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Movies

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I Am Sam: Love Is All You Need (2002)

This movie made me cry - several times, big sloppy tears down my cheeks.  Too sentimental?  Probably - both the movie and the critic.  It's the story of mentally challenged Sam's (Sean Penn) efforts to keep custody of daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning - a most powerful actress for one so young) in a world that is tough on everyone, even accomplice Michelle Pfeiffer, the attorney whose "perfect life" is not so rosy.  It can leave you wondering why life has to be so hard, and why people have to be so mean, but then Lucy reminds us of the subtitle.  If you love the Beatles, y

The Guilty (1991)

Barrister Steven Vey has it all: successful career, plenty of cash, beautiful wife, not to mention a recent appointment as Britain's youngest-ever judge. Then one night he drinks too much and rapes his pretty new secretary and faces the loss of everything if he doesn't find a way to shut her up. Michael Kitchen is superb as Vey in this suspenseful two-part psychological thriller from Britain's Central Television.

The Double Hour (2011)

Twisty, suspenseful, sexy, and Italian--what more could you want in a psychological thriller? This one begins with a hotel chambermaid and a retired cop meeting at a speed dating event. Suddenly, an armed robbery alters the course of their budding relationship and from then on, the movie keeps you guessing about who is double-crossing who. Compelling performances by the two principals, Filippo Timi and Ksenia Rappoport.

The Forsyte Saga (2002-2003)

This period drama has everything a miniseries-loving anglophile could want: strong acting and great costumes plus a rich cast of characters suffering from a variety of character flaws including arrogance, silliness, cluelessness, greed and snobbery.  Very high class soap opera!

Drive (2011)

What do get when you combine the pace of Eraserhead with violence that would make Quentin Tarantino cover his eyes:  Drive.  Ryan Gosling transmits his performance with as few words as possible.  When asked what he does, he says, "I drive". He's a mechanic who does a little stunt driving for the movies and a little getaway driving for criminals on the side.  His life gets much more complicated when a comely neighbor moves into his apartment building and his effort to help her goes violently astray.

Sense and Sensibility (2008)

This is the best film adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel, in my opinion.  Because it is 170+ minutes long, the three-part series has plenty of time to tell the story of sisters Elinor (the one with sense) and Marianne (the one with sensibility) and their romantic trials and tribulations.

George Gently (2007-2011)

Another entertaining British crime series, this one set in Northumberland in 1964.  George Gently is the detective inspector, lately from a bigger-time city career, and John Bacchus is his arrogant, ambitious and inexperienced sergeant. The series takes place during a period of changing social attitudes and values, and the story lines incorporate themes like racism, women's liberation, homophobia and child sexual abuse. Based on the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter (he published nearly one per year from 1955 to 1998!).

Treme (Season 1, 2010)

Watch a motley collection of New Orleans residents try to pick up the pieces of their post-Katrina lives in this HBO drama that begins three months after disaster hit.  It's worth watching for the music alone (check out the soundtrack on CD), but you will also be drawn into the stories of the people and the unique culture of the city.

Sword of Honour (2006)

This two-part WWII drama based on a trilogy by Evelyn Waugh is sort of like a British "Catch-22" in the way it satirizes military culture during wartime.   Englishman Guy Crouchback joins up out of idealism and a sense of honor, both largely shattered by the end of his war, which takes him to France, Scotland, Crete, Egypt, Croatia and Italy. Stay with the story through part two, when it becomes especially engaging and moving.

Trollhunter (2011)

Filmed in a style similar to The Blair Witch Project, this movie claims to be the found footage of several student filmmakers who had set out to make a movie about bear hunters and ended up making a movie about a secret their country has been keeping from the public. Troll hunter Hans is bitter about the lack of recognition he gets for putting himself in such danger and allows the students to follow him.

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