Happily, Columbus is not a film about the job prospects for people with advanced degrees in library science.
Today, I am very excited to introduce you to a guest post by Dale Coleman, a librarian I am lucky enough to work with in real life — and a fellow movie buff. We have enjoyed many interesting conversations about movies! Dale is the one who alerted me to Columbus, which also made several film critics’ “best of ” lists of 2017, as I highlighted in a post a few weeks ago. I asked Dale to contribute a guest post of his own “first impressions” of Columbus, in the tradition of my other “first impressions” posts of reel librarian films.
Dale has a wicked sense of humor and is one of the kindest fellow librarians I have ever had the pleasure to work with. You can enjoy his insight and sense of humor here on his Twitter account and his Instagram account. Dale also talks about movies online, here on his Letterboxd profile. After the “Columbus plot + trailer” section below are Dale’s thoughts and “first impressions” of Columbus. Enjoy!
Columbus plot + trailer:
A quick introduction to the film Columbus, which is the debut film from director Kogonada. The film stars Haley Lu Richardson as a young library worker living in Columbus, Indiana, who also loves architecture. She meets Jin (John Cho) and starts to show him her favorite buildings around the city. (A quick glimpse of the library can be seen in the trailer below, at 1:24 mins.) Rory Culkin plays Haley Lu Richardson’s co-worker, the library director, and he enjoys a fair amount of screen time.
‘First impressions’ of Columbus from a real-life librarian
by Dale Coleman
There are two scenes in Kogonada’s visually rich and quietly stirring debut feature, Columbus, that I identify with more than any scene from any other film in 2017 (with the possible exception of Rooney Mara eating an entire pie in A Ghost Story). The first scene is one in which it is revealed that John Cho’s character once confessed his undying love to Parker Posey’s character when he was 17 years old. Same here.
The second scene I identified with requires a bit of backstory.
In late 2012, I found myself at an existential crossroads. After completing my undergraduate degree and promptly realizing that there probably was no future for me in public relations or campaign speech writing, I decided to go a different way. Drawing from my delightful work study experience as a circulation assistant and a handful of research assistant jobs, I landed a gig as a reference specialist at Tacoma Community College. In short time, I realized it was the library life for me. Accordingly, around this time, as I weighed the prospects of pursuing an advanced degree in library science, a fun Forbes article made the rounds within the library blogosphere. In a ranking of master’s degrees, based on employment prospects and mid-career median salary, the MLS ranked… (you already know) dead last. I decided to power through and get my MLIS anyway. Buoyed by data from job satisfaction surveys, a handful of wonderful mentors, and my own overwhelmingly positive experience working in libraries, I got my dang master’s (and a job). I’m super glad I did.
Anyway, you can imagine the kaleidoscope of delight, anxiety, and empathy blooming in my consciousness, as this very Forbes article is referenced at the beginning of Columbus, a softly-told coming-of-age/coming-to-terms story, set amid the modernist architectural wonders of Columbus, Indiana. In this particular scene, Casey, a circulation assistant (played by Haley Lu Richardson, who seems poised for world domination) chats career prospects with her librarian colleague, Gabe (played with disaffected, smart-guy irony, by an all-grown up Rory Culkin). “Whatever you do, don’t get an MLS,” Gabe tells Casey in a deadpan mansplain. “It was recently declared the worst master’s for a job.” In spite of my bubbling defensiveness, I was kinda thrilled to see, even briefly, this weirdly specific, if somewhat pessimistic, depiction of librarianship as a career path.
Happily, Columbus is not a film about the job prospects for people with advanced degrees in library science. Casey (Richardson) is a recent high school graduate with an eye for architecture and a promising spark. She has a loving, but complicated, relationship with her mother, with whom she lives and very much fears abandoning. Jin (played by John Cho) arrives in Columbus, on leave from his high-pressure job in South Korea, to look after his estranged father in the wake of a medical emergency. Each at their own crossroads, the two strike up an unlikely friendship, touring the town’s architecture and sorting out their complementary existential dilemmas.
