Staff Movie & TV Picks

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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

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, you should watch this movie, overly sentimental or not.  Check Our Catalog



Jun 2, 2012 by megana

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. Check Our Catalog

Jun 2, 2012 by megana

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. Check Our Catalog

Apr 14, 2012 by megana

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! Check Our Catalog

Apr 14, 2012 by deirdres

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. Albert Brooks is amusing and menacing as the local crime kingpin.  The soundtrack is the worst I've ever heard yet, somehow, goes perfectly with the action. Check Our Catalog

Feb 26, 2012 by megana

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. Excellent performances in both major and minor roles.  For those who have been watching Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in DA) plays Elinor's love interest, Edward.  Check Our Catalog

Jan 22, 2012 by megana

Just as funny as it was when it was released in 1992! Clueless but full-of-himself NYC atorney Vinny Gambini comes to the rescue of a cousin and his friend who have been framed for a murder in rural Alabama.  His wise-talking girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei), who also just happens to be an automotive expert, saves his bacon in the end.  This unusual courtroom drama will have you laughing all the way through.  Check Our Catalog

Jan 22, 2012 by megana

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!). Check Our Catalog

Jan 22, 2012 by megana

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. Check Our Catalog

Jan 4, 2012 by megana

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. Check Our Catalog

Dec 12, 2011 by amandap

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. The trolls themselves appear from the woods and caves, shocking the students and causing havoc wherever they go, but the Norwegian authorities are dead set against their troll problem becoming publicly known.

While the mockumentary style has been done and done again, this movie felt fresh and fun. The small cast does a wonderful job with the story, especially Otto Jesperson as Hans. The trolls themselves are both cartoonish and frightening and their looks will be familiar to anyone who's read Norwegian folktales. Grounding it all and making the whole movie a pleasure to watch are the beautiful landscapes of Norway, featured well during the crew's pursuit of the country's greatest secret. Check Our Catalog

Two song and dance men: one (Fred Astaire) loves being in the business, the other (Bing Crosby) is ready to chuck it all in.  Bing decides to buy a picturesque farm in Connecticut.  He soon finds out he's not the farming type.  Instead, he'll open an inn and offer singing, dancing and dining, only on the holidays.  Bing finds the perfect partner in Marjorie Reynolds.  Everything is working out beautifully until Fred decides to set his sights on Bing's girl and make her his new dancing partner.  Great holiday film for the whole family with amazing music by Irving Berlin.  Trivia: The first public performance of the song "White Christmas" was by Bing Crosby on his NBC radio show "The Kraft Music Hall" on Christmas Day, 1941, during the middle of filming "Holiday Inn (1942)", which was released seven months later. The song went on to become one of the biggest selling songs in the history of music. Check our Catalog

Nov 21, 2011 by deirdres

This hilarious series will make you laugh uncontrollably.  Two computer geeks who work in the basement IT department of a giant British corporation are assigned a new boss who knows nothing about computers.  The computer guys are the slovenly, lazy Roy, and the super nerdy, socially inept Moss.  Their new boss Jen sees her job as a relationship manager who will get the IT department noticed and appreciated by the rest of the building.  It takes an episode or two for the show to get its rhythm but after that  it's impossible to stop laughing.  And the best part is there are three more seasons to watch after the first. Check Our Catalog

Nov 21, 2011 by megana

It's 1934 and the wounds of the Great War are still fresh when 30-something Sarah Burton returns to her small Yorkshire hometown to run the local girls' school, encountering poverty, local politics, hypocrisy--and a handsome local landowner with a tragic past.  Is there romance in store for Sarah?  Yes, but the story doesn't go the way you think it will. Based on the novel by Winifred Holtby. Check Our Catalog

Nov 20, 2011 by megana

Reese Witherspoon stars as Elle Woods, a fashion-obsessed California sorority girl who goes to Harvard Law School to get her man, who left her because he needs a "Jackie" not a "Marilyn" by his side for his ascent to senatorhood. Witherspoon's comic charm makes this movie a guilty pleasure. Check Our Catalog

Nov 15, 2011 by megana

This suspenseful period drama depicts life on the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands during World War II, focusing on three local families and several German soldiers. It's an absorbing series that shows how different human beings respond to the stress of being occupied by a hostile force--or being a hostile occupier. Check Our Catalog

Two boys seek adventure and excitement; escape from their monotonous midwest home town.  Lo and behold, the carnival is coming to town.  Not just any carnival....Dark's Pandemonium Carnival.  Mr. Dark preys upon the desires, vanites and regrets of the small town's inhabitants.  However, what is the price to have your heartfelt wish granted?  By the pricking of my thumbs...Something wicked this way comes!  Great Halloween movie to watch with older children.  Might be too scary for the little ones.  Check our Catalog

Oct 11, 2011 by megana

A slightly schlumpy elder law attorney on the verge of bankruptcy and a sullen teen runaway end up in an unusual blended family in this funny and touching comedy. Paul Giamatti stars as the lawyer who makes a bad professional mistake but has a chance to redeem himself in the end.

You may notice by my reviews this month that I'm partial to Haunted House stories.  This is a wonderful Haunted House film.  Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey play a brother and sister who, while on vacation, discover a grand house for sale at a ridiculously low price.  They make an offer and it is immediately accepted, much to the dismay of the owner's granddaughter.  But...all is not well in this house....why does the one room upstairs feel so damp and filthy??  Why does their dog Bobbie run away?  Can they cleanse this house of it's evil past? Check Our Catalog


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