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

Everything Must Go (2010) R

Everything Must Go stars Will Ferrell as Nick Halsey, a man who has lost everything: wife, home, and job. When his soon-to-be ex-wife throws all of his possessions on the lawn and locks the door, Nick has to reassess the mess his life has become and try to find the good guy he left behind somewhere. We are used to Ferrell in broadly comedic roles. In Everything Must Go, he gives a quiet, more nuanced performance.

Sunshine Cleaning (2008) R

Amy Adams is Rose, a single mother who works as a house cleaner but dreams of better things. Emily Blunt is Norah, Rose's never-do-well younger sister who is still trying to deal with the early death of their mother. Together they start Sunshine Cleaning, a business that goes into homes and businesses to clean up after death or a crime has occurred.

Rose, Norah, Rose's son Oscar, and their father Joe (Alan Arkin) are a less than perfect but very real family. Sunshine Cleaning is a subtly acted movie about people determined not to let their dreams die, even as problems pile up against them.

Mildred Pierce (2011) TV-MA

This beautifully presented and acted miniseries of James M. Cain’s classic sets you right down in 1930s Southern California. Mildred Pierce is a divorced woman with two young children, loving Ray and haughty Veda. Working first as a waitress and the in her own restaurants, Mildred tries to give Veda all she demands--only to be betrayed by Veda time and time again.

The houses, the clothes, and music all set this production firmly in time and place. With Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce. Visit HBO's website for more about the show, including behind the scenes interviews with the stars and the costumes of the production.

Check to see if our copy of Mildred Pierce is on shelf.

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) PG

WWI is over, and the flying aces now have to find jobs and a way to regain the excitement of dogfights over France. If you are the Great Waldo Pepper (played oh so charmingly by Robert Redford), you risk your life in increasingly daring aerial acrobatics as part of a flying circus touring the Great Plains.

Banned from ever being able to fly again because of reckless behavior, Pepper goes to Hollywood and, under an assumed name, gets a job as a stunt pilot. There he gets a chance to test his skills against the famous German ace Ernst Kessler.

Check our catalog to find The Great Waldo Pepper today and read Roger Ebert's take on the film. You can browse lists of other war films by visiting Find Your Next Great Movie.

Me & Orson Welles (2008) PG-13

It’s autumn 1937 and Orson Welles is about to open his famous production of Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre. Seventeen-year-old Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), a high schooler from New Jersey, happens into a small role in the production which involves playing the ukulele.

In one week, he falls under the spell of the mercurial and mesmerizing Orson Welles (Christian McKay), falls in a love with an older woman (Claire Danes), and makes his Broadway debut. Efron is lovable as the irrepressible Richard and McKay re-creates the larger than life persona of Welles. The period music, costumes, and sets are irresistible in Me & Orson Welles.

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (2005)

The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection, a three volume (six DVD) set, will introduce you to one of the great comics of the silent era. Harold Lloyd was an all-American go-getter with boyish good looks, tousle of dark hair and signature glasses. An eager beaver, he was willing to do anything to make a good impression, get ahead, and win friends.

Whether trying to be popular in college (The Freshman, 1925), impress his girlfriend (Safety Last!, with the famous “hanging on the clock” scene, 1923) or trying to win his father’s favor (The Kid Brother, 1927), Lloyd had more get-up-and-go than a dozen other men.

Check out Silence is Golden for the selection of silent films available at Indian Prairie.

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season (2010)

The HBO series opens on New Year’s Eve, 1920, the moment Prohibition becomes the law of the land. Local politician Nucky Thompson runs Atlantic City and wants to control all of the liquor coming in off the shore and distributed across the country. The likes of Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, and other real-life gangsters appear in Boardwalk Empire.

The sets, the costumes, and most particularly the soundtrack transport you to the early days of 1920s Atlantic City, where the magnetic Nucky Thompson pulls all the strings. Because the series was first shown on premium cable and portrays gangsters and prostitutes as many of the characters, this show does have graphic violence and nudity.

Want other gangster movies and TV shows? Check out our list.

Friday Night Lights. Seasons 1-5 (2006-2011)

For five brief seasons, this emotionally rewarding television series gave us the trials and triumphs of high school football coach Eric Taylor. Set in a mid-sized town in Texas for which the high school football team’s success is everything, we get to know all the regulars, the coach’s high school guidance counselor wife, the head of the boosters, the football player stars and hopefuls, and the girls that date them. For many of these players, success on the football field means a scholarship and the hope for something more than life in Dixon, Texas.

