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

Million Dollar Baby

Million Dollar Baby (2004) PG-13
Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman star in this dark but moving and inspirational movie that won four Oscars, including “Best Picture of the Year.” The top notch acting and the heart wrenching and powerful story make this movie more than a simple “female boxer does good” tale.
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Spotlight: Christina Ricci

Spotlight: Christina RicciAt 28 years old, Christina Ricci has starred in over 40 movies. Watch her grow up from child star to serious actress in her twelve movies available at the library. Her lighter roles include The Addams Family (1991), Addams Family Values (1993), Casper (1995), Now and Then (1996), Anything Else (2003) and Penelope (2008). Ricci had heavier roles in The Ice Storm (1997) – her breakout adult role, The Opposite of Sex (1998), Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Man Who Cried (2000), Monster (2003), and Black Snake Moan (2006). She came full circle with Speed Racer (2008) – a family film out today on DVD.

Xena, Warrior Princess: Season 3

Xena, Warrior Princess: Season 3 (1997-1998)
Join Xena and Gabrielle (Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor) in this action-packed comedy adventure. Set in Ancient Greece, Xena decides to reform her outlaw ways by wandering the country to fight evil. Learn a bit about Greek mythology. Watch Xena come up with clever solutions by the end of each show.

During season 3, Gabrielle gives birth to a daughter, who ages quickly and soon becomes a source of contention. Follow the drama throughout the season. Also check out the musical episode in season 5 – it's hilarious.

If you like this, you’d also like Buffy – same action packed comedy adventure, but with a vampire slant (and high school kids).

Becoming Jane

Becoming Jane (2007) PG
Anne Hathaway stars in this beautifully filmed movie about Jane Austen. This love story about young Jane and her intense attraction to a young, cocky and arrogant Irish fellow plays out like the very best Jane Austen novel. The movie starts slowly and then the chemistry between the two draws the viewer in as it builds to an emotional ending. This was a very good movie and as a tagline for the movie says, “Jane Austen’s greatest love story was her own.”

Also starring James McAvoy, Julie Walters, and Maggie Smith.

Freedom Writers

Freedom Writers (2007) PG-13
Based on a true story about first year teacher Erin Gruwell (played by Hilary Swank). This is a powerful story that pulls at your heart as you watch naïve but stubborn Erin try to survive and reach her students in a racially violent school after the Rodney King episode in Southern California. With little support, except from her ambivalent father, she takes on the establishment and changes the lives of her students forever. As always, Hilary Swank’s performance is top notch and makes the movie spectacular. Danny DeVito produced this movie...who would have thunk!

Read the basis for the movie -- the real The Freedom Writers Diary, written by Erin Gruwell and her 150 students. Also check out Gruwell's 2007 memoir, Teach with Your Heart. And for more on the Freedom Writers and their mission, visit their website -- Freedom Writers Foundation.
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The Green Mile

The Green Mile (1999) R
Based upon a Stephen King book, this movie tells the story of Louisiana prisoner, seven foot John Coffey. Coffey’s mystical powers, his wrongful execution, and the ensuing strange happenings create a movie that’s spellbinding from beginning to end. Nominated for four Oscars.
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I’m Not There

I’m Not There (2008) R
Six different actors portray various aspects of Bob Dylan’s life (chronologically). At times the movie seems to drag, but what makes this movie is Cate Blanchett’s performance as Bob Dylan. It’s definitely a must see. She was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress and didn’t win, though she deserved the honor (but she did win the Golden Globe).

The six actors as Dylan: Ben Whishaw, Marcus Carl Franklin, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere.
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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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