The visual appeal of this film is immediately striking. Anyone with even a passing interest in architecture will appreciate the loving eye at work in Columbus. (And if you are the type of person who can recognize an off-hand brutalism pun, you are in for a treat indeed.) The titular town is a bit of an architectural mecca, and the ubiquitous modernist marvels are almost characters themselves. The buildings frequently take the central framing of a shot with characters populating them as a secondary interest. Throughout the film, we return to a handful of set locations, often in a new emotional context or at a different time of day. It is a subtle technique that illustrates the manner in which our built physical environments are both spaces we inhabit, and reflections of our inner lives that change over time. It also adds a layer of visual poetry that propels the film. Of central thematic interest here is the ability of art to comfort and heal and offer new perspective. Thankfully, it’s explored in a way that doesn’t come off as banal or trite. The film also uses space to mirror the characters’ sense of confinement or restriction. Casey’s home, for example, is always shot through multiple door frames.
I also appreciate the way the characters in this film all all afforded dignity and complexity, even when they are being terrible. Standout performances all around, but Richardson shines brightest. Her portrayal of a character struggling to find her way, awash in the opinions and expectations of others, is literally transcendent. She has been racking up the breakout performances, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. John Cho also delivers an understated, impactful performance that is light years removed from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. Parker Posey, in addition to being brilliant and perfect and wonderful in every possible way, does a bang-up job in her supporting role.
The supporting characters all feel like real people and not cartoonish plot enablers. Kogonada withholds a lot of character information in the early scenes, opting for more subtle nods to the relationship dynamics at play in the center of this film. By the time the exposition comes in the second act, it feels natural and believable. There is so much cultural and socioeconomic subtext at work in the background that this film seems content to simply let exist without being explicitly remarked upon. A certain type of viewer might be frustrated by the slow burn and quiet unfolding of this story, but the pace feels very intentional and appropriate to me. It compliments the art exploration themes. This is a film that invites you to wander the halls and appreciate the architecture, without hammering you over the head with melodrama. The delicate character development and languid camerawork are storytelling choices that will certainly reward on future viewing.
Columbus was an unexpected delight, and one of my favorite films of 2017. Shout out to Kogonada for crafting a quietly confident debut that portends great things to come. Shout out to Parker Posey for being my sun and moon and stars. And shout out to advanced degrees in library science for scoring me a librarian gig, after all.
Columbus. Dir. Kogonada. Perf. Haley Lu Richardson, John Cho. Depth of Field, 2017.
This week’s post shines the spotlight on Bill Nikolai
Last week, I promised a post about another adventurer librarian… this time, a real one! 😀
This week’s post shines the spotlight on Bill Nikolai, a librarian at Vancouver Community College (VCC) in Vancouver, British Columbia… who also happens to be an actor, a stand-in and a photo-double (those are two different jobs, as I have found out), as well as a paraglider, among other things. Wow!
A few years ago, Bill contacted me after he came across my post on Reel Librarians about our visit to the Vancouver and the (awesome) Vancouver Public Library, a post that included a behind-the-scenes look at a TV pilot that was shooting at the library one of the days we happened to visit. After a few emails back-and-forth, I asked Bill if we could do a librarian profile, and just three years later… here we are! And it’s sooooooo worth the wait, as Bill has had — and continues to have — an amazing life, both in AND outside the library.
By the way, here’s the quick backstory for the photo shown at right: This pic was a photo gag for an April Fool’s blog post about fitness in the VCC Library, and was also part of a “Men of IT” charity calendar at VCC.
From the film biz…
Prior to beginning his career as an academic librarian, Bill, in his own words, “dabbled in the film biz” after taking acting courses as an undergraduate.
