Thursday, October 31, 2013

Learning Lab: Lens on the Collection, featuring A Tale for the Time Being

Lens on the Collection: Click to expand

Tucked in and sometimes overlooked among its vast print holdings, the UW-Madison library system also offers students a dizzying array of movies. Some are popcorn classics, box-office hits widely known and loved worldwide.  Yet library patrons are likewise able to access thousands of film titles that didn’t set any box-office records but are perhaps more thought-provoking than their more famous compatriots.  Certainly, movies should entertain, however the best entertainment expands your outlook, and gives insight to the perspectives of people from different cultures and mindsets. With such a wide selection of films at our disposal, how does one sort through the vast, sometimes dispersed holdings to select the right film for the right situation?

The LSS Learning Lab Library, located on the second floor of Van Hise Hall, is here to help.  Each semester, the Learning lab selects a new theme for its Lens on the Collection series, highlighting several related films from its extensive foreign film collection to provide patrons with a focused guide to the Learning Lab’s film holdings.  This Fall, Lens on the Collection focuses its attention on twelve feature films meant to complement Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, this year’s Go Big Read selection. Ozeki’s novel delves deep into the troubles confronting contemporary Japanese culture, teenage angst, and the difficulty of forging meaningful relationships in the fast-paced modern world. As fans of foreign cinema are no doubt aware, many of these themes have already been explored by talented filmmakers from around the globe:  think of the work of Leos Carax, Michel Gondry, and Bong Joon-ho in Tokyo; Sofia Coppola in Lost in Translation; Eric Khoo in Tatsumi, to name just a few examples.   

While A Tale for the Time Being and each of our films remain thought-provoking works of art in their own right, our hope is that by pairing and partnering these works, book and film, we can help provide the broader campus audience a fuller appreciation of the themes these works raise. By combining these different forms of media, we believe that readers and viewers will be better able to consider the troubles of modernity, the challenges facing contemporary Japan, and the problems we all wrestle with as individual human beings.

So as you finish this year’s Go Big Read, and head into the weekend wondering what to do for a bit of entertainment, don’t settle for the umpteenth re-watching of Twilight or Harry Potter. Dig deeper for something you haven’t seen before, something more thought provoking, something out of your comfort zone. You just might uncover a new favorite and challenge your perspective in the process.

~Lane Sunwall~


The Learning Lab in 259 Van Hise Hall provides drop-in study space, audio and video playback equipment, computers, and an extensive media collection of thousands of DVD/video materials from over one hundred different foreign languages.  Past and current Lens on the Collection posters and selections can be found online or on the poster board in front of the Learning Lab in Van Hise Hall.  To check out movies from the Lens on the Collection, visit our friendly staff at the LSS Learning Lab, or order them online at

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