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This month's theme: Movies
 

Three Stories about the City with Three Rivers

by Rob Kalchthaler


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Pittsburgh has many unique characteristics that transfer beautifully from the page to the screen. Authors Michael Chabon, August Wilson, and Stephen Chbosky, all Pittsburghers, have set literary works here that were made into adored films. Chabon’s Wonder Boys, Wilson’s Fences, and Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower have detailed the distinctive streets, people, and even our Pittsburgh weather. Luckily for those who have never been to Pittsburgh, all three books have been made into hit movies.

Wonder Boys takes us through a turbulent period in Professor Grady Tripp's (played by Michael Douglas) writing career and marriage. Problems at home and an inability to edit his ever-growing follow-up novel are put on hold as he tries to help his star pupil James Leer (a dark and brooding Tobey McGuire) while dodging his visiting editor Terry Crabtree (Robert Downey Jr.). Each man, through the rain and snow of a typical Pittsburgh February, experiences both hilarious and heartwarming events. Many scenes include local academic institutions, such as Carnegie Mellon University and Chatham College. City streets in the Hill District and the North side are set to a Bob Dylan soundtrack that compliments the entire movie.

Nominated for best picture, Fences was originally based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name by August Wilson. This play was written as part of a "Pittsburgh Cycle" August Wilson used to show the evolution of the African American experience. Beginning in the Pittsburgh Hill District neighborhood in 1957, the film includes older model automobiles and since closed stores and venues to capture past days in the 'Burgh. Academy Award Winners Viola Davis (winner for Fences) and Denzel Washington play the lead roles of husband and wife, struggling with domestic problems and racial discrimination. The film artfully captures the city changing over time during this beautifully written American drama.

The CGI-free Fort Pitt Tunnel scene from the film adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower alone makes this movie worth viewing! Shot in the spring of 2007, unique sites of Pittsburgh highlight this heartfelt story of adolescence. The West End Overlook, Mt. Washington and even a South Hills King’s Family Restaurant are just a few picturesque spots that capture the romance of the storyline itself. Hollywood stars Emma Watson (Beauty and the Beast) and Logan Lerman (Fury) bring the pages to life with their earnest performances as friends going through high school in Western Pennsylvania.

It is not surprising that the directors of all three films are also from Pittsburgh. Perhaps their local knowledge and experience allowed them to weave the beautiful aesthetics of the city into their compassionate stories and helped the film’s director bring our city to life on the big screen. Ask your librarian for the book, eBook or DVD for all three!

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Rob Kalchthaler is the Adult Services Librarian for the Bethel Park Public Library located at 5100 W. Library Avenue in Bethel Park, PA. For information about the library, visit www.bethelparklibrary.org.

 

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