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Staff Movie & TV Picks

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Aug 11, 2014 by megana

The sun never sets on Swedish detective Jonas Engström as he investigates the brutal murder of a teenage girl in a small town in northern Norway. Unable to sleep in the glare from the unceasing sunlight, Enström both solves and inserts himself into the crime, resulting in an anything-but-neat resolution. With its taciturn anti-hero cop and bleak setting, this film kicked off the Nordic noir phenomenon that is now so popular. Unsettling and well worth watching. Check Our Catalog

May 22, 2014 by megana

Based on a true story uncovered by British journalist Martin Sixsmith, this is the moving story of a young Irish girl whose illegitimate child is taken from her by nuns and sold to an American couple in the mid-1950s. You might expect the movie to be mawkish and sentimental but it manages to avoid this with complex performances by Judi Dench as Philomena Lee and comedian Steve Coogan as Sixsmith. Their journey to the truth about what happened 50 years earlier explores innocence, faith, the strength of family bonds, and the resilience of human beings damaged by loss, all done with a light touch and comic relief. Check Our Catalog

May 12, 2014 by deirdres

Practically every character in this movie is a money grubbing, morally bankrupt, substance abuser and, sadly, they are based on real people. Their leader is Jordan Belfort, played beautifully by Leonardo DiCaprio, a seemingly regular guy from humble beginnings, who takes easily to what he considers the good life after figuring out how to profit wildly by getting people to invest in the stock market. Belfort comes off as an oily salesman but somehow has legions of devotees who worship the dollar as much as he does. With great wealth comes unbelievable debauchery and excess and the inevitable fall. Although this movie is rife with serious, dramatic and sometimes filthy scenes, it also has some of the funniest scenes ever put on film. Check Our Catalog

May 5, 2014 by maryc

The Vogels are certainly an interesting couple.  Herb, a postal worker, and Dorothy, a librarian, amassed a huge collection of contemporary art and made an extraordinary gift to the nation. They donated the majority of their collection to the National Gallery of Art in 1992, and it has since grown to over 4,000 items.  The documentary follows this unassuming couple in their pursuit of pieces of art they enjoyed and artists they supported. Quincy's Carl Andre is mentioned, among others, and they even "cat sat" for Christo on occasion.  You may not be a lover of the abstract or minimalism, but it is amazing to see this side of the art world, the passion for collecting, and what an amazing collection can fit in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan.
Check Our Catalog

Mar 25, 2014 by jimj

As much a fascinating history of the joyfully syncopated isicathamiya (“on tip toe”) music born in the townships of South African apartheid as the captivating story of founder Joseph Sabalala, this beautifully moving tribute to Ladysmith Black Mambazo,  directed by Eric Simonson, inspires and uplifts. This Academy Award nominated film tells the story of how (and why) this extraordinary hybrid of Zulu harmonies and Western influences became a World Music supergroup. Over 50 years and five Grammy Awards later LBM still mesmerizes. Check Our Catalog

Mar 11, 2014 by megana

If you’re like me, you’ve never thought much about the people behind movie voice-overs. This quirky comedy lifts the veil on the voice-over industry and introduces you to vocal coach Carol and her egotistical, bullying voice-over star father, Sam. A strong ensemble cast includes a nerdy but charming sound engineer with a crush on Carol, Sam’s very young girlfriend, plus Carol’s intense sister and her husband. A funny and charming story about a woman trying to break into a male-dominated business and finding love along the way. Check Our Catalog

Mar 3, 2014 by claytonc

Amazing acting anchors this new sci-fi series from BBC America (shot in Toronto). Tatiana Maslany plays multiple clones in this thriller that opens with Sarah, a gritty young outsider witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her - except more affluent. Sarah assumes the identity of this unknown woman - who ends up being a police officer. Soon bullets are flying and mysteries are multiplying. This series deftly explores the ethics of human cloning, but soars by focus on female agency - each woman that Tatiana plays has her own way of dealing with the crazy situation they share, and its fascinating to watch how things develop. Season Two debuts in April. I can't wait! Check Our Catalog.

