As media morphs and proliferates in our technological age, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to decide what we actually want to spend our leisure time watching or reading. What's worse, anyone with an Internet connection can express an opinion about leisure-time offerings on blogs or other social networking sites. It's getting to the point that we need reviews of reviewers to find resources that suit our temperament and give us quality information about what to read or see.
These various resources can help us and our patrons choose entertainment wisely.
These sites offer a broad overview of entertainment options in a variety of media.
The Web counterpart to the magazine covers aspects of many traditional media: books, theater, movies, video games, and music. It offers print and video reviews, behind-the-scene news, and interviews with the "talent." If you feel out of touch with popular culture, this is a great place to get yourself up-to-speed!
Here's a portal for those who love both movies and TV. Read blogs here that cover the news about television series: their shuffling schedules and even plotlines. Critic Picks features movie reviews from the members of the exclusive National Society of Film Critics. See their rankings of the latest releases, and browse a collection of their thoughts. Find movie showtimes and TV listings, too
Canadians, get an overview of show business from a Canuck perspective.
Librarians know how to get the skinny on new books: We have to buy them--with other people's money! We check Library Journal [http://www.libraryjournal.com] and Publisher's Weekly [http://www.publishersweekly.com], The New York Times Book Review [http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books] (free with registration), and Booklist (corresponding print subscription required), among others. We will even read Amazon. com for its concise aggregations from major review sources and even some of the "real people" reviews. Still, the more thorough among us may dig even further online.
Ann Chambers Theis, collection management administrator at the Chesterfield County Public Library in Virginia, maintains this fiction selection and review directory as a labor of love. Browse her links to information about new and notable general and genre fiction.
BookWeb: Book Sense Picks
The American Booksellers Association, the professional group representing all your quality independent bookstores, assembles monthly picks and reviews of its favorite releases. Here are links to its lists for the last year and a half.
The New York Review of Books
The current magazine appears here with its novella-length intellectual articles and reviews. The NYRB mostly covers nonfiction, as befits its air of gravitas. Still, the site does offer reading group guides for recent literary fiction: http://www.nybooks.com/nyrb/rgg.
London Review of Books Online
Say, the entire current issue is right here, with its interesting, if lengthy, articles. Subscribers to the print publication can register to find archives back to 1998.
This site very handily compiles reading group guides originally put online by the books' publishers. Browse by title or author, or view books by subject category ("Books into Movies," "Mystery & Thriller," "Men's Interest," etc.).
The Beat Books
Public radio station KUOW in Seattle hosts podcasts of book reviews by librarian Nancy Pearl.
Volunteers review current adult fiction. Sister sites, Teenreads.com and Kidsreads.com, offer reviews for the younger set.
Portland, Maine, denizen Tim Spalding has established this online library catalog for private collections. Join for free or pay a modest fee to match authoritative catalog records to your books and store your bibliographic records online. Click on the "Book Suggester" tab to enter a title that you like. The Suggester will scour its description tags to find read-alikes. Members also supply book reviews. Very Web 2.0! [For a thorough review of this super-readers site, read Jennie Starr's Webmastery column on pp. 25-32.]
The Modern World
This attractive yet mysterious site is actually a directory of links to information about authors of important 20th-century literature. Explore Beckett and Borges, Pynchon, Joyce, and even Cormac Mc-Carthy. Very useful for literary book groups and students.
Since 1911, the best thing to do on a hot summer afternoon is to slip into a dark, cool movie theater (The History of Air Conditioning, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute [http://www.ari.org/consumer/history]). Should you see the latest Hollywood blockbuster? Or a dark piece of Mexican magical realism? Check movie reviews online to help you decide.
MRQE: Movie Review Query Engine
Stewart M. Clamen's search engine lists current releases of movies and DVDs along with links to international reviews on the Web in English and other European languages. Find showtimes for current releases in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. Registered users may participate in the site's "forums," or message boards.
In 1998, cinephile Senh Duong founded this movie review aggregator with the marinara metaphor. A good review gets a fresh tomato. Bad reviews equal rotten tomatoes. When a film receives more than 60 percent positive reviews, it is rated "fresh." Otherwise, it goes into the compost. "Certified Fresh" films have been positively reviewed by at least 75 percent of 40 or more critics; the wisdom of crowds implies that these movies are worth seeing. Track box office here, too, and find showtimes. Or, publish your own thoughts about movies on The Vine. This is a great all-around movie portal.
Internet Movie Database
Who doesn't love the Internet Movie Database? I use it at the reference desk all the time to answer questions about movies and old TV shows. Register at the free site for online space to list favorite films and gain access to the discussion boards. Professionals can buy access to contact listings for celebrity representatives, as well as in-depth box office and production charts for only about $13 per month.
Ebert and Roeper
My hubby hates to miss this movie review show on Sunday nights on ABC. But now, it's no problem if he does, because the whole thing is here, online!
Yahoo! Movies is an attractive multimedia movie portal featuring trailers in Flash format, showtimes and tickets, gossip, and box office numbers. Registered Yahoo! members can keep personal lists of film titles here, too.
Independent film aficionados will want to visit this site to read reviews of current esoteric cinema.
FIPRESCI: The International
Federation of Film Critics
Foreign film lovers, visit this site to get international film festival news and reviews ranging from Palm Springs, Calif., to the Indian city of Trivandrum!
