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

Page Eight

I really enjoy the work of Bill Nighy.  While being a gifted comedic actor (Pirate Radio, Dad's Army), he also excels at portraying Johnny Worricker, an operative of MI5 nearing the end of his career.  His life has been upended when his boss and best friend have damaging information on the Prime Minister, but dies before it can be verified.

Page Eight (2011) is a spy thriller that isn't about car crashes and explosions, but instead about dirty money, hidden agendas, political maneuvering, believable characters, witty dialogue, and contemporary situations.

Watch it on Hoopla today.

Scott & Bailey. The Complete Series (2011-2016)

Do you love British crime TV?  Watch it from more of a female perspective with Scott and Bailey (TV-14).  Set in Manchester, UK, this police procedural follows the story of two strong female detectives as they solve crime while also dealing with office politics and personal problems.  Not only are the cases they are faced with fascinating, but the continuing backstory is also gripping.

Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones make a formidable and entertaining partnership as detectives Scott and Bailey, who will have you rooting for them through their various trials and tribulations.  To give the show grittiness and doses of reality the writers of this series sought advice from a former Manchester police detective.

The entire show (seasons 1-5) is available to watch instantly on Hoopla.

The Last Detective. The Complete Series (2003 - 2007)

Detective Constable 'Dangerous' Davies (Peter Davidson) is the lowest man on the totem pole in his London police station and is the last detective his boss would assign to a major case.  Davies is a bumbling underdog who is not respected by his colleagues and only given the cases no one else wants.  Despite this, he does his job with determination and intelligence and somehow manages to solve major cases.

The audience gets views of Davies' personal life, including his ex-wife (whom he is still in love with), his dog, and his quirky friend, Mod.  This British series (comprised of four seasons) is a gentler version of police procedurals, with some humor and no gratuitous violence.

If you like The Last Detective, you might also enjoy some of the selections on  British Detective Series…Now.



Son of God

In this dramatic film, Diogo Morgado does an excellent job representing Jesus in a way that would appeal to viewers, young and old.He is calm and likable as Jesus. The director does a good job hitting the highlights of who Jesus is: the major events, the politics of the period, and the division Jesus had with the religious leaders of his time are clear from the beginning of Son of God (2014, rated PG-13).

What sets Son of God apart from other biblical movies is its portrayal of the women in Jesus' life and mission.  Principal characters in the film include his mother, Mary the devoted follower, and the wife of Pilot.  When Jesus' own disciples ran away from their Lord, the women always held their ground, remaining faithful to Him to the very end and beyond.  Overlooked for centuries, I applaud the makers of this film for getting that message out there.

Watch Son of God on Hoopla today.




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Perfect Blue (1997)

Follow the life of Mima, a singer in a popular group who leaves to pursue a life of acting in this Japanese anime movie. Her managers and handlers are continually murdered as she makes the transition though, leading to increased paranoia. Even worse, she begins to believe that she has a stalker as her paranoia and stress begin to change how she sees reality. The movie is a great look at the negative aspects of being famous and the physiological toll it can have on someone.

If you like psychological thrillers, this is one not to miss. Watch Perfect Blue (rated R) on Hoopla today.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

Spotlight: Harry Potter Music

When I'm in search of comfort music, I return to old favorites. Among those are the soundtracks from each of the eight Harry Potter films, all available on Hoopla. I adore listening to the scores developed by composers John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat.

"Hedwig's Theme" is instantly recognizable, but it's fun to listen to the lesser known songs and see if you can picture the scene in the movie.

If the thought of listening to (even shuffling) eight soundtracks sounds overwhelming, check out The Complete Harry Potter Film Collection from the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. They play the best of the eight films in a two-hour collection—and it only requires one of your monthly Hoopla borrows!


Detectorists

Why would someone create a show about amateur metal detectorists? I put aside my doubts and tuned in. These two oddball Englishmen travel all over the countryside hoping to uncover buried Saxon treasures! But it's a cutthroat hobby—who would have thought? I was hooked after the first episode of Detectorists. Share the lives, loves, and detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance. You never know what you will uncover.

Binge the whole series on Hoopla! The complete series (2014-2017) is available to watch instantly.


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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Do you have Animal Crossing: New Horizons FOMO? Fear not! Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is free from the App Store (Google or Apple). Join all your favorite villagers for the ultimate virtual camping trip. It's the same cute, colorful game you'd expect, without Tom Nook shaking you down for bells all the time. This version of the classic game has seasonal events that make logging in a treat. Go fishing, catch bugs, pick fruit, and decorate your very own campsite. The best part? You get to choose which villagers you host.


