Blog

Cindy K.

Moneyball (2011) PG-13

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you’ll enjoy this true story of the Oakland Athletics and their general manager, Billy Beane (and check out the book by Michael Lewis). It’s the story of Beane (Brad Pitt) and the unorthodox methods he used to rebuild his team.

The film, which earned Academy Award nominations for Best Film, Best Actor (Pitt), and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), offers a heartwarming tale of determination, dedication, and love of the game.

Add your name to the waiting list in our catalog or join us on Friday, March 16 at 7pm for Movies & More as we begin our celebration of 2012 Academy Award-nominated movies with Moneyball. Fresh popcorn will be provided. Register at calendar.ippl.info. The series continues with The Help on Friday, April 20.

 
Mary S.

Secretariat

Secretariat (2011) PG
The whole family will enjoy this inspiring story about Secretariat, perhaps the greatest racehorse ever, and the woman, Penny Chenery Tweety (Diane Lane) who had faith in him. When Penny’s father, a horse breeder, became ill and died, Penny took over the decision making.

After Big Red’s (Secretariat) birth, she stood up to her many detractors to keep, train, and race him. She hired flamboyant trainer Lucien Laurin (played excellently by John Malkovich) and a jockey who ran a horse so hard that his heart burst. Those who cared so much about him – the owner, the trainer, the groom, and the jockey – went beyond what anyone thought was possible, and Secretariat did something incredible that no one thought was conceivable.

Take time to watch one of the special features, Heart of a Champion, which shows actual footage of Secretariat, Penny, and some of the other people who surrounded him.

To learn more about Secretariat, check out the books The Horse God Built: the untold story of Secretariat, the world’s greatest racehorse by Lawrence Scanlan (2007), Secretariat’s Meadow: the land, the family, the legend by Kate Chenery Tweedy (2010), plus And the Crowd Goes Wild: relive the most celebrated sporting events ever broadcast by Joe Garner (1999).

Other movies you might want to watch include Seabiscuit (2003) and Dreamer (2005).
IPPL Staff

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
Let me just say up front that I loved Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit. It is probably my favorite nonfiction book. Well, I think, she’s done it again with Unbroken, the biography of an extraordinary U.S. Army Air Force officer, Louie Zamperini, who was shot down over the Pacific. Laura Hillenbrand has presented a remarkable story of human endurance. Zamperini’s story, like Seabiscuit’s, is eternal and inspirational.

On a mission over the South Pacific, Zamperini was the bombardier on a B-24. When the plane crashes, he finds himself floating on a raft with little provision for survival. After more than a month on the raft, starving, thirsty and chased by sharks, the ordeal ends with the survivors being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned in a hellish Japanese POW camp.

Hillenbrand is an historian and biographer who places herself at the service of her subjects; this makes her books a rare combination of writer and story. Though her prose is short and straightforward, her books are written with a rich and vivid narrative voice that keeps you involved through even the worst of Zamperini’s ordeal.

Read an excerpt of the book here.
IPPL Staff

The Downhill Lie by Carl Hiaasen

The Downhill Lie by Carl Hiaasen (2008)
This very funny tale is perfect for golfers or spouses of golfers over 40!

A popular satirical fiction writer, Hiassen brings his offbeat sense of humor to real life anecdotes about golf and life. Visit the author's website and improve your golf game!
Mary

Invictus

Invictus (2010) PG-13
An inspiring film set in the early days of post-apartheid South Africa. Newly elected President Mandela confronts the deep distrust that resides within the country. Mandela uses an unlikely focus to unite the country-- the South African rugby team. Though the whites and Afrikaners love the team, they are loathed by the blacks as a lingering symbol of apartheid. Mandela skillfully uses the team's unlikely bid for the World Cup to unite the country and inspire the team. Wonderful acting makes this a must-see uplifting movie!
Jennifer

Spotlight: The Mighty Ducks Trilogy

Spotlight: The Mighty Ducks Trilogy (1992, 1994, 1996) PG
I have to admit that my childhood hockey memories aren’t of the Chicago Blackhawks; instead, I remember the Mighty Ducks. Disney’s trilogy follows a ragtag group of kids from a Minnesota peewee league (The Mighty Ducks) to the international junior goodwill games (D2) to a stuffy prep school (D3). Starring Emilio Estevez and Joshua Jackson, the Mighty Ducks movies are fun for the whole family.

Wondering what happened to the actors from the original movie? Check out this slideshow. And if you're wondering if the Blackhawks will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, stay tuned...the season starts Thursday!
IPPL Staff

Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert by Timothy M. Gay

Satch, Dizzy & Rapid Robert: the wild saga of interracial baseball before Jackie Robinson by Timothy M. Gay (2010)
The title is somewhat misleading as I did not find the book to be very wild. Nevertheless I believe most readers would consider this book a good introduction into the lives Satchel Paige, Dizzy Dean, and Bob Feller and to interracial baseball in the 1930s and 1940s. I was already pretty familiar with Satchel Paige and Dizzy Dean, but I knew very little about Bob Feller. After reading this book, I am going to do some more reading about Bob Feller.

