Blog

Emily

Jojo Rabbit

During the final months of World War II, we follow Jojo, a lonely German boy struggling to fit in with the other Hitler Youths. Jojo spends his days trying to prove he is a worthy Nazi and is continually spurred on by his only friend, an incredibly doltish and flamboyant imaginary Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi).  After finding out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in the walls of their home, he is forced to choose between loyalty to his country and to his remaining family.

On the surface, Jojo Rabbit (2019, PG-13) seems absurd and insensitive.  In reality, while absolutely absurd, it tells an important story about indoctrination and breaking free of one's upbringing.  Jojo's growth is demonstrated throughout the movie and gives clear guidance to those who are afraid of "the others".

This movie moves between hilarious scenes and heart-shattering moments with a fluidity that will give you awe-inspiring whiplash.  Taika Waititi (who won the 2019 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay) is one of my favorite directors.  I am convinced nobody could make this movie as well as he did, delicately balancing between ridiculousness and respect.


Lora

Tracks

In 1977, Robyn Davidson trekked across Australia, over 1700 miles, with camels that she had trained for the journey.  Tracks (2013, PG-13), starring Mia Wasikowska as Robyn and Adam Driver as National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, recounts Davidson's trip from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, with beautiful scenery and a sense of how isolating the Australian outback can be.  A real treat for those who love movies about independent women or travel.


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Mimi

Lilies of the Field

Sidney Poitier won his first Academy Award for his performance as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963).  The Arizona desert is home to five German nuns who have come to America to farm and build a life for themselves and the migrant workers in the area.  Filmed in black and white, this movie is a simple story of an itinerant handyman who builds a chapel.

Funny, charming, and sentimental Homer Smith will not be forgotten.  His English classes for the young nuns are especially sweet.  Lilies of the Field is a classic and the entire cast is excellent.  The movie is uplifting, inspiring, and beautiful.


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Jennifer

Yesterday

If you love The Beatles, you need to watch this movie.  In Yesterday, a mysterious worldwide 12-second power outage triggers an alternate reality.  Struggling British musician Jack Malik is debating whether to give up on a music career.  Then, when playing a Beatles classic for his friends, he discovers that in this new universe, the Beatles never existed.  Jack becomes an international sensation with his alleged songwriting prowess.  But is it too good to be true?  Jack discovers what's truly important on his unbelievable journey.

This feel-good film (2019, PG-13) stars Himesh Patel and Lily James, with Kate McKinnon and Ed Sheeran in supporting roles.  Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis.  Listen to the soundtrack on Hoopla or check out the cd for a delightful assortment of Beatles covers.



Lora

Maiden

This documentary tells the story of the first all-female crew to participate in the grueling Whitbread round-the-world yacht race in 1989.  Englishwoman Tracy Edwards skippers Maiden over nine months and 33,000 miles.  With tons of footage from the time, current recollections from most of the team's members, and interviews with the male-dominated media and other yachtsmen, Maiden (2018, PG) is an exciting view into the women's incredible journey.

Catherine T.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

​Though not your typical road trip movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was a huge hit in Australia back in the 90s and quickly became a cult movie with its outrageous costumes and classic disco music.  Featuring veteran actors, Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Bill Hunter, this film follows the adventures of a group of drag queens who take their show on the road to the Australian outback.  In need of money, they accept a job to perform in Alice Springs, quite a journey from their hometown of Sydney.

Traveling in a fantastically repainted school bus, they head out on a road trip through the outback, bringing us comedy and drama as they interact with the locals along the way.  The flamboyant crossdressers raise a few eyebrows in the country towns they pass through and while there is some intolerance, there is also education and tenderness.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994, R) is a highly entertaining lighthearted film, but be warned that it does include a lot of coarse language and will have you humming disco hits for days afterward.

This movie is on our list of favorite LGBTQ films. Discover more on our website.


Jennifer

Late Night

You can't go wrong with a movie starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling.  I adored the workplace comedy Late Night.  Katherine Newbury (Thompson) is a seasoned talk show who is being replaced.  Molly Patel (Kaling) is a rookie writer who shakes up the status quo in the previously all-white male writers' room. The humor in this 2019 film written by Mindy Kaling was spot on and relevant (rated R).


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Heather

Aladdin

If you are a devoted Disney fan like me, you may be reluctant about the company's recent foray into live-action remakes of their classic animated movies.  In this 2019 live-action version of Aladdin (rated PG), I went in with low expectations, especially for Will Smith in the role of Genie, because Robin Williams' performance as the 1992 animated Genie was so outstanding.  Smith ultimately does not try to mimic Williams' style and interpretation, but rather adds his own flair to the part.  Genie even gets an expanded storyline in the live-action.  I also appreciated that Jasmine was a more developed character, expressing a desire to break down the oppression of her society and voice her opinions as a leader.

Composer and songwriter Alan Menken returns to score the live-action film, enhancing his original music and adding additional songs not part of the 1992 version.  So perhaps Disney can, in fact, be successful in livening up their animated classics after all!

Be sure to check out the soundtrack as well on CD or via Hoopla.

Emily

What We Do in the Shadows

Living with roommates is hard.  Living for hundreds of years with immature, dirty, narcissistic vampire roommates is even worse.  What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious mockumentary (think The Office) focusing on the lives of four vampire housemates living in Staten Island as they try to deal with the changing world and fighting over who has to do the dishes.  Things become more complicated when one of their meals is turned into a vampire and brings the modern world even closer.

