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The Suburbanite
  • PAGE, STAGE AND SCREEN Library’s free offerings give wallet a break

  • Other than the fact that most

    of us are done with Christmas (right?), this week’s Page Stage and Screen selections have no real theme. After spending all that money on gifts,  your local branch of the Stark or Summit county library has a bookshelf-load of great new titles ... for free. So there, I guess there is a theme after all.

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  • Other than the fact that most
    of us are done with Christmas (right?), this week’s Page Stage and Screen selections have no real theme. After spending all that money on gifts,  your local branch of the Stark or Summit county library has a bookshelf-load of great new titles ... for free. So there, I guess there is a theme after all.
    PAGE — If for its title alone, Robin Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012) is beguiling enough to merit at least a quick browse. The delightful discovery is that, along with featuring really cool vintage Tin Tin-looking artwork between the covers, the story uses very modern-day characters (protagonist Clay Jannon, a former web-designer, and his sidekick’s a start-up CEO and Google employee) to send up a clever and original cat-and-mouse spy plot, against the backdrop of the mysterious all-night bookstore Jannon has recently begun working at. There’s also subtle, between-the-lines commentary on the future of the good old-fashioned written word in book form. Back in the real-life world, Sloan appropriately self-published Mr. Penumbra as a short story through Kindle Direct Publishing before expanding it for its traditional print publication.  
    STAGE — Christmas being the holiday (in America at least) for going big or going home, it seemed the perfect time to talk about Mumford and Sons’ “Babel” (Island/Glassnote, 2012), the biggest-selling debut of any album in the United States in 2012, with 600,000 copies flying off the shelves (or jumping into the online shopping carts) in the first week of its release Sept. 25.
    And for those into revved up Anglo-Celtic folk rock, it doesn’t get much better than Mumford and Sons. While any act tied so closely to its genre can suffer the fate of its very uniqueness growing threadbare in time, on “Babel,” Mumford and Sons show they are at a creative and commercial peak with songs like the sweeping and poignant “I Will Wait” and “Below My Feet,” along with a stirring cover of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” - a song seemingly written for the young group - thrown in for good measure.
    SCREEN — An example of a plot that begins more twisty than it actually ends up, “People Like Us” (Dreamworks, 2012) is indeed a family film in the literal sense. The themes explored, however, aren’t exactly of the heartwarming holiday “It’s A Wonderful Life” variety.
    The film revolves around Sam (Chris Pine) who has arrived in town to ostensibly receive his portion of his inheritance from his estranged father. He finds instead that his father has left the entire inheritance to a boy named Josh Davis (Michael Hall D’Adarrio) - the son of a woman named Frankie (Elizabeth Banks).
    Sam eventually suspects that Frankie may be a sister he never knew about, and while he makes contact with - and befriends - Frankie and Josh, he keeps his familial suspicions (and the inheritance money) to himself through much of the film.
    Page 2 of 2 - So it’s not “Miracle on 34th Street” - and I have, personally, never known people like any of the people in “People Like Us” - but the acting is sincere and surprisingly convincing, and the film overall ends up being a decent way to spend 114 minutes of your life. Consider it a chance to relax after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.