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X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Sci-fi/fantasy fans with only a passing knowledge of the X-Men universe will still be drawn into this exciting, fast-paced tale of time travel, which sends Professor Xavier’s band of merry men (and women) back to the groovy ‘70s to stop the robotic Sentinels from becoming a holy terror to the world’s mutants. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, starring as the younger Magneto and Prof. X, respectively, provide solid acting, and Jennifer Lawrence gives the normally tough Mystique surprising vulnerability. Oh, and the action scenes. Yes, they’re pretty darn gratifying.

Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)

Suffering from “Downton Abbey” or “Poldark” withdrawal? Watch this gorgeous period love story based on the classic novel by Thomas Hardy starring Carey Mulligan (“An Education”, “Drive”) as Bathsheba Everdene, the beautiful and strong-willed Victorian orphan torn between three suitors. When her uncle dies and leaves her his deteriorating farm, Bathsheba decides to run it herself and astound the doubters. Along the way, she manages to enchant a strong and handsome shepherd, a prosperous and handsome middle-aged bachelor, and a dashing, handsome soldier. Notice any pattern?

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

The lives of modern day vampires Viago, Deacon, and Vladislav aren't so different from ours. Like many of us, they also struggle with paying rent, doing chores and maintaining meaningful relationships (along with avoiding sunlight and not hitting main arteries when feasting on human blood). A project from the creative minds behind Flight of the Conchords and Boy, this mockumentary is delightfully creepy, refreshingly amusing and a vampire film like no other!

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991)

If you love house cleaning montages and early ‘90s fashion, then this is the movie for you. If this seems like a pretty select set of criteria for the enjoyment of this film, then fear not! This movie also has the luminous Christina Applegate, who, as eldest sibling Sue Ellen, aka “Swell,” provides much needed spunk when the above-mentioned babysitter dies soon after the family’s mother goes on a summer-long vacation.

Chappie (2015)

The director who brought us District 9 (one of my favorite alien movies ever) as well as the other-worldly Elysium, returns to Johannesburg, South Africa for his latest provocative science fiction adventure. In the near-future the police force of Jo-Burg has added a new weapon to their arsenal - human-like robots. In the struggle to make these robots as effective as possible one engineer figures out how to make them self-aware and fully conscious - but has to do so on the sly, as he cannot get support from his employer, the weapons corporation.

The Long Goodbye (1973)

Nothing says goodbye like a bullet (as the tagline goes). And no one knows this better than Philip Marlowe. This particular incarnation of the famed ‘30s detective is Elliott Gould, and he’s now solving crime - and very out of place - in the free-spirited ‘70s. Directed by the great Robert Altman, this is a wonderful adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel, although much like the 1946 version of The Big Sleep, this retelling is fairly convoluted. Gould captures Marlowe’s world-weariness and casual coolness perfectly, and Sterling Hayden is pretty much playing himself.

Pacific Rim (2013)

There are only two movies I own physically, and this is one of them.  I don't often admit that one of my favorite movies ever has a plot that focuses on robots vs. aliens, but at the root of it, Pacific Rim is a story about humanity’s struggle to exist against an ever increasing tide of the most amazing aliens you’ll ever see on film. The illuminated pseudoscience behind Jaeger Technology (the robots) operated by drift compatible humans is something to be enjoyed, not dissected!

My Man Godfrey (1936)

What happens when a wacky nouveau riche family decides to take in a homeless man to be their butler? When that “forgotten” man turns out to be debonair William Powell, he may just teach this spoiled and snobby family a thing or two. He also turns out to be a savior of sorts - and a potential love interest to a few ladies in the household. This film, made in 1936 during the height of the Depression, doesn’t beat the viewer over the head with too many platitudes, but it does offer several laugh out loud moments.

Violette (2013)

A fictionalized portrait of French novelist Violette LeDuc, directed and co-written by Martin Provost. Illegitimate and unwanted by her mother, Violette grows into an intensely needy adult who looks for love in all the wrong places. Her tremendous talent for writing is recognized and nurtured by Simone de Beauvoir, with whom Violette falls in love (albeit unrequited). Violette funnels her self-loathing and pain into her confessional novels, which are groundbreaking works of raw emotion and taboo sexual depictions.

Big Fish (2003)

Tall tales told by his father have frustrated Will since he was a boy. So much so that he's barely spoken to his father in years, but when his father falls ill of course he goes home to help out. It all sounds like a maudlin drama about family but once Will's father, Ed, starts telling his stories from his hospital bed the movie opens wide, taking Will back through the adventures his father claims to have had. He met mermaids and giants and witches! He found mysterious hidden towns and accidentally robbed banks! He performed in the circus and saw werewolves!

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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