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Spotlight: Horton Foote

Spotlight: Horton FooteHorton Foote is an Academy Award, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning (and Tony Award-nominated) American author and playwright. Perhaps his best known work is his screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird. Here are two of his other movies that you may enjoy:

Tender Mercies (1982) PG

Mac Sledge is a down-and-out country singer with his own demons. His ex-wife, Dixie, is now making popular the songs that Mac had written and sung. When he befriends a young widow and her son, the friendship provides the support he needs to find happiness and enables him to find the inspiration to resume his career.

A Trip to Bountiful (1985) PG
Set in 1947 Houston, A Trip to Bountiful is a quiet leisurely paced story that's more character than plot driven. It revolves around Carrie Watt's escape from the three-room Houston apartment she shares with her son Ludie and daughter-in-law Jessie Mae to revisit Bountiful, the small Texas town of her youth, which she still refers to as "home.” After several near-misses, Mrs. Watts makes a successful escape and her last trip home.

Leatherheads

Leatherheads (2008) PG-13
Starring George Clooney (also the director), Renee Zellweger, and John Krasinski, Leatherheads is an old-fashioned movie about the early days of professional football when there were no rules and the public viewed it as beneath college football.

In the 1920s, to keep pro football alive (and financially afloat), Dodge Connelly (Clooney) recruits war hero and college superstar Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) to play for the Duluth Bulldogs. Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) is a Chicago Tribune reporter trying to discredit Rutherford’s war record. Lexie grows close to both men – but who’s she going to end up with in the end?

For more on the early days of professional football, check out What a Game They Played by Richard Whittingham (1984) and America’s Game by Michael MacCambridge (2004).

Lions for Lambs

Lions for Lambs (2007) R
As a huge fan of Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, I had to see this movie. Redford stars in and directed this film. Tom Cruise also does an impeccable job playing an ambitious politician.

Unlike any film I’ve seen recently, it relies primarily on dialogue, rather than action, to deliver its message. Although the main subject of the film is U.S. involvement in a war in Afghanistan, it uses three different story lines, all taking place simultaneously, to portray how the media, government, and education systems can shape and/or manipulate our attitudes about so many things.

Each story line is interesting and thought provoking in a unique way. Although not a documentary, you can’t help but draw many parallels to the current situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mostly, it asks us to examine our own personal responsibility and choices to take action, rather than remain apathetic or indifferent.

I also enjoyed the special features - hearing the views of the writer, director, and other actors. Check out TIME Magazine's conversation with Redford, Streep, and Cruise.
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Door in the Floor

Door in the Floor (2004) R
Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger are a middle aged couple with a young daughter. They have decided to divorce, and for one painful summer as this process takes place, a teenage boy becomes the person used by both to bring a final end to their relationship. Based on the first half of the book A Widow for One Year by John Irving.

Definitely, Maybe

Definitely, Maybe (2008) PG-13
Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin star in this cute chick flick with an unusual bent. Will Hayes (Reynolds) is a soon-to-be divorced dad with a precocious 10-year-old daughter, Maya (Breslin). When Maya starts asking questions about how babies are made, Will distracts her by telling her the story of how he met her mother. He adds an extra twist, though, by changing her name and adding the stories of his two other serious relationships. Maya’s quest is to figure out which woman is her mother. And by the end, Will wonders if he let the right woman go.

Costarring Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz.

The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead (1948)
Based on the bestselling novel by Ayn Rand, this movie is a classic. It holds up so well. Gary Cooper as the ultimate hero performs with strength and gusto. Providing the romantic interest, Patricia Neal presents a perfect foil to his gritty performance. The final courtroom scene presents a monologue to remember.

Juno

Juno (2007) PG-13
A very precocious sixteen year old (Juno) becomes pregnant by her boyfriend Paulie after one encounter. They decide they aren't ready to have a family, so Juno needs to find a family that will adopt her baby. She finds a yuppie couple (Mark & Vanessa) and agrees to a closed adoption and then waits for her baby to be born while witnessing the dissolution of Mark & Vanessa's marriage and the estrangement of her boyfriend Paulie.

