Kanopy Review: Robert Pattinson Double Feature!

Many of us currently find ourselves in our homes most of the day, if not all of it, working and attending class from home in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. It can be difficult to find things to do for entertainment without spending money on rental or subscription fees. However, if you are currently a student, staff, or faculty member at the University of Memphis, the streaming service Kanopy is offered without charge through our library’s databases. And it has some truly excellent choices on tap. So, if you are in need of a movie night, I aim to post several movie recommendations in the coming days that I hope you enjoy. (Also, if you are new to the blog, scroll back through some of my earlier Kanopy suggestions; I particularly enjoyed writing the Halloween Spooky Scary post!)

First up in this series is a Robert Pattinson double feature. Yes, the same Robert Pattinson that became famous because of that one Harry Potter movie and, more notably, the Twilight saga. If you haven’t watched a film starring him in a while, you are likely in for a surprise. He has developed from a teenage heart throb into one of the most interesting young actors working today. Pattinson has specialized in making under the radar independent films in recent years. Both of these features are on offer from the outstanding A24 movie studio, which specializes in making daring films outside of your typical blockbuster fare.

High Life

What could possibly go wrong with launching a group of death row inmates into deep space on a mysterious mission to find alternative energy sources by exploring a distant black hole? Answer: Everything. The film starts with Pattinson’s character taking care of a toddler on his own while struggling to keep a destitute spacecraft from falling apart. Things only get more bizarre from here, as the plot jumps around in time, a theme of the movie. One of the ‘crew’ holds strange fertility experiments with both the male and female prisoners on board. As the group hurtles further and further from Earth, it becomes an impossible struggle to maintain purpose and sanity. This film tackles a lot of deep philosophical issues, such as the value of life, what it means to be human in the worst of circumstances, and the morality of doing questionable things to further advance society. Not everything works here: some of my favorite scenes involve a central garden in the spacecraft that the crew tends to, but it is unclear if there is an environmental message that perhaps fell by the wayside. Either way, there are some beautiful visuals in this film, and the performances from Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, and Andre Benjamin (notable for being half of the music group Outkast) make this a thought-provoking watch.

Who will like this one: Fans of weird sci-fi in the vein of Annihilation that feature slow burn character studies and nonlinear timelines.

Good Time

Second up in the Robert Pattinson double feature is this high-octane New York City crime thriller, a film that is essentially nonstop chaos. Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a narcissistic petty criminal that convinces his brother Nick, who is developmentally disabled, to help him rob a bank. The caper, predictably, goes horribly wrong, with Nick being arrested, badly beaten in jail, and sent to a hospital under police guard. Connie spends the night that most of the plot covers desperately trying to scrounge up enough money to bail his brother out of jail, an attempt which morphs into trying fruitlessly to break him out of custody. It is easy to guess from the synopsis that this is a wild ride from start to finish. It seems intentionally left unclear what Connie’s motivations are throughout besides vague mentions of family strife involving the two brothers’ grandmother. However, the movie felt extremely real, with a constantly building tension as one thing after another descends into pandemonium. Late in the movie, Connie describes another character as being a drain on society, a burden to others; however, it is either the least or most self-aware moment his character displays, as he was essentially describing himself perfectly. His list of dirty deeds in the movie include: trying to manipulate his girlfriend into paying his brother’s bail; getting a teenager arrested who he had earlier tried to seduce; and sending a security guard at an amusement park to the hospital while trying to find a hidden stash of drug money. At one point, I thought, ‘At least he hasn’t gotten anyone killed yet.’ But, there was twenty minutes left in the movie, and I will just leave it at that.

Who will like this one: Fans of nonstop action and of gritty films that focus on realistic characters instead of caricatures of the classic movie criminal.

Viewer warning: Both of these movies are rated ‘R’ and contain adult themes that may be offensive to some, including violence and sexual content.

Find a Wealth of Information in a Few Clicks with Gale eBooks on GVRL

Gale eBooks on GVRL are a one-stop shopping for all of your ready reference needs! Let’s look at an example.

Here’s a familiar scenario: an ENGL 1020 student is writing a paper about Bill Gates. They are only allowed one internet source, and need book sources. What a perfect use of GVRL!  Sure, the database is accessed via the Internet, but the sources themselves are books. Glorious, full-text reference books!

A GVRL search returns two of the full-text reference books; both of the volumes have entries for Bill Gates. The student is skeptical – the entries looks like an internet print-off and they are worried that their teacher won’t believe that it really, truly, is from a book. No worries, just click on the “View PDF” link at the top of the Bill Gates entry and the screen changes to look like the entry from the print edition, just as if the student had photo-copied the page from the book itself.

There is even a “Listen” button. Press the triangle “Play” button and listen to the entry read by a computerized voice. It’s a nice voice – not overly robotic and with excellent pronunciation (not like your incomprehensible caller ID announcer; more like a real, human voice!) It is even possible to translate articles into a variety of languages, making this a truly accessible resource. You can even download the MP3 to listen to an article offline.

Now, would the student like a citation of this source? Of course they would! Click on “Citation Tools” on the right side of the screen and choose from MLA or APA styles. You can even save the citation to one of a number of online options like RefWorks.

The student doesn’t have to check out this eBook or any eBooks. They can access University Libraries’ full Gale eBooks collection through our website, or download the “Gale eBooks” Google Chrome app. After their first login with UofM credentials, they can authenticate and login with his Google account credentials. Once logged in with Google, they can save articles or article highlights directly to Google Drive for future use.

