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The Magdalene Sisters (2002) R

This very powerful movie tells the story of four Irish girls who were sent to the Magdalene Asylums for various reasons. Some were pregnant, some too beautiful, some mentally ill, others just not wanted by their families. The asylum ran a laundry and the girls were virtual prisoners and slaves. There were many young women who never left the institution but spent the entire lives behind the walls. The Magdalene Sisters is a very moving look at Irish history and the Catholic Church.
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Revenge: The Complete First Season (2011)

This new dark drama takes getting even to the next level. The show centers on the beautiful Emily Thorne who rents a beach house in the Hamptons for summer. It is revealed through flashbacks that Emily is not there to soak up the sun, but instead to exact revenge for the people responsible for her father’s wrongful imprisonment. Her cold and calculating plan ensures that everyone involved in the plot to frame will suffer, especially the powerful Grayson family. Revenge is a deliciously wicked show that shows how far someone will go for justice.
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Green Dolphin Street (1947)

This old Lana Turner and Van Heflin movie was worth a second peek. I vaguely remembered being entranced with it in grammar school. The plot, the settings, the costumes and the characters of Green Street Dolphin represent an old Hollywood, not necessarily realistic but very entertaining. Lana Turner as the brave, headstrong and sometimes nasty heroine, faces childbirth, earthquakes, tidal waves, and Maori uprisings with true grit.

A ways into her marriage she discovers her husband had really meant to marry her sister. And there we are. What now?

Margaret (2011) R

Margaret is an amazing coming-of-age story and with the extended cut being three hours long, an endurance test as well. The investment of time will be rewarded by the well- acted, interestingly shot, quirky, and engaging story of Lisa (Anna Paquin), a high school student whose life is irrevocably changed in a few seconds during a search for a cowboy hat in Manhattan. None of Lisa’s family members, friends, and teachers emerges unscathed from her relentless efforts to make sense of her role in a tragedy.

For more on the movie's five-year journey from filming in 2006 to release in 2011, read articles from The New York Times Magazine and The Los Angeles Times. Also check out NPR's interview with director Kenneth Lonergan. TIME Magazine reviewed the film.
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I’ve Loved You So Long (2008) PG-13

Kristin Scott Thomas gives an inspired performance in I've Loved You So Long, a French language film about a woman’s release from prison. The story of why she was in prison unfolds rather slowly throughout the film as she resumes her life and her relationship with her sister. The film is a modest, subtle character study and the value of most of it is in Thomas’ handling of the role.

Just a side note: I wondered about the title…it didn’t seem to fit. And found that the phrase doesn't translate very well (original title = Il y a longtemps que je t'aime) but is a line of a French folk song that two sisters played as a piano duet.

In French with English subtitles.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) PG-13

I thoroughly enjoyed this charming movie about a group of retirees who are enticed to spend their golden years at a supposedly luxury resort in India.  The exotic, colorful, and bustling locale enchants them and forces them out of their comfort zones.  Some adapt to and embrace their new situation better than others.

I enjoyed both the comic and poignant moments of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  The enthusiastic young manager’s favorite words are “In India we have a saying, everything will be all right in the end so if it is not all right it is not yet the end.”  The movie features British veteran actors Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson.

The film is based on a novel of the same name by Deborah Moggach.
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Water for Elephants (2011) PG-13

An interesting movie. I believe if you liked Moulin Rouge! (2001), you'll like Water for Elephants as well. It's also based on the novel of the same name by Sara Gruen.

Check out our Water for Elephants Reading Map for related books, movies, music, and more!

 
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Girl with Green Eyes (1964)

This bittersweet love story is based on the Edna O’Brien novel, The Lonely Girl. A sweet naïve Irish farm girl captures the heart of a middle aged man and falls into a doomed love affair. Girl with Green Eyes was shot on location in Dublin and Wicklow.

Check out the TCM article on the film.
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Something the Lord Made (2004)

We take so much for granted these days. Heart surgery? In and out in three days. Fifty years ago the heart was the sacred cow of medicine. No one operated on the heart. In Something the Lord Made, we discover the dramatic true story of the evolution of heart surgery. There is not a dull moment as two men collaborate their efforts to save the life of a" blue baby." This groundbreaking operation is where research started.

There is a kicker, one of the men is an eminent white doctor, head of surgery at Johns Hopkins; his talented technician is a black man without any degree. There you have it. Two stories forever intertwined in a single struggle. Anyone who read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks would definitely appreciate this movie. It is a standalone winner in all ways.

Agnes Browne (1999) R

Based on the book The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll, Agnes Browne features Agnes, a young widow with seven children living in Dublin in 1967 trying to make ends meet. She borrows money from the loan shark just to get by. Her best friend Marion provides confidence and companionship and more moral support.

Agnes has a dream to escape her dreary life just a short while by going to see Tom Jones in concert. She realizes her dream by accepting a date with the French baker in her neighborhood. Her kids pool their money to send her in style. It is a lovely warmhearted movie that will keep you laughing. The movie was filmed in Dublin.
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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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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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The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974) PG

Duddy Kravitz is out to make a success of his life. He has just graduated from high school and he has a lot to learn, but not the time. Set in Montreal, Canada, the film follows Duddy’s attempt to purchase a plot of land and his attempts to make a killing developing it. His grandfather believes, “A man without land is nobody.”

Along the way, Duddy breaks every rule to succeed. You will want him to win because he is funny, caustic, and brash. Yet you will be shocked as he uses people and schemes to prove himself.

Richard Dreyfuss, Randy Quaid, and Jack Warden star in this 1974 film based on the 1959 novel by Mordecai Richler. Find a copy of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz on DVD today.
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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.