Shows 'N Tunes: Movie, Music, and Game Reviews

Treme: The Complete First Season (2010)

Treme, an HBO series by the team behind The Wire, is a detailed portrait of life in New Orleans, weaving together stories of the music, people, traditions, and recovery of the city, post-Katrina.

Season One begins three months after the hurricane when many residents are still unable to return to their destroyed homes, some people are missing and unaccounted for, and those that are home are struggling emotionally and economically with the aftermath. The city’s rich musical traditions are particularly well-represented and the characters whose lives we follow are a fascinating cross-section of society with their devotion to New Orleans and its traditions the common theme.

The Complete Season Two is also available on DVD.
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Born to be Wild (2011)

Don't miss this darling 40 minute film about saving baby orangutans and baby elephants. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, Born to be Wild is expertly edited and has a wonderful soundtrack with classic songs by Hank Williams and Mel Torme.

Gossamer by Passion Pit (2012)

A fabulous and fun album, Gossamer is guaranteed to get you on feet. Despite the upbeat tempo the lyrics tackle some bleak topics such alcoholism, immigration, and suicide.  This is the second album for the electro-pop group, Passion Pit, and it is a wonderful mix of the highs and lows of life. Here is a clip of one of my favorite tracks “Take a Walk.”

httpv://youtu.be/dZX6Q-Bj_xg

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Water for Elephants (2011) PG-13

An interesting movie. I believe if you liked Moulin Rouge! (2001), you'll like Water for Elephants as well. It's also based on the novel of the same name by Sara Gruen.

Check out our Water for Elephants Reading Map for related books, movies, music, and more!

 
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Margaret (2011) R

Margaret is an amazing coming-of-age story and with the extended cut being three hours long, an endurance test as well. The investment of time will be rewarded by the well- acted, interestingly shot, quirky, and engaging story of Lisa (Anna Paquin), a high school student whose life is irrevocably changed in a few seconds during a search for a cowboy hat in Manhattan. None of Lisa’s family members, friends, and teachers emerges unscathed from her relentless efforts to make sense of her role in a tragedy.

For more on the movie's five-year journey from filming in 2006 to release in 2011, read articles from The New York Times Magazine and The Los Angeles Times. Also check out NPR's interview with director Kenneth Lonergan. TIME Magazine reviewed the film.
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Revenge: The Complete First Season (2011)

This new dark drama takes getting even to the next level. The show centers on the beautiful Emily Thorne who rents a beach house in the Hamptons for summer. It is revealed through flashbacks that Emily is not there to soak up the sun, but instead to exact revenge for the people responsible for her father’s wrongful imprisonment. Her cold and calculating plan ensures that everyone involved in the plot to frame will suffer, especially the powerful Grayson family. Revenge is a deliciously wicked show that shows how far someone will go for justice.
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True Blood. Seasons 1 and 2 (2008-2009)

Vampires have always existed in the shadows of Bon Temps, Louisiana, but with the invention of the artificial blood product “True Blood,” vampires have come out into the open. Some residents welcome them, like heroine Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), but others need a little persuading.

As so often happens when vampires are around, other supernatural creatures make appearances as well. Be prepared for great characters, violence, gratuitous nudity, goofy humor, and a touching love story in seasons 1 and 2 of True Blood. Seasons 3 and 4 are also available on DVD. Based on the novels by Charlaine Harris.

The Queen of Versailles (2012) PG

At the beginning of The Queen of Versailles, a fascinating documentary, we meet the impossibly wealthy Seigel family: patriarch David is the founder of Westgate Resorts, a timeshare company; and the family is in the midst of the construction of their own version of Versailles, billed as the largest private home in the U.S. Before too long though, the economic crisis of 2008 leaves the company floundering, construction halted on Versailles, and the family making extreme cuts to their extravagant lifestyle.

David’s wife Jackie is the “Queen of Versailles” and she is the quirky, stoic, and often over-the-top heart of the movie. Jackie married into money and has enjoyed it to the fullest, but in the face of an uncertain future she is resiliently planning how to cope if her life takes yet another dramatic turn.

The Good Wife. Seasons 1-3 (2009-2012)

The Good Wife is a fascinating legal drama that centers on Alicia Florrick’s (Julianna Margulies) return to her former profession as a litigator after 12 years spent at home raising her children. Her husband is the disgraced Cook County attorney, who is currently incarcerated due to a very public sex and corruption scandal.

The show chronicles Alicia’s struggles as she deals with a new job, her conflicted feelings toward her husband, and the pressure of raising her two children. It is such a smart and well-acted television show and definitely one of my favorites.

 
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Homeland. Season 1 (2011)

After hearing the nonstop buzz about Homeland, I watched the first season and I was not disappointed. The plot centers on CIA agent Carrie Mathison, who was warned by an Iraqi source that an American prisoner of war had been turned by Al-Qaeda. When Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine Sergeant, is rescued after being held captive by Al-Qaeda for nearly eight years, Carrie is suspicious. Claire Danes does a tremendous job playing the role of Carrie, who is determined, almost to a fault, to prevent another terrorist attack. This heart-pounding, suspenseful drama will keep you questioning who is really telling the truth.

The Five-Year Engagement (2012) R

The romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement, starring Emily Blunt as Violet and Jason Segel as Tom, has some gross out moments, but it’s also a touching love story. Tom gives up a promising career as a chef to follow Violet across the country so that she can begin her career in academia. Tom has a hard time adjusting to his new life -- he stops shaving and takes to wearing an old bunny suit around the house while Violet becomes a rising star in her field. Do Tom and Violet ever get married? Check out The Five-Year Engagement to find out.

http://youtu.be/iNhAslpICxE

Give Up (10th Anniversary Edition) by The Postal Service (2013)

One of my favorite albums Give Up by The Postal Service has been re-released as a tenth anniversary set. There are only two unearthed songs on the album, but they are fantastic.

The rest of the album serves as reminder of how great Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello are together. Touring for the first time ever this summer, I hope to finally see them live.

http://youtu.be/0wrsZog8qXg
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An Education (2009) PG-13

All of the actors gave strong performances, but Carey Mulligan’s performance as Jenny particularly sold the film. As Jenny, she portrays an innocent yet sophisticated teenager in 1960s London. An Education is a very believable coming of age tale featuring beautiful scenery and stunning architecture as the characters travel throughout Europe.

http://youtu.be/ALrcTM9W-9s
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Rust and Bone = De rouille et d'os (2012) R

This is a moving French film about the power of love and loss. Rust and Bone stars Marion Cotillard as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer and Matthias Schoenaerts as Alain, a single father struggling to keep it together. Stephanie and Alain meet one night and later form an unlikely bond after Stephanie suffers from a life altering accident. A beautiful and emotional film that is a must watch.

http://youtu.be/vyAJDL3mTxI

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013) PG

Discover how “Oz” came to be in Oz: The Great and Powerful. James Franco stars as Oz, a magician caught in a power struggle between three witches (Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz).

For all things Oz, also check out the original movie The Wizard of Oz (1939) or the novel of the same name by L. Frank Baum.