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A Patch of Blue

In A Patch of Blue (1965) Selena D'Arcy (Elizabeth Hartman) is poor, uneducated, and blind. She spends her days in a park stringing and selling beaded jewelry. One day she meets a young office worker (Sidney Poitier) who befriends her and opens up her world by showing her the outside world. Selena doesn't know he is black. Unfortunately, her racist mother (Shelley Winters) sees them together and forbids Selena to ever see him again. Selena defies her mother and continues the friendship despite the violence she endures.

This black and white drama is a story of friendship and compassion and love. Shelley Winters won a supporting actress Academy Award for her portrayal of a hateful ignorant mother. Sidney Poitier's understated performance is what makes A Patch of Blue a classic.


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Mrs. Doubtfire

This fantastic movie masterpiece has great comedy that will make you fall down laughing and heartfelt drama that will pull on your heartstrings. All those things are guaranteed since the mix of comedy and drama is portrayed by the wonderful actress, Sally Field, and the late great funnyman legend, Robin Williams. I highly recommend Mrs. Doubtfire (1993, rated PG-13) for teens and adults of all ages if you want a good laugh or a good tug on the heartstrings.


Ashes in the Snow

Ruta Sepetys writes powerful stories based on hidden histories—pieces of our past that most don't know about. This adaptation of her first novel Between Shades of Gray shares the forgotten story of Lithuanians deported to Siberia by Joseph Stalin's Soviet army during World War II.

In Ashes in the Snow (2019), Bel Powley gives a strong performance as teenage aspiring artist Lina. When her professor father is arrested, the rest of her family is taken from their home and transported to a labor camp for so-called treasonous action against the Soviet Union. This moving film has beautiful cinematography and music.

Ashes in the Snow is achingly sad yet ultimately hopeful—a faithful adaptation of the novel inspired by true events. Watch this film on DVD or stream it instantly on Hoopla. Read a review from The Hollywood Reporter.



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The Rainmaker

I enjoyed watching The Rainmaker (1997, rated PG-13). John Grisham is definitely one of the better writers when it comes to courtroom drama or lawyer/drama kind of story, and this is an adaptation of his 1995 novel of the same name. Matt Damon and Danny DeVito work well together, and there is plenty of drama and suspense because of Rudy's (Damon) clients. The ending is somewhat bittersweet, but it's all part of why this is an excellent movie.

Check out The Rainmaker (directed by Francis Ford Coppola) on Hoopla today—and then browse our lists featuring lawyers in the movies (original and more).



Westworld

This series was so well done. Set in the future, Westworld (2016-) explores a theme park inhabited by artificial hosts and the wealthy humans who vacation there. Visitors are allowed to live out their fantasies, whether good or evil. The park indulges every wish, all with no consequences, with the motto being "Live without Limits." That is, of course, until the hosts start to deviate from their expected parameters. 

In my opinion, Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton steal the show from an all-star cast, including Anthony Hopkins. These two powerful actresses show such a deep scope of emotions as they slowly come to the realization of what they were created for.


The Song of Names

This stunning story stars Clive Owen and Tim Roth as boyhood friends. Dovidl, a Polish child violin prodigy, comes to live with Martin and his family as a refugee in London. After a time, they become like brothers and their relationship strengthens until an alarming event. When Dovidl is 21, a concert is arranged by Martin's father at great expense. Dovidl disappears without a trace, bringing shame and ruin to his adoptive family.

Years later, when Martin is 56 years old, he is interviewing a potential candidate and recognizes a style that only Dovidl could have taught. Thus begins the search for his long-lost friend.

Check out The Song of Names (2019, rated PG-13) today. If you enjoy this film, you might also try watching All My Loved Ones, The Boy in Striped Pajamas, and The Red Violin.

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Dark Waters

In this compelling movie based on a true story, a corporate lawyer (Mark Ruffalo), switches sides (and finds his calling) by spearheading an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company. Rob Bilott. He recently made partner at a high powered law firm when he is approached by neighbors of his grandmother. What follows is a years-long battle against DuPont, putting his career, marriage, and health in jeopardy.

Fans of Erin Brockovich will find much to enjoy in Dark Waters (2019, rated PG-13). They are both stories of underdogs fighting for the health and safety of the public. For more behind the characters and story of Dark Waters, check out articles from The Hollywood Reporter and Slate.



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No Country for Old Men

Start this film only if you're interested in the kind of drama that grabs your attention and refuses to let go for its entirety. (My only problem is the same one I have with all terrific movies that are rated R: in my opinion, these films would still be just as terrific if they were made PG).

Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin are at the top of their game in this intense story between good and evil (including the evil of greed and lust for money) with an ending not always what you're expecting.

I recommend watching No Country for Old Men (1997) for great acting and the suspense we all want to see on a Saturday night. Check it out on Hoopla today. The movie is based on the book, No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy.


