Staff Movie & TV Picks

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Nov 19, 2014 by deirdres

John Luther is a Detective Chief Inspector in the London Police Department.  He is volatile, dedicated and able to deduce the psychological make-up of criminals in record time.  This show is a binge watch all the way.  The crimes are gruesome, but interesting, and the pace is fast.  I've never seen a detective show that spent so little time figuring out the criminal's next move or motivation. Complicating Luther's life, and job, are his recent divorce from Zoe, with whom he hopes to reconcile, and his alliance with psychopath Alison who has taken a keen interest in helping him. Watch the preview below and then check our catalog.

Oct 27, 2014 by amandap

Mist coming in off the water isn't unusual, but this is a horror movie and so the mist that rolls in at the beginning brings with it unearthly and dangerous creatures, trapping a group of people in a grocery store. At first it's just the heavy mist that keeps them inside. After all, who wants to drive home when you can't see more than a foot in front of your face? But then a man arrives, warning everyone that there are things in the mist. The great part about this is that the mist itself obscures much of what is in it. This isn't so much a monster movie as a psychological thriller with monsters to drive the tension. Stuck in the grocery store are an assortment of locals from the small town in Maine where the movie is set. They all have their own issues and squabbles and fears and as time ticks by the people turn on each other. Ultimately they have to choose: Stay in the store and hope for the best or leave and try to make a break for it through whatever dangers the mist hides. Check Our Catalog

Sep 29, 2014 by megana

Piper Chapman is a blue eyed, blond haired upper middle class college graduate with just about every possible advantage in life. Piper Chapman is also doing a fifteen-month sentence in a minimum security women’s prison for her involvement in a drug trafficking ring ten years earlier. This Netflix original television series is based on the bestselling memoir by Piper Kerman. It dramatizes the encounter between privilege and its opposite, depicting the lives of a variety of women who also made poor choices but had a lot fewer to pick from than Piper did. By the end of the season, you will be questioning (if you weren’t already) how much money this country wastes on incarcerating women without giving them any skills or support to turn their lives around upon release. The ensemble performances are first rate; so much so, that it’s hard to believe that some of these women are actresses are not actual ex-cons. Check Our Catalog

If you were on a fishing trip with friends and found the body of a murdered young woman in the river what would you do? Would you cancel the trip immediately and contact the police; or, go fishing and tell the authorities on your way home from the remote mountain location?  The decision by a group of friends to continue the trip has lasting repercussions.  Set in Australia, the film not only confronts the basic moral question, but also the racial and cultural issues involved since the young woman was Aboriginal. Of course, personal relationships are impacted on several fronts as well.  The film sometimes suffers a little from too many subplots, but they are woven together well. And, how can Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney give a bad performance?!  One interesting twist is that from the beginning we know who the murderer is. Will he be identified or kill again? Take a trip to Jindabyne to see if and how issues are resolved. Check Our Catalog

Sep 11, 2014 by claytonc

Doesn't everyone miss Michael Bluth - Jason Bateman's character in Arrested Development? I was certainly won over and will watch whatever he stars in, just to see what he's doing next. In this, Jason's directorial debut, we follow a 40-year-old man (Bateman) who never graduated eighth grade and decides to compete in The Golden Quill national spelling bee - against middle school kids. It is no surprise when this outrages parents and judges, and there is a sketchy journalist documenting his mis-deeds. These deplorable characters are wonderfully offset by a 10-year old who is completely unfazed. This quirky movie has a wicked sense of humor. Check Our Catalog

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

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.
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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

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