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Source Code (2011) PG-13

I enjoyed Source Code. I would recommend it to anyone who liked Inception (2010) and Eagle Eye (2008). There are a few things that I question about the film, but overall it was entertaining to watch.

Check out a Wired.com interview with screenwriter Ben Ripley.

Llewellyn's Complete Book of Astrology by Kris Brandt Riske (2007)

I'm really interested in astrology, and this book was very helpful. It made it easy and fun to learn about the different signs I have according to the alignment of the planets. It also helped me with creating different character's personalities in stories. Highly recommend it!

Learn about your sign with Llewellyn's Complete Book of Astrology by Kris Brandt Riske.
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Swing Shift (1984) PG

The stars of the film are the set dressings and costumes for the WWII drama Swing Shift. It was interesting to see the movie where Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell met and fell in love.

To see the reviews from the pros, check out Roger Ebert, The New York Times, and Empire Magazine.

 
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Strength Down the Middle: the story of the 1959 White Sox by Larry Kalas

Strength Down the Middle by Larry Kalas is the exciting story of the 1959 White Sox, the great players from the team, a game by game description of the season, some of the exciting events from that year outside of baseball, and a modest six month autobiography of a then eight-year-old boy living on the far southwest side of Chicago.

This book is, of course, primarily for White Sox fans but baseball fans in general should also enjoy it. People interested in Chicago history will find it enjoyable as well.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King [original motion picture soundtrack] (2003)

Another great soundtrack by Howard Shore! The music is very suspenseful and I am usually able to imagine what scenes are playing during each song. I enjoyed listening to this CD when I was in the middle of writing my short story. It gives me a lot of energy and it's very entertaining.

My favorite song from The Return of the King is probably "The Grey Havens." It's the last song during the film, and I think it was a great way to end it.

If you missed last month's review of The Two Towers soundtrack, read it now.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) R

The opening scenes set up a fuzzy, smoky atmosphere. The viewer wonders "what's really happening here?" And this questions persists as the plot develops, investing you in the outcome of the story.

The spy story grimly unwinds. There are a series of flashbacks that reveal hints and just add to the puzzle. This dying genre is brought to life with mystery and mastery. Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman as George Smiley just cannot be beat.

Based on the book by John Le Carre. Find Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on DVD.

Rio Bravo (1959)

This western stars John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Ricky Nelson, and Angie Dickinson. It is my all-time favorite John Wayne western. Rio Bravo is a straightforward story about a sheriff (Wayne) and his deputy (Martin) who have arrested Joe Burdette for murder. Joe is a nasty piece of goods but his brother is a wealthy rancher who will resort to any means to free his brother and to having the lawmen killed, as they are the only witnesses who would testify against Joe.

There is plenty of action and some wonderful songs sung by Martin and Nelson. Brennan provides a lot of comedy and is ably supported in this by Martin, Dickinson, and Wayne. Angie Dickinson flirts shamelessly with Wayne and they have several wonderful scenes together. Joe Burdette is well played by character actor Claude Akins, who specialized in playing brutal and sadistic types in the 1950s and 60s.

I had been meaning to write a review of this film for some time but I was inspired to do so after viewing The Artist (2011). So what does this silent academy award winner have to do with Rio Bravo? I had seen a special on the making of Rio Bravo and it was pointed out that there is no spoken dialogue in the first five minutes of the film. I had seen the film many times before and had never noticed that. I watched the film again and sure enough, none of the main actors in the opening scenes have any spoken lines. Martin, Akins, and Wayne are communicating with gestures, body language, and facial expressions only, and yet you know what they are saying and what they are thinking. Even if you don't like westerns, you must watch the first five minutes of this film to appreciate the pure acting that is going on.

This is a wonderful film from beginning to end.

For more about the film, check out articles from Roger Ebert, The Guardian (UK), and Turner Classic Movies.

Monday Mornings by Sanjay Gupta (2012)

Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and his background is steeped in medicine. As a writer, he exposes the personal and professional lives of five surgeons in this fictional account, Monday Mornings.
In the medical world, the acronym M & M stands for morbidity and mortality. Sounds alarming, but it is a learning session that dissects the recent operations of the staff. Just as importantly, this session also investigates any questionable outcomes. No surgeon wants a summons to a Monday morning M & M. Five surgeons live and breathe in this book, fully human to pique and admirably maintain your interest. I listened to the book – and I liked the readers too.

David E. Kelly is developing a television show based on the book. Read more here.

A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway (2009)

Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast is incomplete and somewhat non-linear, but it paints a vivid picture of his life as a budding writer in Paris. The early chapters show Hemingway taking great joy in living frugally, eating and drinking well, writing in cafes, and meeting other expats. The second half of the book touches on his eventual betrayal of first wife Hadley and the end of their magical time in Paris.

This edition published in 2009 adds extra material and corrects editing decisions that new editor, grandson Sean Hemingway, questioned in the original book published in 1964.

This year's Big Read book was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, a fictionalized account of Hemingway's time in Paris with his first wife Hadley.

 
 
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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [original motion picture soundtrack] (2002)

I love listening to soundtracks from different films, and The Lord of the Rings movies have some of the best soundtracks. My favorite from The Two Towers is probably "Evenstar." I can listen to it all the time.

Check back next month for my thoughts on The Return of the King soundtrack.

Did you know? You can see what soundtracks we've added to the collection recently.

httpv://youtu.be/im5CIpMFo4Q

Edward Scissorhands (1990) PG-13

I hadn’t seen Edward Scissorhands in about 20 years, but after seeing the previews for Dark Shadows, I decided to revisit the first collaboration between Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. And I’m glad I did.

Edward Scissorhands is a good movie and a classic filled with funny moments. Costarring Winona Ryder.

For more on Tim Burton, check Sally's spotlight of the director.
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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012)

How well do you know the person you love? This becomes the central question during the disappearance of Amy, the wife of Nick Dunne. Nick and Amy are two writers that met and fell in love in New York. After economy tanks, they both lose their jobs and move back to Nick’s childhood home in Missouri. Financial worries put a strain on their already troubled marriage.

Then, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears and Nick is the prime suspect with the evidence mounting against him. As the story moves through the days after the disappearance, you begin to question the truth as its being told from Nick and Amy’s perspective. This psychological thriller is a must read.

Read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today and check back next month for Laura’s take on the book!

Me & Orson Welles (2008) PG-13

It’s autumn 1937 and Orson Welles is about to open his famous production of Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre. Seventeen-year-old Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), a high schooler from New Jersey, happens into a small role in the production which involves playing the ukulele.

In one week, he falls under the spell of the mercurial and mesmerizing Orson Welles (Christian McKay), falls in a love with an older woman (Claire Danes), and makes his Broadway debut. Efron is lovable as the irrepressible Richard and McKay re-creates the larger than life persona of Welles. The period music, costumes, and sets are irresistible in Me & Orson Welles.

The Mysterium by P.C. Doherty (2012)

History, mixed with sinister mystery and, well plotted too, is like a jewel in the crown. Hugh Corbett in the King Edward's I service is forcibly retained to solve a series of brutal murders. The streets of Medieval London reek with bloody minded gangs and high born assassins. You do not have to read the other books in the series to appreciate The Mysterium, but you may want to after reading this.

Read The Mysterium by P.C. Doherty.

The Duchess of Duke Street. Series 1 (1976)

The Duchess of Duke Street, a BBC production of Edwardian England, is plain old fun to watch. Gemma Jones, who plays the duchess, immediately engages us by her super strong performance of a servant girl who becomes a notorious chef who also catches the eye of the Prince of Wales.

Many times she is a victim of Victorian strictures, but meets these challenges head on with verve and style. The story is offbeat but keeps you thoroughly entertained. After watching season 1, I immediately looked for season 2.