Never Look Away

Kurt, a young art student, falls in love with Ellie, a fellow student. Her father Professor Seeband, a famous doctor, is not happy with the match and is out to destroy it. What none of them know is that their lives are already connected through the terrible crime Seeband committed during the war. Never Look Away (2018, rated R) is a stunning story, matched with outstanding cinematography.

In German with English subtitles.

For fans of The Reader, Black Book, Frantz, Tulip Fever, and The Exception.


Molly’s Game

Molly's Game is high speed and high stakes, just like its source material: the true story of "poker princess" Molly Bloom, who ran an exclusive underground card game for the rich and famous—until the game's ties to the Russian mob entangle her in a federal indictment. Rapid-fire dialogue, interesting characters, and a standout performance from lead actress Jessica Chastain all come together to make a movie that feels just as energetic and dynamic as each game.

Check out Molly's Game written and directed by Aaron Sorkin on dvd or blu-ray. To learn more read Molly's Game: from Hollywood's elite to Wall Street's billionaire boys club, my high-stakes adventure in the world of underground poker by Molly Bloom or Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist: the A-list kingpin and the poker ring that brought down Tinseltown by Houston Curtis.


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Honey Boy

With the arrival of Disney+, many of us are reliving our tween years by watching old favorite shows like Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens. Perhaps this is what makes the release of Honey Boy (2019, rated R), a film based on Disney star Shia LaBeouf's childhood experiences as a rising actor, all the more irresistibly jarring.

Fans of  Shia LaBeouf first fell in love with his class-clown act in Even Stevens and continued to admire his work as it took on a more serious note in films like Disturbia or Fury, or even a more commercial note in films like Transformers or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Somewhere along the way, however, it became clear that LaBeouf was battling some inner demons and the persona he was putting into the world didn't always line up with what fans expected to see.

Honey Boy tells the brutally honest story of what life looked like for LaBeouf behind the scenes. LaBeouf plays his father in the movie, exposing the abuse he suffered in his care. Noah Jupe, who plays a young LaBeouf, expertly depicts the longing for emotional support that is so often masked by humor. The screenplay was written by LaBeouf during his time in rehab as a form of therapy and now his story is shedding light on the ways we can all so easily bury our past, giving no thought to the damaging weed that will one day sprout through the surface as a result.

Watch Honey Boy today on Amazon Prime, or stick to the lighter side of Shia LaBeouf's career and enjoy all episodes of Even Stevens on Disney+. Borrow the library's Roku with Amazon Prime or Roku with Disney+.


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Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful (1997, rated PG-13) is just that, a beautiful movie about a father who will do anything in his power to keep the horrors of WWII away from his son. I love how Roberto Benigni invents the whole game scenario for his boy and humorously wings it with every turn for the worse in their prison camp.

The ending is nothing short of brilliant, loving, and courageous. For those movie fans who shy away from foreign films because of the subtitles, I encourage you to watch this wonderful movie that proves how love will always be victorious in the end.

Watch three-time Oscar winner (actor, foreign film, original score) Life is Beautiful on Hoopla today. In Italian with English subtitles. Roberto Benigni wrote, directed, and acted in this excellent movie.


At First Sight

At First Sight (1999, rated PG-13) starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino is a slow-moving, tender love story that shows that blind people are not completely helpless. Virgil has been blind since early childhood. He meets Amy, who he likes and she reciprocates those feeling. Virgil has a new surgery to help him regain his vision, and his life changes drastically. He experiences unexpected problems of suddenly seeing and not knowing how to handle his new vision.

All and all, At First Sight is a feel-good movie worth watching. Place the dvd on hold or check it out on Hoopla today.


Coherence

Mike and Lee are having friends over for dinner tonight. It's also the night Miller's comet will pass near the Earth. Smartphones crack, the Internet goes out, and then all power is lost. Mike has a generator which restores the lights. The landscape outside is dark except for one house in the distance with the lights on. Despite having been warned by a physicist friend to stay inside during the comet event, two of the party take glow sticks and attempt to visit the other house.

Then it really starts getting weird. This is one of those movies you have to watch over again to notice the clues you missed the first time. Don't look for car chases, fiery explosions, or gunfights. Coherence (2013) is more of a thought-provoking suspense puzzle.

I really liked Coherence and always recommend it when I'm asked for a good movie: you can place a hold on the dvd or watch it on Hoopla today.

Still Life

The little village in Quebec is the scene of an inexplicable murder of a beloved resident.  This murder leads police to suspect murder in an earlier death originally thought to be of natural causes.  The investigation fosters suspicion, recriminations, and attempted murders to hide the truth.

Still Life: a Three Pines Mystery (2013) is a bit slow, but a nice addition to the cozy cottage village mystery genre.  Watch the movie on Hoopla today.

The film is based on the bestselling series featuring Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny.  Listen to the audiobook on Hoopla or read the ebook on Overdrive.


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