This fantastic movie masterpiece has great comedy that will make you fall down laughing and heartfelt drama that will pull on your heartstrings. All those things are guaranteed since the mix of comedy and drama is portrayed by the wonderful actress, Sally Field, and the late great funnyman legend, Robin Williams. I highly recommend Mrs. Doubtfire (1993, rated PG-13) for teens and adults of all ages if you want a good laugh or a good tug on the heartstrings.
Ruta Sepetys writes powerful stories based on hidden histories—pieces of our past that most don't know about. This adaptation of her first novel Between Shades of Gray shares the forgotten story of Lithuanians deported to Siberia by Joseph Stalin's Soviet army during World War II.
In Ashes in the Snow (2019), Bel Powley gives a strong performance as teenage aspiring artist Lina. When her professor father is arrested, the rest of her family is taken from their home and transported to a labor camp for so-called treasonous action against the Soviet Union. This moving film has beautiful cinematography and music.
Ashes in the Snow is achingly sad yet ultimately hopeful—a faithful adaptation of the novel inspired by true events. Watch this film on DVD or stream it instantly on Hoopla. Read a review from The Hollywood Reporter.
I enjoyed watching The Rainmaker (1997, rated PG-13). John Grisham is definitely one of the better writers when it comes to courtroom drama or lawyer/drama kind of story, and this is an adaptation of his 1995 novel of the same name. Matt Damon and Danny DeVito work well together, and there is plenty of drama and suspense because of Rudy's (Damon) clients. The ending is somewhat bittersweet, but it's all part of why this is an excellent movie.
This series was so well done. Set in the future, Westworld (2016-) explores a theme park inhabited by artificial hosts and the wealthy humans who vacation there. Visitors are allowed to live out their fantasies, whether good or evil. The park indulges every wish, all with no consequences, with the motto being "Live without Limits." That is, of course, until the hosts start to deviate from their expected parameters.
In my opinion, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton steal the show from an all-star cast, including Anthony Hopkins. These two powerful actresses show such a deep scope of emotions as they slowly come to the realization of what they were created for.
This stunning story stars Clive Owen and Tim Roth as boyhood friends. Dovidl, a Polish child violin prodigy, comes to live with Martin and his family as a refugee in London. After a time, they become like brothers and their relationship strengthens until an alarming event. When Dovidl is 21, a concert is arranged by Martin's father at great expense. Dovidl disappears without a trace, bringing shame and ruin to his adoptive family.
Years later, when Martin is 56 years old, he is interviewing a potential candidate and recognizes a style that only Dovidl could have taught. Thus begins the search for his long-lost friend.
In this compelling movie based on a true story, a corporate lawyer (Mark Ruffalo), switches sides (and finds his calling) by spearheading an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company. Rob Bilott. He recently made partner at a high powered law firm when he is approached by neighbors of his grandmother. What follows is a years-long battle against DuPont, putting his career, marriage, and health in jeopardy.
Fans of Erin Brockovich will find much to enjoy in Dark Waters (2019, rated PG-13). They are both stories of underdogs fighting for the health and safety of the public. For more behind the characters and story of Dark Waters, check out articles from The Hollywood Reporter and Slate.
Start this film only if you're interested in the kind of drama that grabs your attention and refuses to let go for its entirety. (My only problem is the same one I have with all terrific movies that are rated R: in my opinion, these films would still be just as terrific if they were made PG).
Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin are at the top of their game in this intense story between good and evil (including the evil of greed and lust for money) with an ending not always what you're expecting.
I recommend watching No Country for Old Men (1997) for great acting and the suspense we all want to see on a Saturday night. Check it out on Hoopla today. The movie is based on the book, No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.
Kurt, a young art student, falls in love with Ellie, a fellow student. Her father Professor Seeband, a famous doctor, is not happy with the match and is out to destroy it. What none of them know is that their lives are already connected through the terrible crime Seeband committed during the war. Never Look Away (2018, rated R) is a stunning story, matched with outstanding cinematography.
In German with English subtitles.
Molly's Game is high speed and high stakes, just like its source material: the true story of "poker princess" Molly Bloom, who ran an exclusive underground card game for the rich and famous—until the game's ties to the Russian mob entangle her in a federal indictment. Rapid-fire dialogue, interesting characters, and a standout performance from lead actress Jessica Chastain all come together to make a movie that feels just as energetic and dynamic as each game.
Check out Molly's Game written and directed by Aaron Sorkin on dvd or blu-ray. To learn more read Molly's Game: from Hollywood's elite to Wall Street's billionaire boys club, my high-stakes adventure in the world of underground poker by Molly Bloom or Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist: the A-list kingpin and the poker ring that brought down Tinseltown by Houston Curtis.
With the arrival of Disney+, many of us are reliving our tween years by watching old favorite shows like Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens. Perhaps this is what makes the release of Honey Boy (2019, rated R), a film based on Disney star Shia LaBeouf's childhood experiences as a rising actor, all the more irresistibly jarring.
