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dramas

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Chi-Raq (2015)

One of Spike Lee's best films in years, Chi-Raq is a modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago. (The title's portmanteau refers to Iraq and that Chicago's violence rivals the Middle East war zone.) You may recall the plot from literature class - the community's women refuse to have sex with the men until violence is stopped. In this case the impetus for this standoff is a child's death by stray bullet. The cast is stellar - Samuel L.

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (2016)

For rabid Sherlock fans (of which I am one), this one-off special was touted as a standalone episode. The series' contemporary actors are magically transported to the late 1890s, solving a series of crimes with a feminist slant. The encounters with the bride antagonist are genuinely creepy, and seeing our beloved Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (as Holmes and Watson, respectively) in period costume is a hoot. I won't give away the twist, but it enhances and furthers the narrative of the series as a whole.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

Movies about teenage girls’ sexual awakenings can be too cutesy or play it too safe. This movie, set in 1976 San Francisco, is having none of that. When 15-year-old Minnie begins having sexual urges, she takes care of things on her own - by having sex with her mother’s boyfriend. And when the adults in her life prove to be undependable, she learns hard lessons on her way to an independent life. This movie has gotten rave reviews; it’s genuine, fearless, and has a unique voice.

Spare Parts (2015)

I found myself talking about this inspiring movie in a couple different unrelated conversations recently. This past weekend I sat next to a retired statistics professor from ASU for a 3+ hour airplane flight. She was personally involved in the efforts to fund the education of the students whose story is told in this movie. George Lopez is the substitute teacher who connects with a rag-tag group of immigrant kids (most, if not all without documentation) who enter an underwater robotics competition.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

I’ve been told the book is better (which is almost always the case, no?) but having not read it, I can’t personally say. Greg is the protagonist in this story. He likes to think that he coasts along on his own path and avoids getting involved in dramas by staying on the periphery of every group in his high school. He won’t even admit his friendship with Earl, who he refers to as his “co-worker”. Together Greg and Earl have created dozens of silly movie parodies and have eaten lunch together for years. Who is the dying girl? She has cancer and Greg’s mom makes him hang with her.

The Fall (2008)

Filmed in 28 countries over 4 years, Roger Ebert describes The Fall as an “extravagant visual orgy” and rightly so, as it magnificently captures the imaginations of a morphine addict and young child.  The stunning visuals tell the tale of 5 mythical heroes and their vows to take revenge on Governor Odious.  The tale is told by Roy, a stunt actor recovering from an injury, to another young hospital patient named Alexandria.  Dramatic, meaningful and absolutely beautiful,The Fall is a film that is worth experiencing over and over again.

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?

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!

The Drop (2014)

Bob is working at his cousin Marv's bar in a gritty part of Brooklyn, and you quickly realize tell they both have a shady past. The bar is one of many in the city used as a drop for dirty money and it turns out the bar itself is owned by a menacing Chechen gang leader. A couple of small-time thugs rob the bar, Bob finds an abused puppy in a trash can and meets a girl named Nadia, and a random crime turns out not to be so random.

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Languid, introspective, and darkly funny, this vampire movie never outright mentions what its main characters are. Adam is a centuries-old musician going through a rough patch while living in seclusion in Detroit. Enter his long-time lover, Eve, thousands of years old and living in Tangiers until Adam calls. The quiet romance and midnight reflections on the rise and fall of lives and societies are at the center of this story, until Eve's uncontrollable little sister shows up, complicating things by doing what we all expect vampires to do.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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