The Reivers (1969) PG-13

Although The Reivers stars Steve McQueen as Boon, a foxy hired hand, it is really the story of the boss’s 12-year-old grandson, Lucius. Boon desires to “borrow” his boss’s shiny yellow 1905 “horseless carriage” for a whirlwind jaunt to Memphis to take in the sights, particularly the sights of his girlfriend who lives in a bawdy house. Poor Lucius abandons his principles and joins Boon, along with the stable hand, Ned.

To say Lucius receives a liberal education is the truth. However, even in the middle of mind boggling moments, Lucius keeps his character. There is a spellbinding horse race to crown the adventure. Based on the story of the same name by William Faulkner, The Reivers is worth a watch.

The Commitments (1991) R

The Commitments, a comedy filmed in Dublin, tells the story of working class youths that form a soul band.  The leader, Jimmy, is fed up with the band scene in Ireland.  So, he decides to form his own soul band but unlike the musicians he idolizes, his group is all white.  Due to a clash of egos, all his work is for naught. The film has a great cast of Irish talent.

Check back next month for another review of a film set in Ireland.

Mystic Pizza (1988) R

A perfect chick flick for summer! Julia Roberts, Annabeth Gish, and Lili Taylor are the dashing three musketeers, looking for love and excitement, sometimes in all the wrong places. Their humble jobs at the Mystic Pizzeria in a small town adds to the flavor of the moment. A very young Julia Roberts leads the pack as a rambunctious beauty unwilling to settle down. Enjoy.

Find Mystic Pizza at the library. And for other recent chick flicks, check out our movie list.

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13

This is a Woody Allen film, but because he is not in the cast I put it in the DVD player and settled in. It was a delightful fantasy about Paris in the 1920s. There was nothing to dislike about it; it was a pleasure to watch.

Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are sort of in love, and in Paris with her parents. Gil is caught up in the romance of Paris in the springtime. A screenwriter from Hollywood, he has written a novel with visions of joining the ranks of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the other legends of Paris in the 1920s – the perfect set up for what follows.

The film is not without a serious moment. It has a message that is purposely delivered at the end; it’s an illusion that a life different from the one we have would be much better.

Did you participate in the 2012 Big Read? We read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife. For more on the book and its related resources featuring Paris in the 1920s, visit

Pick up a copy of Midnight in Paris from the library.

Young Adult (2011) R

When life gets tough, some people just want to go home and think about a different time. Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) just can’t accept her current situation, so she goes home to recapture her old boyfriend’s (Patrick Wilson) love. Unfortunately, he’s happily married – but that doesn’t stop her.

Mavis writes teen fiction and she is obviously stuck in the past. The only person who may help her is a former teen outsider (Patton Oswalt) who tries to give her advice. Awkward situations prevail. Not your usual comedy.

Diablo Cody (who also wrote Juno) penned the script.

Check the library catalog to find a copy of Young Adult.

Annie Hall (1977) PG

This Oscar winning comedy established Woody Allen as a premier humorist, wit and inventive film maker. It’s a love story, circa the free-wheeling seventies. Diane Keaton (Annie Hall) will always be remembered as the free spirit who captures Alvy Singer’s (Allen) heart. At times the movie appears autobiographical, mirroring the life and loves of Keaton and Allen. Of course, this gives the movie a dab of notoriety.

The dialogue is intellectually witty, the best of Allen. He often speaks directly to his audience, and uses flashbacks effectively to illuminate his characters. With the release of Midnight in Paris, another Allen film, we find Woody is alive and well. Newbies to the Woody Allen cult might want to check out Annie Hall. And read a review from Roger Ebert.

50/50 (2011) R

In 50/50, a serious topic gets a comedic twist. 27-year-old Adam’s world turns upside down after back pain is diagnosed as spinal cancer. From processing the diagnosis to the reactions of his friends and family, to his chemo treatments and therapy sessions, Adam is a sympathetic character who doesn’t lose his sense of humor. You will laugh and cry.

