Prancer

Prancer (1989) G
An oldie but goodie! Eight year old Jessie finds an injured reindeer and believes he is Santa’s Prancer. While Jessie is working on a plan to return the reindeer to Santa, her widowed father is trying to figure out how to keep their family afloat. This heartwarming tale is a great movie for the whole family.

Starring Sam Elliott, Cloris Leachman, and Rebecca Harrell.
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Control Room

Control Room (2004)
It’s an eye-opening step into what was happening during the American invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Told from the point of view of Arab television network Al Jazeera, the documentary follows Al Jazeera employees and covers time spent in the US Central Command briefing room in Doha, Qatar. It explores the media’s role in modern war.

The only American featured prominently in the documentary – Marine Corps media liaison officer John Rushing – later becomes a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for Al Jazeera International (check out his YouTube channel). After I saw the documentary, I read Mission: Al Jazeera (2007) by Josh Rushing; he resigned from the Marines after he was forbidden to speak about the documentary with the press.

Read TIME's interview with Rushing shortly after he accepted the job with Al Jazeera or look at Fast Company's article.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) PG-13
A truly amazing film about the human spirit. The scenery is beautiful and the filming extraordinary. Jean Bauby, the French editor of Elle magazine, suffers a stroke and suffers from “locked-in” syndrome. He is trapped in his own body (which is useless) but his mind still functions normally. He is paralyzed except for his left eye. By blinking one letter at a time, with the help of his caregiver, he writes a memoir.

Based on Bauby’s 1997 memoir of the same name. Check out the Salon.com article to find out which parts of the movie are based in fact.

In French with English subtitles.

Cassandra’s Dream

Cassandra’s Dream (2007) PG-13
Cassandra’s Dream is similar to Hitchcock films, with a lot of twists and turns. It’s about two brothers (Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell) who are trying to get ahead but become too greedy. The consequences they have to pay are surprising. It’s a Woody Allen film, but it’s unlike any of his other films.

Check out the New York Times review.
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27 Dresses

27 Dresses (2008) PG-13
This entertaining love story stars Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. Jane (Heigl) loves weddings – and she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times to prove it. But then her sister gets engaged to George, who Jane is secretly in love with. And that’s when the fun begins. Will Jane finally graduate from being a bridesmaid to being a bride?

One of the highlights from the movie is when Jane modeled her bridesmaid dresses from the various weddings; it was fun to see the different styles. You don’t want to miss it!

Definitely, Maybe

Definitely, Maybe (2008) PG-13
Ryan Reynolds and Abigail Breslin star in this cute chick flick with an unusual bent. Will Hayes (Reynolds) is a soon-to-be divorced dad with a precocious 10-year-old daughter, Maya (Breslin). When Maya starts asking questions about how babies are made, Will distracts her by telling her the story of how he met her mother. He adds an extra twist, though, by changing her name and adding the stories of his two other serious relationships. Maya’s quest is to figure out which woman is her mother. And by the end, Will wonders if he let the right woman go.

Costarring Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz.

Miracle at St. Anna

Miracle at St. Anna (2008) R
The movie is about a black infantry outfit in Italy during WWII, but the film starts in the 1980s. A man is working in a New York post office as a teller selling stamps. A guy comes to buy stamps; the postal worker recognizes him, pulls out a gun and shoots him dead.

Then the movie goes back to WWII and we find out what triggered the attack. Four American soldiers end up behind enemy lines; they are sequestered in an Italian village after rescuing a young Italian boy. A statue is involved. Someone is a traitor.

You’ll have to watch Miracle at St. Anna to find out what happened in this interesting movie that will keep your attention throughout. Based on the novel by James McBride. Directed by Spike Lee.
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Mean Girls

Mean Girls (2004) PG-13
Written by the talented Tina Fey, Mean Girls is a funny movie about girls in high school. Cady Heron gets a lesson in teenage hierarchy when she enters high school after years of being homeschooled in Africa. An all around good comedy.

Lindsay Lohan gives a great performance. Also featuring Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amy Poehler, and Tim Meadows. Read an interview with Tina Fey on BlackFilm.com or watch an interview with Fey on Spike TV.
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Australia

Australia (2008) PG-13
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman star in this epic movie that’s also a love story. Baz Luhrmann directs this tale set in the Northern Territory of Australia during World War II.

My husband had traveled to Australia, and he loved the scenery portrayed in the movie. He was in the area where it was filmed.

Check out a LA Times interview with Nicole Kidman where she discusses the film and the region. Also visit Amazon.com for a behind the scenes video clip featuring Hugh Jackman. If you want to preview the movie, IMDb.com has several featurettes and trailers.

Bread & Tulips = Pane e tulipani

Bread & Tulips = Pane e tulipani (2000) PG-13
Bread & Tulips is a charming and quirky Italian film about an overlooked housewife who impulsively vacations to Venice and, with the help of a wonderful cast of supporting characters, finds herself. Part comedy, part romance, part fairy tale, this colorful film will leave you smiling!

In Italian with English subtitles.

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse (2006)
Amy Winehouse’s Grammy award-winning album is great to listen to. Her persona doesn’t match her voice; she sounds like ‘60s Motown. The different style has a lot to do with the production. She wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on the album.

Read the Washington Post review of the album. Check out her website to listen to the CD,  watch exclusive footage, and get more information on the artist.
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Milk

Milk (2008) R
A great story of how a gay person in the 1970s gets elected to political office in San Francisco, and the hard times gays endured to get their voices heard.

Sean Penn won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his title role as Harvey Milk. Also starring Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, and James Franco.
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Changeling

Changeling (2008) R
In 1928 Los Angeles, 9-year-old Walter Collins disappears. His mother, Christine (Angelina Jolie), is hopeful when a boy claiming to be Walter is found in Illinois. However, when they bring him to California, she knows the boy is not her son. Christine takes care of the boy for a time, but when she tells police he is not Walter, they put her in an insane asylum.

This unbelievable scenario is based on a true story. Read about it in this 1999 LA Times article. Visit IMDb.com for movie trailers, clips, and interviews with director Clint Eastwood and Jolie.
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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
This funny and entertaining musical just might be Marilyn Monroe’s best movie. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Monroe and costar Jane Russell are superb. To publicize the movie, the actresses put their handprints in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – and they both wrote “gentlemen prefer blondes.”

For more fun facts about the movie, visit the TCM website. And enjoy this video of the leading ladies at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

The Reader

The Reader (2008) R
In 1958, a 36-year-old German woman has an affair with a 15-year-old boy. Later in life when he is a law student, she is on trial for World War II war crimes. Kate Winslet gives an outstanding (and Academy Award-winning) performance in this movie.

Want to find more out about the basis for the movie? Read the novel by Bernhard Schlink. Also check out Sally’s review of the novel in our Current Picks blog.
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