Feb 11, 2014 by claytonc

I totally watched this movie for the stars - but it wasn't a guilty pleasure! Released shortly after James Gandolfini's untimely death, its the story of his character falling in love with a massage therapist played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The relationship is complicated by Julia's character's developing relationship with a poet, played by Catherine Keener - a character who turns out to be James' character's ex-wife. Toni Collette plays a friend of Julia's. I have enjoyed so many productions with each of these actors, it was a real treat to watch them all together. A recommended date movie. Check Our Catalog Watch the preview:

Dec 10, 2013 by megana

It’s 1914 and the world is about to change forever in this five-part adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s classic series of novels set in England before, during and after World War I. Christopher Tietjens is a traditional Englishman living by the old moral codes and conventions. His wife, Sylvia, strains against the limits placed on women and wives and challenges her husband—and “society”—at every turn. As Christopher tries to manage his marriage and resist changes to the status quo, he becomes drawn to Valentine Wannop, a young and feisty suffragette. The onset of the war, the advent of feminism, and the fading of aristocratic manners sweep through and shape the lives of these three fascinating and flawed characters. Check Our Catalog

Sep 9, 2013 by megana

Birgitte Nyborg is the idealistic new (and first female) prime minister of Denmark in this absorbing political series drama. The intricacies of parliamentary politics are surprisingly riveting by themselves, in addition to the melodramatic back stories and personal lives of Nyborg and the other major characters, including her too-good-to-be-true husband, Philip (but is he really?), her media advisor/spin doctor Kaspar Juul (with a mysterious and ominous childhood), and the rising TV anchor star Katrine Fonsmark (Kaspar’s on- and off-again girlfriend). This drama is completely captivating on its own merits, with the added interest of seeing the world from a non-U.S. perspective. Check Our Catalog

Jun 22, 2013 by megana

If you like TV antiheroes like Tony Soprano, it's time to start watching Mad Men, featuring Don Draper, a Madison Avenue ad man who is a poster child for poor judgement. This period drama takes place during the 1960s and watching it is like time traveling to a past that feels very nearby. Historical events are incorporated into the episodes, including the 1960 presidential election, the death of Marilyn Monroe, the assassination of JFK, and the mass rape and murder of eight nurses by Richard Speck in Chicago in 1966. Most of the action happens in the offices of the Sterling Cooper agency, where a collection of talented, egotistic and driven characters collide and cooperate to get ahead amidst a culture of constant smoking, drinking, cheating and sex. The series pulls no punches when it comes to contemporary attitudes regarding women (sex objects at best), Blacks and Jews. This is intelligent nighttime soap opera with some fine acting and great visuals. Start with season one and work your way forward. Check Our Catalog

Mar 22, 2013 by megana

On the eve of World War I, widowed well digger Pascal struggles to raise his six daughters but the oldest one, 18-year-old Patricia, goes astray, falling for a dashing airman who loves her and leaves her in the usual way. This French-language movie, based on the book by Marcel Pagnol, is heartwarming in the best sense of the word: beautiful shots of the lush Provencal countryside, the innocently luminous Patricia, the amusingly gruff but loving Pasal, and assorted charming minor characters. Even if you predict what will happen (not hard to do), you will simply enjoy watching this movie from beginning to end. Check Our Catalog

Mar 19, 2013 by megana

A family's pet chameleon suddenly finds himself thrown out of his safe aquarium and left to fend for himself in the Western desert. He goes from living in his own private fantasy world (as a movie star and director) to playing a starring role as a swashbuckling hero who rescues the drought-ridden town of Dirt from evil bandits. This animated movie starring Johnny Depp as the talking chameleon, Rango, is equally entertaining for older kids (it's rated PG) and grown-ups (with lots of jokes and references the kids won't get): funny, visually engaging, and ultimately satisfying in a "nerd prevails" kind of way. Check Our Catalog

