News Column

Hazleton Area Public Library News [Standard - Speaker (PA)]

November 4, 2013


Today through Thursday,

9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday, closed

Phone: 570-454-2961

Fax: 570-454-0630



Two strong dramas from the mid-seventies are available for the first time on DVD at the Hazleton Area Public Library. "The Passenger" and "Night Moves" are excellent films with existential themes.

"The Passenger," directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, written by the director, Mark Peploe and Robert Wollen and stars Jack Nicholson and Maria Schneider. Antonioni, (director of "Red Desert," "Blow- Up," and "Zabriskie Point") has made a visually beautiful and impressively cerebral film. The screenplay from an original story by Mark Peploe follows a journalist (Jack Nicholson) covering a rebellion in an African nation who seizes the opportunity to change identity with a dead man, and becomes committed to a journey he cannot control. The dialogue is sparse, but the movie is visually gripping.

Although "The Passenger" deals with identity and change, another of its central themes is death and the acceptance of one's own mortality. The desert has served as a symbol for death in other Antonioni films, specifically "Red Desert" and "Zabriskie Point."

In "The Passenger" the opening scenes are played against a sun drenched expanse of seemingly endless desert sand dunes. Jack Nicholson's truck becomes entrenched in one such drive, and he removes a shovel from the truck and begins digging beneath the tires. Finally, exasperated by the futility of his labors, he bangs his shovel against the truck's tires, falls to his knees, and buries his face in the sand all the while crying, "I don't care."

David Locke, the character Jack Nicholson portrays, is a far different interpretation than is often associated with Nicholson. From under Antonioni's brilliance, Nicholson as Locke emerges as a quiet individual searching for a meaning to his existence. There are none of Nicholson's exaggerated tirades, such as those he enforced in "Carnal Knowledge," The Last Detail," "Chinatown," and even to a certain extent in "Five Easy Pieces." He makes Locke a reserved, soul-searching human being; a passenger traveling the journey of life.

Maria Schneider, as The Girl, gives a good performance. It is a deliberately ambiguous one, perhaps due to the character as written rather than a lack of characterization in the actress. She played well opposite Marlon Brando in "Last Tango in Paris," yet she is not a truly effective presence on screen.

"The Passenger" has been beautifully photographed in England, Germany, and Spain by Luciano Tovoli. He has had to return to a nearly pictorial essay style of filmmaking as utilized in the silent screen era in order to convey the meanings beneath the bareness of the plot. His contribution to the film would have made it an artistic success even if there had been no spoken dialogue whatsoever.

Although the "The Passenger" requires patience and attention, it rewards its viewers with a memorable cinematic experience.

"Night Moves" is a tight little melodrama which has been directed by Arthur Penn ("Bonnie and Clyde" and "Little Big Man") and written by Alan Sharp ("Klute"). Sharp's screenplay is especially intelligent in that it perceives the main character, Harry Moseby's (Gene Hackman), environment through his character.

The film is a psychological thriller that begins as a routine detective story and climaxes as an astute character study. "Night Moves" moves along steadily and is always aware of its foregone conclusion.

"Night Moves" has been handsomely photographed (primarily on location in Florida) by Bruce Surtees. It contains an excellent jazz musical score by Michael Small (also of "Klute" fame). The performances by all the principals (including a very young Melanie Griffith) are just right. Gene Hackman's Moseby stands out as an antithesis of his characterization as Harry Caul in "The Conversation." If solely for the harrowing set piece that serves as the film's finale, "Night Moves" is well-worth seeing.


The Hazleton Area Public Library is a member of the Luzerne County Library System, a countywide system of 10 member libraries.

System members include Back Mountain Library, Hazleton Area Public Library, Hoyt Library, Mill Memorial Library, Marian Sutherland Kirby Library, Osterhout Free Library, Pittston Memorial Library, Plymouth Public Library, and Wyoming Free Library.

These libraries have their own facilities and have separate funding sources, including funding from Luzerne County, and have their own boards of directors. Created in 1984, the Luzerne County Library System serves all of Luzerne County and its 329,250 residents.


The library offers fax service at its reference desk at moderate prices.


Hazleton Area Public Library will continue its film program at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Community Room (Green Street entrance). The film will be a musical with a focus on costume design.

Registration is appreciated. Please phone HAPL's reference desk at 570-454-2961.


Hazleton Area Public Library's Book Club has scheduled its next meeting for Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.

HAPL is accepting new registrants for the club. Anyone interested in HAPL's book club may register by contacting Kathy in HAPL's reference department at 570-454-2961.

Book club meetings are held in HAPL's Community Room (Green Street entrance).


Hazleton Area Public Library will be participating in an "Uncover Secrets from the Sands of Ancient Egypt" program. On Nov. 15 at 2 p.m., HAPL will host "Show Me The Mummy."

There will be a highly illustrated video presentation exploring the history of ancient Egyptian mummies in cinema and literature. Both educational and entertaining, the lecture explores in detail the development of mummy themes (mummy-mania) in Western literature and fine art through the 19th Century; a genre that evolved into a string of mummy-themed movies that encompasses nearly a century.

Images of illustrations from 19th Century literature and actual movie trailers from over six decades of mummy movies highlight the talk.

This is a free lecture series presented by Stephen R. Phillips, Ph.D. Phillips is the research assistant to the curator-in-charge of the Egyptian section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

It will be presented in HAPL's community room.

Registration is strongly recommended and may be made by calling HAPL's reference desk at 570-454-2961.

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