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Dave (1993) PG-13

When the president of the United States has a stroke while engaging in extramarital activities, his aides avoid a scandal by finding a good-natured look-alike named Dave (Kevin Kline) to take his place. Not beholden to any special interests, Dave starts doing things that are good for the country rather than doing what is politically savvy. His approval rating goes way up, and the country loves him.

Things start to go sour, though, when the president’s aides realize he will not do their evil bidding, and the first lady (Sigourney Weaver) starts to realize that Dave is not the man she married. Dave is one of those feel good movies that makes you smile for a long time after it’s over.

http://youtu.be/PTTe-rxTyh0

Red (2010) PG-13

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, a retired black-ops CIA agent living in Cleveland. Frank is lonely and often calls customer service agent Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) who works in the GSA pension office. He deliberately tears up his pension checks so he has an excuse to call her to say his checks never arrived.

One night a hit squad raids his house and tries to eliminate him. Knowing the assassins tapped his phone, he goes to save Sarah, who doesn’t want to go with him. He binds and gags her with duct tape and takes her with him while he tries to find out who is after them.

Red provides a lot of action and laughs and a happy ending starring Willis, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman among others. And if you enjoy this film, you'll be excited to know that the sequel hits theaters next week!

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

Cars (2006) G

As part of my “homework” for an upcoming trip to Disneyland, I finally watched Cars. I can see how this movie has become a favorite for kids and adults alike – with a combination of Pixar animation, talented voice actors (Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, and Larry the Cable Guy, to name a few), humor and action, plus a nostalgic Route 66 setting, there’s something for everyone.

Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is an up-and-coming talented racer with an attitude problem. When he ends up stranded in ramshackle Radiator Springs, he discovers there’s more to life than winning.

Spotlight: Ben Affleck

Who is Ben Affleck anyway?

After an early start at the age of eight, starring in the PBS series The Voyage of the Mimi, Ben Affleck didn’t make his big introduction into feature films until 1993 when he was cast in Dazed and Confused. After that, he did mostly independent films like Kevin Smith's Mallrats (1995) and Chasing Amy (1997).

Interestingly, in the same year he made Mimi, Affleck made the acquaintance of Matt Damon, a boy two years his senior who lived down the street. The two became best friends and, of course, eventual collaborators.

In his early years in Hollywood, tired of being turned down for the big roles in films and the forgettable supporting ones he did play, he decided to write his own script. Matt Damon was having the same trouble and together they produced a script with the kind of roles they wanted to play! Good Will Hunting (1997) was the result and it went on to win two Academy Awards (nominated for nine).

Career ups and downs followed with much media attention to romance and rehab. After many flops, he seems to have re-invented himself as a director.

He's has earned critical acclaim for directing films including The Town and Argo so perhaps Affleck's greatest talent lies behind the camera where reviews of his films call him ”a sensitive, thoughtful and collaborative” director.
Here are my choices from a long list of his films:

Sullivan's Travels (1941)

In this witty journey film, filmmaker John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) decides to make a serious social statement in his upcoming film. The only problem is he knows nothing of hardship and so sets out into Depression-era America to experience life as a hobo.

This film is a classic with a little bit of everything: romance, drama, action, comedy …and a look at life as it was for many during the Depression.

Writer/Director Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels satirizes Hollywood with all its pretension and excess. His sophisticated dialogue and fast-paced slapstick make this mix of comedy and drama a perfect blend. It may very well be the best film about Hollywood and filmmaking.

Find out additional background information on the film at TCM.com.

Jumping the Broom (2011) PG-13

This comedy is just pure fun, something to chase away the blahs. Jumping the Broom is about traditional wedding customs in the rural south. It is often a time-honored custom in modern marriages as well. And so the fun begins, a modern bride with her own ideas and a future mother-in-law from hell, determined to keep her son from his unworthy bride. It's a bumpy ride to the altar. Enjoy the ride.

Murphy's Romance (1985) PG-13

James Garner and Sally Field star in Murphy's Romance, a satisfying, intelligent romantic comedy about two very likeable people and their increasing affection for each other. Emma, a 30ish divorced mother of a teen, comes to a small town in hopes of starting a horse boarding business and meets Murphy, an older, widowed pharmacist. Their relationship slowly and believably grows. The stars have great chemistry. Stay tuned for the dance scene; I laughed out loud.

Consider watching this charmer for Valentine’s Day. Want more romantic comedies? Check out the movie lists under Romance & Love Stories.

We're No Angels (1955)

Looking to spend this Christmas in a nice warm tropical place? OK! How about Devil's Island circa 1895? Join Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov as three escaped convicts at Christmas in the hilarious comedy We're No Angels.

They plan to rob a shopkeeper and use the money to leave the island. Their plans begin to change when they meet Felix and Amelie Ducotel and their daughter. Felix manages, or rather mismanages, a small department store.

The convicts decide to spend Christmas with the Ducotel family. They decorate the house and prepare and serve the dinner. Just when everything is going so well, Felix's cousin Andre and Andre's nephew Paul arrive unexpectedly.

Andre is nasty bit of goods who owns the store managed by Felix. He plans to audit the books and if the store is not profitable, he will fire Felix and put him and his family into the street. Andre is just the sort of man the convicts are looking for.

Join this trio of rogues at Christmastime. There are some very funny scenes, some charming songs, and a great cast. It's a good way to enjoy part of this Christmas and/or any Christmas season.

Check out this TCM article for a behind-the-scenes look at the film. And for other Christmas films at the library, browse our lists of Christmas Movies and Family Christmas Movies.
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Spotlight: Edward Norton

One actor whose films I’m always anxious to watch is Edward Norton. He is so gifted and versatile. The characters he plays are often intense and/or troubled, and always captivating and true-to-life. My favorite films are American History X (1998) and Primal Fear (1996), although I’ve also enjoyed many others. Here’s a selection of some of his movies that are available at IPPL:

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) PG

A very funny and an interesting plot. The film was brilliant, and it makes me want to read the book by Douglas Adams, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The science fiction series was originally broadcast as a radio show on BBC radio 4. Watch A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy today.

One for the Money (2012) PG-13

To all Janet Evanovich fans: it’s Stephanie Plum, the bounty hunter, in the flesh! One for the Money is based on Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum novel of the same name. The film comes packed full with action, laughs, and many favorite characters you know and love (even Grandma Mazer!). A fun movie!
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The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (2005)

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, a three volume (six DVD) set, will introduce you to one of the great comics of the silent era. Harold Lloyd was an all-American go-getter with boyish good looks, tousle of dark hair and signature glasses. An eager beaver, he was willing to do anything to make a good impression, get ahead, and win friends.

Whether trying to be popular in college (The Freshman, 1925), impress his girlfriend (Safety Last!, with the famous “hanging on the clock” scene, 1923) or trying to win his father’s favor (The Kid Brother, 1927), Lloyd had more get-up-and-go than a dozen other men.

Check out Silence is Golden for the selection of silent films available at Indian Prairie.

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.
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