Mar 19, 2013 by megana

If you need some laughs, you'll definitely find them in this dark comedy about a funeral held at an English country manor. Family members and friends gather and the proceedings get more and more out of control as hallucinogenic drugs, family secrets, sibling rivalry, and a blackmailing dwarf cross paths. It's not a spoiler to reveal that there definitely is a death by the end of this funeral, but it isn't the guy in the casket. It could even be you, dying of laughter. Check Our Catalog

Feb 27, 2013 by megana

Wealthy businessman Vladimir and his second wife (and former nurse) Elena share a luxurious Moscow apartment and argue about their respective children: his scornful and distant daughter; her wastrel son with a wife, two kids, and no job. After Vladimir has a heart attack and decides to write a will that will prevent Elena from supporting her son's family, she makes a fateful decision. This domestic noir thriller feels quite un-American, and that's because it's Russian. The suspense creeps up on you quietly while you are preoccupied with watching the extremes of rich and poor Muscovites live out their daily lives. Check Our Catalog

Dec 3, 2012 by megana

Time travel back to the era of 70s rock and roll with wannabe teen rock journalist William Miller. Under the dubious tutelage of rock mag Creem's editor Lester Bangs, and with the reluctant approval of his mother, William joins the tour of on-the-verge-of-stardom Stillwater. William rides on the bus, rubs shoulders with the band and their female groupies, falls in love, and tries to write a break-out story for Rolling Stone magazine. This wry and amusing coming-of-age paean to the heyday of rock will especially appeal to those of you who grew up listening to the Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin before they were retro pleasures. Check Our Catalog

Nov 29, 2012 by megana

Hilariously funny, pathetic and sad all at the same time, this movie mashes up crime comedy and faux documentary methods to dramatize a true story of love and murder in the small east Texas town of Carthage.  Jack Black stars as Bernie Tiede, the humble, attentive and beloved assistant funeral director who befriends Marjorie Nugent, a wealthy and nasty old widow played by Shirley MacLaine. What begins as an innocent friendship between a good-hearted man and a lonely woman slowly goes bad, really bad. The story is interspersed with interviews with actual townspeople, who give their unvarnished Southern Gothic opinions about their neighbors and the startling events that transpired in their community.  Check Our Catalog

Nov 21, 2012 by megana

A hip and cynical young Seattle magazine employee and his two slave-interns travel to a small coastal Washington state town to follow up on an unusual classified ad.  They discover a mysterious, paranoid loner looking for a time-travel partner--and also learn something about themselves and how to live truly in the here-and-now.  Sweet, funny, and charming with both low-key suspense and romance, plus an engaging cast portraying three-dimensional characters that will win you over even when they are being annoying. Check Our Catalog

Yes, you should see "The Artist" because it won the Academy Award but, more importantly, you should see this film because it's so much FUN!!!  The storytelling is brilliant and the characters are remarkably robust considering this is a silent film (well, for the most part).  Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a silent movie superstar.  Along come "talkies" and George denounces them as a fad.  For newcomer Peppy Miller, the talkies present an opportunity to catapult her to stardom.  "The Artist" tells the story of their interlinked destinies.  Pay particular attention to the set design and art direction...and don't miss the stellar performance by Uggie (the Dog).  Check Our Catalog

Aug 1, 2012 by megana

I admit I'm a sucker for BBC period costume dramas...but this is a really good one! Set in 1902, the ten-episode series revolves around three young women working as nannies in London's upper-crust Berkeley Square neighborhood. It's an "Upstairs, Downstairs" story that has it all: illegitimate babies, adorable children, feisty women, dashing and dangerous bounders, adultery, manslaughter, crime, romance, and great costumes. How much more entertaining does it get? Check Our Catalog


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