Check out the variety of reference books available to you through Gale eBooks on GVRL. This database is an extremely practical and relevant and accessible to you 24/7.

Spooky Scary! Spend Halloween with the Films of Kanopy

Have you been looking for a few films to give you chills during this year’s spooky season? Are you wanting to put together a movie marathon in a pinch for your Halloween night celebration? Luckily, there is a wide variety of horror selections offered on Kanopy, currently available through the University of Memphis Libraries. Here are a few that I recently viewed that may be good additions to your fright night watch list. Everyone have a safe and spooky Halloween!

The Witch

The first movie on the list will satisfy any potential cravings you may have for historical scares. It follows the sufferings of an English family banished from the Puritan Plymouth Colony in New England as it struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness. This atmospheric gem from A24 (which has produced some excellent horror movies, several available on Kanopy right now!) is a slow burn of existential fear, but the final fast-paced act makes the payoff that much better. As the family deteriorates both mentally and physically, they must determine if there really is a witch in those dark and unforgiving woods. And, if so, who is it? And does that wicked goat Black Phillip have anything to do with the family’s impending doom? It is worth a watch to find out their fate. Continue reading

Discover an Accurate and Trustworthy Search Experience with Google Tools 

Internet information is ubiquitous. It can be overwhelming even to seasoned information professionals. We constantly question if the information provided is any good. Gale eBooks on GVRL can be your go-to research resource.

To flourish in today’s knowledge economy, people need “the capacity and disposition to learn in small, quick doses rather than wade through mounds of links and piles of data.”¹ Because GVRL is built with research in mind, it’s chock-full of features to enrich eBook searching and reading experiences. All eBook content is expertly indexed at the title, chapter, and article level, so users can zoom directly to the information they need. Continue reading

Business Plans Handbook

Just one of the awesome resources within the Gale Virtual Reference Library is the Business Plans Handbook. Published in 2015, this handbook provides business plans actually used by retail, service, and manufacturing industries’ entrepreneurs who need funding for their small businesses. Plans include services like bartending services, mobile hair salon, and web development businesses.

Each entry has industry and market analyses, examples of services offered, personnel needed, operations, growth strategy, marketing and sales plans, and financial analysis. 

If you’re interested in starting your own business, the Business Plans Handbook can give you valuable insight into all of the information you’ll need to get your business off the ground!

Check out all of the great reference resources (dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks) that Gale Virtual Reference Library has to offer!

QuickSearch Tips & Tricks

The Libraries’ QuickSearch allows you to search a ton of library databases all at once (though, unfortunately, it can’t search all of them, so don’t give up if you can’t find what you’re looking for on QuickSearch!). QuickSearch is more robust than Google Scholar, and it shows you materials you can access as a UofM student/employee! We created a “Find and Download Full Text Articles in UofM Libraries QuickSearch” video (7 min.) to help guide you through the process, too.

Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most out of your QuickSearch experience: Continue reading

Database Spotlight: Gale Virtual Reference Library/Gale eBooks

When starting off with a research project, where’s the first place (after class notes and lecture) you turn to for more information? I think most of us would answer “Wikipedia.” (Librarians use Wikipedia, too!) However, most instructors discourage citing Wikipedia. Luckily, you have access to many online scholarly reference collections that can be cited as background information for your project! Continue reading

Kanopy Movie Review: Throne of Blood

Throne of Blood logoFog rolls across a desolate landscape. A chanting song gives an ominous command to the viewer: “Look upon the ruins / Of the castle of delusion.” Thus begins Akira Kurosawa’s 1957 film ‘Throne of Blood,’ a retelling of William Shakespeare’s infamous play ‘Macbeth’ set in feudal Japan. Kurosawa, considered a master of Japanese cinema and samurai films, provides a haunting portrait of ambition and the corruption of power. So, if you like murder and betrayal, prophecy and the descent into madness, this is one you should check out. Continue reading

Test Prep & Career Readiness Tool Available

The University of Memphis community now has access to Testing & Education Reference Center (TERC), a valuable online tool, from Gale, a Cengage company, that learners can use for standardized test preparation, researching undergraduate and graduate programs, finding tuition assistance and exploring careers. You can can even pursue new career paths with test prep assistance for career certification exams and gain advice on resumes, cover letters, interviewing and networking.

TERC helps guide learners with:

  • Test prep: Full-length, timed practice exams that simulate the actual testing experience for AP, ACT, SAT, PSAT, GED, HiSET and TASC exams. Diagnostic pre-tests help students determine where they stand and how much preparation they need before taking an exam.
  • College planning: Intuitive searches and quick results deliver information on more than 4,000 accredited schools, including school location, tuition, academics, admission requirements, campus life and much more.
  • Financial aid tools: Benefit from an undergraduate scholarship search, financial aid award analyzer, college savings calculator, tuition cost finder and more.
  • Career development: The Resume Builder and Virtual Careers Library tools assist students in building essential career skills—like how to build a resume, cover letter and interviewing tips for users at all career stages. Using the Career Module, tests help users map interests and aptitudes to the most suitable job categories, industries, and occupations.
  • International tools: Helps individuals prepare to pass the TOEFL (iBT), TOEFL (PBT), TOEIC and U.S. Citizenship tests with online practice tests and eBooks.

For more information or help with access, please contact our Research & Information Services Department at 901-678-2208.