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IPPL Staff

Spotlight: Robert Duvall

I watched Tender Mercies (1983) again, recently. It’s one of my favorite “little” movies. I realized as I watched it that Robert Duvall is one of those actors who make you forget you are watching someone performing a role. He has that special ability to make his characters real. His performances as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Jackson Fentry in Tomorrow (1972), Tom Hagen in the first two Godfather movies, Frank Hackett in Network (1976), Lt. Col. Kilgore in Apocalypse Now (1979), Bull Meechum in The Great Santini (1979), Mac Sledge in Tender Mercies, Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove (1989), and Sonny Dewey in The Apostle (1997) rank as some of the finest acting ever put on film. It is an impressive body of work.

He has had several Oscar nominations including one for his performance as a military man and father in The Great Santini and he earned his first Academy Award for Best Actor in Tender Mercies.

Pick one to watch and see if you don’t agree that he is one of the best. Some of his most acclaimed films are To Kill A Mockingbird, M*A*S*H (1970), Lonesome Dove, The Godfather I and II, True Grit (1969), Apocalypse Now, and the TV miniseries Lonesome Dove.
Jez

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) PG-13

Snow White and the HuntsmanSnow White and the Huntsman is a new take on an old tale. After the wicked witch Ravenna (Charlize Theron) marries and then murders her father (the king), Snow White (Kristen Stewart) must escape the only home she’s ever known to try and find the remnants of her father’s supporters in order to win back the throne. Ravenna sends a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track Snow down in the haunted forest as war looms on the horizon.

This movie had great action scenes and both Theron and Stewart gave excellent performances. Snow White and the Huntsman is an updated, action-filled version of the classic Disney movie which focuses less on romance and more on magic and war.
IPPL Staff

The Man with a Cloak (1951)

An idealistic young French girl Madeline Minot (Leslie Caron) travels to New York City in 1848 to obtain financial assistance from her fiancée’s wealthy grandfather (Louis Calhern) to further the cause of the French Republic. When she arrives, she finds that the old man is destroying himself with drink and being assisted in his demise by the old man’s sinister paramour (Barbara Stanwyck), his butler (Joe De Santis), and his very cynical maid (Margaret Wycherly). The wicked trio plan to inherit the old man’s money.

Madeline Minot meets Dupin (Joseph Cotton), the mysterious man with a cloak who, feeling sorry for the young girl, offers his assistance.

I like this film for the fine performances, the witty dialogue, the almost noirish feel of the film, the mystery aspects, and the setting in 1848 New York. I have no hard data but I suspect that 95% or more of films about 19th century America are westerns, Civil War films or a combination of the two. Even though I am especially fond of westerns, it is a real pleasure to see a film set in the East.

Students of American literature will appreciate this film as well.

I saw The Man with a Cloak for the first time a few years ago and I have seen it three more times since.  It has become one of my favorites and perhaps it will be yours as well.
IPPL Staff

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.
IPPL Staff

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013) PG

Discover how “Oz” came to be in Oz: The Great and Powerful. James Franco stars as Oz, a magician caught in a power struggle between three witches (Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz).

For all things Oz, also check out the original movie The Wizard of Oz (1939) or the novel of the same name by L. Frank Baum.
Joan

12 Angry Men (1957)

This film took me by surprise. It's black and white. Most of the action takes place in a small room with the same twelve people for 90 minutes. The story is so well written, well directed, and well acted that the viewer doesn't mind its simplicity.

In 12 Angry Men, the characters and plot evolve in a jury room. The jurors identified only as Juror #1, #2, etc., must decide the fate of an eighteen-year-old man accused of murdering his father. One brave man among the twelve votes innocent. He doesn't necessarily believe he is innocent, but desperately believes he deserves some thoughtful discussion before being sent to the electric chair.

A thoughtful, angry discussion ensues. Eleven men are ready to write off this young man as a slum dweller who could easily commit murder. All the evidence points to the son as the killer, yet one man insists they examine the details. As a result, the personalities of the twelve begin to unfold.

We've created a list of films featuring Lawyers in the Movies. For more on 12 Angry Men, check out Robert Ebert's review and the American Film Institute's feature.
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IPPL Staff

Rust and Bone = De rouille et d'os (2012) R

This is a moving French film about the power of love and loss. Rust and Bone stars Marion Cotillard as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer and Matthias Schoenaerts as Alain, a single father struggling to keep it together. Stephanie and Alain meet one night and later form an unlikely bond after Stephanie suffers from a life altering accident. A beautiful and emotional film that is a must watch.

http://youtu.be/vyAJDL3mTxI
IPPL Staff

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.
IPPL Staff

An Education (2009) PG-13

All of the actors gave strong performances, but Carey Mulligan’s performance as Jenny particularly sold the film. As Jenny, she portrays an innocent yet sophisticated teenager in 1960s London. An Education is a very believable coming of age tale featuring beautiful scenery and stunning architecture as the characters travel throughout Europe.

http://youtu.be/ALrcTM9W-9s
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IPPL Staff

Sherlock: Seasons 1 and 2 (2010-2012)

Benedict Cumberbatch is the star of Sherlock, a BBC Masterpiece Mystery! and he has nailed it. The grouchy and steadfast Watson is deftly played by Martin Freeman.

This series is Holmes in a non-Victorian setting, but it stays true to the character’s heritage of arrogance and braininess. Although the show is more typical of the contemporary crime drama, the stories are taken from the original Arthur Conan Doyle novels. The writers have entirely modernized them and given them new depth using the wonders of the digital age and a very contemporary London.
Mary S.

Winter’s Bone (2010) R

In this moving story, seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) determinedly tries to find her father in order to save the family home in the Missouri backwoods. For her exceptional, riveting performance, Lawrence received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Because her mother is incapacitated, Ree has been raising her younger sister and brother. Her father, a meth cooker, has just been released from prison and is missing. If he does not appear in court, the bail bondsman will take their home and timberland. Ree persistently talks to closed-mouthed relatives and neighbors, putting her in peril, to track down her father.

Winter’s Bone won the best picture and best screenplay awards at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie is based on Daniel Woodrell’s novel. After this film, Jennifer Lawrence went on to star in The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook. For her performance in the leading role of Silver Linings Playbook, she won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
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Elizabeth

Spotlight: New Baseball Movies

We’re entering the dog days of summer and with that comes the mid-point of the season of America’s game. If the Cubs and Sox aren’t enough for you, here are two recent baseball films we loved.

Trouble with the Curve (2012) PG-13
Clint Eastwood movies are always good and this one is no exception.  In this heartwarming story, he is an aging baseball scout whose vision is starting to fail. Enter Amy Adams, his estranged daughter, to help her dad. Trouble with the Curve explores the very special relationship between fathers and daughters.

Moneyball (2011) PG-13Moneyball was a great movie which provided insight into the behind-the-scenes world of baseball. For the story behind the film, check out Michael Lewis’ Moneyball: the art of winning an unfair game.

For more baseball films, check the list on our website.
Joe

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Cyrano de Bergerac is one of those great movies that combines adventure with excellent dialogue. Cyrano is a soldier in the French army in 1640 and is both feared and respected for his skill as a swordsman. Despite his military prowess and clever tongue, he is unable to win over his true love because of his misgivings about his extraordinarily long nose. Instead, he helps a young, handsome cadet woo the love of his life in his place.

The movie is at times funny, exciting, suspenseful, and ultimately tragic. It features the brilliant acting of Jose Ferrer, with his deep booming voice, who won the Academy Award for best actor for his role. The movie Roxanne (1987) with Steve Martin is a modern day remake of this classic.

Watch the original trailer (courtesy of TCM).
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:
Mary

Lincoln (2012) PG-13

 Lincoln lives up to reputation as an outstanding historical drama. Director Steven Spielberg reveals the personal and political struggles that Lincoln faced during the last four months of his final presidential term. Lincoln was determined to have Congress pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, thereby guaranteeing the abolishment of slavery.

The film vividly recreates the divisive legislative battle over the passage of the 13th amendment, and the political maneuvering that Lincoln and his supporters used to obtain the necessary votes. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a stunning (and Academy Award winning) performance as Lincoln capturing his down-to-earth style, folksy humor, his political astuteness and oratory skills, as well as his tenderness toward his young son Tad and affection for his wife Mary Todd.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet or are eager to discuss the film, join us next Friday, May 31. We’ll start the movie at 7:00pm and follow with a discussion. Sign up today!
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