Ain't It Cool News
You ain't cool unless you read Ain't It Cool News, a blog covering movies, TV, and comic books. AICN is the brainchild of Harry Knowles of Austin, Texas, who believes that readers should clearly understand the personal biases of the movie reviewer in order to comprehend the context of the review. Knowles and crew cover older films from time to time. They emphasize that they never spoil a moviegoer's experience by revealing the ending of any movie.
Box Office Mojo
From the heart of movie production land, Burbank, Calif., Brandon Gray posts film reviews, interviews, and box office numbers. Pull up lists of movies and movie makers to see how much money they have brought in! Harvest the information every day with your RSS reader.
It's not a telephone service anymore, and it was bought by AOL, yet Moviefone still serves up the reviews, trailers, and showtimes for all current releases.
On your computer or mobile phone, read reviews, find showtimes, and purchase tickets for the movies playing at many major theater chains. There is a "convenience charge" of up to $1.50 per ticket for this service.
Maybe it is too hot outside even to drive to the movie theater. Instead, let's go to the computer to see what's worth watching on TV. Then, it's onto the couch with a cool drink in one hand and the remote in the other.
TV.com, formerly TV Tome, offers summaries of all the major television shows, listed by category (action, comedy, drama) or popularity. Find episode guides going back to the pilots, along with photos, videos, reviews, and even a trivia guide. Registered users can personalize the portal with a free blog space and automatic newsfeeds about favorite celebrities. From CNET Networks Entertainment.
Now that the Los Angeles Times has stopped publishing a weekly magazine of television schedules, the citizens of the second-largest city in the U.S. have no choice but to turn to TVGuide, or its corresponding site, for listings and articles about what's on the telly. The site also reviews movies currently in theaters: http://www.tvguide.com/Find-Shows-Movies/Movies/In-Theaters.
Television Without Pity
Do you like your TV reviews with attitude? This site is a virtual snarkfest. Get summaries of the major television shows delivered with unbridled sass.
From the heartland comes some of the best reporting about television available on the Web: Aaron Barnhart's TV Barn, a service of Missouri's Kansas City Star newspaper. Barnhart, a native of Montana, offers no-nonsense, middle-of-the-political-road television analyses and reviews. He's also got podcasts.
Find listings, gossip, and television show clips.
In addition to reading news about television, you can watch entire episodes of selected shows, including 24.
Television and online video can be considered a converging art. Read Virginia Herffernan's blog to stay current on the latest dovetailing.
Reality TV Rules
Fans of reality television can visit this site to find detailed summaries and blogs about shows that make stars out of unskilled Americans. Reality show casting notices appear here. Perhaps you too could be the next American Idol--or The Biggest Loser.
Peter Bogdanovich once observed that celebrities fill the modern function of what mythological figures were for our ancestors. Their giant screen images fill our minds and become part of our lives. Bogdanovich confesses that when he met Cary Grant for the first time, he thought, "This is a person I have known since I was five, but he didn't know me at all" [http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/listings/2004/ 10/airtalk_20041025.shtml].
With the advent of movies and television, Bogdanovich notes, "This is the first time in the history of the world where mythological figures were based on real, namable human beings." Hence, our fascination with the personal details of the lives of the famous: They don't know us, but our brains think of them as family.
Here is the online counterpart of the most respectable of gossip rags. Get pix of famous folk in the news. Peruse "Stylewatch" to see what you should be wearing. (Buy it here, too.) Get the RSS feed to be first-in-the-know with the latest news on "Kate," "Nick," and "Paris." Or, use the alpha index [http://www.people.com/people/celebrities/0,,,00.html] to find the latest on your favorite celebs. The only catch? You do have to know their last names.
If something bad has happened to someone famous, you can be sure that you can find about it first on TMZ (a.k.a. "Thirty Mile Zone," referring to the area around studios in which entertainment worker union rules differ from those for production outside the zone). This kind of gossip makes it clear that fame is a curse. Still, with photos and videos of gaffes of the rich and famous, it's hard to look away.
Blogs are great for celebrity gossip, and Perez Hilton is the Hedda Hopper of this new medium. Search "Hollywood's Most-Hated Web Site" by "category," i.e., celebrity name.
This mainstream gossip portal offers celebrity, movie, and fashion news, along with video clips from the television show.
Tap into gossip about British as well as Hollywood royalty.
The Hollywood Reporter
Want an industry perspective on entertainment industry news? Get it here, along with movie and TV reviews.
Get Back to Work!
We've spent so much time exploring how to spend our leisure time that we have used it all up! And I haven't even begun to list all the entertainment information available on the Web. Still, it should be enough to keep you amused and occupied until you finally have to get back to work.
Like any true Southern Californian, Irene E. McDermott pretends that she is too cool to care when she spots a celebrity out shopping or noshing near her home in Pasadena, Calif.
by Irene E. McDermott
Reference Librarian/System Manager
San Marino Public Library
OCIO: LEISURE, IN SPANISH
Many of our patrons may prefer their entertainment news en espanol. Here is a sampling of sites to get them started.
Read book, movie, and music reviews in Spanish.
This Miami-based publication offers news and reviews of Spanish-language writers, written in Espanol.
Cine en Yahoo!
This handsome site offers news, reviews, and Flash previews of films, all in Spanish.
Visit this Barcelona-based hub designed to support Spanish independent film production. There are some serious cinema reviews here too.
From Argentina come movie reviews and celebrity write-ups. This is no puritanical American site. Click "Postales" in the left sidebar to see seminude photos of your favorite female stars.
Inicio: People en Espanol
This online guilty pleasure comes with a Latin flavor. Muy bueno!…