Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of those great movies that combines adventure with excellent dialogue. Cyrano is a soldier in the French army in 1640 and is both feared and respected for his skill as a swordsman. Despite his military prowess and clever tongue, he is unable to win over his true love because of his misgivings about his extraordinarily long nose. Instead, he helps a young, handsome cadet woo the love of his life in his place.

The movie is at times funny, exciting, suspenseful, and ultimately tragic. It features the brilliant acting of Jose Ferrer, with his deep booming voice, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role. The movie Roxanne (1987) with Steve Martin is a modern day remake of this classic.

Watch the original trailer (courtesy of TCM).

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (2010)

A unique love story set in a picturesque English village, Simonson has a talent for bringing it all together. The characters, the setting, societal values, religion, aging, parenting interweave into a engaging story.

Major Pettigrew might at first appear to be a stiff old English gent stuck in his ways. He is so much more and he gets to prove it with his love, courage, and wisdom. Mrs. Ali gives him a second lease on life. His relationship with his grown son develops through the course of events set in motion with the death of his brother. To say this is a late in life love story is selling it short. It is a great piece of fiction that happens to contain a beautiful romance between two mature adults.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a phenomenal first effort for the author. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Simonson's unique voice.

Mad River Road by Joy Fielding (2006)

An evil man just released from prison and obsessed with getting revenge on his ex-wife. A misguided young woman who thinks she has finally met the man of her dreams. A woman and her young son living in fear in Ohio. Blend these all together and you’ll have a suspenseful thriller that is guaranteed to keep you up late into the night. A well-written story. I was sorry to see it come to an end.

Check out Mad River Road by Joy Fielding today.

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 thebigread.org.

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

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.

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.

Spotlight: It Takes a Woman

Sometimes it just takes a woman to get everyone going on the right path. Each of these three light romantic stories is about a young woman who moves in, shakes things up, gets every problem straightened out, and, oh yes, finds love along the way.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (1950)
When practical and straightforward Sophy visits her London aunt after a lifetime on the Continent, she finds life in her aunt's house in constant turmoil. All the young people are involved with unsuitable matches, owe money to questionable personages, and in general, are in a constant state of disruption – until Sophy takes charge.

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson (1998)
Young Englishwoman Ellen Carr has always dreamed of living in Austria and cooking wonderful Viennese food. She has her chance when she gets a job as housemother at an alternative school on the outskirts of Vienna. But what an alternative! The children are running wild and the teachers are all eccentric misfits. It is the late 1930s and the world is about to fall apart. Well, Ellen can't do much about that, but she can set everyone else in ship shape order.

Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell (2007)
Leah Pilgrim enjoys watching the comings and goings of the mismatched characters living in the rambling house across the street in her London neighborhood. But across the street Toby, owner of said house, is in despair. He wants to sell up and move away, but how can he abandon his houseful of lonely heart boarders? Leah to the rescue!

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.

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13
It was so wonderful to see this Woody Allen movie. I have seen every Woody Allen movie, but this one is in a class with Annie Hall (1977) and Sleeper (1973). The time travel element really does the trick. Paris is a perfect background. I highly recommend this film.

Did you miss your chance to see the film on the big screen?  You're in luck -- the La Grange Theatre will be showing the movie for one night in March in conjunction with the Big Read 2012. Look for the program guide around February 1 for more details!

Emma

Emma (2009)
Jane Austen's Emma is either your favorite Austen or the one you can't stand. It is my favorite, and for over ten years I have loved the Gwyneth Paltrow movie version (1996).

Then I saw the 2009 three hour BBC production with Romola Garai as Emma, and my love is pulled two ways. Garai is delightful as the well-meaning but interfering Emma. The set and costumes are beautiful and the pacing is just right. But Jeremy Northam (from the 1996 movie) will always be my favorite Mr. Knightley.

The Mermaid Garden by Santa Montefiore

The Mermaid Garden by Santa Montefiore (2011)
A real “chick flick” book. Love! Broken heart! Reunion! Going off into the sunset hand in hand…

For more good chick lit books check out these staff recommendations.

Yes Man

Yes Man (2008) PG-13
My brother kept recommending this movie, and I finally watched it. Yes Man is a humorous movie about a man in a rut. He attends a “yes seminar” and it opens up new possibilities and opportunities for him. Yes Man is a good light comedic movie with laugh out loud moments.

If you like Jim Carrey, you’ll like the movie. Zooey Deschanel costars; her character is cool and funny. The actress-singer performs a lot of songs in the soundtrack. Her fictional band was in the movie (featuring real group Von Iva), which was also quite humorous.

The Thomas Crown Affair

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) R
Debonair, self made millionaire Thomas Crown can’t help himself. He just has to have certain things of beauty such as important paintings and expensive vases. A Monet on the wall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art calls out to him, for instance. When the painting is stolen in a masterful caper, beautiful insurance investigator Catherine Banning focuses her attention on Crown, but soon finds her interest aroused by more than the idea of recovering the painting, but by the man himself. Pierce Brosnan as Thomas Crown is charming and intriguing and Rene Russo as Banning is his match.

Don’t follow the plot too closely: you could drive a Mack truck through the holes in it. But the two performers are so appealing and amusing and some of the plot twists so witty that the movie is just out and out fun to watch. I found it much more enjoyable than the over-stylized self-consciously artsy original with Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees (2010)
For those who have enjoyed Little Women, this imagined story of Louisa May Alcott's life is a good read. In her first novel, McNees invents a youthful love affair for the writer, who never married, and explores how Alcott struggled with the conflict of her public ambition and personal life.

The family, never financially secure, moved to Walpole, Massachusetts, in 1855, to take up residence in a house offered by a relative. The Alcott sisters begin to make a life by meeting other young people, including Joseph Singer, the son of the owner of Walpole's dry goods store. Joseph and Louisa are drawn to each other but, as you will see, their relationship is doomed. All Louisa really wants is a room somewhere in Boston where she can make a living from her writing. Marriage, as she sees it, is slavery. The Lost Summer… is the kind of romantic tale which Alcott herself might have written, one in which love is not a solution to life's trials.

Read an excerpt of the book here.