Movie and Music Reviews

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My Little Pony: The Movie

By Kaylin - AV   |  February 16, 2018

My Little Pony: The Movie is a fun new addition to the TV series that makes a perfect film for family night!

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Tyler Perry's Boo 2!: A Madea Halloween

By Melinda - AV   |  February 9, 2018

Tyler Perry’s Boo 2!:  A Madea Halloween is a 2017 comedy horror film written by Tyler Perry.

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The Farthest: Voyager in Space

By Darla - AV   |  February 2, 2018

The Voyager has traveled to Uranus with a Chuck Berry recording, but it took a while.

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Midwest Heartland: Theodore Roosevelt to the Homestead Act

By Amy - AV   |  January 27, 2018

This informational video caught my eye since I love to travel and have not had the ability yet to get farther west than Illinois.

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Twin Peaks

By Steven - AV   |  January 19, 2018

A return, in the sense that the new season of Twin Peaks is often subtitled with “The Return,” implies a sense of comfort and familiarity, and in the context of a TV show, it implies the continuation of a story as well answers to lingering questions; Twin Peaks: The Return has some of these things.

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Carry Fire by Robert Plant

By Fate - AV   |  January 5, 2018

"Carry Fire" by Robert Plant, his 11th studio album, was released October 13, 2017; I promise, my review will not be as long as the entry on Wikipedia (whew!).

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Churchill

By Terri - AV   |  December 29, 2017

The movie Churchill starring Brian Cox doesn't do its subject justice.

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Warmer in the Winter

By Kaylin - AV   |  December 22, 2017

For this holiday season, violinist Lindsey Stirling has released a wonderful collection of holiday music, featuring original songs as well as classics with her own unique twist.

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Girls Trip

By Melinda - AV   |  December 15, 2017

Girls Trip is a hilarious 2017 comedy about the "Flosse Posse" four life-long friends Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish who reunite and travel together to New Orleans to attend the annual Essence Festival.

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Great Yellowstone Thaw: How Nature Survives

By Darla - AV   |  December 8, 2017

A wolf biologist, a geologist, scientists, and wildlife cameramen analyzed the effects of the Thaw of 2016 on the wildlife of Yellowstone National Park, in the iconic film, Great Yellowstone Thaw: How Nature Survives.

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The Hitman's Bodyguard

By Amy - AV   |  December 1, 2017

The Hitman’s Bodyguard stars Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Elodie Yung, Gary Oldman, and Salma Hayek.

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Unlocked

By Allison - AV   |  November 24, 2017

Unlocked, a straight-to-DVD movie starring Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, John Malkovich, and Michael Douglas, centers around Alice Racine (Rapace), who is a professional interrogator for the CIA.

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Humanz by Gorillaz

By Steven - AV   |  November 17, 2017

It's been seven years since the last Gorillaz album, and you can tell.

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A Street Cat Named Bob

By Fate - AV   |  November 10, 2017

My wife and I have 3 cats, each with distinct personalities who provide endless companionship as well as comedic entertainment; so it was the cover of this video that caught my attention and forced me to take it home to watch.

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The Story of China: With Michael Wood

By Terri - AV   |  November 3, 2017

As a homeschool mom who wants to make history come alive for my kids, I appreciate Michael Woods' The Story of China.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

By Kaylin - AV   |  October 27, 2017

With this latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, it struggles, and fails, to entertain.

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Baby Driver

By Melinda - AV   |  October 23, 2017

Baby Driver is an action-packed thriller of a movie that also gives you a taste of good music, fate, love, comedy, and the life of crime all wrapped up in one. 

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Food: Delicious Science

By Darla - AV   |  October 16, 2017

PBS’s Food: Delicious Science is an educational film about both the taste and chemistry of food, and how food keeps our bodies healthy.

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Paris Can Wait

By Barb - AV   |  October 9, 2017

Diane Lane, Alec Baldwin, and Arnaud Viard star in Paris Can Wait. The movie starts out in the South of France at the Cannes Film Festival with all three characters on their way to the airport to leave for the next movie shoot. Anne (Diane) has an earache, and the pilot of the private plane warns she should not fly with ear problems.  Jacques (Arnaud), the provincial French man and business associate of Michael (Alec), offers to drive Anne to Paris.  She hesitantly accepts the offer and from there Jacques and Anne travel through France on a two-day road trip.   They stop at various historic sites, have lunch along the river bank and slowly make their way to Paris. The scenery is beautiful and the food looks decadent and delicious.  While the movie is a bit slow at times and the plot line is somewhat predictable, this sleepy romantic comedy didn’t disappoint. Taking the time to stop and smell the roses in this hurry- and- go lifestyle was a nice change of pace.  I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for a lighthearted film to watch. Overall Rating : B

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The Mummy

By Allison - AV   |  September 29, 2017

The Mummy (2017) is the first film in Universal’s newest franchise, The Dark Universe. The movie focuses around Nick Morton, a womanizing thief of antiquities played by Tom Cruise, and Princess Ahmanet, a 3000+ year-old woman – played by Sofia Boutella – who was mummified alive as punishment for making a pact with Set, the god of Death.

