Category Archives: Joe

Speed (1994) R

Speed, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, is an “on the edge of your seat” thriller from beginning to end. An evil villain (Dennis Hopper) has planted a bomb on a city bus that will explode if the bus does not continue going over 50 miles per hour.

What else do you need to say? There are plenty of near misses to ramp up the tension, and Reeves and Bullock are great together. Speed will take you on a fun ride.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) R

This is a laugh-out-loud movie from start to finish. Otto (Kevin Kline) and his girlfriend Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) team up with Ken (Michael Palin) and Tom Georgeson to rob a jewelry store. When Tom is arrested, the others scramble to find where he has hidden the loot.

While Wanda woos Tom’s lawyer Archie (John Cleese) to find out the location of the jewels, Ken, who has an uncontrollable stutter, goes through many hilarious, botched attempts to kill the one witness to the crime. Kevin Kline steals the show, though, in his Academy Award winning role as the mindless thug, Otto. A Fish Called Wanda is a must see!

Dave (1993) PG-13

When the president of the United States has a stroke while engaging in extramarital activities, his aides avoid a scandal by finding a good-natured look-alike named Dave (Kevin Kline) to take his place. Not beholden to any special interests, Dave starts doing things that are good for the country rather than doing what is politically savvy. His approval rating goes way up, and the country loves him.

Things start to go sour, though, when the president’s aides realize he will not do their evil bidding, and the first lady (Sigourney Weaver) starts to realize that Dave is not the man she married. Dave is one of those feel good movies that makes you smile for a long time after it’s over.

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of those great movies that combines adventure with excellent dialogue. Cyrano is a soldier in the French army in 1640 and is both feared and respected for his skill as a swordsman. Despite his military prowess and clever tongue, he is unable to win over his true love because of his misgivings about his extraordinarily long nose. Instead, he helps a young, handsome cadet woo the love of his life in his place.

The movie is at times funny, exciting, suspenseful, and ultimately tragic. It features the brilliant acting of Jose Ferrer, with his deep booming voice, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role. The movie Roxanne (1987) with Steve Martin is a modern day remake of this classic.

Watch the original trailer (courtesy of TCM).

Sneakers (1992) PG-13

Sneakers, which has a star-studded cast, including Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, and Ben Kingsley, is a fun thriller that will keep you stuck to your seat. College age Marty (Redford) and Cosmo (Kingsley) are computer hackers—Cosmo is caught and sent to prison, and Marty is on the run.

Fast forward to the present where Marty has become an expert at foiling security systems such as those found in banks. Marty is given the opportunity to clear his name in exchange for stealing a certain device, but by the time he finds out what it does, it could be too late to save his own life.

Check out a series of articles in Slate as they celebrated the movie’s 20th anniversary.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) PG

The Outlaw Josey Wales stars Clint Eastwood as a Missouri farmer whose family is brutally murdered by Union soldiers and who refuses to surrender when the war is over. Josey Wales is a feared gunslinger who “lives by the feud,” and as he is hounded by the same men who killed his wife and child, he unwillingly picks up other outcasts (two Indians, some ambushed settlers, and a mangy dog), who grow to become his new family.

Beyond being a classic Western with plenty of action, this movie boasts an excellent script—every word is a quote. Josey’s Indian companion gives some mild comedic relief in this tale of life and death, of revenge, of starting a new life. It is my favorite movie.

For a look back on the film, check out this article from TCM. Find other classics westerns available at the library.

Up

Up (2009) PG
Up
begins with Carl Fredricksen as a boy meeting the love of his life, Ellie, and shows them dreaming about traveling to the mysterious Paradise Falls in South America. The movie fast forwards through scenes of their beautiful life together, all the while their dream of traveling eludes them. When Ellie dies, and Carl is about to be ordered by the court into the Shady Oaks retirement home, he escapes by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating to South America. Now that Ellie is gone, Carl just wants to be left alone. Unfortunately, Russell, a local scout trying to earn a merit badge for helping the elderly, is pulled into the adventure, too.

They head for Paradise Falls and end up battling the famous explorer Charles Muntz who is trying to capture a rare bird assisted by his band of dogs who can talk with the help of special collars. After a shaky start, Russell and Carl become close friends who look forward to spending time together. Up is a wonderful story about chasing one’s dreams, but more importantly, it is about making new dreams and never giving up on life.

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) R
The Shawshank Redemption is a movie about hope. Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, it follows the life of banker Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, who is sent to prison for murdering his wife and her lover. Prison life is initially quite harsh for Andy, and he has little motivation to keep on living. Andy perseveres in large part because his friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman) allows him to bring some normalcy to his life behind bars. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Morgan Freeman).

Thank You for Smoking

Thank You for Smoking (2005) R
Thank You for Smoking is the funniest movie I have seen in over a decade and, interestingly, does not have a single scene of anyone smoking. The story follows Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), big tobacco’s lobbyist, who argues in favor of smoking in some of the most difficult and ridiculous situations, while at the same time trying to act as a responsible role model for his twelve-year-old son. Though not a smoker myself, I could not help rooting for Nick and laughing out loud as he tries to support the tobacco industry during its final days of popularity. It includes a hilarious cameo by Rob Lowe, as well as appearances by Robert Duvall, Sam Elliott, William H. Macy, J.K. Simmons and Katie Holmes.