One of my favorites is Tyra, who is from a family of women who live by finding a man to take care of them but who wants to go to college and make a change. Sweet Matt gets thrust into the role of QB1. Not the most talented athlete, he uses his brains to take his team to the state finals. And of course Tim Riggins, the bad boy we all had crushes on in high school, a well-intentioned and noble character from the wrong family. And Coach Taylor and his happy marriage to Tami hold the whole series together.

Enjoy all five seasons of Friday Night Lights.

Deadwood. Seasons 1-3 (2004-2006) TV-MA

A combination of historical and fictional characters populate this HBO series. In Deadwood, South Dakota, in the late 1870s, Seth Bullock and his partner Sol Star open a hardware store to sell to Black Hills miners. The general lawlessness of the town leads Bullock to become sheriff. As sheriff, he must deal with competing houses of ill repute and gambling and the drunkenness of the likes of Calamity Jane. Deadwood is colorful, violent, and contains much strong language.

Justified. Seasons 1-3 (2010-2012) TV-MA

Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) is sent home to Eastern Kentucky after the “justified” shooting of a South American drug dealer in Miami. Givens is a modern day Gary Cooper, tall, lanky, and laconic; and he is always sporting his signature Stetson.

In Harlan County, he has to deal with the crazy Crowder and Bennett clans, current day bootleggers—purveyors of marijuana, crystal meth, and prescription painkillers. And he must do it in a society where toting a gun is an everyday fashion statement.

Watch the first three seasons of Justified today.

L.A. Confidential (1997) R

L.A. ConfidentialL.A. Confidential captures the feel of a classic film noir without being just a copy. The feeling for 1950s Southern California drips from the screen, the music perfectly captures the mood of each scene, and the acting is terrific.

Three L.A. cops become enemies when they are involved in a scandal later dubbed "Bloody Christmas." When seemingly disparate events seem to be all pointing in one direction, the three must put behind their previous disdain for each other and work together to solve several murders, find the power behind a pornography and prostitution ring, and track down some missing heroin. The movie is cleverly written, smart, and makes good use of irony in its setting, use of music, and dialogue.

Homicide: Life on the Street. Seasons 1-7 (1993-1999)

A Baltimore squad room in the 1990s was the setting for this gritty urban crime drama. City and police politics and the seen-better-days streets and docks of the city make an involving backdrop for the ongoing cases and personal lives of the homicide detectives.

Passing through the squad room over the seven seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street were Ned Beatty, Daniel Baldwin, Melissa Leo, Andre Braugher, Richard Belzer (in a role he carried over onto Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), and Jon Seda. The bad guys are sometimes caught, sometimes not; all the murders in the city documented on the squad room’s white board: names in black if their murder is solved, in red if not. Always involving, sometimes unsettling, don’t miss it if you appreciate fine writing and character development in your television viewing.
Before there was The Wire, there was Homicide: Life on the Street. Baltimore native director Barry Levinson produced Homicide based on the writings of Baltimore Sun writer David Simon. Simon wrote for Homicide and then went on to write and produce The Wire.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)

Wide-eyed American Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck) arrives in Shanghai to marry her missionary fiance. But China is in the grip of civil war and warring warlords. In an effort to rescue girls from a missionary school, Megan is caught in the maelstrom of a street uprising. When she awakens from a blow, she finds herself the "guest" of warlord General Yen (played by Swedish actor Nils Asther).

What follows is a strange dreamlike story as Megan fights her growing attraction to General Yen and realizes her American values and experiences make her completely unprepared for the realities of China. The Bitter Tea of General Yen was directed by Frank Capra before he became known for comedies such as It Happened One Night.

Gallipoli (1981) PG

melgibson_gallipoliDuring WWI, one of the most notorious battles of the war was fought on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the crumbling Ottoman Empire. French, British, Australian, and New Zealand troops suffered a great defeat against the Turks. Gallipoli is the story of two young Australians who join the army for adventure and soon find themselves in a strange land facing overwhelming odds.

The first Australian set half of the movie is full of humor and boyish adventure building to the tense and poignant end. Mel Gibson plays one of the two young soldiers in one of his very early roles.

You can also watch a documentary about the battle in Gallipoli.

Did you know? 100 years ago, on June 28, 1914, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the catalyst that started World War I.
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The Uninvited (1944)

uninvitedRoderick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey) move to a house on the English coast. Young Stella (Gail Russell), who was born in the house, can't enter it without being terrorized by a malevolent ghostly presence. As Roderick and Pamela become more determined to uncover the secrets of Stella's past (as Roderick finds himself falling for her), the ghostly apparitions intensify, culminating in one terrifying night. Roderick, a composer, plays the movie's theme, the haunting "Stella by Starlight." The Uninvited is a good old-fashioned ghost story.