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Miracle

Miracle (2004) PG
Do you believe in miracles? Based on a true story, Miracle documents the months leading up to the 1980 Olympics and the unforgettable showdown between the American and Soviet hockey teams at Lake Placid. Despite knowing the ending, you’ll be on the edge of your seat till the very end.

If you want to learn more about the “miracle on ice,” check out Wayne Coffey’s 2005 book, The Boys of Winter. Also look at the cover and article from the March 3, 1980, issue of Sports Illustrated and an article from ESPN Classic. Want to see the original team? Do You Believe in Miracles? is an HBO documentary featuring footage of and interviews with the 1980 hockey team.

The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters, The Night of the Hunter is the only film ever directed by Charles Laughton. The mood of the film is unusual; Laughton features unique photography and haunting music. Harry Powell (Mitchum) is a preacher with the habit of murdering his wives. When Harry’s cellmate tells him about money he hid, Harry goes after the man’s family. Lillian Gish gives a great performance as a mother figure who helps out the children.

This fascinating movie didn’t get much play when it came out in the 1950s – and it still isn’t widely known. Roger Ebert’s explanation? Its “lack of the proper trappings.” I very strongly endorse The Night of the Hunter – not a lot of people know about it, but those who do are really impressed by it.

While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping (1995) PG
America’s sweetheart actress Sandra Bullock stars in this romantic comedy. She is a subway worker who helps a young man (Peter Gallagher) who has been mugged. His family begins to see her as his girlfriend/fiancée, and she lets them believe the lie. All is fine until she fall in love with his brother (Bill Pullman). Soon she must decide…

Spotlight: Tim Burton

Spotlight: Tim BurtonThe decidedly quirky talents of director Tim Burton bring a unique pop culture sensibility to his work. From his debut film (Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) to his latest (Sweeney Todd), his movies have an engagingly bizarre look and humor about them. I appreciate his knack for visual wit. Some of the films have the added pleasure of feature scores by Danny Elfman or a performance by Johnny Depp. Try one or all of these:

A Very Long Engagement = Un long dimanche de fiançailles

A Very Long Engagement = Un long dimanche de fiançailles (2004) R
This French movie based on a novel of the same name is the troubling, poignant and often darkly humorous story of Mathilde (Audrey Tautou) as she searches for the truth about her fiancé during WWI. Was he the coward he was labeled? Five men, including her fiancé, were condemned to death for shooting themselves to escape the front lines. Did he survive an almost sure death in the no man’s land between the French and German lines?

In French with English subtitles.

Prancer

Prancer (1989) G
An oldie but goodie! Eight year old Jessie finds an injured reindeer and believes he is Santa’s Prancer. While Jessie is working on a plan to return the reindeer to Santa, her widowed father is trying to figure out how to keep their family afloat. This heartwarming tale is a great movie for the whole family.

Starring Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman, and Rebecca Harrell.
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Cool Runnings

Cool Runnings (1993) PG
This movie is loosely based on a true story of a Jamaican bobsled team. When the Olympic trials for sprinters become a disaster, a group of young men from Jamaica enter the 1988 Olympics as a bobsled team. John Candy is the coach who must redeem himself. While the world watches, the team and coach become the laughingstock of the Olympic Games. Then they become an inspiration. The movie has a great soundtrack.

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn (1942)
Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire shine in this classic film featuring the music of Irving Berlin. After his girl leaves him for showbiz partner Ted Hanover (Astaire), Jim Hardy (Crosby) heads to Connecticut to run an inn that’s only open on the holidays. While the best known “holiday” song is the Academy Award-winning “White Christmas (1943 Best Song), other entertaining tunes include ditties for Washington's birthday (“I Can't Tell a Lie”) and Independence Day (“Song of Freedom”). Follow the men as they meet each holiday to compete for a woman – who also happens to be Hardy’s new partner.

Run Fatboy Run

Run Fatboy Run (2007) PG-13
Directed by David Schwimmer (of Friends fame), this is a heartwarming tale of Dennis (Simon Pegg), a lovable loser who can’t seem to finish anything. Dennis’ biggest regret is abandoning his pregnant fiancé at the altar seconds before the ceremony. Years later, he is willing to do whatever it takes to win her back. To prove his love, he vows to complete a marathon, a task which no one believes he can accomplish. With the help of two quirky coaches, Dennis takes on the challenge of training for the 26 mile race. Will true love give him the strength he needs?
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Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) R
The cast -- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and Marisa Tomei -- rise to the occasion in this recent film by director Sidney Lumet. Like an ancient tragedy, it is a melodrama told in out-of-sequence episodes (with captions so you know where you are) of the botched robbery of a mom-and-pop jewelry store. Lumet's tale seems rooted in the new middle-class money hunger and its deeply emotional consequences.

See what The New York Times said about the movie.

Bells are Ringing

Bells are Ringing (1960)
Telephone operator Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday) becomes involved with the lives of all the customers at Susanswerphone, including handsome playwright Jeffrey Moss (Dean Martin). When Ella finally meets Jeffrey, its love at first sight, but she can't tell him who she really is--the motherly voice on the phone who has been listening to his problems and giving him advice. Includes the songs "Just in Time" and "The Party's Over." Also with Jean Stapleton (of All in the Family) and directed by Vincente Minnelli. See it at the library on Friday, December 5 at 7:00.

Father of the Bride

Father of the Bride (1991) PG
George Banks is having trouble adjusting. His 22-year-old daughter Annie has just returned from a trip abroad – engaged. The tightfisted shoe designer not only has to deal with his little girl growing up, but with the burgeoning cost of her wedding. Laugh out loud as you watch the lengths George goes to in order to save money – and how the rest of the family deals with it. Father of the Bride is a good comedy with a good message (not to mention a great cast).

The fun continues in Father of the Bride, Part II (1995). Starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams, and Martin Short.

Also check out the original Father of the Bride (1950) featuring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor.
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This Gun for Hire

This Gun for Hire (1942)
This classic film propelled Alan Ladd’s popularity off the map. He’s a hired killer without a conscience who’s set up and goes after the man who did it, taking cop Robert Preston’s fiancé Veronica Lake (who has her own agenda) with him. Exciting and watchable despite the main character’s despicable actions. The filmmakers seemed to have set out to make viewers feel some sympathy for him, which in this case makes for an intriguingly done film.

Graham Greene wrote the original novel.
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Amelie = Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain

Amelie  = Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (2001) R
Amelie is a young woman with a keen imagination and an active fantasy life. She works in a cafe where she steps into the lives of others around her to help them out…in her uniquely whimsical and romantic way.

In French with English subtitles.

August Rush

August Rush (2007) PG
This story of star-crossed lovers will lift your spirits. When an Irish guitarist meets a beautiful cellist in New York, they fall deeply in love. Their child, a musical prodigy like Mozart, runs away from his orphanage (that story is a subplot since neither parent knows he’s alive…) and he sets out to find his parents through his gift of music.

He takes the name of August Rush and so their song of faith and love and happy endings begins. The journey has a few jolts and there is a touch of Oliver Twist in the characters, but it is definitely a fun movie.