Blog

Ulee’s Gold (1997) R

Peter Fonda plays Vietnam vet Ulee Jackson, who is now the operator of a beekeeping business in Florida. Ulee’s son is in jail and his daughter-in-law is a drug addict. As he tries to raise his two granddaughters, a crisis arises and Ulee must confront his emotions and his long-held secrets. His strength for those that need him is powerful and moving. Patricia Richardson and Jessica Biel costar in this often touching film.

Check out Ulee's Gold from the library today.
Tags:

Niagara (1953)

I saw Niagara on TCM recently and found out that producers first envisioned this as more of a standard film noir, but once Marilyn Monroe’s considerable charms became apparent, they built up her character considerably. This early breakout role showed that she could deliver a strong dramatic performance.

The camera obviously loves Monroe in this thriller about a cheating wife and her unstable husband (Joseph Cotten) vacationing in Niagara Falls. A likeable but unsuspecting couple on their honeymoon becomes involved in Monroe’s and Cotten’s tumultuous lives and the deadly events that take place in the spectacular setting of the Falls.

Niagara will air later this summer on TCM as part of their Battle of the Blondes series. Staff created lists of other noir films of the 1940s and 1950s -- check them out!

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.

 

Young Adult (2011) R

When life gets tough, some people just want to go home and think about a different time. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) just can’t accept her current situation, so she goes home to recapture her old boyfriend’s (Patrick Wilson) love. Unfortunately, he’s happily married – but that doesn’t stop her.

Mavis writes teen fiction and she is obviously stuck in the past. The only person who may help her is a former teen outsider (Patton Oswalt) who tries to give her advice. Awkward situations prevail. Not your usual comedy.

Diablo Cody (who also wrote Juno) penned the script.

Check the library catalog to find a copy of Young Adult.

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.
Tags:

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!

50/50 (2011) R

In 50/50, a serious topic gets a comedic twist. 27-year-old Adam’s world turns upside down after back pain is diagnosed as spinal cancer. From processing the diagnosis to the reactions of his friends and family, to his chemo treatments and therapy sessions, Adam is a sympathetic character who doesn’t lose his sense of humor. You will laugh and cry.

It’s based on a true story of Seth Rogen and his friend Will Reisern (who wrote the script).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen complement each other in this bromance. Also starring Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anjelica Huston.

Check out interviews with Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post. Also visit NPR for a story on the film.

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)
Tags:

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.
Tags:

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.

The Last Station (2009) R

This jewel of a movie takes place in Czarist Russia. Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) has a large following in his anti-materialistic movement and Paul Giamatti is their leader. Tolstoy’s wife Sofya (Helen Mirren) is an aristocrat and she is fighting Tolstoy and his followers over his money and the rights to his royalties. The conflicts are loud and raucous.

Sofya married Tolstoy, gave him 13 children, and translated and edited his works. She is not about to give him or his royalties up without everyone knowing his anguish. A subplot involves young lovers (James McAvoy and Kerry Condon). Tolstoy’s idealism and his desertion of his wife make for a fascinating story.

Check out The Last Station today!