If you are unfamiliar with one or more of these men you will certainly be tempted to read more about them. You should at least read the last paragraph of page 277 and the first three paragraphs of page 278. I was laughing out loud after I did. And readers should also appreciate Satchel's rules for staying young found on page 280. I thought there were too many stories about individual games. (It was like reading 50 pages of box scores at times. Interesting at first, but after a while it just seems too repetitive.) But if you read the book a few pages at a time you will get a lot out of it.
Jennifer

Invictus

Invictus (2009) PG-13
In 1994, Nelson Mandela assumed the presidency of a racially divided South Africa. He preached forgiveness and reconciliation in the new democracy.

In South Africa, the national rugby team was beloved by the white minority and hated by the black majority. Mandela decided that changing that animosity would be the catalyst to uniting the country. To do that, the host nation had to win the 1995 World Cup.

Starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon (and directed by Clint Eastwood), Invictus is a truly inspirational story that transcends sports and politics. Read a Newsweek article to discover what’s real and what’s not. Also check out reviews from Roger Ebert and The New York Times.

Did you know? The movie’s title comes from a William Ernest Henley poem that inspired Mandela during his imprisonment. You can read more about the true story in Playing the Enemy by John Carlin.
IPPL Staff

The Blind Side

The Blind Side (2009) PG-13
This was such a touching story (with a lot of laughs) for all ages.

In her Academy Award winning role, Sandra Bullock plays the indefatigable Leigh Ann Tuohy. Tim McGraw plays her husband, while Kathy Bates has a supporting role as Miss Sue. The trio are united in their desire to help Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron).

Wondering about the true story behind the movie? Check out Jennifer's review on our Current Picks blog.
Jennifer

Remember the Titans

Remember the Titans (2000) PG
This feel-good football film will leave you smiling. Based on a true story, Remember the Titans follows the integration of a school and football team in 1971 Virginia. Denzel Washington stars as Coach Herman Boone, whose harsh tactics have him at odds with newly demoted assistant coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton). You’ll be enthralled from beginning to end, through the highs and lows of the football team and their community (and how the repercussions echo beyond sports).

The music throughout the film is great – the soundtrack features classics like “Ain't No Mountain High Enough” and “Spirit in the Sky.”

A young Hayden Panettiere is hilarious as the spunky tomboy daughter of the assistant coach. You’ll also see Ryan Gosling and Kate Bosworth in small roles.

Want more football? Check out our list of recommended football films.
IPPL Staff

Beyond the Homestretch by Lynn Reardon

Beyond the Homestretch by Lynn Reardon (2009)
Did you ever wonder what happens to thoroughbred racehorses once they are no longer fit to race? You might find this trip to a Texas racehorse adoption ranch an interesting and informative read. Even if you are not a racing fan (which I am), author and equestrian Lynn Reardon’s account of her personal transformation from accountant to owner of a racehorse adoption ranch will keep you engaged. Reardon takes readers along on a ride atop fiery racehorses while dealing with offbeat horse people and adjusting to the colorful Texas culture. It is full of equine melodramas and surprising, Zen-like insights.

Read an interview with the author and watch a trailer about the book.

Jennifer

Fever Pitch

Fever Pitch (2005) PG-13
Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon pair up in this hilarious movie from the Farrelly brothers. Fallon plays Ben, a high school math teacher with a (possibly) unhealthy obsession with the Boston Red Sox. Lindsey (Barrymore) is a workaholic corporate executive. Life is great…until baseball season starts.

Check out Roger Ebert’s review. See how the movie’s ending changed with the miraculous run of the Red Sox in the 2004 postseason. And read an interview with Jimmy Fallon.

Nick Hornby’s novel Fever Pitch inspired two movies -- Fever Pitch (starring Colin Firth as an obsessed soccer fan) and this baseball film.
IPPL Staff

The Green by Troon McAllister

The Green by Troon McAllister (1999)
Calling all golfers who will enjoy reading about the Ryder Cup! The author has written a humorous novel. Readers will recognize some of the PGA personalities in the book by traits that real PGA golfers on the tour possess. The novel includes golf tips as well as inside information about professional golf versus amateur golf.

This book could be made into a movie, but the people who should play the characters are deceased. In a movie of The Green, Jackie Gleason should play Eddie and Paul Newman could be Alan! The hustle of golf in this book can be compared to the game of pool!

Learn more about author and his books. Like golf? Check out our list of Fairway Fiction for more books on the topic.
Shirley

The Set-Up

The Set-Up (1949)
This well-crafted boxing film stars Robert Ryan as a veteran boxer who dreams of the Big Win. Little does he know that his manager, who has no faith in his chances, has set him up for a fall this night. While his worried wife—who has come to his previous bouts-—instead waits in their nearby hotel room for him, he prepares for his fight with an up-and-comer. The sometimes brutal film action occurs in real time. I found the scenes between boxers preparing for their fights psychologically revealing.

Read The New York Times review or check out other boxing movies at the library.
Jennifer

Speed Racer

Speed Racer (2008) PG
Based on the animated TV series, Speed Racer may start out slow, but it soon becomes engrossing. Race car driver Speed Racer (Emilie Hirsch) loves driving – it’s in his blood (and it’s the family business). When he makes it to the big leagues, Speed learns about the dark side of the sport that took the life of his older brother.

Costarring Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, and Matthew Fox, Speed Racer is psychedelic fun for the whole family.