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Like Dandelion Dust (2009) PG-13

Touching tearjerker about loving adoptive parents who fight to keep their son Joey when the birth parents want him back.  Like Dandelion Dust is a good movie exploring the love of family.

Based on the 2006 novel by Karen Kingsbury.
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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 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.

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) PG

WWI is over, and the flying aces now have to find jobs and a way to regain the excitement of dogfights over France. If you are the Great Waldo Pepper (played oh so charmingly by Robert Redford), you risk your life in increasingly daring aerial acrobatics as part of a flying circus touring the Great Plains.

Banned from ever being able to fly again because of reckless behavior, Pepper goes to Hollywood and, under an assumed name, gets a job as a stunt pilot. There he gets a chance to test his skills against the famous German ace Ernst Kessler.

Check our catalog to find The Great Waldo Pepper today and read Roger Ebert's take on the film. You can browse lists of other war films by visiting Find Your Next Great Movie.

The 5th Quarter (2009) PG

Based on a true story of the Abbate family, a young man leads his college football team to a winning season in memory of his youngest brother, who was killed in a tragic car accident. It’s a very touching movie; you may need to grab the box of tissues.

For more on the family behind the story, visit the Luke Abbate 5th Quarter Foundation website.

Find the movie The 5th Quarter at the library.

 

Mad Men. Seasons 1-4 (2007-2010)

This critically acclaimed series is a must-watch television show. Set in the 1960s, it focuses on Don Draper (Jon Hamm), the creative director at an advertising firm with a complicated past. The show addresses issues of racism, adultery, and alcoholism with elegance and pose. This masterfully written show is fun to watch as it captures the era perfectly, down to the details with the excessive drinking, beehives, and Eames chairs.

See what's on shelf today: Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4. The show has also influenced a number of recently published books: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, Mad Women: the other side of life on Madison Avenue in the '60s and beyond, and Mad Men Unbuttoned: a romp through 1960s America.
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Mildred Pierce (2011) TV-MA

This beautifully presented and acted miniseries of James M. Cain’s classic sets you right down in 1930s Southern California. Mildred Pierce is a divorced woman with two young children, loving Ray and haughty Veda. Working first as a waitress and the in her own restaurants, Mildred tries to give Veda all she demands--only to be betrayed by Veda time and time again.

The houses, the clothes, and music all set this production firmly in time and place. With Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce. Visit HBO's website for more about the show, including behind the scenes interviews with the stars and the costumes of the production.

Check to see if our copy of Mildred Pierce is on shelf.

Hugo (2011) PG

I usually begin my reviews by stating the year of the film and listing the main stars. I briefly describe the plot, perhaps quote a line from the film or describe a scene and emphasize what I believe are some of the high points of the film.

In this case, I decided to write my review as I approached viewing the film. I knew almost nothing about the film. All that I knew was that it won several Oscars, and I had seen a few brief snippets during the Academy Awards ceremony. I chose not to find out anything more about the film, and I would advise anyone who has not seen this film to take the same approach.

If you appreciate art, science, fantasy, a vivid imagination, you will love this film. If you don't appreciate art, if science bores you, if you look at a cloud and that's all you see, you won't like the film.

This film reminded me of what it was like to see a motion picture in a movie theater for the first time. I was amazed and filled with a great sense of wonder. You too can experience this again, if you see this film.

Based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

Join us on Friday, May 4 at 7:00 for a screening of Hugo. Doors open at 6:30; fresh popcorn will be served. Register at calendar.ippl.info.

The Ides of March (2011) R

Ryan Gosling and George Clooney star in this thriller revolving around a fictitious Ohio Democratic presidential primary. Gosling plays a young, idealistic campaign worker who has pinned his hopes and dreams on the candidate, played by Clooney. As moral weaknesses on the part of Clooney’s character begin to surface, he finds himself caught up in a scandal.

Suspenseful, with a twist ending, the film features a great supporting cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, and Evan Rachel Wood. Clooney directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay (with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon), which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Reserve a copy of The Ides of March from the library today!

Sunshine Cleaning (2008) R

Amy Adams is Rose, a single mother who works as a house cleaner but dreams of better things. Emily Blunt is Norah, Rose's never-do-well younger sister who is still trying to deal with the early death of their mother. Together they start Sunshine Cleaning, a business that goes into homes and businesses to clean up after death or a crime has occurred.

Rose, Norah, Rose's son Oscar, and their father Joe (Alan Arkin) are a less than perfect but very real family. Sunshine Cleaning is a subtly acted movie about people determined not to let their dreams die, even as problems pile up against them.

Conviction (2010) R

Conviction is the moving story of Betty Anne Waters who was so devoted to her brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) and believed so strongly that he was innocent of a murder that she persisted for years in trying to overturn his conviction. Academy Award winner* Hilary Swank is excellent in the role of Betty Anne.

When her brother was sentenced to life in prison, Betty Anne got her GED, went to college and then law school in her fight to free him. Academy Award winner** Melissa Leo plays the role of the primary policewoman who arrested Kenny. Toward the end of her fight, Betty Anne was aided by the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

For more on Kenny Waters' case, check out this feature on the Innocence Project website. And to learn more about the real Betty Anne Waters, read this New York Times article.

Other materials about false imprisonment are After Innocence (2005) and Surviving Justice: America’s wrongfully convicted and exonerated (2005).

* Best Actress for Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
** Best Supporting Actress for The Fighter (2010)
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Something the Lord Made (2004)

Based on a true story, Something the Lord Made is a moving HBO film starring Alan Rickman as Dr. Alfred Blalock, a renowned surgeon at Baltimore's John Hopkins Hospital, and his black lab technician (played by Mos Def) who for the very first time (in the 1940s) attempt to do heart surgery.

Their historic surgery will save "blue babies" from certain death and start the field of cardiology. Jim Crow attitudes about Vivien Thomas, the black, brilliant assistant, play out in this emotional story as man attempts to tamper with the human heart for the first time.

Be sure to listen to the director's comments after viewing this film because it adds a lot of interesting info.

Especially great viewing if you have read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, which is also set at John Hopkins Hospital – in the early 1950s – when racial discrimination still played a huge role.
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Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) PG

Because of Winn-Dixie is about a dog that was found by a ten-year-old girl in a small town in Florida. Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) found the dog in a local grocery store and the dog changed the girl’s life and everyone in this small town. Great movie if you are an animal person or a dog lover. Either way – two thumbs up! Very cute movie.

Looking for more movies about cats and dogs? Check out our movie list.

Everything Must Go (2010) R

Everything Must Go stars Will Ferrell as Nick Halsey, a man who has lost everything: wife, home, and job. When his soon-to-be ex-wife throws all of his possessions on the lawn and locks the door, Nick has to reassess the mess his life has become and try to find the good guy he left behind somewhere. We are used to Ferrell in broadly comedic roles. In Everything Must Go, he gives a quiet, more nuanced performance.

Moneyball (2011) PG-13

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you’ll enjoy this true story of the Oakland Athletics and their general manager, Billy Beane (and check out the book by Michael Lewis). It’s the story of Beane (Brad Pitt) and the unorthodox methods he used to rebuild his team.

The film, which earned Academy Award nominations for Best Film, Best Actor (Pitt), and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), offers a heartwarming tale of determination, dedication, and love of the game.

Add your name to the waiting list in our catalog or join us on Friday, March 16 at 7pm for Movies & More as we begin our celebration of 2012 Academy Award-nominated movies with Moneyball. Fresh popcorn will be provided. Register at calendar.ippl.info. The series continues with The Help on Friday, April 20.