He so much resembled actor Richard Dean Anderson that he ended up as his double for both MacGyver and Stargate SG-1. (Side note: I *loved* MacGyver, y’all. LOVED. Watching MacGyver every week with my family remain some of my happiest memories of childhood. I grew up in the country backwoods of northeast Texas, with access to only one TV channel, ABC. Thank goodness MacGyver was on ABC!) So this bit of trivia about MacGyver had me geeking out and asking Bill questions like, “How glorious was Richard Dean Anderson’s feathered mullet up close?“
And here are some awesome photos of some AWESOME mullets, courtesy of Bill himself:
Bill Nikolai and Richard Dean Anderson had a lot of fun on and off set, occasionally skiing together as well as playing a version of hockey on set with pucks made out of used camera tape, with doorways and table legs used as goals. Such an awesome visual — I’m sure there were a lot of double-takes (har har, pun intended) when they were together! ♥
Bill also got an occasional line or two on Stargate SG-1 as the character Tech. Sergeant Vern Alberts, in addition to photo-doubling and standing in for Richard Dean Anderson.
More about the Stargate experience and his role as Vern Alberts:
“Stargate was an interesting gig in that mostly I worked as a stand-in, but I also often would do Richard’s off-camera lines for other actors if he wasn’t available on set for their singles (as opposed to two shots or other wide shots that included RDA). Sometimes the shot would catch a bit of “Richard’s” back (an “over-the-shoulder” shot); often that shoulder would be mine. I did a lot of the close-up hand doubling as well, both on MacGyver and Stargate. Lastly, occasionally, I would get a line or two as my own recurring character, an Airforce Tech Sergeant (my character finally became known as Vern Alberts), often with General Hammond (played by the late Don Davis) hovering over my shoulder in the Stargate control room. The name “Vern” was established in an episode called Window of Opportunity when Rick shouts “How’s the wife and kids, Vern?” as he is cycling past me in a hallway. My real-life middle name is Vern (after my father, Werner); the “wife and kids line” was improvised, so just before delivering it, Rick asked me what I wanted my first name to be. Vern was a bit of an homage to my dad.”
Here’s the backstory of the photo above, courtesy of Bill:
“This episode involved a spacecraft crashing into the ocean and Colonel O’Neill (by then, a general, I believe) is forced to try to regain control of the craft as it sinks and fills up with water. I was there to potentially double RDA in some of the scenes. ( I have Advanced SCUBA training and am comfortable in confined spaces.) In the end, Rick did all his own action in this episode. This was just prior to the start of library school at UBC and coincidentally, this episode was largely shot on campus in the Marine Engineering facility, where the production had access to a large tank that could accommodate the submerged spacecraft.”
What was Bill’s favorite day on a set? It was for a 2000 TV movie called First Target (also, check out the film’s trailer here, which also features him!), and as Bill described it, “[A day] in which I got to kiss a very bad girl, then got drugged, kicked and drowned by her.” The “very bad girl” was a beautiful assassin, played by Ona Grauer, and it serves as the one time he also got to do a stunt. The TV movie also starred Daryl Hannah.
You can check out the scene in the video below:
… to the library biz…
Bill earned his Master’s in Library Science at the i-School at the University of British Columbia in 2008 at the age of 51 and has been working full-time ever since at the Vancouver Community College Library, where he co-led the library instruction program and teaches information literacy classes. (As Bill and I are both librarians at community colleges, we have shared via email our common experiences about our love of teaching; our love of serving a diversity of students; and the myriad responsibilities, and usually smaller library staffs, that are a common reality for many community college librarians.) Before earning his MLS, Bill also had an academic career as an ESL instructor at different universities in Japan.
Bill subsequently returned to school and completed a second Master’s Degree. He now works as a mild-mannered college librarian in Vancouver.
Behold the “mild-mannered” librarian below, in a fun photo collage of him in 2006, before and after scary-looking monster makeup on the set of the failed TV pilot A.M.P.E.D. Of course, my favorite part is the photobombing of the classic library science textbook, Reference and Information Services: An Introduction. Bill had just started his library science program at UBC, and he brought along study material for the long hours spent in the makeup chair.
