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Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful (1997, rated PG-13) is just that, a beautiful movie about a father who will do anything in his power to keep the horrors of WWII away from his son. I love how Roberto Benigni invents the whole game scenario for his boy and humorously wings it with every turn for the worse in their prison camp.

The ending is nothing short of brilliant, loving, and courageous. For those movie fans who shy away from foreign films because of the subtitles, I encourage you to watch this wonderful movie that proves how love will always be victorious in the end.

Watch three-time Oscar winner (actor, foreign film, original score) Life is Beautiful on Hoopla today. In Italian with English subtitles. Roberto Benigni wrote, directed, and acted in this excellent movie.


Shazam!

An orphan in search of his mother unexpectedly obtains superpowers while at yet another foster home. Shazam! (2019, rated PG-13) is an odd mix of low-brow humor combined with typical superpower action scenes and a dramatic storyline that is ultimately very touching.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys superhero movies and silly comedies. Starring Zachary Levi as Shazam and Asher Angel as his alter ego Billy Batson.

Place a hold on the DVD or Blu-ray for pickup. Also, read Shazam! comic books on Hoopla.

Promare

Combine part mecha anime, part social commentary on equality and justice, and add sharp visuals and vibrant colors to get Promare (2019, PG-13). The Burnish are a group of people that control fire and are seen as a terrorist group of people by the public. They are opposed by the freeze force and rescue squad who use ice to cool them down when they cause fires. The two sides collide ideologically throughout the film with a multitude of actions scenes throughout.

For better or worse, it follows the similar Trigger/Gainax studio style show/movie where its characters are somewhat one dimensional, but it makes up for it with its action scenes and outstanding visuals.

Watch Promare on Hoopla today. In Japanese with English subtitles.


Spotlight: Musicals

You can't go wrong with Julie Andrews singing and acting in these classic movie musicals.

The Sound of Music (1965, rated G) is such a great romantic and comedic movie! This is a movie for all ages. It's one I enjoy watching over again even though I first watched it at a very young age. The underlying music is quite enlightening. The young children in the movie were superb in their performances.

Mary Poppins (1964, rated G) is a childhood classic that you will remember when you grow up. The story is great, the music is wonderful, and this movie is amazing. Listen to the soundtrack on Hoopla.

Watch both films on Disney+ by borrowing one of the library's Family Rokus with Disney Plus or placing a hold on the DVDs or Blu-rays today. Want more Julie Andrews? Listen to her sing her favorite Broadway showtunes on Hoopla today.


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The Yank

An Irish-American lad, Tom Murphy, and his very wacky family are expecting to have him married off very soon, but the bride must be an Irish girl. Tom travels to Ireland for his best friend's wedding and stumbles through the pubs and over the hills in his quest for a bride.

Fred Willard, Colm Meaney, and Kevin Farley all make appearances. Tom learns in the end that Ireland is not the mythical land of old movies, but a real, hardworking country moving forward.

Watch The Yank (2014, rated TV-14) on Hoopla today.

If you enjoy Irish films, check out some of the titles on this list

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The VelociPastor

I was prepared for this to be a really dumb movie, and I was not disappointed. It was quite enjoyable! If you, like I, love bad b-rated horror movies, then this is a must see. It's the age-old tale of a priest's journey to China to find deeper spirituality after a devastating family tragedy. The twist, however, is that he is blessed with an ancient ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur.

This movie checks all the boxes for a low budget horror movie for me: bad acting ✔, cheap visual effects ✔, Christian ninjas ✔, and lots of laughs. The VelociPastor (2018) is a sincere parody that is genuinely funny.

Watch it on Hoopla today!


Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway

What an amazing journey to see how genius Lin-Manuel Miranda created the Broadway hit Hamilton. He was inspired to write an updated, contemporary, hip-hop musical that reignited New York City's Times Square. After writing the story and music, Miranda starred as the title character (and won a lot of Tony Awards).

After reading a biography on an obscure founding father, Miranda was inspired to write this musical. Side note: Alexander Hamilton (2008)by Ron Chernow is available in Overdrive as an ebook, abridged audio (11 hours), and unabridged audio (35 hours).

Miranda brought Hamilton to life by showing his humanity and flaws. He shined light on a historical character that is self-made and rises to unexpected heights. Another groundbreaking effort was Miranda's movement to diversify roles in his musical to further diversity in musical theater.

I highly recommend this documentary to see the inspiration behind the creator of the hit musical Hamilton.Watch Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway (2017, rated TV-PG) on Hoopla today. Then, listen to the Hamilton soundtrack on Hoopla too!

And exciting news: the Broadway production will be available on Disney+ starting July 3. Reserve one of our Family Rokus today for your chance to watch the production.


At First Sight

At First Sight (1999, rated PG-13) starring Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino is a slow-moving, tender love story that shows that blind people are not completely helpless. Virgil has been blind since early childhood. He meets Amy, who he likes and she reciprocates those feeling. Virgil has a new surgery to help him regain his vision, and his life changes drastically. He experiences unexpected problems of suddenly seeing and not knowing how to handle his new vision.

All and all, At First Sight is a feel-good movie worth watching. Place the dvd on hold or check it out on Hoopla today.


Coherence

Mike and Lee are having friends over for dinner tonight. It's also the night Miller's comet will pass near the Earth. Smartphones crack, the Internet goes out, and then all power is lost. Mike has a generator which restores the lights. The landscape outside is dark except for one house in the distance with the lights on. Despite having been warned by a physicist friend to stay inside during the comet event, two of the party take glow sticks and attempt to visit the other house.

Then it really starts getting weird. This is one of those movies you have to watch over again to notice the clues you missed the first time. Don't look for car chases, fiery explosions, or gunfights. Coherence (2013) is more of a thought-provoking suspense puzzle.

I really liked Coherence and always recommend it when I'm asked for a good movie: you can place a hold on the dvd or watch it on Hoopla today.

Amelie

This quirky French comedy very loosely parallels the plot of Jane Austen's Emma. The title character is a cute young waitress with a vivid imagination who comes to realize her joy at helping others. There is no end to the outlandish stratagems that Amelie (Audrey Tautou) is plotting, but will she be able to find love for herself ?

Amelie (2001, rated R) is a fun film with plenty of computer-generated visuals, giving it a unique and farcical feel. Watch the film on Hoopla today. In French with English subtitles.


Still Life

The little village in Quebec is the scene of an inexplicable murder of a beloved resident.  This murder leads police to suspect murder in an earlier death originally thought to be of natural causes.  The investigation fosters suspicion, recriminations, and attempted murders to hide the truth.

Still Life: a Three Pines Mystery (2013) is a bit slow, but a nice addition to the cozy cottage village mystery genre.  Watch the movie on Hoopla today.

The film is based on the bestselling series featuring Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny.  Listen to the audiobook on Hoopla or read the ebook on Overdrive.


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Parasite

Where do you start with Parasite?  The experience of watching it is so many things at once: funny, tragic, bold, engaging, unsettling, upsetting, shocking.  Somehow, director, Bong Joon Ho, has made the film's stomach-dropping shifts in tone and twists in plot feel seamless, and the result is one of the most memorable movie experiences I've had this year.

Parasite (2019, rated R), the first-ever South Korean film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, tells the story of a struggling Korean family.  The Kim family lives in a roach-infested, semi-underground apartment, surviving on odd jobs and borrowed wi-fi.  But when an old classmate of Ki-Woo, one of the Kim children, visits their luck changes.  The classmate works as a tutor for the wealthy Park family and wants Ki-Woo to replace him while he studies abroad.

Ki-Woo seizes the opportunity, not only for himself but for his struggling family.  As he is leaving his first tutoring lesson, Mrs. Park laments that her younger son has never been able to find a good art teacher.  It so happens that Ki-Woo knows an art student that may be interested.  She went to America to study, he explains, but is probably back in Korea by now.  The next day Ki-Woo's sister, Ki-Jung, accompanies him, introducing herself as "Jessica," the art therapist.  She diagnoses Mrs. Park's son with early signs of severe mental illness and prescribes several therapy sessions a week.  Ki-Woo's parents soon follow.  One by one, posing as distant acquaintances or professional contacts, each member of the Kim family claws their way into the household.  In their efforts to secure full-time employment, they can be crueleven ruthlessbut it's difficult not to root for them anyway.  The Kims do not play nice, but they are smart, resourceful, and determined.  With the few resources they have, they succeed in beating their competition and pulling the household's stringsuntil one fateful night, things go very, very wrong.

Many movies explore the ugly realities of class divide and inequality, but few are as vivid and clever as Parasite.  Watch it for free with a Hulu subscription (or one-month free trial), by placing a hold on one of the library's Rokus preloaded with Hulu, or placing a hold on a dvd or blu-ray.

Millennium Actress

This Japanese anime movie is centered on the life of Chiyoko Fujiwara, a retired actress who is being interviewed about her career.  Chiyoko recounts the story of a man she tried to find throughout her life without knowing his name or face.  The story flows from the past and present when Chiyoko is telling the story, and it transitions beautifully from one scene to the next.

Millennium Actress (2019, rated PG) was directed by the award winning director, Kon Satoshi, who also directed Perfect Blue and Tokyo Godfathers.

Watch Millennium Actress  on Hoopla today. In Japanese with English subtitles.



Comfort and Joy

Based upon real events, a local DJ gets involved between two rival families for the ice cream trade in Glasgow.  Bill Paterson, who plays DJ Dickie Bird, is in top form.  The introduction is rather long before you get into the reason for the film.  While it can be slow moving, it does have a good sense of humor.

Watch Comfort and Joy (1984, rated PG) on Hoopla today.


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Penelope

Penelope Wilhern is living a fairy tale. She is an heiress, living in a beautiful mansion, being pursued by a charming aristocrat…and she's tasked with breaking the curse she was born with that left her with a pig snout instead of a nose. Such a task seems hopeless when suitor after suitor run away in terror after seeing her, but when one of those suitors helps Penelope learn to take risks, she begins to see there is more to life than breaking the curse.

Penelope (2006, rated PG) is feel good, modern day fairy tale peppered with comedy, fantasy, romance, and charming performances by Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, and Reese Witherspoon. Watch it on Hoopla today.