What We Do in the Shadows (2014, R) is one of my all-time favorite movies, never failing to make me laugh.  Each character is more outrageous than the last and the situations they find themselves in, even more so.  Director Taika Waititi, who is also a main character, brings a comedic quirk that is hard to explain but irresistible once you experience it.

If you enjoy the movie, check out the new TV show on Hulu by the same name.  Arguably even better than the movie, it's not to be missed. You can check out a Roku from our tech takeout for access to Hulu.


Ben

Midsommar

Stricken with grief after a tragic family loss, Dani Ardor goes on a spontaneous trip to Sweden with her boyfriend and his classmates.  Classmate Pelle is from Sweden and has invited his friends to join his family for their annual Midsommar festival to celebrate the changing of the seasons and give back to mother nature.  Unbeknownst to Dani and the rest of the group, the festival follows many sinister traditions that leave them questioning whether they should leave or stay.

Director Ari Aster has proven his place in the world of contemporary horror with his latest masterpiece.  Midsommar (2019, rated R) is at once a very unnerving and beautiful film, set in a very believable Swedish community with traditions and beliefs that feel just as real as they are unsettling.  The film features gorgeous cinematography, showcasing the beautiful landscape and transcendental music that lifts the viewer into another world full of wonder and intrigue.

While Midsommar is classified as a horror film, horror is more so the tool through which the movie's message is communicated: out with the old, in with the new.


Mimi

The Big Lebowski

The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is a professional slacker who spends his days bowling and drinking white Russians.  He lives his life avoiding responsibility and conflict until one day conflict shows up on his doorstep and pees on his rug.  After being mistaken for a millionaire with the same name, The Dude sets out to find the other Jeff Lebowski and get him to replace his rug.  Millionaire Jeff "The Big Lebowski" is in considerable debt.  Soon after The Dude visits his new wife Bunny is kidnapped for ransom.  Lebowski manages to convince The Dude to deliver the money in exchange for a large sum of cash that would let him continue his go with the flow lifestyle.  It only takes 10 minutes of watching The Dude and his friends to know that it all goes terribly wrong.

The Big Lebowski (1998, rated R) is a cult classic and considered one of the best Joel and Ethan Coen's films.  Filled with hilarious situations and quotable lines, it's a go to for a movie night with friends.


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Emily

Booksmart

In this hilarious and relatable coming-of-age comedy, two academically gifted best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) find themselves at the end of their high school career without having ever partied.  After realizing that their peers managed to get into good schools and still enjoy themselves, they set out to prove that they could get down with the best of them. In an attempt to make up for missed time, they try to cram four years of experiences into one chaotic night.  Not surprisingly, they are soon in over their heads.

I was impressed with Booksmart It was much more than the buddy comedy I expected.  The cinematography is amazing, the comedy witty, and the characters well rounded and believably flawed.  The friendship between the two leads is tangible and made me want to hang out with them, wear fanny packs, and watch documentaries.  In today's age where everyone is pressured to constantly do their best, it preaches an idea of balance and self-care.  This 2019 film (rated R) is Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, and I'm excited to see what her career will bring.

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Jennifer

A Few Good Men

When I think of A Few Good Men, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic scene of Jack Nicholson shouting, "You can't handle the truth!"  But since that was about all I could remember, I decided it was time to re-watch the classic 1992 film.  

Tom Cruise is Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a young and cocky Navy lawyer assigned to defend two Marines accused of murder while on duty at Guantanamo Bay. The film includes conspiracies, political machinations, and many shades of gray.

Featuring that signature Aaron Sorkin dialogue (it's his first movie screenplay), A Few Good Men was directed by Rob Reiner (rated R). Costarring Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Pollak.  You'll also spot a young Kiefer Sutherland, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Noah Wyle.

If you enjoy films featuring lawyers, check out Great Movies: Lawyers in the Movies and Great Movies: More Lawyers in the Movies to discover what to watch next.  A Few Good Men is also on the American Film Institute's list of top courtroom dramas.

Joan

Green Book

This Oscar-winning film is based on the true story of musician Dr. Donald Shirley's tour of the south in 1962.  He hired New York bouncer, Tony Vallelonga as a chauffeur/bodyguard.   The relationship started out as an awkward business arrangement between the two men.  No men could be more different in demeanor, background, and speech, yet they set off on a two-month trip together.  Through the trials and tribulations of the journey, they see each other at their best and at their worst.  They quickly develop mutual respect for the other's talents.  The mutual respect evolves into a lifelong friendship.

The title of the movie refers to The Negro Motorist Green Book which was an indispensable companion for African Americans on road trips through southern states during the 1950s and 60s.  Green Book won Best Picture, Original Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) at the 2019 Academy Awards. The film is not without controversy.  Read the Time article to learn more.


Released as a motion picture in 2018, rated PG-13


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Mimi

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

A charming tour guide (Ian McShane) takes a busload of American tourists on a nine countries in eighteen days European tour.  The bus is full of comical personalities, including Samantha Perkins (Suzanne Pleshette) who is seriously trying to find herself on this vacation.  The tour guide tries to romance her and change her mind about a number of things.  Mix-ups ensue, including one person who gets on the wrong bus.

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium is a throwback to how films were made. Joan Collins, John Cassavetes, Elsa Martinelli, Ben Gazzara, and Norman Fell also appear in the film. It's really a delightfully funny movie.