Fun fact: I also had the SAME textbook in library school for my reference services course in library school!
Also, I think I might just have my next Halloween costume idea… 😀
With retirement from the library on the horizon, Bill has started to get back into the acting game, as he is still a member of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), which is Canada’s version of the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) in the United States. He recently had a non-speaking acting role on the TV series Supernatural (April 2017, Season 12, Episode 18, “The Memory Remains“). His character was named “Black Bill,” and his role was to “slit someone’s throat in a flashback sequence … very un-librarian-like!” 😀
The feature interview, entitled “Bill Nikolai: Flybrarian,” is a great read, with more pics of Bill and his wife, Linda. I really loved this quote in particular, which is toward the end of the article:
… and up to the skies:
Bill Nikolai, librarian and paraglider, showcases how he likes to combine his “thinking person’s pursuits” — literally! This was another gag shot for another charity calendar. In the photo below, Bill is “reading” Inside the Sky: A Meditation on Flight, by William Langewiesche.
And last but not least, below are a couple of videos Bill has shared about his “paragliding obsession” mentioned in the article linked above.
The “Paragrinding” video below was shot in September 2013 and screened at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, as well as at the Legacy Film Festival on Aging in San Francisco. (Bill shot all the GoPro footage.)
And here’s a link to a very recent paragliding video (3 minutes) that Bill also shot:
Like I said, Bill’s story was worth the wait, right?! 😀
Thank you so much, Bill, for getting back in touch with me and your willingness to share so much of your fascinating personal and professional story and behind-the-scenes photos. I am so honored to feature you here on Reel Librarians. You go into the Reel Librarians hall of fame, for sure, as you have an insider’s view in both the library and cinematic worlds.
By the way, when I first asked Bill about doing a “guest post” or profile for Reel Librarians, his charming and modest response was that he wasn’t sure his story would be “much of great interest to the librarians out there.”
Well, I’m a fellow librarian, and I find Bill’s story extremely interesting — AND inspiring!
Anyone else feel inspired around here? Please leave a comment and share!
“Biography.” Bill Nikolai, Internet Movie Database.
A special treat for y’all today: a guest post from Michael at the Century Film Project blog! I met Michael recently at the ACRL Conference, and we realized we had a lot in common — after all, we’re both librarians in Oregon with film blogs. Hope you enjoy the guest post!
Hello, gentle readers. Jennifer kindly asked me to post a little bit about myself and my blog here, and I’m honored to do so, even if I scarcely know where to begin.
My blog is called the Century Film Project, and it is a place where I post the reviews I write of century films. “What is a century film?” you may well ask. In my About page, I state:
“[c]entury films are movies that have been in existence for at least 100 years. As we move into the 21st Century, we have a unique opportunity to connect with a past period that no longer lives in human memory. The cinema connects us with the images and the dreamscapes of other eras.”
I have always felt that the most interesting thing about film is that it is a form of shared dreaming. We get to see into the minds of people who are distant from us and often very different, yet we find things there that we recognize as part of ourselves. From a historical point of view, this makes them a very strange kind of source – not a reflection of reality, but of wishes, hopes, and fears.
I originally had the idea of watching century films as a project of my own about 2012, and I started posting brief thoughts about them on my Facebook wall. In 2014, a couple of people I worked with told me they’d like to see these reviews moved to somewhere more permanent/navigable, like a website or blog. Hence, I launched the Century Film Project as a WordPress blog in March 2014. Since then, I have to admit, it’s kind of taken over my free time. The blog itself consists mostly of capsulized reviews of the movies I’m watching, along with occasional posts for context, about the news in the world of 1915, or the early film industry, or a specific filmmaker’s career. The other major part is the Century Awards! I give awards paralleling the Academy Awards on awards night to movies released 100 years earlier. Last year’s big winner was the Italian spectacle, Cabiria (1915).