Fans of Shia LaBeouf first fell in love with his class-clown act in Even Stevens and continued to admire his work as it took on a more serious note in films like Disturbia or Fury, or even a more commercial note in films like Transformers or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Somewhere along the way, however, it became clear that LaBeouf was battling some inner demons and the persona he was putting into the world didn't always line up with what fans expected to see.
Honey Boy tells the brutally honest story of what life looked like for LaBeouf behind the scenes. LaBeouf plays his father in the movie, exposing the abuse he suffered in his care. Noah Jupe, who plays a young LaBeouf, expertly depicts the longing for emotional support that is so often masked by humor. The screenplay was written by LaBeouf during his time in rehab as a form of therapy and now his story is shedding light on the ways we can all so easily bury our past, giving no thought to the damaging weed that will one day sprout through the surface as a result.
Watch Honey Boy today on Amazon Prime, or stick to the lighter side of Shia LaBeouf's career and enjoy all episodes of Even Stevens on Disney+. Borrow the library's Roku with Amazon Prime or Roku with Disney+.
Life is Beautiful (1997, rated PG-13) is just that, a beautiful movie about a father who will do anything in his power to keep the horrors of WWII away from his son. I love how Roberto Benigni invents the whole game scenario for his boy and humorously wings it with every turn for the worse in their prison camp.
The ending is nothing short of brilliant, loving, and courageous. For those movie fans who shy away from foreign films because of the subtitles, I encourage you to watch this wonderful movie that proves how love will always be victorious in the end.
Watch three-time Oscar winner (actor, foreign film, original score) Life is Beautiful on Hoopla today. In Italian with English subtitles. Roberto Benigni wrote, directed, and acted in this excellent movie.
At First Sight (1999, rated PG-13) starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino is a slow-moving, tender love story that shows that blind people are not completely helpless. Virgil has been blind since early childhood. He meets Amy, who he likes and she reciprocates those feeling. Virgil has a new surgery to help him regain his vision, and his life changes drastically. He experiences unexpected problems of suddenly seeing and not knowing how to handle his new vision.
Mike and Lee are having friends over for dinner tonight. It's also the night Miller's comet will pass near the Earth. Smartphones crack, the Internet goes out, and then all power is lost. Mike has a generator which restores the lights. The landscape outside is dark except for one house in the distance with the lights on. Despite having been warned by a physicist friend to stay inside during the comet event, two of the party take glow sticks and attempt to visit the other house.
Then it really starts getting weird. This is one of those movies you have to watch over again to notice the clues you missed the first time. Don't look for car chases, fiery explosions, or gunfights. Coherence (2013) is more of a thought-provoking suspense puzzle.
The little village in Quebec is the scene of an inexplicable murder of a beloved resident. This murder leads police to suspect murder in an earlier death originally thought to be of natural causes. The investigation fosters suspicion, recriminations, and attempted murders to hide the truth.
Where do you start with Parasite? The experience of watching it is so many things at once: funny, tragic, bold, engaging, unsettling, upsetting, shocking. Somehow, director, Bong Joon Ho, has made the film's stomach-dropping shifts in tone and twists in plot feel seamless, and the result is one of the most memorable movie experiences I've had this year.
Parasite (2019, rated R), the first-ever South Korean film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, tells the story of a struggling Korean family. The Kim family lives in a roach-infested, semi-underground apartment, surviving on odd jobs and borrowed wi-fi. But when an old classmate of Ki-Woo, one of the Kim children, visits their luck changes. The classmate works as a tutor for the wealthy Park family and wants Ki-Woo to replace him while he studies abroad.
Ki-Woo seizes the opportunity, not only for himself but for his struggling family. As he is leaving his first tutoring lesson, Mrs. Park laments that her younger son has never been able to find a good art teacher. It so happens that Ki-Woo knows an art student that may be interested. She went to America to study, he explains, but is probably back in Korea by now. The next day Ki-Woo's sister, Ki-Jung, accompanies him, introducing herself as "Jessica," the art therapist. She diagnoses Mrs. Park's son with early signs of severe mental illness and prescribes several therapy sessions a week. Ki-Woo's parents soon follow. One by one, posing as distant acquaintances or professional contacts, each member of the Kim family claws their way into the household. In their efforts to secure full-time employment, they can be cruel—even ruthless—but it's difficult not to root for them anyway. The Kims do not play nice, but they are smart, resourceful, and determined. With the few resources they have, they succeed in beating their competition and pulling the household's strings—until one fateful night, things go very, very wrong.
Many movies explore the ugly realities of class divide and inequality, but few are as vivid and clever as Parasite. Watch it for free with a Hulu subscription (or one-month free trial), by placing a hold on one of the library's Rokus preloaded with Hulu, or placing a hold on a dvd or blu-ray.