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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975, rated R) is a great film that brilliantly illustrates the tyranny of authoritarian care, scary institutional stations, and social support systems. It depicts how they can trap people into dependency whilst robbing them of their dignity and independence. The film shows how the labeling or "statementing" of minds regardless of age can remove all sense of responsibility, adulthood, control, and accountability for their actions. 

This movie featuring Jack Nicholson shows how in life, one has to take risks to reap rewards and that 'flying over a cuckoo's nest' implies that taking some lesser risks are better avoided as they can lead to far greater dangers namely to risk being consumed like the hatching fledglings eaten by the young cuckoo laid in the bird's nest.

The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

Check out One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest today. Based on the novel by Ken Kesey.

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1945

I recommend the black and white film 1945. Set in a small village in Hungary in 1945 just as World War II finished, it opens on a summer day as the town prepares for a wedding. Two Jewish men get off the train with two large crates and go through town. The town's residents are wondering who these two men are and why they have returned. Some of the town's people were part of a coverup in getting a prominent Jewish family deported and taking over their possessions. Many of these people have such profound guilt, leading to irrational decisions while they think these two strangers are there to take back what was taken from this family. What happens in the town all takes place in a few hours.

This film was released in 2017, winning several awards at film festivals. In Hungarian with English subtitles. Watch 1945 on Hoopla today.


It’s a Wonderful Life

This is the quintessential Christmas movie that everyone has seen or should see. George Bailey (James Stewart) has seen his life's dreams dashed one after another, and in a moment of despair, contemplates taking his own life. An angel is sent to show George just how different the world would be if he were never born. Check out this timeless classic directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946, PG) is available as a part of the binge box called "A Classic Christmas Collection" which also includes Christmas in Connecticut, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, and White Christmas.

Also, take a look at our list of Family Christmas Movies.


The Great Alaskan Race

I highly recommend the movie, The Great Alaskan Race (2019, rated PG). It is the heroic true story of a race against time during an arctic blizzard. In 1925, there was a diphtheria epidemic that made all the children of Nome, Alaska, deathly ill. The town desperately needed the anti-toxin serum to stop this epidemic. This is the story of the Serum Run.

Twenty brave mushers and 150 courageous dogs traveled 700 miles through -80 temperatures to bring the serum back to Nome to save the children. What should have taken 25 days to travel by dogsled was done in a record of 5.5 days by these heroic mushers and dogs. This proved that anything was possible with hope and courage. The Iditarod Race is done in remembrance of the 1925 Serum Run.

Watch The Great Alaskan Race on Hoopla today or check out the Dvd.



Apollo 13

"Houston, we have a problem." In April 1970, three astronauts were headed for the moon when an oxygen tank exploded, affecting life support and propulsion. With an all-star cast, Apollo 13 (1995, PG) puts you right there in the lunar module as well as in the room at Houston flight control as the engineers work frantically to bring these men home alive. Apollo 13 was directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Gary Sinise.

Fans of Apollo 13 may also enjoy The Martian with Matt Damon. Apollo 13 is available as a DVD as a part of the Binge Box called "Never Travel with Tom Hanks," which includes three other movies: Cast Away, Captain Phillips, and Sully.


All Good Things

I recommend the movie All Good Things (2010, rated R), based on a true story from the early 80s about New York real estate heir David Marks (Ryan Gosling) and the disappearance of his wife Katie (Kirsten Dunst). Gosling does an amazing job with the transformation of his character in how he changes over the years of his marriage. He tries to outrun his past, but his family and wealth bring him back into the family business.

Watch All Good Things on Hoopla today or check out the DVD. The inspiration for the movie may be stranger than fiction: read about the strange case of Robert Durst.

The Magicians. Seasons 1-5

A fantasy series full of magic, horror, wit, and fabulous costumes, The Magicians (2015-2020) is like Harry Potter for grown-ups. Based on the books by Lev Grossman, who borrows from other popular fantasy stories (most notably the Narnia series), this TV show revolves around a group of young people who are tested for their magical ability and offered places in Brakebills, an academy for magicians.

Adventure abounds as they discover and hone their magical skills, missteps and disasters just adding to their education. Add to this the possibility of travel to other worlds and a mysterious beast targeting the school, and you have an exciting, action filled show.

Please note that this is for adult audiences (rated TV-14)


Finding Neverland

When I heard Finding Neverland (2004, rated PG) was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, I hoped it would win--but it did not. Nevertheless, it is a terrific movie. Johnny Depp who portrays James M. Barrie and Kate Winslet are equally great together. All of the fantasy is typical Johnny Depp and had me wondering if there was any truth to this story about how James Barrie created Peter Pan.

As the movie progresses, a more serious tone emerges with a climactic ending befitting Academy Award worthiness. Heaven is a real place don't you know, and I for one can only imagine just how beautiful it will be.

Watch Finding Neverland on Hoopla today or on DVD. While it didn't win Best Picture, the film did nab an Oscar for Best Original Score. Listen to it on Hoopla. For more of the true story behind the film, read this New York Times article.


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.


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.


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.


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.