Tag Archives: DVD

Film Review: Bel Canto

Starring : Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe

Setting: Somewhere in South America, 1996

Rating: MA

Available on Hulu

Time: 102 minutes

Based on the novel with the same title, by Ann Patchett, this is also a fictionalized retelling of the actual event, famously known as The Japanese Hostage Crisis. Both the book and the film set the plot somewhere in South America, but history books record the event as taking place in Lima, Peru.

On December 17, 1997, a party was held for the Emperor of Japan in the home of the Japanese ambassador to Peru, Morihisa Aoki. The movie gives the audience the correct impression that this was a huge event with hundreds of dignitaries from all over the world In attendance. In actuality, 600 people attended the gala. Among the guests was a wealthy industrialist, Katsumi Hosokawa, who accepted the invitation under the guise of wanting to build a Japanese factory in poverty stricken Peru. As an ardent opera buff, he was instrumental in arranging for his favorite soprano, Roxann Coss, to be the evening’s guest performer. It was his sole reason for leaving Japan to attend the party. Roxane agreed to sing, only after her agent accomplished the negotiation that would bring her an acceptable amount of money. The only person of importance who did not make an appearance, much to the ambassador’s disappointment, was the Peruvian president. His excuse: he’d rather stay home to watch his favorite television show.

In the middle of Ms. Coss’s aria, the party was taken over by an army of rebels. They’re main and only goal was to kidnap the president. Once they realized that he was not there, they decided to take everyone hostage. Within the first two weeks, they did release all the women and a random selection of men. Records indicate that 287 people, including Roxane Coss, the only female hostage, were kept in captivity for 126 days.

The captors felt that if Ms. Coss stayed with them, they would be closer to having their demands met: better prison conditions, the release of certain prisoners who are their relatives, and making sure that money from foreign assistance gets allocated to all of citizens and not just the select few.

As most people know, Julianne Moore is not a professional opera singer. Renee Fleming was her dubbed voice. The editing and sound effects were so precise, and along with Ms. Moore’s the voice substitution doesn’t make a bit of difference to the viewing pleasure. Her facial expressions and mannerisms were perfectly timed with the music and in sync with Ms. Fleming’s voice.

While watching the movie, please keep in mind that this is not a documentary or a memoir. The book and film, are pieces of historical fiction with lots of drama and romance. Romance? During a hostage crisis? If you include the army of rebels with the amount of hostages, there were over 300 people living together for over 4 months. Relationships developed between the hostages and the guards. A deep love affair was built between Roxane and, Katsumi Hosokawa. The food the hostages were given in the beginning was a bit questionable. As time progressed the group actually conduct sit-down dinners around the banquet table, eating gourmet meals. It was fascinating to watch how human behavior can change according to circumstances. This story is a perfect example of how the environment can affect a person’s character.

To explain how the crisis ended would be a spoiler. I suggest that you watch this entertaining movie and learn a bit about Peruvian history, even though the writers land you in a non-descriptive Spanish speaking country in South America.

-posted by Isabel, Readers’ Services

New in DVD

Queen and Slim

Drama R

While on a forgettable first date together in Ohio, a black man and a black woman are pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. The situation escalates, with sudden and tragic results, when the man kills the police officer in self-defense. Terrified and in fear for their lives, the man, a retail employee, and the woman, a criminal defense lawyer, are forced to go on the run. But the incident is captured on video and goes viral, and the couple unwittingly becomes a symbol of trauma.

Dark Waters

Drama R

Inspired by a shocking true story, a tenacious attorney uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths due to one of the world’s largest corporations. In the process, he risks everything, his future, his family, and his own life, to expose the truth.

Knives Out

Comedy PG-13

A tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie and a fun, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect. When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. From Harlan’s dysfunctional family to his devoted staff, Blanc sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind Harlan’s untimely death.


Drama PG-13

Unfolding over the course of a late summer’s day in the fabled resort town of Sintra, Portugal, this film follows three generations who have gathered for a vacation organized by the family matriarch. In this fairy tale setting, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers, stirred by their romantic impulses, discover the cracks between them, as well as the unexpected depth of feeling.

-posted by Ralph, Media Services

Five Years in the Blog

Time for a walk through some of Syosset Public Library’s  past blog posts in February for the last five years:

2019: NEW IN DVD





Hope you enjoyed our memories!

-posted by Sonia, Reference Services


New in DVD

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Drama PG

Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love, and forgiveness from America’s most beloved neighbor.

Jojo Rabbit

Drama PG-13

A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy named Jojo whose worldview is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.


Action PG-13

Centers on the Battle of Midway, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The film, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, fortitude, and bravery to overcome the odds.

21 Bridges

Action R

An embattled NYPD detective is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy. As the night unfolds, lines become blurred on whom he is pursuing, and who is in pursuit of him. When the search intensifies, extreme measures are taken to prevent the killers from escaping Manhattan as the authorities close all of the city’s bridges to prevent any entry or exit from the iconic island.

-posted by Ralph, Media Services

New in DVD

Ford v. Ferrari

Drama PG-13
The remarkable true story of the visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby and the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles, who together battled corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company and take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.


Foreign R
With his eighth and most personal film, Alfonso Cuaron recreated the early 1970s Mexico City of his childhood, narrating a tumultuous period in the life of a middle-class family through the experiences of Cleo, the indigenous domestic worker who keeps the household running. Charged with the care of four small children abandoned by their father, Cleo tends to the family even as her own life is shaken by personal and political upheavals.
-posted by Ralph, Media Services

New in DVD

Doctor Sleep

Horror R

Struggling with alcoholism, Dan Torrance remains traumatized by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child. His hope for a peaceful existence soon becomes shattered when he meets Abra, a teen who shares his extrasensory gift of the ‘shine.’ Together, they form an unlikely alliance to battle the True Knot, a cult whose members try to feed off the shine of innocents to become immortal.

The Good Liar

Drama R

Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life.

Last Christmas

Comedy PG-13

A young woman, who has been continuously unlucky, accepts a job as a department store elf during the holidays. When Kate meets Tom on the job, her life takes a turn.

-posted by Ralph, Media Services