There are a lot of neat things about looking at movies from 100 years ago, one of which is the way in which dates line up. We can think about how people then understood the Civil War in terms of how people of today remember the 1960s. Or we can think about inventions that became popularized in the mid-90s (internet, anyone?) and compare them with the development of film.
I have a checkered background that includes going to film school and working in film for a brief time, but I’m a professional librarian these days. Some of my first experience with information retrieval, searches, and organizing information came when I was a clerk at Movie Madness, a video store in Portland, Oregon. I still use what I learned there every day.
Jennifer and I met in Portand at the ACRL conference, which she blogged about a bit. There were supposed to be informal lunches for people with different (non-library) interests, and we both showed up for one about movies. I know I was relieved to find people who didn’t only want to talk about the newest releases. And now I’ve gotten to write for her blog! You never know where networking will lead you…
Reel Librarians goes international with Notorious Bib
Today’s post is a special double feature: Reel Librarians goes international! (Bibliothécaire in the heading’s subtitle is French for librarian.) A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Mister Pamp from the Notorious Bib site — basically, the French version of my Reel Librarians site — and after some correspondence back and forth, I suggested the idea of analyzing the same film and sharing our perspectives on each other’s sites. He was up for the challenge, and we chose the 2002 indie film, Miranda. Why? Because we both happened to have personal copies of the film, but neither one of us had yet watched it. Simple as that. Sometimes, practicality rules triumphant. It just so happened that we chose a British-made film.
I enjoyed the experience, as well as reading my French colleague’s take on this film. We ended up with similar outlooks on the film, but it’s interesting to read how we took different routes to end up at the same place. Also, Mister Pamp was able to locate the real-life filming location for the library featured in Miranda!
Miranda is a strange woman. And a strange film. It’s a British-made film starring two American actors: Christina Ricci as the title role and Kyle MacLachlan as a kinky businessman obsessed with Miranda. Although one of the lead characters, Frank (played by British actor John Simm), is (1) a reel librarian, (2) earns second billing in the film’s credits, and (3) whose relationship with Miranda is the film’s central plot, there is NO MENTION of him in the film’s trailer that came as an extra on my dvd copy. John Hurt, in a supporting role, also replaces John Simm above the title on the film’s posters and advertising. Ouch.
Those omissions pretty much sum up how important the reel librarian’s occupation is to this Class II film. As in: not very. He could have been a bank teller or a pharmacist or any occupation seen to serve behind a counter.
Even though the opening scene shows Frank at work in the central public library (he’s actually listening to music with his headphones on and creating a self-portrait out of nuts), we are hit with a sign that reads “Library Closing Down” and this self-narration:
Frank. Barracloff. Rock star. Astronaut. Secret agent. Sex god. That was me, wishing my life away, listening to Elvis, munching on nuts. But now I know, you gotta be careful what you wish for. It might come true. Because at 1:05 pm on the 25th of February, my life changed… forever.
And what changed this reel librarian’s life forever? You guessed it! Miranda. She is a mysterious character — perhaps a better word is shady — a wide-eyed pixie who dons different outfits and contact lenses depending on what con scheme she’s busy orchestrating. Christina Ricci is hilariously miscast as the wannabe femme fatale, while John Simm as the hapless Frank seems to be the only one taking the script seriously.
Although with clunker lines like:
“She hit me like a truck, but with a bit more grace,”
“You are my Virgin Mary … coal … thing,” and
“Even Jesus came back after three days, and he was dead,”
it probably was a tougher job than he expected.
The first ten minutes of the film rushes through the first week of meeting Miranda, as she visits the library every day as demolition day draws nearer and the library shelves become barer. Even though we see Frank unshelving books to pack into boxes — a reel librarian UNSHELVING books, that’s got to be a cinematic first! — and clearing off the front desk, he seems completely unperturbed at losing his job. Even at the very end, as he straightens the empty brochures bin and the front desk bell, he crosses his arms and smiles as is satisfied. The film’s message is clear: What a loser.
