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IPPL Staff

Signs (2002) PG-13

220px-the_signs_movieGraham—formerly Reverend Hess—is a grieving husband, who has lost not only his wife but his faith too. He hasn’t by any means fallen apart, though, or stopped caring about the people around him. Graham is a good dad to his two young kids, and the people in his small town can’t help still calling him “Father.” When crop circles appear on his farm and then around the world, Graham reasons that there must be a logical explanation, and he struggles to hold on to this—even as his kids and his younger brother, who lives with them, jump on the alien-theory bandwagon.

Signs is one of those quiet films that rings true to life, often feeling more like a family drama than a supernatural thriller. And yet true to form, writer and director M. Night Shyamalan injects just enough oddity and suspense into the film to make you feel that things are not quite right—and that there’s something creepy lurking just around the corner.
Jez

The Crown. Season 2 (2017) TV-MA

the-crown-season-2-poster-1As England moves into the 1960s, Elizabeth comes into her own as queen. We saw this beginning to take form at the end of season 1 (read my review here or Katie’s take here), but after almost a decade and three prime ministers, she’s grown up quite a bit. Royal life is not without its troubles, though, and season two continues with the rocky marriage of Elizabeth and Philip, the scandals of Princess Margaret, and balancing her role as queen and her role as a woman. New conflicts arise with the threat of war in Egypt, public backlash against Elizabeth’s reign, plus the war between progress and tradition.

Tune in to season two of The Crown on Netflix by checking out one of our rokus to see the Kennedys, a bad haircut, Matt Smith’s brilliant beard, and a whole lot of period drama.
Katie

The Crown. Season 1 (2016) TV-MA

the-crown-2016For anyone obsessed with Britain's royal family (like me!), The Crown is a perfect blend of drama and actual history, creating a highly enjoyable television series.

The first season of The Crown covers the years 1947-1955, which includes famous events such as Princess Elizabeth's marriage to Philip, King George VI's passing, and Queen Elizabeth's coronation. But there are also a fair amount of things I had no idea happened in England, like the Great Smog of 1952.

I spent a lot of time after episodes doing research and now you don't have to; a companion book was released that documents the differences between series and true history.

If you're waiting on the third royal baby to be born in April or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's marriage in May, this is a fabulous way to pass the time!

Watch season 1 of The Crown on DVD or borrow a Roku to stream it via Netflix. Stay tuned—next week, Jez reviews season 2.

 
IPPL Staff

My Man Godfrey (1936)

225px-my_man_godfreyIn this farce masterpiece, William Powell plays Godfrey, the enigmatic butler whose sophistication and commanding presence hint at his true identity. Godfrey is discovered living in the city dump, and recruited to work for the Bullocks—a family described by one of their longtime staffers as being more “nutty” than “exacting.” The cast of characters includes the shrill-voiced Mrs. Bullock, usually hung over and in a pixie-seeing haze in the morning; Cornelia, Godfrey’s nemesis; and her sister Irene, hopelessly in love with Godfrey from the start. Then there’s poor Mr. Bullock, the sole voice of reason in the family. Oh and Carlo, Mrs. Bullock’s “protégé,” really a freeloading artist who becomes melodramatically upset as soon as Mr. Bullock starts talking belt-tightening.

It is hard to believe that in the midst of all this chaos and frivolity, My Man Godfrey has a deeper aim than to make the audience laugh. But at the heart of the story is Godfrey—the butler who’s really a high-minded aristocrat—and who really makes the audience think.
Ben

A Ghost Story (2017) R

ghoststoryA recently deceased husband (Casey Affleck) returns as a ghost in a white sheet to haunt his suburban home and be close to his widowed wife (Rooney Mara). When she decides to move, the ghost loses all track of time and spirals into history where he is able to see all previous and future owners of his home.

Despite its title, A Ghost Story isn’t a movie that invokes fear or horror. A very slow, quiet, and artistic movie, it takes its time to deliver its message and make the audience feel the sense of loss and longing of the characters. This movie is as beautiful as it is solemn, with well thought out camera shots and very haunting imagery. A Ghost Story may be the very first cosmic ghost story—not only does it explore themes of love and loss, it tackles the very idea of existence and time itself.
Jez

Hidden Figures (2016) PG

Inspired by the true story of the amazing women who helped launch Americans into space, Hidden Figures follows the lives of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). Facing more than their fair share of discrimination and opposition, these three African-American women prove themselves the most capable mathematicians and human “computers” by taking on the law, learning how to code the new IBM machines, and calculating trajectories with math that doesn’t even exist yet.

