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

The Town

The Town (2010) R
The official tagline for this film: Welcome to the Bank Robbery Capital of America.

Using a strong Boston accent that he first embraced in Good Will Hunting (1997), Ben Affleck directed and co-wrote this bank robbery drama that he stars in with Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker - 2009). The FBI agent tracking down the robbers is Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and female love interests are played by Blake Lively of TV’s Gossip Girl and Rebecca Hall. More subplots involve struggles for power, the desire to make a better life, and the importance of family, loyalty and friendship.

The Town gets a high rating of 94% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes.

Inception

Inception (2010) PG-13
This futuristic thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio operates on the premise that your mind can be hijacked while you are sleeping and your thoughts can be both stolen or changed by dream invasion. This film earned almost $300 million at the box office to prove how worthy it is, but the film falls flat for me (check out Rotten Tomatoes to see what the critics think). Although the special effects are dramatic (and Oscar worthy), the plot is confusing and character development is ignored.

Director Christopher Nolan’s talents are much better displayed in the Batman film The Dark Knight (2008) starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger or in his groundbreaking film Memento (2000) which is told from a backwards point of view.

Lungs by Florence + the Machine

Lungs by Florence + the Machine (2009)
This debut album from the eccentric British pop singer Florence Welch is not only mesmerizing but it is also a lot of fun.  Welsh’s elegant voice stands out on this record amid the building crescendos of frenzied percussion. With tracks like “You’ve Got the Love” and the “Dog Days are Over,” you won’t be able to resist dancing. This is a perfect album for the summer.

Check out a review of the album.

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Spartacus, Blood and Sand. The Complete First Season

Spartacus, Blood and Sand. The Complete First Season (2010) TV-MA
Watch the house of Batiatus rise with aid from their gladiator Spartacus. If you like movie 300 with its realistic battle scenes, you’ll love Spartucus. Be warned – there’s lots of blood; it’s not for the faint of heart. Also, it’s a show on the Starz network – so expect graphic content.

What got me through the winter doldrums might get you through the summer heat wave. It has something for everyone – really hardcore battles, some drama, and a bit of humor. Plus, the Romans know how to party.

Due to a serious illness, the second season is a prequel without Spartacus himself (Andy Whitfield). Spartacus, Gods of the Arena will be released on DVD in September. Place your hold now!
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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.

Whokill by tUnE-yArDs

Whokill by tUnE-yArDs (2011)
A funky blend of Afro-Pop, R&B, and acoustic come together in this album by the percussionist and singer Merrill Garbus. This offbeat record where Garbus layers and loops her voice is a feel good album that will have you dancing for hours. For those of you who love Afro-pop artists like Zap Mama, this album is a must listen!

Check out an interview with Garbus and a review of the album in Pitchfork. For more about the group, visit their record label 4AD.

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Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens (2009) TV-PG
The story of a mother and daughter’s descent into madness from riches is spellbinding. Drew Barrymore plays an exceptional role as Little Edie, the daughter of eccentric Edie Bouvier Beale, as they rebel against the mores of their time.  Based on the true lives of the two Edies.

Find more about the two Edies at the library.
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Win Win

Win Win (2011) R
If you’re tired of (but still love) violent action movies filled with car chases and computer-generated special effects, cleanse your “movie palate” with this dramedy starring Paul Giamatti, best known for his Oscar nominated performance in 2004’s Sideways (a California wine country picture that won 94 film awards).

Giamatti’s character is a small town attorney and part-time high school wrestling coach without enough business to make a living for his small family. He sees an opportunity for steady income through a shady business decision to control the funds of a client, but he still feels conflicted and wants to do the right thing. When the grandson of his client comes into town to escape a life connected to his drug-rehabbed mother, the worried attorney sees another win/win situation to help a teenager and support the wrestling team at the same time.

This film is not your usual “R” rated comedy and would be suitable for most mature teens. There are subtle messages against smoking, and the film is mostly optimistic about life.

Writer/director Thomas McCarthy has two more character-driven films with good performances—The Station Agent (2003) and The Visitor (2008). Both star individuals defined by their loneliness who are seeking happiness. All three of these films that McCarthy has both written and directed are “certified fresh” at Rotten Tomatoes.

Light and Gold by Eric Whitacre

Light and Gold by Eric Whitacre (2010)
A very complex collection of choral compositions. Modern in style, yet traditional in voice.

Check out reviews from British newspapers The Guardian and The Independent. Read an interview with the YouTube sensation and artist in The Telegraph. For more on Eric Whitacre and the Virtual Choir, visit his website.

Hard Rock Treasures

Hard Rock Treasures (2005)
Hard Rock Treasures is the history of Hard Rock Cafes and how they obtain memorabilia of rock groups. Entertaining and educational! Showed lots of old rockers! Fun!

Don Bernstine hosts the documentary. Learn more at the Hard Rock blog. Visit Hard Rock's YouTube Channel for glimpses of treasures and so much more.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010) R
So nice to watch “grown-up movies” without special effects. The stories are character driven.

For more about the movie, check out reviews from the Los Angeles Times and The New York Daily News.

Written and directed by Woody Allen. Starring Anthony Hopkins, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, Gemma Jones, and Naomi Watts.
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The Entertainer by Donny Osmond

The Entertainer by Donny Osmond (2010)
He still has a great voice. I liked him best in Joseph. Find out more about Donny by visiting his website.

Did you know Donny & Marie will be in town during December for Christmas in Chicago? It's part of Broadway in Chicago.
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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!

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables (1985)
This family-friendly movie based on the novels boasts great performances (including one by Megan Follows) and is filled with tender moments, comedic events, and heartwarming dramas. Anne is an orphan adopted into a farm family whose lives are enriched with the addition of the energetic redhead. Anne’s adventures as she grows up are worth a look.

Two movies continue the tale: Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987) and Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story (2000).
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Going Postal

Going Postal (2010)
Based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Going Postal is the best movie between Color of Magic and Hogfather. It’s a nice balance of fantasy, humor, and soul-saving life observation. I believe it’s so good for teenagers!

You can also check out a 2010 review.