What does Miranda do? She sets fire to the sign that warns the public that the library is closing down for demolition. Right before she goes into the library and introduces herself to Frank. Subtle. As subtle as the shot of the crane later demolishing the library facade. Because that’s all it is. A facade. (Seriously, that personal revelation was deeper than this entire movie. That’s not really a compliment. 😉 )
Fast-forwarding, Frank sums up their love story plotline with more lame-o narration, “Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy wakes up.” And in a truly terrible song he writes and sings about his beloved, he also foreshadows his quest to find her after she disappears one morning:
And it’s you, Miranda. Wherever I wander, I’ll find her. From New York, to Uganda. Miranda. Got eyes like a Panda. Miranda. If you were a plane, I’d land ya’. Miranda.
At this point, my husband and I were making up stupid rhymes ourselves.
I came up with, “Your name’s not Amanda, it’s Miranda.“
My husband’s best entry, “It’s not a custard, it’s a flan – duh.“
We do get to see several shots of Frank’s apartment — it’s always interesting to see glimpses of a reel librarian’s home life. Frank does have a clearly defined sense of style. It’s very … Elvis.
Time and again, we also witness every.single.character make fun of Frank:
Frank: It’s the best night I’ve ever had. Miranda: You should get out more.
Miranda: You look like a hedgehog. Frank: Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid.
Rod (best friend): Frank, your hair is bad. She is exciting.
We’re supposed to root for this guy? All those mean remarks stacking up, it’s tiring. You might say there are enough verbal slaps to cause a nosebleed. 😉
Even though Frank becomes a hero of sorts at the end, he also is burdened with inane dialogue such as this:
Frank: I always buy stuff with preservatives in it. Makes you live longer.
[Narration]: I read this book once. It said 2,000 people disappear every week. They just vanish. By the year 2076 there’ll be no one left. Only me.
Frank [to Miranda]: I love you. … All I’m asking you to do is say three little words. Three little words. And then I’ll go. Three little words. Miranda: Fuck off. Now.
The final frosting on this wilting cake is this conversation between Frank and his best mate, Rod, toward the end of the film. Warning: I cannot be objective about this. This scene made my blood boil.
Rod: She’s beyond exciting. She’s international. Get out there, conquer it.
Frank: I can’t.
Rod: Why not?
Frank: I’m a librarian.
Rod: Frank, you cling to the past. You haven’t even got one. You just stayed in.
Frank [narration]: He was right. That’s all I did. I stayed in. Read books. Until I met her. … In one month with her, I’ve been kidnapped, made 5 million quid from a psychopath. I was alive, electrified by raw, painful, horrible, glorious life.
Frank is a classic Liberated Librarian. His story arc is actually the central one of the film, even though Miranda gets the title role. He starts out the film dreaming of a more exciting life, and he finds that through Miranda. Male liberated librarians usually need outside forces or actions to instigation the “liberation,” and that is true in this case, as well. For all his (awkward) talk of love, Frank can only muster the courage to go after Miranda after (1) he gets drunk and (2) his friend urges him to go after her. And at the end of the film — even after he has saved her TWICE — he cannot experience personal happiness until she tells him that she loves him. The three little words that he actually wanted to hear.
So there you go. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy helps girl. Make 5 million quid from pervert. It just didn’t feel right.
[Please note that the following guest post has been translated into English. Any errors in translation are mine (and maybe Google’s, as I used the Google Translate tool). For this post in its original French, click here to visit the Notorious Bib blog.]
