Category Archives: Jez

Queen of Katwe (2016) PG

Based on a true story, Queen of Katwe follows the journey of Phiona (Madina Nalwanga), a young girl living in Katwe, an impoverished area of the Ugandan capital. At age 10, Phiona and her brother Brian discover the Pioneers, a missionary program where Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) teaches underprivileged children the game of chess. Very quickly, Phiona proves herself a chess mastermind, and it is her talent, along with that of some of her classmates, which prompts Katende to push that the children be allowed to compete in African and international chess championships, even though the children have never attended school and many cannot read or write.

The inspiring aspect of this story lies less in Phiona’s rise to become a Woman Candidate Master, and more in the struggles of her family and the sacrifices they must make for the game. Phiona’s mother Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o) especially makes hard choices for the sake of her family and there are no shortage of obstacles for this young, single mother, but she, like her daughter, is a champion, bringing heart and a happy ending to this biographical film.

The West Wing. Season 1 (1999-2000) TV-14

Since its premiere in 1999, The West Wing has become a modern classic among TV dramas. Focusing on the senior staff of the White House under (fictional) President Bartlett (Martin Sheen), the show tackles policy and public relations issues alike. The staff, made up of the chief and deputy chief of staff, two communications directors, the press secretary, and their assistants, prove themselves to be both intelligent and funny and really gel as a team as their presidential term and the season continue. Have season 2 ready to go because the first season ends with a cliffhanger that’s not to be missed!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Season 1 (2015)

Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) went to a great school, got a great job, and is about to be named partner of her law firm…so why doesn’t she feel happy? As she’s having a nervous breakdown over this, she runs into Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), her childhood boyfriend from camp, who’s giving up on the New York life to move back to his hometown, West Covina, CA. Realizing being with Josh was the last time she felt good about herself, Rebecca quits her job, ends her lease, and immediately moves to California to be with him. Only, there’s a catch: Josh has a girlfriend.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a hilarious and quirky TV musical, where each song is a very specific parody of a popular artist or genre. Between its songs and lovable cast, its positive messages regarding mental health and friendship, there’s no way to go wrong with this off-beat comedy.

Moonlight (2016) R

Following the life of Chiron from childhood to adulthood, Moonlight tackles his mother’s drug addiction, his father figure’s shady business, bullies, and growing up gay in a world that hates you for being different. Every scene is beautifully shot and phenomenally acted, with memorable performances from Mahershala Ali, Naomi Harris, and all three actors who play Chiron: Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhoades. This film won three Oscars at the 2017 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali).

Join us on Friday, June 2nd at 7pm for a showing of this movie at Out@theLibrary, our new LGBTQIA program series. We will show the movie and serve popcorn, and afterwards, discuss of the film and LGBTQIA issues.

A Series of Unfortunate Events. Season 1 (2017) TV-PG

Based on the first four books of the popular young adult book series by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the Beaudelaire orphans as they are shuffled from one guardian to the next after the death of their parents. Inventive Violet (Malina Weissman), bookish Klaus (Louis Hynes), and bitter Sunny (Presley Smith) must team up to stay alive and stay out of the clutches of the evil Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), who is intent on stealing their fortune any way he can. Dryly narrated with witty wordplay and humor by Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton), this new series is cleverly written and beautifully shot, providing many heartwarming moments despite its depressing premise.

Check out our adult roku today for one week of free access to Netflix to watch this show!

The Crown. Season 1 (2016) TV-MA

Golden Globe winner The Crown stars Claire Foy as a young Elizabeth Windsor from the time of her marriage to Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh (Matt Smith) to her ascension to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II. After King George VI’s death, Elizabeth enters a world run by ministers, counselors, and advisers who all believe they know best. As she starts to learn how to run a country and prove herself to Prime Minister Winston Churchill (John Lithgow) and his cabinet, Elizabeth also struggles with her family—especially her sister Margaret (Vanessa Kirby)—and her marriage with Phillip, who feels useless in the palace. Full of political intrigue, yet balanced by deeply personal moments, this is a show for fans of Downton Abbey, The Tudors, and The West Wing.

Check out our adult roku today for one week of free access to Netflix to watch this show!

Want more about the Windsors? Try Wallis & Edward about King Edward’s abdication; The King’s Speech, about King George VI’s overcoming a speech impediment and unexpectedly becoming king; and Victoria, a television show about another young queen: Queen Victoria.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016) R

popstar2The Lonely Island, perhaps known best for their SNL music videos and digital shorts, hit a home run with this musical mockumentary. Parodying documentary style films of popstars like Justin Bieber, this film focuses on star Connor4real (Andy Samberg), a former boy band member turned international sensation, whose sophomore album has just dramatically flopped. Connor struggles to figure out who he is when he isn’t being adored by millions of fans and is forced to confront the fallout with his former best friend when he quit the boy band of which they were once part.

Popstar is full of laughs, inside jokes, and pop culture references, and is positively littered with comedy and musical stars, including Usher, Adam Levine, Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack, Jimmy Fallon, and Chelsea Peretti, just to name a few.

Emotion (2015) & Emotion: Side B (2016) by Carly Rae Jepsen

emotionYou might not know any of Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs other than “Call Me Maybe,” but this girl is anything but a one-hit wonder. Jepsen is the Canadian Pop Queen and her 2015 album, E-MO-TION will have you bobbing your head and dancing in your seat to a mix of modern pop and 80s synth sounds. Some of the best songs to check out on this album are “Run Away with Me,” “Boy Problems,” and “L.A. Hallucinations.”

sidebIn 2016, Jepsen released Side B, which is an 8-track of songs that didn’t make it onto the original E-MO-TION collection. What counts as a B Side for Jepsen would be a smash hit on an A Side for anyone else. Even for a small collection of cut songs, Side B is creating a lot of buzz, both critically and among fans. My favorite songs here are “Higher,” “The One,” and “Body Language.”

Want to lift your mood a little? Watch the music video below for Jepsen’s “I Really Like You,” featuring special guest, Tom Hanks! Afterwards, you can check out E-MO-TION on CD or check out both albums instantly through Hoopla.

Whiplash (2014) R

whiplashAndrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a young student at the Schaffer Conservatory in NYC, the nation’s premiere music academy, and is trying to be the best drummer he can be. He feels like he’s finally gotten his break when one of the top instructors, Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) recruits him to play in a concert jazz band, but things quickly take a dark turn. Fletcher is a teacher who pushes his students through means of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. While this movie is a drama, Whiplash feels like a horror movie where the tension is palpable and you won’t be able to break away from the screen until the final credits roll.

Want another take on this movie? Read Joan’s review here.

Stranger Things (2016)

Stranger-Things-PosterSet in the 1980s in small town Indiana, this new Netflix series is everything you could want from a science fiction horror series. As the title suggests, strange things are happening in Hawkins, Indiana, a quiet town that rarely sees any kind of crime—that is, until 12-year-old Will Byers goes missing and a strange girl with special powers appears. The 8 episode season features multiple storylines with Will’s mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), and the town sheriff (David Harbour) uncovering government conspiracies, teens going monster hunting, and a group of kids looking for their lost friend and trying to protect their new one.

Drawing on popular culture of the 80s and infusing elements from E.T., Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, Alien, and Stephen King, this show hits all the right notes when it comes to spooky nostalgia. Once you enter Hawkins, you’ll be glued to your screen and won’t be ready to leave at the end. Stranger Things is available as a full season through Netflix, which you can access for free by checking out one of our roku devices.

Already obsessed with Stranger Things? Check out Book Riot‘s list of recommended reading.