Check out our list of other movies about space.
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Mary P.

Alone in Berlin (2016) R

In Germany, a couple’s only child is killed during the early days of World War II. Otto (Brendan Gleeson) spends his days in a factory making coffins. Bereft at this loss of life, and wondering why, Otto feels like his family gave the ultimate sacrifice to the Fuhrer. Spurred into action, he disguises his handwriting and starts writing and distributing anti-Nazi propaganda around Berlin. When his wife Anna (Emma Thompson) discovers his efforts, she wants to help him despite the dangers. Both the police and army are seeking who is responsible.

Alone in Berlin is based on a true story. Read the NPR article for more details.
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Mimi

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) R

Mickey “Mick” Haller is a top defense lawyer in L A. He is slick and famous as an attorney who works out of his Lincoln Town Car. He takes on cases that might seem impossible or a long shot to win. The legal system is almost always stacked against his clients and you will get a look at how the system works. The wealthy young man he has agreed to defend is no prize and he sees his life and family threatened.

Fans of Michael Connelly will like that The Lincoln Lawyer is a good adaptation of his book and the cast is outstanding. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, and William H. Macy.

You’ll find The Lincoln Lawyer on our list of Lawyers in the Movies.
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Jez

Wonder Woman (2017) PG-13

Superhero films are nothing new, but Wonder Woman brings more than a little something special to the table. Set in WWII, pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crash-lands on Themyscira, an island inhabited entirely by warrior women. Among them is Diana (Gal Gadot), who believes the world of men and its battles holds the key to defeating the war god Ares. She follows Trevor to England and later leads his men into battle in some of the most impressive fight scenes we’ve seen in a long time. Action-packed, but balanced with humor and tender moments, Wonder Woman is sure to become a favorite of viewers and inspire a new generation of strong female heroes.
Mary P.

Gifted (2017) PG-13

After the death of her mother, Mary (McKenna Grace), a young mathematics prodigy, is put in the custody of her uncle, Frank (Chris Evans). Seeing how his sister's genius drove her to suicide, Frank wants to raise Mary as a regular child, but her grandmother wants her to embrace her gifts. The two adults engage into a custody battle—with Mary in the middle. Gifted proved to be a gentle, beautiful movie that will surely appeal to your heart.
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Mimi

Lone Star (1996) R 

This is a powerful movie, and it is very relevant today. Texas law and immigration are two of the many themes played out by Matthew McConaughey and Kris Kristofferson in Lone Star. An unsolved murder in a Texas border town leads to a sheriff that once controlled a town and family secrets.

Writer and director John Sayles (Eight Men Out) gives us a story with flashbacks that are incredibly moving. Many will see a film noir movie with several plot twists that will haunt you.
Jennifer

Their Finest (2017) R

In the early part of World War II, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is hired as a scriptwriter to accurately portray women’s dialogue in propaganda films. The war office wants these films to strike the right balance of realism and optimism, boosting morale throughout Britain (oh, and inspiring the United States to join the war). In Their Finest, Catrin works closely with fellow writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and aging film star Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) during the Blitz in London to contribute to the war effort.

Based on the novel of the same name by Lissa Evans. Discover other movies set on the home front during WWII.
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Jennifer

Table 19 (2017) PG-13

Experience a wedding reception through the eyes of the guests who probably should have RSVP’d “no” in Table 19. Eloise (Anna Kendrick), who was relieved of her maid of honor duties after being dumped by the best man, leads this heartwarming band of misfits. In this dramedy, unexpected friendships develop and life lessons are shared among this random assortment of people.
Mary S.

Suits. Seasons 1-6 (2011-2017) TV-14

If you enjoy a legal series with a unique premise and great cast, watch Suits. Top attorney Harvey Specter hires Mike Ross, a college dropout with a photographic memory who is on the run from a drug dealer, as his associate knowing he never attended law school nor passed the bar. Delight in the winning combination of the seemingly cutthroat attorney and the compassionate associate.

Suits is a balance between relationships within the Manhattan corporate law firm, negotiating cases, and a little romance. Enjoy the infighting and firm politics, especially with the annoying attorney, Louis Litt.
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Shirley

Spotlight: Women’s Pictures

Back in the day, moviegoers called chick flicks “women’s pictures.” Make sure you have a box of tissues handy as you watch these melodramatic tearjerkers. For an excellent discussion of the genre, visit AMC’s filmsite.org.

Some of my favorites include: