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Amy

Amy (1998) PG-13
Rachel Griffiths is a single mother who struggles to support herself and her mute daughter. The little girl was normal until she witnessed her father’s death on stage at a rock concert. Through friendship with a neighbor, the mother learns her daughter can communicate only through song. This is an Australian-made movie with scenes of Melbourne.
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Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) PG
Another Ben Stiller winner. Everyone will enjoy watching the authentic Smithsonian Museums' artifacts come alive! The story tells interesting historical facts about Amelia Earhart and General Custer.

I went to Washington, D.C., two years ago; therefore, the movie impressed me in that it was based on facts like the largest sea monster caught being at the Smithsonian and the use of the Air and Space Museum for action. Of course, you'll love seeing Abe Lincoln come to life walking and talking...and having recently climbed all those stairs up the Lincoln Memorial, I was impressed that the movie used Abe to great advantage.

See this on DVD for lots of laughs. And don't forget to check out the original Night at the Museum.

Changeling

Changeling (2008) RChangeling, based on a true story, is fascinating. The truth about the case of Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie) is shocking and dramatic. In March 1928, Christine, a single mother living in Los Angeles, returns home to find that her young son, Walter (Gattlin Griffith), is missing.

What follows is a bureaucratic nightmare and her concern turns to anguish. This movie is beautifully designed and shot to recreate 1920s Los Angeles. It is a superbly acted drama that packs a powerful emotional punch.

Learn about the remarkable true story through an NPR article.
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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) PG-13
George Clooney is a fast talking con man who cons two other chain gang convicts to escape with him in Depression-era Mississippi. The three convicts go on an episodic odyssey involving blind soothsayers, one-eyed con men, and sexy women who lure the men with their siren song. To top it off, the movie is filled with wonderful "old timey" music. Watch for homages to other movies including Cool Hand Luke, Sullivan's Travels, and even The Wizard of Oz.A concert of the music from the movie is on the DVD Down from the Mountain.

Bopha!

Bopha! (1993) PG-13
This film takes place in South Africa in 1980, in the midst of the Apartheid uprisings. It focuses on a particular African American family. Danny Glover plays the husband, a policeman, who is employed by the government. Unbeknownst to him, his teenage son starts to engage in anti-apartheid activities. It provides interesting and often disturbing insight into this time period, and how it affected the residents of South Africa.

Visit NPR.org for a series of articles and audio clips recounting South Africa's struggle for democracy.
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An Everlasting Piece

An Everlasting Piece (2000) R
Riotously funny story of two Irish barbers who plan the make their mark on business by selling the most wigs in Northern Ireland. Colin, the Catholic, and Barry, the Protestant, join forces in Belfast in the 1980s making house calls in dangerous neighborhoods for one another.

They learn that another salesman is threatening their business and so by extraordinary means they manage to sell wigs to both sides of the Catholic/Protestant debate. Will they sacrifice their principles?

Will they lose their friendship? Check it out…
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Public Enemies

Public Enemies (2009) RPublic Enemies with Johnny Depp is an entertaining historical account of John Dillinger's robberies in the 1930s. You'll recognize all the places in Indiana and Illinois (see the filming locations).

Great photography, acting, and storytelling. It is amazing to see the banks that were robbed and the number of robberies in a short period of time. Depp's human portrayal of Dillinger's personal life surprised me. I recommend this movie if you are used to gangster shootings in movies because it has violent/realistic action!

For more on Dillinger, visit the FBI's famous cases site; request the PBS documentary Public Enemy #1 and visit the companion website; or check out the WGN TV website for articles, videos, and more.

Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) G
This classic musical comedy is pure entertainment. Set in the 1920s, Singin’ in the Rain shows the awkward transition from silent films to talkies. Everything works in this film – the skits, the songs, and the stars.

The greatest movie musical of all time (according to the American Film Institute) stars Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, and Jean Hagen. Read Roger Ebert’s take on the film. Check out TCM to watch movie clips and featurettes.

Doubt

Doubt (2008) PG-13Doubt is an excellent, engaging film with a great cast led by Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film is set in 1964, in a Catholic elementary school in New York City. Streep plays the principal of the school, a very traditional and rigid nun. Hoffman plays a priest in the parish, with more progressive views. The story focuses on a conflict between these two characters. It is one of those thought-provoking films that compels you to talk about it afterward, since it allows the viewer to absorb the story based on one’s own background and perspective.

And you can talk about it! Join us this Friday -- December 4 -- at 7:00 to watch and discuss the film. Sign up online, in person at Readers Services, or by phone at 630/887-8760, ext. 239.

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road (2008) RRevolutionary Road may feature the stars of TitanicLeonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet – but there’s no Titanic love story here. It’s the end of the line for a marriage. Frank and April Wheeler had hopes and dreams when they first got married but all they ended up with was disillusionment. A good performance by the actors, but not a movie for those looking for an uplifting story.

Based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates.
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Last Holiday

Last Holiday (2006) PG-13
When Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) is given the news that she has a terminal illness, she immediately decides to see the things she has dreamed about. She leaves the New Orleans department store where she was a clerk, flies to Europe and stays in a grand hotel befitting the very rich.

She meets Chef Didier (her idol), hobnobs with politicians and has no fears about telling the truth because she knows her time is limited. But her co-worker Sean (LL Cool J) (whom she would love to call boyfriend) comes to her rescue and all turns out well.

Check out Roger Ebert's review of the film and enjoy the theatrical trailer.

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Blood Diamond

Blood Diamond (2007) R
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond is set in Sierra Leone in 1999 amid the chaos of Africa in armed conflict. It is an action drama played against the backdrop of political turmoil. The movie is about the illegal trafficking of diamonds in Africa: diamonds are harvested in Sierra Leone, smuggled into Liberia, and from there, sold to the rest of the world. Although it is tricky to make a movie on a controversial issue that is neither do-gooder nor exploitative, in this case the effort is surprisingly successful.

Blood diamonds were so named in the 1990s to call attention to the fact that African diamonds were being smuggled out of countries at war specifically to buy more arms and kill more people.

Weaker moments in the story are overshadowed by the film's willingness to risk disturbing an audience's sense of the world and how it is run. Blood Diamond is very much aware that these are problems beyond an easy resolution, and making a film that understands that is quite an accomplishment.

It really is a good movie, well acted, with Africa playing a wonderful supporting role!

Breach

Breach (2007) PG-13
Breach is great film, based on the true story of FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who was convicted of treason. The movie portrays the events that took place surrounding the investigation and arrest of Robert Hanssen. There’s not a lot of action, but it definitely held my interest, as it was well-written, well-paced, and thought-provoking, especially knowing that it’s true.

Listen to an interview on NPR with the man who caught Hanssen -- Eric O'Neill -- and with screenwriter Billy Ray. Also check out an article featuring Chris Cooper, who portrays Hanssen in the film.

A League of Their Own

A League of Their Own (1992) PG
In 1943, with the men at war, baseball owners created a professional women’s league. Loosely based on a true story, A League of Their Own follows the inaugural season of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The movie stars Tom Hanks and Geena Davis (and features Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell) – and is so much fun to watch!

See what Roger Ebert thought about the movie.

Want more baseball? Check out our list of recommended baseball movies.

Picnic

Picnic (1955) PG
Hal Carter (William Holden) comes from nothing and seems to be headed towards nothing. He flunked out of college where he had a football scholarship and since then he has been drifting, hoping for somewhere to settle and make something of himself. Hal jumps off of the train in a small Midwestern town where his old college buddy Alan Benson’s father owns the local grain elevator.

Things are looking up for Hal until he catches the eye of not only Alan’s girlfriend Madge Owens, but Madge’s younger sister Millie and unmarried schoolteacher Rosemary. All comes to a head at the town’s end of summer Labor Day Picnic. Holden, Kim Novak, Cliff Robertson, Rosalind Russell, and Susan Strasberg provide wonderful acting in this drama from a play by William Inge.