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The Illusionist

The Illusionist (2006) PG
A poor young man falls in love with a beautiful titled girl in the turn of the 20th century in Vienna. He is a cabinet maker, like his father, but he is also obsessed with learning magic. Eduard wants to travel to China to learn magic secrets and Sophie wants to go with him, but the fates intervene and her parents separate them. Fifteen years pass and they meet again and realize they still love each other but her fiancé Leopold, in a rage, kills her. Eduard, wracked with grief, prepares a new magic show and plans to avenge Sophie’s death. Edward Norton, as the illusionist, has the entrancing looks that make you believe in anything he does. This is a superb movie that will keep the viewer entranced to the very surprising end.

Wild Hogs

Wild Hogs (2007) PG-13
Have you ever been tired of your life and just wanted to take off for places unknown? Well, sit back and let the Wild Hogs take you on that trip. This is a zany story, filled with stereotypes, slapstick humor, biker wannabes and a cast of characters that work well together. A group of four suburban men (Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy) find themselves looking for adventure on the open road. They encounter a real biker group called the Del Fuegos and the fun begins.
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Return to Me

Return to Me (2000) PG
If you like Chicago and funny, romantic characters, this movie is for you. Bonnie Hunt wrote, directed, and stars in this film about love and the twists and turns fate plays on people. Great soundtrack!

Ransom

Ransom (1996) R
A millionaire ignores the FBI’s advice after his son is kidnapped. Instead of cooperating with the kidnappers and paying the ransom, Tom Mullen fights back.

Watch this explosive thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. Starring Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, and Gary Sinise.

The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) R
The Shawshank Redemption is a movie about hope. Adapted from a short story by Stephen King, it follows the life of banker Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, who is sent to prison for murdering his wife and her lover. Prison life is initially quite harsh for Andy, and he has little motivation to keep on living. Andy perseveres in large part because his friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman) allows him to bring some normalcy to his life behind bars. The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Morgan Freeman).
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The More the Merrier

The More the Merrier (1943)
This romantic comedy gets its humor from the real-life situation of the extreme housing shortage that occurred in Washington, D.C. during WWII. Office worker Connie Milligan has a sunny two bedroom apartment she decides for patriotic reasons to rent to a roommate. Funny, eccentric retired millionaire Benjamin Dingle, much to Connie's chagrin insists on renting the room. Mr. Dingle decides that what Connie needs is a nice handsome man, so he rents out half of his room to dreamy sergeant Joe Carter--then does all he can to push Connie and Joe together. This classic stars veteran character actor Charles Coburn and two great but overlooked stars of the '30s and '40s, Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea.

Stranger than Fiction

Stranger than Fiction (2006) PG-13
Will Ferrell is an IRS auditor who basically has no life until he suddenly hears a voice narrating his life. The voice is that of a writer who has made Harold the main character in her novel. As Harold hears his life unfold, he realizes that the author’s intent is to kill off her main character – him! This compels him to change his limited, structured life and even find romance. This is a really funny, charming movie. Will Ferrell plays a character that seems completely alien to most of his other roles. But he is wonderful! As the movie goes on, you really do start to wonder, “What will happen to Harold?”

See what Roger Ebert says about this film.

Also starring Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah.

Malice

Malice (1993) R

If you like a good mystery with a lot of twists and turns, this is one for you! Bill Pullman, Alec Baldwin, and Nicole Kidman are a great cast. Very enjoyable!

Watch the trailer at IMDB.com.

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Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (2005) PG

This 2005 version has a luminous—and Oscar nominated—Keira Knightley as Elizabeth, and the suitably dashing Matthew MacFadyen as her romantic foil, Mr. Darcy. The beautiful cinematography puts you realistically into the mud, mist and windswept landscapes of the times. This is a true romance.

BBC has interviews with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, a review of the movie, and, if you look on the right side of the above pages, clips featuring director Joe Wright and writer Deborah Moggach.

If you can't get enough of Jane Austen's classic, you can also find the 1995 BBC miniseries of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth, or find the book, CD audiobook, or Playaway at the library.

The Secret of Roan Inish

The Secret of Roan Inish (1995) PG

The Secret of Roan Inish is an American independent film written and directed by John Sayles; Sayles is a wonderful storyteller. This is a good “family” movie.

It is magical story, beautifully filmed, of the legend of a small Irish fishing village in the 1940s and its neighboring island, Roan Inish. The island is a deserted place inhabited only by seals. The legend is of "Selkies," in Irish mythology. Selkies are half-human/half-seal creatures.

The central character is a 10-year-old girl named Fiona who is sent to live with her grandparents. She learns the truth of her parents and Roan Inish. She discovers she has baby brother named Jamie who apparently was pulled out to sea in his cradle by Selkies and is determined to bring him home.

Check out what Roger Ebert has to say about the film that was part of his 7th film festival in 2005.

The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift (2006) PG
Based on the bestselling novel by Jim Stovall, the movie tells the story of Jason, who was expecting to inherit millions from his grandfather Red (James Garner) when the old man dies. But as fate would have it, Jason must complete 12 assignments within a year to receive his share of his grandfather’s will. What can be best described as a “crash course in life” leads Jason to a better understanding of what it is to be a man.
--Gail

A spoiled grandson inherits a large sum of money from a cold, billionaire grandfather that he hated. Before he can get the money there’s a catch. The grandson must accomplish 12 tasks that will eventually teach him life lessons and the relationship between wealth and happiness. This movie stars Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine.
--Sandy
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The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride (1987) PG
The Princess Bride has action, comedy and romance all wrapped up in the ultimate adventure fairy tale. Adults and children will enjoy this classic film that features sword fighting, revenge, an evil prince, a giant, mythical beasts, and, of course, true love. Actors include Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant.

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can (2002) PG-13
In 1963, 16-year-old Frank Abagnale, Jr. is devastated when his parents split up. He runs away – and embarks on a journey that has him masquerading as an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer.

Carl Hanratty is a career FBI agent specializing in check fraud. He dedicates – and jeopardizes – his career to catch Abagnale, who successfully acquired millions of dollars before he turned twenty. The two play a cat and mouse game for several years.

You may think it’s hard to empathize with someone who’s cheated others out of more than four million dollars, but then you haven’t met Frank Abagnale, Jr. Inspired by a true story – see what happened in Abagnale’s own words in his 1980 biography of the same name.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, and Amy Adams.

Lubitsch Musicals

Lubitsch Musicals (2008)

For anyone with an interest in classic movies, this collection of four very early Ernst Lubitsch musicals is for you. The movies – Love Parade (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), and One Hour With You (1932) – star Maurice Chavlalier, Jeanette MacDonald, a very young Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins, and Charles Ruggles. These “pre-code” movies will surprise you with their wink wink nod nod innuendo and slinky negligees. Although not to everyone’s tastes, there are many delightful moments in these charming treasures.

Get information about each of the movies, as well as links to reviews in national newspapers and magazines, at the Criterion Collection site. You can also listen to an NPR review of the collection.

Crossing Delancey

Crossing Delancey (1988) PG
This delightful romantic comedy tells the story of Isabelle, an independent, successful, uptown New Yorker who works at a bookstore/literary hotspot. Her loving, meddling grandmother engages a matchmaker to find Izzy a husband. Pickle shop owner Sam comes to dinner. Amy Irving and Peter Riegert star, with slice-of-New York-life characters as costars.