A Patch of Blue

In A Patch of Blue (1965) Selena D'Arcy (Elizabeth Hartman) is poor, uneducated, and blind. She spends her days in a park stringing and selling beaded jewelry. One day she meets a young office worker (Sidney Poitier) who befriends her and opens up her world by showing her the outside world. Selena doesn't know he is black. Unfortunately, her racist mother (Shelley Winters) sees them together and forbids Selena to ever see him again. Selena defies her mother and continues the friendship despite the violence she endures.

This black and white drama is a story of friendship and compassion and love. Shelley Winters won a supporting actress Academy Award for her portrayal of a hateful ignorant mother. Sidney Poitier's understated performance is what makes A Patch of Blue a classic.


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Lilies of the Field

Sidney Poitier won his first Academy Award for his performance as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963).  The Arizona desert is home to five German nuns who have come to America to farm and build a life for themselves and the migrant workers in the area.  Filmed in black and white, this movie is a simple story of an itinerant handyman who builds a chapel.

Funny, charming, and sentimental Homer Smith will not be forgotten.  His English classes for the young nuns are especially sweet.  Lilies of the Field is a classic and the entire cast is excellent.  The movie is uplifting, inspiring, and beautiful.


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The Big Lebowski

The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is a professional slacker who spends his days bowling and drinking white Russians.  He lives his life avoiding responsibility and conflict until one day conflict shows up on his doorstep and pees on his rug.  After being mistaken for a millionaire with the same name, The Dude sets out to find the other Jeff Lebowski and get him to replace his rug.  Millionaire Jeff "The Big Lebowski" is in considerable debt.  Soon after The Dude visits his new wife Bunny is kidnapped for ransom.  Lebowski manages to convince The Dude to deliver the money in exchange for a large sum of cash that would let him continue his go with the flow lifestyle.  It only takes 10 minutes of watching The Dude and his friends to know that it all goes terribly wrong.

The Big Lebowski (1998, rated R) is a cult classic and considered one of the best Joel and Ethan Coen's films.  Filled with hilarious situations and quotable lines, it's a go to for a movie night with friends.


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If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

A charming tour guide (Ian McShane) takes a busload of American tourists on a nine countries in eighteen days European tour.  The bus is full of comical personalities, including Samantha Perkins (Suzanne Pleshette) who is seriously trying to find herself on this vacation.  The tour guide tries to romance her and change her mind about a number of things.  Mix-ups ensue, including one person who gets on the wrong bus.

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium is a throwback to how films were made. Joan Collins, John Cassavetes, Elsa Martinelli, Ben Gazzara, and Norman Fell also appear in the film. It's really a delightfully funny movie.

Advise & Consent (1962)

814cscducnl-_ri_sx300_Otto Preminger directs a political story of devious and ruthless government officials trying to make backroom deals.  The president (Franchot Tone) wants to appoint a controversial man (Henry Fonda) to be Secretary of State.  The action takes place among the Senate subcommittee and the bickering leads to devious games and ruined careers.  Advise & Consent was considered to be very daring and shocking when released.  It still holds up.

Charles Laughton, Peter Lawford, Walter Pidgeon, and Gene Tierney play key roles.

 

 
 
 
 
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East of Eden (1955) PG

71oqq2gqajl-_sy445_Elia Kazan directs the movie adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel.  In East of Eden, James Dean plays Cal, a Salinas Valley man trying to win his father’s affection.  His father (Raymond Massey) has no use for Cal as he prefers his brother.  To make matters worse, both brothers love the same woman (Julie Harris).

While this is not a faithful adaptation of Steinbeck’s novel, James Dean’s breakthrough role make this film worth watching.  His performance is mesmerizing.  Jo Van Fleet won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her portrayal of Cal’s mysterious mother.
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The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) R

Mickey “Mick” Haller is a top defense lawyer in L A. He is slick and famous as an attorney who works out of his Lincoln Town Car. He takes on cases that might seem impossible or a long shot to win. The legal system is almost always stacked against his clients and you will get a look at how the system works. The wealthy young man he has agreed to defend is no prize and he sees his life and family threatened.

