As fans of books, television, and movies, we believe in the power of story. Narratives can show us we’re not alone. They can introduce us to experiences and ideas that we would not otherwise know. In the Oscar-nominated documentary Life, Animated, we learn that amazingly story can give voice to a speechless boy and be a source of strength for a young man striking out on his own.
When Owen Suskind was a toddler, he lost the ability to communicate. A rare joy for him was watching and re-watching Disney movies, and one day he responded to his dad with a line of dialogue from a favorite character. Elated, his parents found ways to interact with their son using Disney personalities and stories. Life, Animated features a loving family, an exceptional young man, and a triumphant journey worthy of the stories Owen adores.
Like any number of films “based on a true story,” the docu-comedy 24 Hour Party People frequently exaggerates, distorts, fabricates and otherwise obfuscates the historical truth of its subject matter (in this case, the Manchester music scene of the 80s and 90s). The difference is, this picture does so openly, amusingly, and with a cheerful wink to its audience.
Hello, My Name is Doris is the hilariously awkward and thoughtfully heartwarming tale of a woman in her 60s deciding to take action in her life, specifically on her crush on a younger coworker. As a result of the depth of characters played by a stellar cast, the relationships Doris had with people rang painful at times, but they felt honest and allowed for moments of realistic redemption. The combination of comedy, drama, and romance in this made it an instant favorite!
Seven-time Hong Kong Film Award Best Actor winner (out of 13 nominations) and winner of the Cannes Film Festival award for Best Actor, Mr. Leung is one of the finest actors of his generation in Hong Kong.
The gold standard. An intentionally ridiculous premise serves as comic springboard for real-life issues of family, religion, immigration, identity, and integrity. Earnest and charming without being naïve, Jane regularly brings both tears and laughter (sometimes simultaneously) and inspires real hope for the world.
Mid-level bureaucracy may be an unlikely place to find idealism, but you won’t find anyone who embodies optimism better than Leslie Knope. She and her motley band of coworkers have genuine affection for each other and sincere belief in the work they do, no matter how absurd it may seem.
Narrated by the magical Jim Dale (voice of the Harry Potter audiobooks), this candy-colored procedural is as much comfort food for the soul as the mouth-watering pies on display would be for the belly. Unabashedly romantic in outlook and buoyant in spirit, star-crossed lovers and artful murders have never before brought such joy.
Deftly juggling broad comedy with sensitive topics, Black-ish shows that issues of race don’t need to be isolated as “very special episodes”. Parents and children alike are allowed to make mistakes, tough questions are faced head on, and family is ultimately celebrated, all without forgetting that it’s a show designed to entertain.
Life is hard, people we love make poor choices, and we can’t all live in Stars Hollow. All of these may be difficult to accept, but somehow time spent with Lorelai, Rory, and the quirky denizens of their hometown makes us believe that given enough coffee, pop culture fast-talking, and wacky festivals, happiness and home are within reach. Where they lead, we will follow.
Politics and optimism may seem quite a stretch these days, but if any show can restore even a little hope in Washington, it’s this one. Here we can escape into a world where the President and his advisors actually succeed in channeling passion into action, illustrating our longing for government to overcome the odds.
Looking for more suggestions to watch, hear, or read? Ask online or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor. We’d love to connect you with something to fit your mood!
Reuniting the director and screenwriter of the classic The Third Man, Our Man in Havana is the missing link in Alec Guinness’ career between the light comedies he made as a young actor for Ealing Studios and his later turn as spymaster George Smiley—an understated espionage romp with surprisingly dark undertones.
Delight your eyes with a work of wonder! Nearly wordless and enhanced with music, Oscar nominee Boy & the World is a warm, uplifting exploration of childlike discovery. This Brazilian fable dazzles with inventive hand-drawn animation, juxtaposing the realities of life’s hardships with the adventure of youth. Exhilarating and unforgettable.
Satirizing both rock stars and documentary film, This Is Spinal Tap is ranked as one of the funniest movies ever made. The rock music mockumentary was written, scored by, and starred Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed, and that improvisation produced over 100 hours of footage, which was cut down to 83 wacky minutes.
Call this the Drums of Anarchy. A group of brilliant percussionists conspire to unleash a masterpiece of performance art on an unsuspecting public. “Music for One City and Six Drummers” is comprised of four movements, each carried out as a comic caper in a different venue. First, they invade a hospital operating theater, then a bank. Taking the space hostage, they create carefully-coordinated rhythms using whatever is at hand, be it a paper shredder, a bulldozer, or a celebrity patient, and then exit in a quick getaway. Their hallmark at each scene is an old-school metronome, and the inspector assigned to bring order to their chaos is taunted over and over again.
A Swedish film entry (and prizewinner) at multiple festivals, Sound of Noise is audacious fun to the beat of a shockingly unique set of drums.