave), a math whiz who suffers from synesthesia; John Kim as Ezekiel, a hacker, tech whiz, and thief; and Christian Kane as Jake, a country boy who knows all about art and welding (my personal fave). John Laroquette also joins the cast as Jenkins, a stuffy, fussy man who manages the library’s annex — and who is tasked at the end to train the librarian newbies. The baddies — because there are ALWAYS baddies in “The Librarian” franchise — are unmemorable for the most part, but that’s nothing new.

I laughed, cheered, and groaned in equal measure throughout the premiere. Here are my favorite lines that I shared on Facebook:

Fave lines from The Librarians
Fave lines from The Librarians
Fave lines from The Librarians
Fave lines from The Librarians

Of course, other things bugged me. Like the pretty stereotypical (yet charming) character of Jenkins, who pretty much lines up with the Anti-Social Librarian character type. Two typical lines from Jenkins:  “This is the library, not the rodeo” and “Good. You’re leaving. I can get back to my work.”

I also sighed at the unrelenting theme that librarians hoard knowledge, like through lines such as “welcome to the secret world,” “knowledge that is locked away” and “the lengths the librarians will go to hide the gift of magic from the world.” That even spilled over into Flynn’s over-protectiveness of his position, insisting that HE was THE librarian.

But at the end, I enjoyed that Flynn, ever the Liberated Librarian, realizes that he cannot do it alone. That there is value in training new librarians. That he is part of a community. I love the message of librarian mentorship and training — something hardly ever explored in reel librarian portrayals! — and it’s clever that the librarian training, or “saving the world every week,” will serve as the structure of the series.

Oh, and I didn’t want to forget to mention one of the major stars of the show, as far as I was concerned:  the totally awesome card catalog that wraps along one side of the staircase in the library office. HELLO to the hotness:

Screenshots from The Librarians TV premiere episode
Be still, my heart, my library card catalog

I totally gasped when this first came on screen. (As did Eve a little bit when she first stepped into the library office.) Gasp-worthy indeed.

“The Librarians” scored over 7 million viewers in its premiere, making it the highest-ranked premiere of new cable series this year. Yay for the librarians, one and all! 😉

Did you watch the premiere of “The Librarians”? Please leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it!

Sources used:

First impressions: ‘Monsters University’

“What are you afraid of? You just angered a 40-foot librarian!”

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned how two members of my family had tipped me off to a reel librarian featured in the recent release, Monsters University (2013). Since that post went live, I have had five additional friends recommend I watch the movie, which I did over the Independence Day long weekend.

And once again, here’s the film trailer that features the librarian:

Monsters University – Official Trailer #3 (HD) Pixar” video uploaded by JoBlo Movie Trailers is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

First impressions? I loved it! Yes, it is VERY over-the-top, but as my fellow reel librarian blogger Maria states over at her Pop! Goes the Librarian blog, “I just can’t bring myself to roll my eyes. Sometimes you just have to laugh.” 😀

Monsters University serves as a prequel to the 2001 hit Monsters, Inc., and has shades of the creation story in it, specifically about the wee monster, Mike (Billy Crystal). He’s thrown out of the School of Scaring because he’s… well, not scary. But to get back into the program, he assembles a team out of fellow rejects, including Sullivan (John Goodman) to enter the Scare Games, a series of trials to crown the top scarer at the university.

So where does the library come into the story? It’s the setting for the second challenge of the Scare Games, and the challenge is… wait for it… “Don’t Wake the Parent.” And standing in for the parents — at 40+ feet tall! — is the ugliest monster librarian EVER on screen. I think I can state that with confidence.

From the trailer, you only get the front view, but from the side, there’s the additional bonus of a grey bun perched on the back of her head.

Monsters Librarian screenshot
A ‘Monster’ librarian

And SPOILER ALERT, what is this university librarian’s monster power? The ability to hear noises at twenty paces or less — and the ability to make the offenders feel her wrath by scooping them up with her squid-like tentacles and throwing them out the roof into the nearby lake. Another point in the “scaring pros” column is her shushing power.