Fans of Michael Connelly will like that The Lincoln Lawyer is a good adaptation of his book and the cast is outstanding. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, and William H. Macy.

You’ll find The Lincoln Lawyer on our list of Lawyers in the Movies.
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Lone Star (1996) R 

This is a powerful movie, and it is very relevant today. Texas law and immigration are two of the many themes played out by Matthew McConaughey and Kris Kristofferson in Lone Star. An unsolved murder in a Texas border town leads to a sheriff that once controlled a town and family secrets.

Writer and director John Sayles (Eight Men Out) gives us a story with flashbacks that are incredibly moving. Many will see a film noir movie with several plot twists that will haunt you.

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (2003)

Most readers know Adriana Trigiani from her Big Stone Gap series, but she also writes great standalone novels. One of her most popular titles is Lucia, Lucia. In 1950s New York City, Lucia Sartori is a young apprentice to a new fashion designer. Lucia is engaged to be married, but her fiancé’s family doesn’t approve of her working. Forced to choose between marriage and career, she chooses her dream job. When a handsome stranger captures her heart, she believes in his dreams.

The world of the New York fashion scene is richly detailed. Readers who love stories about family, fashion, and New York will enjoy this book.

Serpico (1973) R

This is Al Pacino at his best. As a New York City cop, he sees corruption all around him. When he refuses to extort money from criminals, his fellow officers turn against him. When he tries to do his job, he experiences vengeance in the worst form. A grand jury inquiry only makes things worse.

Based on a true story, Serpico helped to bring corruption into the headlines. The gritty realism of the film shows the versatile actor in a character that will stay with you long after the film ends.

Directed by Sidney Lumet. Based on the Peter Maas book of the same name.
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Atonement (2007) R

atonementIn 1935 England, 13-year-old Briony witnesses her sister and a young man interact and misinterprets it. Later she tells a lie about a rape and Robbie, the son of a family servant, is sent to prison. Her older sister Cecelia loves Robbie, but the lie changes their lives forever and the consequences are devastating. Three years later, England is at war and the two lovers try to reunite.

Atonement has an excellent cast. Kiera Knightley (Cecelia) has never been better, and James McAvoy (Robbie) is perfect as the wronged lover and soldier. Saoirse Ronan plays Briony. The war scenes are realistic, and the story based on the novel by Ian McEwan is superb.

Begin Again (2013) R

beginagainDan (Mark Ruffalo) is a down and out music executive who has hit a new low. While trying to recover from being fired from the record label he founded, he stops in a bar and listens to Gretta (Keira Knightley) sing. She too has suffered a big disappointment. What he hears and sees makes him think she has written a hit, although no one is applauding. Their journey to get this and other recordings made will tell you a lot about the music industry and how you can overcome disappointments.

Begin Again is a wonderfully sweet film about life and how it can change because someone believes in you. Adam Levine and James Corden play interesting but minor roles.
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Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour by Shane Ryan (2015)

slayingthetigerReporter Shane Ryan spends one year on the PGA tour and reports on the new breed of up-and-coming golfers. Slaying the Tiger is eye opening to anyone interested in the game of golf. What you see on TV is now what the players are really like. Many players have public relations staff who control the player’s image.

More importantly—what does it take to be a winner? What games do players play and does the rich junior player have the advantage? A must read for anyone who likes the game of golf and wants to know who the next Tiger will be.

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (2003)

lucialuciaWhen Kit Anaetti, a budding playwright, is invited to tea by her elderly neighbor, she hears her neighbor’s life story. Lucia was a young girl living in Greenwich Village in the 1950s and working in a custom dress designer’s shop. After meeting her future in-laws, she suddenly calls off her engagement. Instead, she chooses her work and a dashing and exciting suitor. Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani is a tragic love story with vivid Italian characters.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2003)

curiousincidentChristopher Boone finds a dog has been killed in his neighborhood. He decides to investigate and solve the crime. Because Christopher is autistic, the story is unusual and captivating. It’s a mystery, but not really a mystery. Check out Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.