The brave film that interests us today is called Miranda and tells the story of a young woman named … Miranda (bravo), but also Frank, a thirty-year-old no-life librarian, who “dreams of a life life beyond his bank loan.” Said in a less literary way: he benefits from a public system and yet could not care less about the public. But it is a strange fact, nobody finds anything wrong with that. Frank doesn’t seem to have any bosses — who are conspicuous by their absence — or users of the library, which also sparks the same absenteeism (with a possible correlation between the two). In short, Frank is called, in the jargon of operational management, a dirty little humbug. However, our kindness will grant a mitigating circumstance. Indeed, in a few weeks , the library where Frank works will definitely close. And closing the public library , except in the minds of some sly students of ENSSIB, we must recognize that this is not the ideal professional perspective to boost the motivation of a librarian. Welcome to …
~~ Miranda (2002)
Unmotivated library workers, we’ve all seen. In general, you recognize them easily. There is Marie-Laure who systematically catches a cold the first day of vacation … in that way, her recovery is also postponed. There is Eric, who recently had the great idea to bring long cigarettes with the aim of prolonging cigarette breaks, or the divine and unconquerable Angelica, who each morning invariably rearranges her book cart with large-print novels because they are easier to shelve, leaving the hard files for her misfortunate colleagues.
Besides these small players is our friend Frank, who wins the prize. At the reception desk, you see him killing time without stopping on a swivel stool that squeaks like a freight train braking, ears plugged into Elvis Presley, and with handfuls of kernels, spreading the shells on the desk to form tribal-inspired frescoes. When the library front door opens, it’s an air current that sweeps away the decoration; then Frank picks up everything and again, until the next visitor.
Of course, all this does not encourage users to respect the place, and you wind up witnessing wastebasket dunks with apples they just swallowed at their desk — or worse , who enjoy burning the library notices posted on the board outside.
Occasionally, one of Frank’s unemployed friends pays him a visit, and then you see how they both change the world: one butt cheek on the counter, casually shooting the bull about love and its hazards.
You say, this is not possible, such things cannot exist. Alas, Menelaus, and we have not seen everything: when the pretty girl enters the library and asks Frank where the conference room, he simply leaves his post and accompanies the young woman in the auditorium, where he will “hold his leg” for twenty minutes to yap about the beauty of her eyes and the impact of those eyes on the male. Yes, in addition to being a pretty lousy professional, Frank gives into the most clichéd phrases for the purposes of seduction.
Leaving for a moment his whimsical and inconsistent attitude, in rare moments is Frank captured by a flash of lucidity. Thus, when yet again he pours his heart out to his friend and when his friend tries to encourage him:
– But what are you waiting for, go find her and seduce her! (…) – I could never … – And why is that? – Well … I’m a librarian …
A beautiful vision, but it is a struggle to appreciate when you see how this young man tries to get a leg up in his career. Especially if you look at the statistics, being a librarian is not so prohibitive. There are plenty who enjoy a healthy social life and even manage to reproduce. It is really sad to see such a lack of confidence in a male librarian; with 75% of women in the profession, it is supposed to be an advantage for heterosexual-level opportunities.
I reassure you, this is not France that would see such things. In fact, I did not want to mention it because I personally abhor denunciation, but I still need to clarify that the charming librarian of this film is an Englishman. This is also why, if you have some basic insight into that from the beginning I type Frank without the “c”. Specifically, our friend works in the great London suburbs, the main library of the town of Harrow, which seems to have a lateral recruitment policy. In any event, the film reassures us that in a few days the library and its staff will not ever hurt anyone because the property is not ready to be only closed, but also wiped off the map.
What does a public library about to be sprayed look like? Here’s a small glimpse:
Apart from its incompetent staff, here is another reason solely sufficient to justify the demolition of the facility: the front pediment above the main entrance.
An excruciating sculpture, it seems to include the cross-sectional representation of a small intestine that have suffered the ravages of chili con carne that’s too spicy. It’s just disgusting. To think that the one part of this building that is cultural would appeal only to an intestinal surgeon.