It’s based on a true story of Seth Rogen and his friend Will Reisern (who wrote the script).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen complement each other in this bromance. Also starring Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anjelica Huston.

Check out interviews with Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post. Also visit NPR for a story on the film.

While You Were Sleeping (1995) PG

This romantic comedy kicked off Sandra Bullock’s career. Filmed in and around Chicago at Christmas, we can appreciate our city in the 90s. A tad sweet, and a bit of a stretch, but a lonely woman, a mistaken identity, two handsome guys, and gingerbread characters somehow mix together to present a fun watch.

Check our catalog to find a copy of While You Were Sleeping today.

Sunshine Cleaning (2008) R

Amy Adams is Rose, a single mother who works as a house cleaner but dreams of better things. Emily Blunt is Norah, Rose's never-do-well younger sister who is still trying to deal with the early death of their mother. Together they start Sunshine Cleaning, a business that goes into homes and businesses to clean up after death or a crime has occurred.

Rose, Norah, Rose's son Oscar, and their father Joe (Alan Arkin) are a less than perfect but very real family. Sunshine Cleaning is a subtly acted movie about people determined not to let their dreams die, even as problems pile up against them.

Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) PG

Because of Winn-Dixie is about a dog that was found by a ten-year-old girl in a small town in Florida. Opal (AnnaSophia Robb) found the dog in a local grocery store and the dog changed the girl’s life and everyone in this small town. Great movie if you are an animal person or a dog lover. Either way – two thumbs up! Very cute movie.

Looking for more movies about cats and dogs? Check out our movie list.

Everything Must Go (2010) R

Everything Must Go stars Will Ferrell as Nick Halsey, a man who has lost everything: wife, home, and job. When his soon-to-be ex-wife throws all of his possessions on the lawn and locks the door, Nick has to reassess the mess his life has become and try to find the good guy he left behind somewhere. We are used to Ferrell in broadly comedic roles. In Everything Must Go, he gives a quiet, more nuanced performance.

Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

The crooner, Bing Crosby, plays Father O’Malley in Going My Way, winner of seven Academy Awards, and its sequel, The Bells of St. Mary’s. In the timeless classic, Going My Way, the young priest is assigned to a financially ailing New York Irish parish church with the mission of turning it around unbeknown to Father Fitzgibbon (Barry Fitzgerald), the founding pastor. Along the way, he befriends the parish hoodlums and tries to turn them into choirboys. The singing by Crosby, the boys, and an opera singer enhances the film.
In the sentimental movie, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Father O’Malley is sent to a parish with a school that is overcrowded and in need of major repairs. He butts heads with the sister superior, Sister Benedict (Ingrid Bergman), especially when he starts his first day by giving the students the day off. A businessman wants them to sell the school to him and turn it into a parking lot. The nuns are praying for a miracle. This is my favorite of the two movies.

Check out Turner Classic Movies for notes on Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's.

Leap Year (2010) PG

One of my favorite romantic comedies. Anna follows her heart to Dublin to propose to her perfect cardiologist boyfriend. She actually finds out what’s the most important thing to save if you’re in a fire. Shows the true Irish spirit and the photography of the Irish landscape is wonderful.

Check the catalog to see if this film is on shelf -- and celebrate leap year with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.

Another Year

Another Year (2010) PG-13
This quiet slice of life movie shows the dramas, disappointments, and small triumphs touching the lives of happily married couple Tom and Gerri (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen). Gerri’s friend Mary is an emotional wreck and their 30-year-old son may never find the right girl. Beautifully acted, this movie shows the subtleties in relationships between us all.

Read other reviews from Rolling Stone and Huffington Post.

Win Win

Win Win (2011) R
I didn’t know what to expect – I’d just heard this was great. What I got was a fantastic film. A comedy – not rolling on the floor laughing – but funny, serious, and heartwarming all at once!

Check out reviews from TIME Magazine and Roger Ebert.

Also enjoy an interview with star Paul Giamatti at the Sundance Film Festival, plus check out a Q&A session with writer/director Tom McCarthy.