But an obvious weakness? Her poor eyesight. Ahhh, the bane of almost every librarian. 😉 But I kind of loved how she didn’t wear glasses on a lanyard, but instead carried the horn-rimmed spectacles around on a stick, like they were opera glasses, or like a masque at a fancy ball. YES.

Side note:  The end credits featured rookie cards for each monster, and I was so wishing there had been one for the librarian. Like when she retired, she became the resident scarer at the university library. She WAS scary, so she was fulfilling her monstrous destiny.

I also liked how she unfolded herself from the desk; at first glance, she may look meek and small, but when angered, she turns out to be almost as big as the library! Also, her tentacles make her the best shelver EVER. 😉

The only downer for me was that while the challenge seemed to be about who could be the quietest, it turned out to be a challenge for who was able to not get caught. SIGH. Mayyyyyyybe not such a great lesson in the end. The ends do not always justify the means.

Fun tidbits about the Monsters University library and librarian:

  • The library is on the main quad, perpendicular to the School of Scaring (click here for a map of MU)
  • There are 89,000 books in the MU Library (click here for “MU At a Glance“)
  • The Monsters, Inc. wiki lists one of the librarian’s enemies as “People making loud noises in the library”
  • The librarian is a cephalopod, with six tentacles (Pixar Wiki)
  • To me, the librarian looks like a cross between Roz from Monsters, Inc. and Ursula from The Little Mermaid.

And, parting quote, courtesy of Mike:

“What are you afraid of? You just angered a 40-foot librarian!”


Sources used:

First impressions: ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’

Stan Lee makes a cameo as a school librarian!

In an earlier post, I had highlighted a clip of Stan Lee revealing his cameo as a librarian in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). Earlier this week, the hubby and I got to see the film at a local drive-in movie theater, along with The Dark Knight Rises. A loooong night (and early morning), but worth it!

If you haven’t seen the film yet, then there are minor SPOILERS ahead.

To be honest, I really wasn’t expecting much from this latest Spider-Man film, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Andrew Garfield (as Peter Parker) and the ever-adorable Emma Stone (as Parker’s first love, Gwen Stacy) have chemistry to spare, and the supporting cast members, including Denis Leary, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, and Campbell Scott, were all quite solid. (Martin Sheen, I ♥ you.) And yes, I teared up when the construction crews lined up the cranes to clear a path for Spider-Man. Ah, teamwork and selfless acts, they get me every time.

Stan Lee has a cameo in just about every film adaptation of his stories and characters (see here for a detailed list of his cameos), and this one is quite memorable. I carried a tape recorder with me to the film, as I didn’t want to put on a light and distract from the other drive-in moviegoers. Here’s a transcript of what I noted while watching the scene:

Stan Lee plays a school librarian who’s listening to classical music, and it’s like an hour and forty minutes into the film. He’s wearing a black sweater vest and chinos and — [Sam interjects, “bow tie”] — bow tie, white button-down. Oblivious. Kind of like the [librarian in] Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Comic relief. That was like, what, 2-3 seconds? Ok, and they’re in the high school. So, that’s that.

What is Stan Lee’s librarian oblivious about? The fact that Spider-Man and the Lizard are fighting right behind him — and tearing the school library apart! The contrast of the classical music choice is very funny, and Stan Lee as the oblivious School Librarian definitely joins the Comic Relief librarians.

And if you’re wondering about other Comic Relief librarians, read more by clicking here.

And for as long as this clip stays online, here’s a look at the scene and Stan Lee’s librarian cameo:

The Amazing Spider-man 2012 ( Stan Lee Cameo ) New Clip” video uploaded by M Reza Khalafi is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

Sources used:

First impressions: ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’

Is it wrong that I smiled at comparing a library to a lion’s den?

