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.


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.


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.


Coherence

Mike and Lee are having friends over for dinner tonight. It's also the night Miller's comet will pass near the Earth. Smartphones crack, the Internet goes out, and then all power is lost. Mike has a generator which restores the lights. The landscape outside is dark except for one house in the distance with the lights on. Despite having been warned by a physicist friend to stay inside during the comet event, two of the party take glow sticks and attempt to visit the other house.

Then it really starts getting weird. This is one of those movies you have to watch over again to notice the clues you missed the first time. Don't look for car chases, fiery explosions, or gunfights. Coherence (2013) is more of a thought-provoking suspense puzzle.

I really liked Coherence and always recommend it when I'm asked for a good movie: you can place a hold on the dvd or watch it on Hoopla today.

Millennium Actress

This Japanese anime movie is centered on the life of Chiyoko Fujiwara, a retired actress who is being interviewed about her career.  Chiyoko recounts the story of a man she tried to find throughout her life without knowing his name or face.  The story flows from the past and present when Chiyoko is telling the story, and it transitions beautifully from one scene to the next.

Millennium Actress (2019, rated PG) was directed by the award winning director, Kon Satoshi, who also directed Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers.

Watch Millennium Actress  on Hoopla today. In Japanese with English subtitles.



The Captive

In this psychological thriller, Ryan Reynolds plays Matthew Lane, a father whose 10-year-old daughter is taken from his truck. After the police have been searching for her for eight long years, they finally get a lead that she is still alive.  Matthew never gives up hope and helps bring down the ring responsible for her disappearance.  I really liked The Captive (2014, rated R).

Watch it on Hoopla today.


800 Words

I enjoy watching the TV series, 800 Words, which has both comedy and drama.  The recently widowed George tries raising his two teenagers while starting over in New Zealand.  There is plenty for family audiences to enjoy as George often begins an episode posing a dilemma, but by the end of the show discovers something about himself and being a father.  It is also filled with plenty of sunshine and beach scenery because they live in a beautiful seaside town and George likes surfing, or at least he tries.  Also, there are several beautiful single women vying for Georges attention.  What's not to like?

Binge watch 800 Words (2015-2018) on Hoopla. The complete series (3 seasons) is available.



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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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.

Tracks

In 1977, Robyn Davidson trekked across Australia, over 1700 miles, with camels that she had trained for the journey.  Tracks (2013, PG-13), starring Mia Wasikowska as Robyn and Adam Driver as National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, recounts Davidson's trip from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, with beautiful scenery and a sense of how isolating the Australian outback can be.  A real treat for those who love movies about independent women or travel.


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Green Book

This Oscar-winning film is based on the true story of musician Dr. Donald Shirley's tour of the south in 1962.  He hired New York bouncer, Tony Vallelonga as a chauffeur/bodyguard.   The relationship started out as an awkward business arrangement between the two men.  No men could be more different in demeanor, background, and speech, yet they set off on a two-month trip together.  Through the trials and tribulations of the journey, they see each other at their best and at their worst.  They quickly develop mutual respect for the other's talents.  The mutual respect evolves into a lifelong friendship.

The title of the movie refers to The Negro Motorist Green Book which was an indispensable companion for African Americans on road trips through southern states during the 1950s and 60s.  Green Book won Best Picture, Original Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) at the 2019 Academy Awards. The film is not without controversy.  Read the Time article to learn more.


Released as a motion picture in 2018, rated PG-13


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The Wife (2017) R

The Wife is the bittersweet tale of the life of Joan Castleman and her husband, Joe, a beloved, acclaimed novelist.  The movie begins with what seems to be a relatively ordinary marriage, but a quiet tension builds in the days leading up to Joe's receipt of the Nobel Prize in literature.  Joan, played by Academy Award nominee Glenn Close, looks back on their forty-year marriage with a mixture of love and regret.  As she examines the consequences of the compromises she has made, the film takes on a palpable urgency which is driven not just by the storyline, but by Close's amazing performance as well.

The Wife expertly presents the husband-wife dynamic in all its complex glory.  From the mundanity of daily life to the once-in-a-lifetime joys to the oh-so-often-overlooked betrayals, this is a movie chock full of drama not to be missed!

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A Dog’s Purpose (2017) PG

81i2yytjxl-_sy445_When we are first introduced to Bailey, the lovable narrator in A Dog’s Purpose, he’s a spunky newborn pup full of wonder and curiosity.  He asks, “What is this place and why am I here?”  As his story unfolds, these questions are answered, and we come to understand all the wonderful reasons dogs exist in our lives.  This movie weaves together the separate stories of Bailey’s nine lives and explains how the humans he accompanies on each life’s journey have a unique reason for needing and loving a dog.

I loved this sweet movie for the message it shared, but be warned, it will leave you and your children in tears.  Keep a box of tissues nearby! If you love A Dog’s Purpose as much as I did, you’ll find more movies featuring our furry, four-legged friends here.