Juno is clever, funny, touching and honest.

Visit the official movie website for more about the movie, the actors, and a preview of the soundtrack.

Enchanted April

Enchanted April (1992) PG
This is a feel good movie about two English women in the 1920s who agree to rent a castle in Italy for a month to get away from their dreary lives in London. To share costs, they recruit two other women. The sunny, colorful setting opens all their senses and helps them get a new perspective on their lives. This is one of my favorite movies. Based on a novel by Elizabeth Von Arnim.
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27 Dresses

27 Dresses (2008) PG-13
This entertaining love story stars Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. Jane (Heigl) loves weddings – and she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times to prove it. But then her sister gets engaged to George, who Jane is secretly in love with. And that’s when the fun begins. Will Jane finally graduate from being a bridesmaid to being a bride?

One of the highlights from the movie is when Jane modeled her bridesmaid dresses from the various weddings; it was fun to see the different styles. You don’t want to miss it!

Cassandra’s Dream

Cassandra’s Dream (2007) PG-13
Cassandra’s Dream is similar to Hitchcock films, with a lot of twists and turns. It’s about two brothers (Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell) who are trying to get ahead but become too greedy. The consequences they have to pay are surprising. It’s a Woody Allen film, but it’s unlike any of his other films.

Check out the New York Times review.
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What Happens in Vegas

What Happens in Vegas (2008) PG-13
Joy (Cameron Diaz) escapes to Vegas after her fiancé dumps her in front of their friends. Jack (Ashton Kutcher) decides that Vegas is the perfect destination after he’s fired by his father. The two meet, talk, drink, and get married. The morning after, their plan to get an annulment is derailed when they win $3 million. A divorce judge (Dennis Miller) orders them to stay married and live together for six months before he will release the money.

Chaos and hilarity ensue as the pair try to get their “better half” to concede first and attempt to trick their court-ordered marriage counselor (Queen Latifah). Along the way, Joy and Jack make some unexpected discoveries. A very fun (and not stupidly funny) comedy.
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Eat a Bowl of Tea

Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989) PG-13
After WWII in New York’s Chinatown, there are plenty of men, but very few women. Ben Loy is sent by his family to the family hometown in China to meet his arranged bride. Everything is great with the young couple until they return to NYC, and suddenly pressure from the community to start a family becomes too much for the young husband.

The Contender

The Contender (2000) R
I regularly recommend The Contender as one of the best political movies I’ve ever seen. Joan Allen stars as Laine Hanson, a woman the U.S. President (Jeff Bridges) wants as his Vice President after the untimely death in office of the current VP. Others involved include William Peterson playing a respected governor that others want to fill that position, and Gary Oldman as a powerful Congressman who uncovers some information that may torpedo Hanson’s chances. This intelligent and suspenseful drama has first rate performances from a strong cast. Full disclosure: this movie has a liberal point of view about privacy and standing up for your beliefs.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) PG-13
A truly amazing film about the human spirit. The scenery is beautiful and the filming extraordinary. Jean Bauby, the French editor of Elle magazine, suffers a stroke and suffers from “locked-in” syndrome. He is trapped in his own body (which is useless) but his mind still functions normally. He is paralyzed except for his left eye. By blinking one letter at a time, with the help of his caregiver, he writes a memoir.

Based on Bauby’s 1997 memoir of the same name. Check out the Salon.com article to find out which parts of the movie are based in fact.

In French with English subtitles.

Double Wedding

Double Wedding (1937)
In addition to their six Thin Man movies, William Powell and Myrna Loy made many other comedies and dramas together. In Double Wedding, Loy is Margit, the controlling head of her family who has specially chosen sad-sack cousin Waldo to marry younger sister Irene. When Irene seems to be more interested in madcap Charlie Lodge (Powell), a Bohemian artist who lives in a trailer, Loy moves in to break up the supposed romance.