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My Man Godfrey (1936)

225px-my_man_godfreyIn this farce masterpiece, William Powell plays Godfrey, the enigmatic butler whose sophistication and commanding presence hint at his true identity. Godfrey is discovered living in the city dump, and recruited to work for the Bullocks—a family described by one of their longtime staffers as being more “nutty” than “exacting.” The cast of characters includes the shrill-voiced Mrs. Bullock, usually hung over and in a pixie-seeing haze in the morning; Cornelia, Godfrey’s nemesis; and her sister Irene, hopelessly in love with Godfrey from the start. Then there’s poor Mr. Bullock, the sole voice of reason in the family. Oh and Carlo, Mrs. Bullock’s “protégé,” really a freeloading artist who becomes melodramatically upset as soon as Mr. Bullock starts talking belt-tightening.

It is hard to believe that in the midst of all this chaos and frivolity, My Man Godfrey has a deeper aim than to make the audience laugh. But at the heart of the story is Godfrey—the butler who’s really a high-minded aristocrat—and who really makes the audience think.

A Ghost Story (2017) R

ghoststoryA recently deceased husband (Casey Affleck) returns as a ghost in a white sheet to haunt his suburban home and be close to his widowed wife (Rooney Mara). When she decides to move, the ghost loses all track of time and spirals into history where he is able to see all previous and future owners of his home.

Despite its title, A Ghost Story isn’t a movie that invokes fear or horror. A very slow, quiet, and artistic movie, it takes its time to deliver its message and make the audience feel the sense of loss and longing of the characters. This movie is as beautiful as it is solemn, with well thought out camera shots and very haunting imagery. A Ghost Story may be the very first cosmic ghost story—not only does it explore themes of love and loss, it tackles the very idea of existence and time itself.

Alone in Berlin (2016) R

In Germany, a couple’s only child is killed during the early days of World War II. Otto (Brendan Gleeson) spends his days in a factory making coffins. Bereft at this loss of life, and wondering why, Otto feels like his family gave the ultimate sacrifice to the Fuhrer. Spurred into action, he disguises his handwriting and starts writing and distributing anti-Nazi propaganda around Berlin. When his wife Anna (Emma Thompson) discovers his efforts, she wants to help him despite the dangers. Both the police and army are seeking who is responsible.

Alone in Berlin is based on a true story. Read the NPR article for more details.
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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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Gifted (2017) PG-13

After the death of her mother, Mary (McKenna Grace), a young mathematics prodigy, is put in the custody of her uncle, Frank (Chris Evans). Seeing how his sister's genius drove her to suicide, Frank wants to raise Mary as a regular child, but her grandmother wants her to embrace her gifts. The two adults engage into a custody battle—with Mary in the middle. Gifted proved to be a gentle, beautiful movie that will surely appeal to your heart.
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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.

Their Finest (2017) R

In the early part of World War II, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is hired as a scriptwriter to accurately portray women’s dialogue in propaganda films. The war office wants these films to strike the right balance of realism and optimism, boosting morale throughout Britain (oh, and inspiring the United States to join the war). In Their Finest, Catrin works closely with fellow writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and aging film star Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) during the Blitz in London to contribute to the war effort.

Based on the novel of the same name by Lissa Evans. Discover other movies set on the home front during WWII.
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Table 19 (2017) PG-13

Experience a wedding reception through the eyes of the guests who probably should have RSVP’d “no” in Table 19. Eloise (Anna Kendrick), who was relieved of her maid of honor duties after being dumped by the best man, leads this heartwarming band of misfits. In this dramedy, unexpected friendships develop and life lessons are shared among this random assortment of people.

Suits. Seasons 1-6 (2011-2017) TV-14

If you enjoy a legal series with a unique premise and great cast, watch Suits. Top attorney Harvey Specter hires Mike Ross, a college dropout with a photographic memory who is on the run from a drug dealer, as his associate knowing he never attended law school nor passed the bar. Delight in the winning combination of the seemingly cutthroat attorney and the compassionate associate.

Suits is a balance between relationships within the Manhattan corporate law firm, negotiating cases, and a little romance. Enjoy the infighting and firm politics, especially with the annoying attorney, Louis Litt.
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Spotlight: Women’s Pictures

Back in the day, moviegoers called chick flicks “women’s pictures.” Make sure you have a box of tissues handy as you watch these melodramatic tearjerkers. For an excellent discussion of the genre, visit AMC’s filmsite.org.

Some of my favorites include:

Home Fires. Seasons 1 & 2 (2015-2016)

Inspired by the book Jambusters by Julie Summers, this BBC TV show is set in rural Cheshire, in the village of Great Paxford. Home Fires showcases the Women's Institutes’ contribution in boosting morale on the home front during WWII. It’s the story of a group of inspirational women who are left to carry on during one of history's most trying times. We share their emotional struggles, their fear, their sorrows, and their determination to "carry on" no matter what.

 

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) R

A gripping true story about a man who stood for his convictions while defending his country, Hacksaw Ridge details the life and service of Desmond Doss. A conscientious objector, Doss refused to bear arms. Nevertheless, like many others, he volunteered to join the army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a combat medic, Doss's heroics saved 75 lives during a WWII battle. Just a warning: the combat scenes (which start about halfway through) are quite graphic.

Hacksaw Ridge won Oscars for film editing and sound mixing. Andrew Garfield (actor) and Mel Gibson (director) received Oscar nominations.

Learn more about the true story of the first conscientious objector to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor in an NPR article and Army history.

 
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Code of a Killer (2015)

I loved Code of a Killer. Told in three parts, it follows a serial killer who was killing young teenage girls. And you didn’t see who did it, but the way they showed different people, you formed suspicions.

We also learn about Dr. Alec Jeffreys, whose DNA studies were not going well. When a woman asked him to prove her son was her biological child to prevent his deportation, his test actually worked. At the same time, the police were not getting anywhere with solving the murder. When the killer struck again, someone suggested that Jeffreys could help.

Based on the true story of how the police started using DNA to catch killers, Code of a Killer is a very intense, fast paced mystery.

Sully (2016) PG-13

A gripping movie that will keep you enthralled from beginning to end, Sully is based on a true story: on January 15, 2009, after a bird strike killed both engines, Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III landed his US Airways plane on the Husdon River in New York City. All 155 people on board survived.

Knowing about “the miracle on the Hudson” will not dull your interest in Sully. Starring Tom Hanks (Sully) and Aaron Eckhart (Jeff Skiles, his copilot) and directed by Clint Eastwood, the film focuses on the humble hero during the water landing and the subsequent chaos. This heartwarming drama is so worth an uninterrupted screening (or two).

Based on the autobiographical memoir Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.
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Big Eyes (2014) PG-13

Amy Adams portrays Margaret Keane, creator of the Big Eyed Waifs, whose talent was unrecognized for years, while her husband Walter (played by Christoph Waltz) took all the credit. Big Eyes follows their romance and the eventual deterioration of their marriage as Walter's drinking, mental health, and the lie they lived became more than Margaret could bear. After reading The Muse by Jessie Burton about a fictitious couple who hide behind the same type of artistic ruse, one wonders how often this has occurred throughout art history. How many great women artists have had to hide their talent with a man's signature?
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