In an earlier post, I had highlighted some librarian films about to be released, including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and mused that “it might be fun to do some posts about my first impressions in the theater, and follow up with more in-depth analysis later on.” So here we are, with my first impressions of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, an adaptation of John le Carré’s 1974 novel and remake of the 1979 British miniseries.

Note:  I have not yet seen the 1979 miniseries, starring Alec Guinness, but I have it on order through my local public library.

I was super psyched to watch this film. It had entered my radar by way of Colin Higgins’s Libraries at the Movies blog, and I strongly suggest reading his reviews of the miniseries and recent adaptation. The trailers looked AWESOME and there was something hypnotic about the way Gary Oldman’s voice said the title, like a spine-tingling nursery rhyme (see below). And I do love spy thrillers, especially British ones, and especially especially ones that make you think.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Official US Trailer” video uploaded by tinkertailormovie is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

What I liked:

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy came this close to living up to my expectations. First off, Gary Oldman as George Smiley, the aging agent forced out of MI6 but called back in to investigate a mole, is fascinating to watch even when he doesn’t appear to be doing anything onscreen.

And the director, Tomas Alfredson, is clearly talented at setting a mood — which was also evident in his Swedish child-vampire film Let the Right One In (remade in the U.S. as Let Me In). The film also features the excellent acting of Benedict Cumberbatch (he of Sherlock fame) as fellow agent Peter Guillam — and frankly, it’s always fun to write or say Cumberbatch’s name out loud.

What I didn’t like:

However, I always felt like I was rushing to understand what was going on. And I kept getting names and faces confused. I’m looking forward to watching the miniseries, where there is scope to understand all the characters and what’s really at stake. Because at the end of this film, at the reveal of the all-important MacGuffin, I was left with a niggling “So what?” question of doubt.

Library/archives setting and scenes:

And so what of the library and librarians? A shot of the library was included in the trailer, where you get a fleeting impression of multiple levels of bookshelves and lots of iron banisters. I remember liking how near the beginning of the film, the camera followed a woman’s hands placing a large book in a kind of dumbwaiter and then up the pulley into a level far above. In that first shot, with the closeup of the hands, you could spy rows of bookshelves behind her. I thought this was an effective way of using the library as an establishing shot of tone and location.

Later — about 2/3 through the film? — Smiley sends Guillam into “the lion’s den” to retrieve a smaller MacGuffin, some vital records that proved something or other.

Is it wrong that I smiled at comparing a library to a lion’s den?

And we meet two reel librarians, a man and a woman. Or at least I think there were two librarians. The man had more screen time and more lines, I think, but I remember the woman. Probably because I noticed that she was the same actress, Laura Carmichael, who plays Edith, the scheming middle sister on Downton Abbey. Wearing a dark red turtleneck that contrasted with her red hair, she acted a bit nervous and breathy, like her character really fancied Guillam and wanted to impress him. And, of course, he probably knows that she fancies him but has no interest in her whatsoever. ANYWAY.

So armed with some complicated directions provided by the female librarian, off Guillam goes into the library archives. With NO supervision or guidance, I might add. I couldn’t help thinking how lax this was for a top-secret organization to send people off, alone, in the closed stacks. There’s a reason behind closed stacks, folks. Closed stacks are usually reserved for archives or other important records — you know, like for records used in an organization involving spies and super-secret info, perhaps? — and librarians get the items and therefore maintain order and organization and privacy. But whatever. Of course it was necessary for Guillam to be alone in the library stacks. He needed to be in order to succeed at swiping the records he needed and the plot to move forward. Chalk it up to suspension of disbelief.

Final verdict:

Overall, I enjoyed the film — a solid B+ for me. And I look forward to watching Alec Guinness’s interpretation of George Smiley’s inscrutability in the 1979 British miniseries. Stay tuned…

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) Trailer” video uploaded by ricardobarretta is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

Sources used:

  • MacGuffin” via Wikipedia is licensed under a CC BY SA 3.0 license.
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Dir. Tomas Alfredson. Perf. Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth. StudioCanal, 2011.
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