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Shin Godzilla

By Steven - AV   |  September 22, 2017

Shin Godzilla is a satire of Japanese bureaucracy and a vaguely nationalistic underdog story about politicians uniting in the face of disaster, which all sounds like a terrible idea. It sounds very people-centric, and people are never the point of Godzilla. People exist only to string together the real meat of the thing, the guys in monster suits stomping on miniatures, so that the final product can pass for a halfway coherent story instead of just some chaotic scenes of rampaging monsters strung end to end. But people are also what make Shin Godzilla so fascinating. Though the film has its share of traditional Godzilla destruction, it zeroes in on the government response, which is unprepared and largely inept and also fascinating with touches of subtle comedy. Through quick cuts, dynamic camera angles, breathless dialogue, and tons of characters, the film gives the politicians their own engrossing brand of chaos. And as a commentary on the Japanese response to the 2011 earthquake/tsunami, Shin Godzilla is aspirational in a way few movies in the franchise have been since the original. It loses some steam toward the end and it’s certainly not what people expect from a monster movie, but it can easily count itself as one of the best. Overall Rating: A

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The Head and the Heart: Signs of Light

By Fate - AV   |  September 15, 2017

When I feel like seeing what is available in new music, I check the library's website as a resource. Another, since I have Amazon Echo, is to ask Alexa to play some music; and, for example, she will respond with, "Here is some music by ‘The Head and the Heart.’" That is how I learned about this group, and I have enjoyed their music. They are in the rock category, but their music is controlled, not with loud guitars or heavy drums. The vocals are controlled as well, without the yelling or screaming of lyrics that seems to be prevalent in much of today's music. Lead vocals are good, as are the harmonies. It is an enjoyable, very listenable album, well worth the try. Overall rating: A

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England: Castles, Cottages, and Countryside

By Terri - AV   |  September 8, 2017

As a fan of British movies and reader of British novels, I’ve long wanted to view the great country estates of the nobility, take a trip to the ever-mentioned Bath, and see the English countryside I’ve read about so often. The DVD England: Castles, Cottages, and Countryside promises this and more. The segment on the English “treasure houses” is narrated by a typically understated British narrator; the other segments are hosted by Smart Travels’ Rudy Maxa. All episodes cover their subjects well. In the homes we are treated not only to thorough scenes of the grounds and the most splendid rooms of castles dating from Medieval times to the 1760s, but we also get to see the treasures for which each castle is famous, such as works of art, furniture, armor, an antique car collection, and hothouse plants. In some of the homes we also get to meet the current owners and even see some of the family rooms. At times the background music interferes with the narration, but I’m not one to complain about classical music while I’m viewing pictures of some lovely homes and countryside. This DVD delivered on its purpose of offering a better acquaintance with places often mentioned by Jane Austen’s characters or seen in British television and movies. Overall rating: B

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Snatched

By Melinda - AV   |  August 28, 2017

Snatched, starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, will definitely give you some laughs. I was expecting it to be more hilariously funny than it was, but I did chuckle here and there. I am not a huge Amy Schumer fan, but she does make me laugh sometimes when she is not trying to “over-do” her jokes. Emily Middleton (played by Amy Schumer) has just lost her job and been dumped by her boyfriend right before they were leaving for their exotic vacation. Feeling impetuous, she decides to persuade her mother (played by Goldie Hawn) to take his place and go with her on the vacation to South America. Even though Emily and her mother are complete opposites, they decide to give it a try and go have a fun, adventurous time together. When they arrive, Emily meets an attractive man named James. They begin to hit it off, and he persuades Emily and her mother to go sightseeing with him. Even though this seems like a harmless invitation, they do not know what lies ahead. After they get caught up in this unbelievable, frightening situation, it’s up to the mother-daughter team to figure out a way to get out of it, and of course the end results are done with quite a bit of humor along the way. I do not want to spoil the fun, so I suggest you watch it and see what happens! If you’re feeling down, grab this flick and get a laugh or two. Overall Rating: B-

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Bull, Season One

By Darla - AV   |  August 21, 2017

The television series Bull, created by Phil McGraw and Paul Attanasio, stars Michael Weatherly as trial consultant psychologist and licensed pilot Dr. Jason Bull, who dislikes prosecution attorneys. Dr. Bull heads the Trial Analysis Corporation team. The Trial Analysis Corporation members include a former narcotics police detective, a retired All-American football defensive lineman who has become a fashion stylist, a former New York City prosecutor, a neurolinguistics expert who is also a sex therapist, and a computer hacker. I found the methodologies used by the team to select jury members for criminal defense cases the most fascinating part of this television series. In Bull, serious criminal cases are defended; however, the mood of the show is lightened by comical interpersonal conflicts between the team and the legal community.  Sometimes too much time is spent on interpersonal stories; more court-time drama would make the show better. Overall rating: B