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GreedFall

GreedFall (Rated M) for the PlayStation and Xbox One is an RPG adventure that will appeal to players who enjoyed the Assassins Creed and Dragon Age series of games.  In the game, you are an ambassador for a congregation of merchants who are searching for a cure to the plague that has afflicted yours and other nations.  The hope is that an expedition to an island filled with magic and a native people who exalt the land will reveal a cure.  Once on the island, you may choose from many companions who will complement your play style—whether it be careful political intrigue, magical tactician, stealth advantage, or simply to use combat-based dominance.

Overall, the plot is intricate, borrowing from many historical events, such as the inquisition, colonialism, and westward expansion, to name a few.  The story drives the game forward and gameplay allows for all levels of players, including a mode that has easy combat and focuses on following the plot over the gameplay.  Do remember that the choices you make while playing will affect the world around you and that the available options for the game's ending will change based on your decisions.

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In the Aisles

In the Aisles (2018) tells the story of Christian, a new worker at a big box store in former East Germany.  Taken under the wing by his coworker Bruno, Christian becomes enamored of a fellow employee, Marion.  Check out this quiet leisurely-paced film full of charm and complex emotion.

In German with English subtitles.

So Weird. The Complete Series (1999-2001)

I have been finding that Disney+ is a great way to relive favorite shows of your childhood.  My latest binge was So Weird (TV-Y7), about Fiona, a teenager, on the road with a band for which her mom (Mackenzie Phillips) is the lead singer.  Fiona is drawn to everything strange and unusual, which she constantly stumbles upon, revealing more and more about her father's unexplained car accident when she was a baby.

While revolving around many supernatural occurrences, older kids and their families can enjoy this family adventure/mystery series together.  So Weird originally aired on The Disney Channel in the late 90s, but you can now stream the entire series on Disney+ via the library's Family Roku devices.

Blinded by the Light

What kind of world do we want to live in? From Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham, comes another feel-good film about coming of age and struggling with familial expectations.

Set in 1980s England, British Pakistani teen Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, inspiring him to change his life. Loosely based on the memoir of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the film Blinded by the Light (2019, PG-13) features Bruce Springsteen's words and music as a character.


Jojo Rabbit

During the final months of World War II, we follow Jojo, a lonely German boy struggling to fit in with the other Hitler Youths. Jojo spends his days trying to prove he is a worthy Nazi and is continually spurred on by his only friend, an incredibly doltish and flamboyant imaginary Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi).  After finding out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in the walls of their home, he is forced to choose between loyalty to his country and to his remaining family.

On the surface, Jojo Rabbit (2019, PG-13) seems absurd and insensitive.  In reality, while absolutely absurd, it tells an important story about indoctrination and breaking free of one's upbringing.  Jojo's growth is demonstrated throughout the movie and gives clear guidance to those who are afraid of "the others".

This movie moves between hilarious scenes and heart-shattering moments with a fluidity that will give you awe-inspiring whiplash.  Taika Waititi (who won the 2019 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay) is one of my favorite directors.  I am convinced nobody could make this movie as well as he did, delicately balancing between ridiculousness and respect.


Honeyland

Hatidze lives with her mother outside of Skopje, Macedonia, the only residents for miles.  She makes her living selling her honey in the city and practicing sustainable beekeeping according to old traditions.  Hatidze's life is forever changed when a Turkish family nearby decides to take up beekeeping, without any regard of her teachings.  With beautiful scenery, Honeyland (2019) is a documentary about how a simpler way of life still exists in today's society, even in the face of modern pressures.

Honeyland has been nominated for both Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature Film of the Year for this year's Oscars.

In Turkish with English subtitles.

Derry Girls. Seasons 1 and 2

Set in 1990s Londonderry (Derry), Ireland, during the conflict between Northern Ireland and Ireland, Derry Girls (2018-) follows the lives of four teenage girls.  This Irish sitcom includes a mix of teenage angst and modern political climate.

One of the girls' male Protestant cousins comes from London to live with them.  He is the sedate, responsible one who keeps getting dragged into the girls' antics.  The teens attend an all-girls Catholic school, which provides raucous and hilarious scenarios.

The first two seasons are available to stream on Netflix, which you can access by borrowing one of our Rokus.  English subtitles are available for those who have trouble understanding the Irish accents.  Rated TV-MA (includes swearing).



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