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

Impractical Jokers

Four lifelong friends compete against one another to see how they can embarrass each other.  If you refuse to do what the others tell you to say, then you lose.  If you lose the most, you have a punishment you must do.

The premise is simple, but the execution is hilarious.  They place the group in real life situations where the public has no idea what is going on, leading to fun and embarrassing interactions.  It is always a treat to see what they are going to have to do next and who is going to be the "big loser" at the end.

Binge watch Season 1 (2011-2012) of Impractical Jokers on Hoopla, then continue on to Seasons 2 and 3.

The Interpreter

This Slovakian film garnered 13 nominations and 9 wins from all over the world.  The Interpreter (2018) tells the story of 80-year-old Ali Ungar finding a book written by a former SS officer describing his wartime activities in Slovakia.  Ali discovers this person was responsible for murdering his parents.  He tries to take revenge, but instead finds the officer's 70-year-old son, Georg.  The son hires Ali, the interpreter, to travel with him to find out more about his father, with whom he never had a close relationship. These opposites travel together to interview eyewitnesses to the slayings, but along the way the very different men find out that they are not so different at all.

This movie was superb, with believable characters that will wrench at your heart.  Watch The Interpreter on Hoopla today.

In Slovak, German, and Russian with English subtitles.

The Others

During World War II while a woman waits to hear about her missing husband, she must protect her two young children who suffer from a rare disease that causes deadly photosensitivity.  Moving her family to a Gothic mansion on the English coast safe from war, she encounters a far more sinister enemy as paranormal activities spiral out of control.  The Others (2001, rated PG-13) starring Nicole Kidman, Alakina Mann, and James Bentley is a shockingly true to life ghost story!

Watch it on Hoopla today.



The Greatest Showman: Reimagined (Deluxe)

If your household is like mine, you might have formed the habit of playing The Greatest Showman soundtrack on repeat…and you might be okay with that.  The songs are too good to get sick of, but maybe you're ready for a new flavor. 

The Greatest Showman: Reimagined is a collection of the songs you love covered by popular artists such as Panic! At the Disco, Kelly Clarkson, Zac Brown Band, and Pentatonix.  Each of these artists pays homage to the great songs while putting their own style into the mix.  Find it on Hoopla today.


David E. Talbert's Suddenly Single

This comedy is about how quickly life can change and how as a result, you change with it.  In David E. Talbert's Suddenly Single (2012), Sam (Garcelle Beauvais) is excited to move to Chicago.  Sylvester (Isaiah Washington), her husband of 17 years, receives a promotion that requires the family to move, but also affords them the luxury of living in a nicer home.

As Sam proudly packs up their apartment (which they share with their 16-year old-son), Sylvester abruptly announces that Sam will not be moving.  If that isn't bad enough, he boldly tells her he was moving into his new home with his girlfriend!

With the love of her best friend, the honesty of her son, and the pushiness of her mother, Sam decides she will survive and love again.  David E. Talbert's Suddenly Single has funny parts and several aha moments regarding love, self-respect, and family.  Watch it on Hoopla today.

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Page Eight

I really enjoy the work of Bill Nighy.  While being a gifted comedic actor (Pirate Radio, Dad's Army), he also excels at portraying Johnny Worricker, an operative of MI5 nearing the end of his career.  His life has been upended when his boss and best friend have damaging information on the Prime Minister, but dies before it can be verified.

Page Eight (2011) is a spy thriller that isn't about car crashes and explosions, but instead about dirty money, hidden agendas, political maneuvering, believable characters, witty dialogue, and contemporary situations.

Watch it on Hoopla today.

Scott & Bailey. The Complete Series (2011-2016)

Do you love British crime TV?  Watch it from more of a female perspective with Scott and Bailey (TV-14).  Set in Manchester, UK, this police procedural follows the story of two strong female detectives as they solve crime while also dealing with office politics and personal problems.  Not only are the cases they are faced with fascinating, but the continuing backstory is also gripping.

Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones make a formidable and entertaining partnership as detectives Scott and Bailey, who will have you rooting for them through their various trials and tribulations.  To give the show grittiness and doses of reality the writers of this series sought advice from a former Manchester police detective.

The entire show (seasons 1-5) is available to watch instantly on Hoopla.

The Last Detective. The Complete Series (2003 - 2007)

Detective Constable 'Dangerous' Davies (Peter Davidson) is the lowest man on the totem pole in his London police station and is the last detective his boss would assign to a major case.  Davies is a bumbling underdog who is not respected by his colleagues and only given the cases no one else wants.  Despite this, he does his job with determination and intelligence and somehow manages to solve major cases.

The audience gets views of Davies' personal life, including his ex-wife (whom he is still in love with), his dog, and his quirky friend, Mod.  This British series (comprised of four seasons) is a gentler version of police procedurals, with some humor and no gratuitous violence.

If you like The Last Detective, you might also enjoy some of the selections on  British Detective Series…Now.



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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Perfect Blue (1997)

Follow the life of Mima, a singer in a popular group who leaves to pursue a life of acting in this Japanese anime movie. Her managers and handlers are continually murdered as she makes the transition though, leading to increased paranoia. Even worse, she begins to believe that she has a stalker as her paranoia and stress begin to change how she sees reality. The movie is a great look at the negative aspects of being famous and the physiological toll it can have on someone.

If you like psychological thrillers, this is one not to miss. Watch Perfect Blue (rated R) on Hoopla today.

In Japanese with English subtitles.

Spotlight: Harry Potter Music

When I'm in search of comfort music, I return to old favorites. Among those are the soundtracks from each of the eight Harry Potter films, all available on Hoopla. I adore listening to the scores developed by composers John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat.

"Hedwig's Theme" is instantly recognizable, but it's fun to listen to the lesser known songs and see if you can picture the scene in the movie.

If the thought of listening to (even shuffling) eight soundtracks sounds overwhelming, check out The Complete Harry Potter Film Collection from the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. They play the best of the eight films in a two-hour collection—and it only requires one of your monthly Hoopla borrows!


Detectorists

Why would someone create a show about amateur metal detectorists? I put aside my doubts and tuned in. These two oddball Englishmen travel all over the countryside hoping to uncover buried Saxon treasures! But it's a cutthroat hobby—who would have thought? I was hooked after the first episode of Detectorists. Share the lives, loves, and detecting ambitions of Andy and Lance. You never know what you will uncover.

Binge the whole series on Hoopla! The complete series (2014-2017) is available to watch instantly.


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Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Do you have Animal Crossing: New Horizons FOMO? Fear not! Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is free from the App Store (Google or Apple). Join all your favorite villagers for the ultimate virtual camping trip. It's the same cute, colorful game you'd expect, without Tom Nook shaking you down for bells all the time. This version of the classic game has seasonal events that make logging in a treat. Go fishing, catch bugs, pick fruit, and decorate your very own campsite. The best part? You get to choose which villagers you host.


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GreedFall

GreedFall (Rated M) for the PlayStation and Xbox One is an RPG adventure that will appeal to players who enjoyed the Assassins Creed and Dragon Age series of games.  In the game, you are an ambassador for a congregation of merchants who are searching for a cure to the plague that has afflicted yours and other nations.  The hope is that an expedition to an island filled with magic and a native people who exalt the land will reveal a cure.  Once on the island, you may choose from many companions who will complement your play style—whether it be careful political intrigue, magical tactician, stealth advantage, or simply to use combat-based dominance.

Overall, the plot is intricate, borrowing from many historical events, such as the inquisition, colonialism, and westward expansion, to name a few.  The story drives the game forward and gameplay allows for all levels of players, including a mode that has easy combat and focuses on following the plot over the gameplay.  Do remember that the choices you make while playing will affect the world around you and that the available options for the game's ending will change based on your decisions.

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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.