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In the Aisles

In the Aisles (2018) tells the story of Christian, a new worker at a big box store in former East Germany.  Taken under the wing by his coworker Bruno, Christian becomes enamored of a fellow employee, Marion.  Check out this quiet leisurely-paced film full of charm and complex emotion.

In German with English subtitles.

Blinded by the Light

What kind of world do we want to live in? From Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham, comes another feel-good film about coming of age and struggling with familial expectations.

Set in 1980s England, British Pakistani teen Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, inspiring him to change his life. Loosely based on the memoir of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the film Blinded by the Light (2019, PG-13) features Bruce Springsteen's words and music as a character.


Jojo Rabbit

During the final months of World War II, we follow Jojo, a lonely German boy struggling to fit in with the other Hitler Youths. Jojo spends his days trying to prove he is a worthy Nazi and is continually spurred on by his only friend, an incredibly doltish and flamboyant imaginary Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi).  After finding out his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in the walls of their home, he is forced to choose between loyalty to his country and to his remaining family.

On the surface, Jojo Rabbit (2019, PG-13) seems absurd and insensitive.  In reality, while absolutely absurd, it tells an important story about indoctrination and breaking free of one's upbringing.  Jojo's growth is demonstrated throughout the movie and gives clear guidance to those who are afraid of "the others".

This movie moves between hilarious scenes and heart-shattering moments with a fluidity that will give you awe-inspiring whiplash.  Taika Waititi (who won the 2019 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay) is one of my favorite directors.  I am convinced nobody could make this movie as well as he did, delicately balancing between ridiculousness and respect.


Tracks

In 1977, Robyn Davidson trekked across Australia, over 1700 miles, with camels that she had trained for the journey.  Tracks (2013, PG-13), starring Mia Wasikowska as Robyn and Adam Driver as National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan, recounts Davidson's trip from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, with beautiful scenery and a sense of how isolating the Australian outback can be.  A real treat for those who love movies about independent women or travel.


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Lilies of the Field

Sidney Poitier won his first Academy Award for his performance as Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field (1963).  The Arizona desert is home to five German nuns who have come to America to farm and build a life for themselves and the migrant workers in the area.  Filmed in black and white, this movie is a simple story of an itinerant handyman who builds a chapel.

Funny, charming, and sentimental Homer Smith will not be forgotten.  His English classes for the young nuns are especially sweet.  Lilies of the Field is a classic and the entire cast is excellent.  The movie is uplifting, inspiring, and beautiful.


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The Good Karma Hospital. Series 1

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Dr. Ruby Walker (Amrita Asharia) decides to connect with her roots and accepts a job in India.  What she expected to be a thriving urban clinic turns out to be a rural hospital, chaotic, overflowing with patients, and short on both staff and supplies. Good Karma Hospital is run by brusque Dr. Lydia Fonseca (Amanda Redman, who starred in New Tricks).  Ruby constantly clashes with the arrogant, handsome Dr. Gabriel Varna (James Krishna Floyd).  Her skills are tested by having to diagnose and treat all sorts of illnesses and injuries.

The Good Karma Hospital (2017) is entertaining, filled with colorful characters, picturesque views, and a soundtrack full of Bollywood music.  Check out the soundtrack on Hoopla.  This TV show will appeal to fans of the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.



Midsommar

Stricken with grief after a tragic family loss, Dani Ardor goes on a spontaneous trip to Sweden with her boyfriend and his classmates.  Classmate Pelle is from Sweden and has invited his friends to join his family for their annual Midsommar festival to celebrate the changing of the seasons and give back to mother nature.  Unbeknownst to Dani and the rest of the group, the festival follows many sinister traditions that leave them questioning whether they should leave or stay.

Director Ari Aster has proven his place in the world of contemporary horror with his latest masterpiece.  Midsommar (2019, rated R) is at once a very unnerving and beautiful film, set in a very believable Swedish community with traditions and beliefs that feel just as real as they are unsettling.  The film features gorgeous cinematography, showcasing the beautiful landscape and transcendental music that lifts the viewer into another world full of wonder and intrigue.

While Midsommar is classified as a horror film, horror is more so the tool through which the movie's message is communicated: out with the old, in with the new.


A Few Good Men

When I think of A Few Good Men, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic scene of Jack Nicholson shouting, "You can't handle the truth!"  But since that was about all I could remember, I decided it was time to re-watch the classic 1992 film.  

Tom Cruise is Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a young and cocky Navy lawyer assigned to defend two Marines accused of murder while on duty at Guantanamo Bay. The film includes conspiracies, political machinations, and many shades of gray.

Featuring that signature Aaron Sorkin dialogue (it's his first movie screenplay), A Few Good Men was directed by Rob Reiner (rated R). Costarring Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Pollak.  You'll also spot a young Kiefer Sutherland, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Noah Wyle.

If you enjoy films featuring lawyers, check out Great Movies: Lawyers in the Movies and Great Movies: More Lawyers in the Movies to discover what to watch next.  A Few Good Men is also on the American Film Institute's list of top courtroom dramas.

Green Book

This Oscar-winning film is based on the true story of musician Dr. Donald Shirley's tour of the south in 1962.  He hired New York bouncer, Tony Vallelonga as a chauffeur/bodyguard.   The relationship started out as an awkward business arrangement between the two men.  No men could be more different in demeanor, background, and speech, yet they set off on a two-month trip together.  Through the trials and tribulations of the journey, they see each other at their best and at their worst.  They quickly develop mutual respect for the other's talents.  The mutual respect evolves into a lifelong friendship.

The title of the movie refers to The Negro Motorist Green Book which was an indispensable companion for African Americans on road trips through southern states during the 1950s and 60s.  Green Book won Best Picture, Original Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) at the 2019 Academy Awards. The film is not without controversy.  Read the Time article to learn more.


Released as a motion picture in 2018, rated PG-13


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Father Brown. Season 1 (2013) TV-PG

If the show Father Brown can be summed up in one word, and one word only, it would be "delightful."  At first glance, it's hard to realize most episodes revolve around murder!  With the gorgeously quaint 1950s English countryside, the overall tone is upbeat with plenty of banter between characters.  Mark Williams plays Father Brown as a boyish scamp sticking his nose anywhere and everywhere to the police's chagrin.  He won't rest until the latest mystery is resolved. Wherever Father Brown is found, Mrs. McCarthy and Lady Felicia will not be far behind.  The series is based on the stories of G. K. Chesterton.  Won't you help them save some souls and check this out today? 

If you enjoy Father Brown, try our list of books featuring Murders in an English Village.

The Wife (2017) R

The Wife is the bittersweet tale of the life of Joan Castleman and her husband, Joe, a beloved, acclaimed novelist.  The movie begins with what seems to be a relatively ordinary marriage, but a quiet tension builds in the days leading up to Joe's receipt of the Nobel Prize in literature.  Joan, played by Academy Award nominee Glenn Close, looks back on their forty-year marriage with a mixture of love and regret.  As she examines the consequences of the compromises she has made, the film takes on a palpable urgency which is driven not just by the storyline, but by Close's amazing performance as well.

The Wife expertly presents the husband-wife dynamic in all its complex glory.  From the mundanity of daily life to the once-in-a-lifetime joys to the oh-so-often-overlooked betrayals, this is a movie chock full of drama not to be missed!

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Colette (2018) R

Young Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) marries an older writer, nom de plume Willy (Dominic West), who takes her from the countryside to cultural, sophisticated Paris.  They lead an extravagant lifestyle, always having bills to pay.  He convinces her to ghostwrite stories for him, and she does turning out a semiautobiographical novel of a bold, young girl that becomes the new sensation in Paris.  She continues to write as she explores her sensual side and Willy takes all the credit for the rage of Paris. Colette is visually a beautiful movie and definitely an adult story because of her sexual appetite.


The Last Detective. The Complete Series (2003 - 2007)

Detective Constable 'Dangerous' Davies (Peter Davidson) is the lowest man on the totem pole in his London police station and is the last detective his boss would assign to a major case.  Davies is a bumbling underdog who is not respected by his colleagues and only given the cases no one else wants.  Despite this, he does his job with determination and intelligence and somehow manages to solve major cases.

The audience gets views of Davies' personal life, including his ex-wife (whom he is still in love with), his dog, and his quirky friend, Mod.  This British series (comprised of four seasons) is a gentler version of police procedurals, with some humor and no gratuitous violence.

If you like The Last Detective, you might also enjoy some of the selections on  British Detective Series…Now.



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A Dog’s Purpose (2017) PG

81i2yytjxl-_sy445_When we are first introduced to Bailey, the lovable narrator in A Dog’s Purpose, he’s a spunky newborn pup full of wonder and curiosity.  He asks, “What is this place and why am I here?”  As his story unfolds, these questions are answered, and we come to understand all the wonderful reasons dogs exist in our lives.  This movie weaves together the separate stories of Bailey’s nine lives and explains how the humans he accompanies on each life’s journey have a unique reason for needing and loving a dog.

I loved this sweet movie for the message it shared, but be warned, it will leave you and your children in tears.  Keep a box of tissues nearby! If you love A Dog’s Purpose as much as I did, you’ll find more movies featuring our furry, four-legged friends here.

Atypical. Seasons 1-2 (2017-2018) TV-MA

mv5bmtcynzk3mzm2of5bml5banbnxkftztgwodcwmzyxnjm-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_Atypical revolves around high school senior, Sam Gardner.  He loves penguins, art, and biology and just happens to be on the autism spectrum.  Follow the Gardner family as they navigate relationships at school and home, while Sam works to gain more independence and life experience in this witty, yet heart-tugging Netflix original series.  Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream through Netflix on our Rokus.