Songs of the Civil War by The 97th Regimental String Band

Songs of the Civil War, Volume 1: Battlefields and Campfires by The 97th Regimental String Band (1990)
Abraham Lincoln once said that there could be no army without music. This patriotic CD stirs up the ghosts of the Civil War with lively renditions of many classics. These include marches such as "The Bonnie Blue Flag" and "The Battle Cry of Freedom" that were sung in the battlefields as well as mournful ballads such as "Just Before the Battle, Mother" and "Coming to us Dead" that were sung around the campfires.

The 97th Regimental String Band brings new life to these American standards with their instruments that give the tunes an authentic 19th century sound. A love of music connects generations, and we can learn a lot about the past by listening to it, literally. History buffs as well as enthusiastic music lovers will enjoy this CD that will help the listener gain a deeper appreciation for the soldiers who risked everything for what they believed in.
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The Wrestler

The Wrestler (2008) R
See Mickey Rourke’s Oscar nominated performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. He does a great job in his portrayal of Ram. The movie shows what goes on behind the scenes in the world of wrestling. Marisa Tomei (also Oscar nominated for her supporting role) plays a stripper mom with a heart. Good performances; good movie.

Also check out the reviews from Roger Ebert and The New York Times.
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Ray

Ray (2004) PG-13
Featuring an Academy Award winning performance by Jamie Foxx, Ray details the life of Ray Charles from childhood to adulthood. It tracks his success and his journey to becoming one of the greatest musical performers of all time. It’s amazing to see what someone who is blind can achieve.

Learn more about Ray Charles at the library. Visit NPR’s site to listen to a review and to watch clips from the movie.
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Duplicity

Duplicity (2009) PG-13
Starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, Duplicity can be confusing to follow because it alternates between past and present. It’s an interesting movie, building up to the best part of the film – the last 20 minutes. The ending bolsters the whole movie.

Roberts and Owen are former CIA and MI-6 operatives who work for rival beauty care companies. They plan to con their companies to make millions.

Check out the Washington Post review of the film. Visit The Huffington Post to see what other newspapers and magazines said about the movie.
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Flash of Genius

Flash of Genius (2008) PG-13
Greg Kinnear gives a superior performance as Bob Kearns, an electrical engineering professor who fights Ford Motors for stealing his patented invention, the intermittent windshield wiper. This good family man with a sense of right and wrong wants justice at any cost. His family and their story will rip your heart out.

It's more than a David and Goliath story and this "sleeper" of a movie will get you talking afterward!

Read about this true story in articles from the New Yorker (1993) and the Los Angeles Times (2008).
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Saving Grace. Season 1

Saving Grace. Season 1 (2007)
In this TNT television show, Holly Hunter stars as an Oklahoma City detective. She is a very strong female character. It’s good to see her skills at work – and how her personal and professional lives overlap. She has a “last chance angel” that’s trying to help her get a second chance. An intriguing and good drama.
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Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road (2008) RRevolutionary Road may feature the stars of TitanicLeonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet – but there’s no Titanic love story here. It’s the end of the line for a marriage. Frank and April Wheeler had hopes and dreams when they first got married but all they ended up with was disillusionment. A good performance by the actors, but not a movie for those looking for an uplifting story.

Based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates.
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Offend Maggie

Offend Maggie by Deerhoof (2008)
Deerhoof is a weird, challenging, and passionate band with a real knack for catchy melodies. They sound like jazz/punk fusion with a toddler on lead vocals.

Offend Maggie is their newest and best album. Read other reviews of the CD.
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Public Enemies

Public Enemies (2009) RPublic Enemies with Johnny Depp is an entertaining historical account of John Dillinger's robberies in the 1930s. You'll recognize all the places in Indiana and Illinois (see the filming locations).

Great photography, acting, and storytelling. It is amazing to see the banks that were robbed and the number of robberies in a short period of time. Depp's human portrayal of Dillinger's personal life surprised me. I recommend this movie if you are used to gangster shootings in movies because it has violent/realistic action!

For more on Dillinger, visit the FBI's famous cases site; request the PBS documentary Public Enemy #1 and visit the companion website; or check out the WGN TV website for articles, videos, and more.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009) PG
Another Ben Stiller winner. Everyone will enjoy watching the authentic Smithsonian Museums' artifacts come alive! The story tells interesting historical facts about Amelia Earhart and General Custer.

I went to Washington, D.C., two years ago; therefore, the movie impressed me in that it was based on facts like the largest sea monster caught being at the Smithsonian and the use of the Air and Space Museum for action. Of course, you'll love seeing Abe Lincoln come to life walking and talking...and having recently climbed all those stairs up the Lincoln Memorial, I was impressed that the movie used Abe to great advantage.

See this on DVD for lots of laughs. And don't forget to check out the original Night at the Museum.

Outsourced

Outsourced (2006) PG-13
Funny, right on target, and certainly a "hidden gem"!  See India through the eyes of a middle management American fellow who's job and department has been outsourced to India and travels there to train his replacement. Culture shock is everywhere and his life is forever changed, but not in the ways he expected. A delightful, endearing comedy.  I liked it better than Slumdog Millionaire.
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Whip It

Whip It (2009) PG-13
Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is a movie with an ‘80s-style feel (maybe it’s because of the roller skates and the fashion style of the coach).

Bliss Cavendar (Juno star Ellen Page) doesn’t quite fit in with the debutante set in Bodeen, Texas. When she discovers roller derby, she finds something that’s her own (and against her parents’ wishes). The ladies might be rough-looking and it isn’t quite “normal,” but she had a passion for skating. Bliss (aka Babe Ruthless) has teammates like Smashley Simpson (Barrymore) and Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig). Her rival is Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis).

Also co-starring Jimmy Fallon (as announcer ‘Hot Tub’ Johnny Rocket), Marcia Gay Harden, and Daniel Stern. Based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross.

Children of Men

Children of Men (2007) R
Takes place at a future time when the only young child has just died.  Pregnancy is currently unheard of, making childbirth a distant memory.  It is a gripping tale of an idealistic woman who at that time and place can trust only one man to follow through with a plan and he must trust no one.  Is there any hope?  Both my husband and I thought it was great!

Starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine. Based on the 1993 novel by P. D. James. Check out reviews from Roger Ebert, Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly.
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(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer (2009) PG-13
In this hip dramedy (an official pick of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival), a young greeting card writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls head over heels for his new coworker, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). She just may be "The One." Through the 500 days of their relationship, the viewer watches these two characters grow with each other as they learn about life, love and hope. In a series of flashbacks the story unfolds hopping from sweet, romantic and funny moments to devastatingly, desperate and sad ones – all leading to the ultimate lesson that finding one's soul mate is no easy task. An entertaining musical scene is sure to leave you smiling.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) PG
Adapted from the book by the acclaimed author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox is by no means a movie only for children. In this Wes Anderson work, the art of stop-motion animation is at its finest. Fantastic Mr. Fox, voiced by George Clooney, and his wife (Meryl Streep) romp through the adventures of his reckless thieving ways. With intentional adult humor masked for those of the younger set, both young and old alike will enjoy the sly Mr. Fox and his court of characters.
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