Finally, an interesting library graphic. The poster is not very attractive, but it looks roughly official:
Spectacular, and more:
A Mercedes S-class parks in front of the library. Can we say the the rich have finally discovered the joys of reading in public? … Nay, this wealthy Japanese comes to examine the library he had just bought with his head full of ideas to build something better once it is destroyed …
Sayonara, library. Instead, we will build a park where dogs can pee, it will be much more useful, and then place the playground next to a weight bench and an expression wall for graffiti artists which may also serve as a urinal if sometimes they do not like their park — and of course a fountain that will fill with the urine and everything that clutters up our pockets with material desires. It will be great and then, finally, we have our third act.
Hmm, it is hard to love a film that has such an apocalyptic vision of the reading public. The reality, thankfully, is not quite as described in Miranda as the film chose as its library location the Gayton Library, in Harrow — which was about to be demolished, but the library actually moved elsewhere, in more functional premises. Harrow librarians have also done well, as the allocation of filming locations was done in return for payment against the sum of €25,000, which was used to purchase new books for other libraries in the city. Apart from that, Miranda is not really the film of the year. Neither of the week, or even your evening, in fact: the love story is stupid, the dialogue is heavy, the actors look like actors in commercials for deodorants. Done with more care, the plot of the film could have been fine (the story of a librarian who is tricked by a femme fatale). But as is, the film is a chore that lasts 90 minutes. Bad.
Just a reminder to everyone that I’m on vacation this week. Hope you enjoy the guest posts!
Our last — but certainly not least — guest post comes to you from Bob Schroeder @ Cinfolit. A fitting end to the past couple of weeks — or perhaps, a rebirth? Read on, dear readers, read on! 🙂
The Blog Cinfolit at the Crossroads
by Bob Schroeder
A blog posting wherein the author bakes organic bread in Ann Arbor in the ’70s, makes Lord of the Rings allusions, invents a new muse, and poses a most timely and scintillating question to us all.
The question before us ladies and gentlemen is: “How to make a collaborative blog thrive?”
A bit of back story. In July of 2010, Joseph Hardenbrook posted a questions to the ili-list. He was looking for videos that illustrate information literacy topics for library instruction sessions. A great idea! Videos on info lit topics would definitely add some pizzazz to the old shtick in the classroom. Then my inner librarian kicked in and I wondered how would we will be able to find and access all those great videos? An online index of information literacy related instruction videos – of course!
Such was the genesis of the blog Cinfolit (Cinema + Information Literacy).
But how to find all of those great videos I knew were out there, and how to be eternally and incessantly vigilant ? (Even the Eye of Sauron occasionally blinked, right?) That’s when my inner cooperator kicked in. Cooperation has been one of my life’s leitmotivs over the past four decades. I’ve was a member of Ann Arbor’s Peoples’ Coop in the early 70’s , I learned to bake great hippie whole wheat bread at the Wild Flour Bakery, and was a owner/worker of the Soy Plant – cranking out a thousand pounds of tofu a day. My cooperative self even followed me into libraryland, inspiring me to write an article entitled A Cooperative Publishing Model for Sustainable Scholarship. So duh! Making it a cooperative blog seemed to be the obvious answer.
I must confess that while blogging always seemed like a cööl thing to do I was waiting for a muse to enthuse me to rapturous and meaningful words (BTW – perhaps it is time to birth a tenth muse of good blogs, Eupostia?) Finally with Cinfolit a raison de blôgtre! But not only would the content be meaningful and helpful for instruction librarians , it would also be a social experiment for me – seeing if cooperation and collaboration would work on the web.
Fast forward to fall of 2011 – it was then, a year after Cinfolit started, that the last post was made. I’ve been ruminating since on the fate of this blog. It still seems like a good repository for these videos – they’re still great spice to add to instruction sessions, and having the index and links online makes them accessible to anyone with a computer. Just writing this blog post has started some blog regeneration seeds sprouting in my brain. But the question remains about collective action in cyberspace….
“How to make a collaborative blog thrive?”
Do you feel that Cinfolit is a potentially useful source for instruction librarians? If you have any epiphanies on how to reinvigorate a cooperative blog please let me know. You can email be at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.