Blog

Mary P.

Unfinished Song (2012) PG-13

This is the story of the healing power of music. It has the power to unlock long forgotten memories and feelings no matter what age. Great actors: Terence Stamp plays Arthur, the curmudgeon husband, and Vanessa Redgrave plays his ailing goodhearted wife, Marion. They have one son who mother cherishes and father disdains. Marion sings in the local senior choral group lead by Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton). They decide to enter a local contest singing their favorite heavy metal tunes. The crowd loves them and they go onto further competition.

But the touching part of Unfinished Song is the relationship between Arthur and his wife. How we live every day is what counts is the message here. Have your Kleenex ready.
Tags:
Jennifer

Sports Night. The Complete Series (1998-2000)

Before The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin created Sports Night. My only complaint for the snappy series is that it only lasted two seasons…but what an entertaining 45 episodes. Sports Night focuses on a group that produces a lives sports newscast, much like ESPN’s SportsCenter.

The snappy, rapid-fire dialogue, the witty banter, and the entertaining cast of characters will make the episodes fly by. And this isn’t just for sports fans – while the events of the show are centered around sports, it’s more about the characters and the clever dialogue. I’ve gotten friends who don’t follow sports hooked on Sports Night. Warning: if you try an episode or two, you may be compelled to finish the series immediately. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you need a bit more convincing…you’ll find Felicity Huffman pre-Desperate Housewives, Peter Krause before Six Feet Under and Parenthood, Josh Charles before The Good Wife, Joshua Malina pre-The West Wing and Scandal, plus Robert Guillaume.
Joe

The Simpsons Movie (2007) PG-13

Okay, if you like The Simpsons television show at all, you will laugh out loud at the movie more or less all the way to the end. It’s basically a supersized version of the TV show, and it even has moments that touch your heart (in a Simpsons’ sort of way).

In The Simpsons Movie, Homer has polluted Lake Springfield, which prompts the evil head of the EPA, voiced by Albert Brooks, to have a giant dome placed over the entire city. Meanwhile, the Simpson family goes on the lam to Alaska only to return to try to save their hometown which has been slated to be nuked. There is the typical Simpson family dysfunction, there is the entire Simpson cast of characters, and most importantly, there is Spider Pig. This is a fun movie!
Tags:
Mimi

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13

Did you ever wonder what Paris was like in the 1920s? Here is your chance. Owen Wilson is visiting Paris with his fiancé and her family. He is a writer with writer’s block. One evening he decides to take a walk to clear his mind. When a limo pulls up and the passengers offer him a ride, he accepts. This is the start of his adventure and a chance to go back to the Paris of the 1920s.

Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali welcome him into their world. When Owen’s fiancé and her family become suspicious of his disappearing every night, they hire a detective. The results lead one to believe this may or may not be a dream.

Midnight in Paris is one of Woody Allen’s best. The acting is great and the literary characters are true to life.
IPPL Staff

It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010) PG-13

It's Kind of a Funny StoryIn this quirky tale, teenager Craig (Keir Gilchrist) checks himself into the psych ward after experiencing suicidal thoughts. There, he meets a crazy mentor (Zach Galifianakis) and Noelle (Emma Roberts), a young girl his age.

This set of unlikely characters help Craig begin anew and learn more about himself in one week than he ever expected. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a coming of age tale that makes you appreciate how lucky you are and appreciate the good things in life.
Tags:
Jez

Much Ado about Nothing (2013) PG-13

Much Ado About NothingThis new film is a fresh take on Shakespeare’s comedy of the same title. Much Ado about Nothing is directed by Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Whedon fans will recognize many familiar faces, as all of the actors have worked with Whedon in previous projects. In fact, it was made at Whedon’s house in the downtime during filming The Avengers!

The film uses the original Shakespeare text, but in a modern setting. It’s the actor’s interpretations and physical humor that will have the audience laughing, especially Benedick’s (Alexis Denisof) background antics. This is a beautiful, well-made film that is good for both romance and comedy.
Elizabeth

Identity Thief (2013) R

Identity ThiefJason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy really had fun making this movie! Diana (McCarthy) is a con artist who is living it up thanks to stealing Sandy Patterson’s (Bateman) identity.

Before his world comes crashing down around him, Sandy travels from Colorado, where he lives, to Florida in a desperate attempt to find Diana and clear his good name. Of course, to make life crazier, throw in a couple of “bad guys” and a bounty hunter who are also chasing Diana. Identity Thief is a funny movie – great for a Saturday night at-home date!
Tags:
Jennifer

The Heat (2013) R

In this female buddy comedy, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy deliver laugh-out-loud performances. In The Heat, a drug case forces a straight-laced FBI agent to pair up with a rough-around-the-edges Boston cop. The two hours will fly by as you enjoy the complementary antics of two comedic stars (plus the great supporting cast).
Tags:
Mimi

The Kings of Summer (2013) R

Three teenage boys decide to leave their homes and live in the wilderness. They build a house and plan to live off the land. Their parents are unaware of their plans and, let’s face it, these parents aren’t going to get any patenting awards in the near future.

