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Jennifer

Veronica Mars Season 1 (2004-2005)

Veronica_Mars_season_1_DVDAfter hearing about this cult classic and the groundswell of fan support to make a movie, I finally watched season 1 of Veronica Mars. I can see the appeal. The title character (portrayed by Kristen Bell) is a likable yet troubled high school student in Neptune, California.

After her best friend Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) is killed and her dad Keith (Enrico Colantoni) loses his job as sheriff over the handling of the murder investigation, Veronica uses her PI skills to discover the truth behind Lilly’s death. This arc lasts the entire 22 episodes, as does Veronica’s quest to discover what happened to her at a party last year. In the meantime, she’s solving mysteries big and small for classmates and community members, plus dealing with the typical high school angst. A smart, addictive show.
Joe

Good Will Hunting (1997) R

good-will-hunting-movie-dvdplanetstorepkWill Hunting (Matt Damon) is a rough around the edges South Boston youth who is a mathematical genius, but he is dealing with a lot of internal issues and he seems destined for a life spent in and out of prison. When his talents are discovered by a local MIT professor, Will is required to meet with a psychologist (Robin Williams) who finally starts to get through to him. Will’s transformation is subtle but inspiring.

Williams won Best Supporting Actor for his role, and Damon and Ben Affleck, who also stars in Good Will Hunting, won for Best Original Screenplay.
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Lora

Short Term 12 (2013) R

Actress Brie Larson was robbed when she wasn't nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Short Term 12.

Larson is Grace, one of the supervisors at a foster care facility for troubled teens. The film explores the day to day life of the teens at the facility and Grace's own background and home life--which includes her boyfriend and co-worker Mason. As expected, the movie is at times raw and intense, but it's also compassionate and has some humorous moments. If you like movies that explore characters and their emotional lives, this is not to be missed.

Check out a review on RogerEbert.com from contributor Christy Lemire; panelists recently discussed the film after a showing at Ebertfest.
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IPPL Staff

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.
IPPL Staff

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.
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.