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Going in Style

By Barb - AV   |  August 11, 2017

Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin and Michael Caine star in this funny and timely remake of “Going in Style.” Retirement is going well for these three gentlemen until the bank starts sending out foreclosure notices. After doing some investigating, they discover the company they had all worked for has been sold and their pension funds frozen. What develops from there is a plan to get their money back by robbing the local bank. They practice by robbing the local grocery store, and that does not go according to plan. When the store manager decides not to press charges, the plan continues to evolve with the help of a professional con artist. While the plot becomes a bit predictable, the acting is well-done and there are many laugh-out-loud moments in this film. Additional cast members Christopher Lloyd and Ann Margaret add talent in their supporting roles. Even though this movie appeals to retirees, younger generations would enjoy this film as well. Overall Rating: A

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Boss Baby

By Allison - AV   |  August 4, 2017

Before watching Boss Baby, I wasn’t exactly certain that it would be my type of film. After watching it, I can certainly say that it wasn’t. Boss Baby (featuring the voices of Alec Baldwin and Steve Buscemi, among others) is your standard children’s movie where the exceptional kids are required to save the bumbling parents. (The storyline was a bit more developed than just that aspect, but not by much.) While I did like the fact that the movie highlighted the importance of having an imagination and featured scenes from other works, such as Mary Poppins, Indiana Jones, and Moby Dick, I was less than impressed with some of the movie’s other qualities. For example, I was surprised (and appalled) at the amount and graphicness of the body-function humor included in the film. I was also disappointed with some of the movie’s messages involving the stereotyping of various groups of individuals, including types of company employees and those individuals that went to community colleges. In general, families with children might enjoy the film, but, personally, I was happy that my daughter is too young to have understood some of the film’s content. Overall Rating: C-

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T2 Trainspotting

By Steven - AV   |  July 28, 2017

T2 Trainspotting was probably never going to live up to its predecessor. The first Trainspotting is an undisputed classic gifted with a perfect soundtrack/sense of humor/style blend that would be just about impossible to replicate 21 years later. The fact that director Danny Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge, both returning, seem to know this is not a point in their favor. Their film uses self-awareness as a shield, with overt references to the original’s iconic scenes and speeches to disguise a thin concept where Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh, Scotland two decades after running off with the cash his dysfunctional friends made from a drug deal. They haven’t changed much – Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is in jail, Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller) runs both a bar and a blackmail scheme, Spud (Ewen Bremner) is still addicted to heroin. Outside some vague gestures toward what they’ve all done in the intervening years, T2 mostly relies on our memories of these characters as they were. As a commentary on aging and nostalgia, it has little to say, and as a character piece, it’s more concerned with the group’s legally dubious antics (some of which are, admittedly, great fun) than with who they’ve grown to be. It’s more footnote than sequel. The original Trainspotting worked because it was about learning who these people were, about how their actions affected their own lives and the lives of others. In the absence of that, T2 Trainspotting isn’t about much of anything. Overall Rating: C

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Simple Forms by T/N/A/F

By Fate - AV   |  July 21, 2017

I saw T/N/A/F on the cover of a music CD and was puzzled. T/N/A/F. No further information was available inside the case, as no booklet was included, and the rear cover only listed the songs on the disc. It’s this kind of a mystery that leads me to do a media review. Turns out the letters mean The Naked And Famous. While it might have been interesting to learn how this group became Naked And Famous, I'm told that this is not the purpose of a media review. I am supposed to review what I thought of the music on the CD. Well, OK. These two words actually apply both to my acceptance of the duty I have to fulfill in doing a media review, and to my thoughts about this particular CD. It's better than just OK. On the first play I was not all that interested in the first song or two, but by the end of the album I liked it and feel it will be enjoyed more with a few more playings. In other words, it will grow on you. Not like a fungus, but the music was good, and the vocals were, as well. I could ramble on and talk about each song and how it may or may not affect global warming or the economy, but such evaluations should rest with the people who listen to the album. It is worth the effort. Overal rating: B+

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Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years

By Terri - AV   |  July 14, 2017

After watching Eight Days a Week : The Touring Years, this non-fan of the Beatles has been transformed into a Beatles fan. Seeing original videos of their performances and interviews, learning about their history, and understanding their interest from the point of view of expert commentators developed my appreciation for these entertainers. The movie was a delight to watch. Director and producer Ron Howard has included photos of the young men and video of some of their appearances before they were famous; abundant concert footage of the group performing during the touring years (1964 through early 1967) and before, with many of the songs featured performed in their entirety; and footage of them composing in the recording studio. Seeing them perform and respond to interview questions, it is easy to understand their appeal. Often recent commentary from one or more of the surviving Beatles accompanies the pictures, and their observations and recollections (Paul: “We were actually appealing to girls!” or Ringo: “For some reason, whatever we put out – they loved!”) add to the enjoyment. The movie also revealed interesting facts about the Beatles’ impact on segregation in the American South during the Civil Rights Movement. As a non-fan, I was interested in the movie because I wanted to understand the fascination with the Beatles. This movie answered my question well: their energy and fun are contagious. Other than some limited obscene language, it is suitable for all ages. Overall rating: A+.

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