The Kings of Summer is a coming of age film with a light comic touch.
Tags:
Joe

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) R

This is a laugh-out-loud movie from start to finish. Otto (Kevin Kline) and his girlfriend Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) team up with Ken (Michael Palin) and Tom Georgeson to rob a jewelry store. When Tom is arrested, the others scramble to find where he has hidden the loot.

While Wanda woos Tom’s lawyer Archie (John Cleese) to find out the location of the jewels, Ken, who has an uncontrollable stutter, goes through many hilarious, botched attempts to kill the one witness to the crime. Kevin Kline steals the show, though, in his Academy Award winning role as the mindless thug, Otto. A Fish Called Wanda is a must see!
Tags:
Joe

Dave (1993) PG-13

When the president of the United States has a stroke while engaging in extramarital activities, his aides avoid a scandal by finding a good-natured look-alike named Dave (Kevin Kline) to take his place. Not beholden to any special interests, Dave starts doing things that are good for the country rather than doing what is politically savvy. His approval rating goes way up, and the country loves him.

Things start to go sour, though, when the president’s aides realize he will not do their evil bidding, and the first lady (Sigourney Weaver) starts to realize that Dave is not the man she married. Dave is one of those feel good movies that makes you smile for a long time after it’s over.

http://youtu.be/PTTe-rxTyh0
Mary P.

Red (2010) PG-13

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, a retired black-ops CIA agent living in Cleveland. Frank is lonely and often calls customer service agent Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker) who works in the GSA pension office. He deliberately tears up his pension checks so he has an excuse to call her to say his checks never arrived.

One night a hit squad raids his house and tries to eliminate him. Knowing the assassins tapped his phone, he goes to save Sarah, who doesn’t want to go with him. He binds and gags her with duct tape and takes her with him while he tries to find out who is after them.

Red provides a lot of action and laughs and a happy ending starring Willis, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman among others. And if you enjoy this film, you'll be excited to know that the sequel hits theaters next week!
IPPL Staff

The Five-Year Engagement (2012) R

The romantic comedy The Five-Year Engagement, starring Emily Blunt as Violet and Jason Segel as Tom, has some gross out moments, but it’s also a touching love story. Tom gives up a promising career as a chef to follow Violet across the country so that she can begin her career in academia. Tom has a hard time adjusting to his new life -- he stops shaving and takes to wearing an old bunny suit around the house while Violet becomes a rising star in her field. Do Tom and Violet ever get married? Check out The Five-Year Engagement to find out.

http://youtu.be/iNhAslpICxE
Jennifer

Cars (2006) G

As part of my “homework” for an upcoming trip to Disneyland, I finally watched Cars. I can see how this movie has become a favorite for kids and adults alike – with a combination of Pixar animation, talented voice actors (Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, Paul Newman, and Larry the Cable Guy, to name a few), humor and action, plus a nostalgic Route 66 setting, there’s something for everyone.

Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is an up-and-coming talented racer with an attitude problem. When he ends up stranded in ramshackle Radiator Springs, he discovers there’s more to life than winning.
IPPL Staff

Spotlight: Ben Affleck

Who is Ben Affleck anyway?

After an early start at the age of eight, starring in the PBS series The Voyage of the Mimi, Ben Affleck didn’t make his big introduction into feature films until 1993 when he was cast in Dazed and Confused. After that, he did mostly independent films like Kevin Smith's Mallrats (1995) and Chasing Amy (1997).

Interestingly, in the same year he made Mimi, Affleck made the acquaintance of Matt Damon, a boy two years his senior who lived down the street. The two became best friends and, of course, eventual collaborators.

In his early years in Hollywood, tired of being turned down for the big roles in films and the forgettable supporting ones he did play, he decided to write his own script. Matt Damon was having the same trouble and together they produced a script with the kind of roles they wanted to play! Good Will Hunting (1997) was the result and it went on to win two Academy Awards (nominated for nine).

Career ups and downs followed with much media attention to romance and rehab. After many flops, he seems to have re-invented himself as a director.

He's has earned critical acclaim for directing films including The Town and Argo so perhaps Affleck's greatest talent lies behind the camera where reviews of his films call him ”a sensitive, thoughtful and collaborative” director.
Here are my choices from a long list of his films: