Sights and Sounds

My Cousin Vinny

Imagine if you will traveling across the country with your best friend and stopping for snacks at a small town gas station.  Shortly after you leave you, glance in the mirror to see and hear the flashing lights and the siren of a police car.  You are about to be charged with the cold blooded murder and robbery of the proprietor of the gas station you just left.   Your only hope for freedom is your eccentric cousin Vinny, a New York lawyer who has yet to win a case. 

While You're Waiting for This Year's Oscar Nominees

Get ready for all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood with this evening’s Academy Awards! While you’re waiting for a copy of one of this year’s popular Oscar nominees, we suggest revisiting some Best Picture winners of the not-so-distant past. 

12 Years a Slave12 Years a Slave (2013) -- What better way to get ready for the Oscars than by rewatching the Best Picture winner from last year! The film won four Academy Awards and is based on the 1853 memoir of the same name by Solomon Northup. Northup was a free African American man with a wife and children when he was abducted in Washington, D.C. and sold into slavery. This moving film depicts Northrup's years as a slave working on plantations in Louisiana and fighting for the freedom to return to his family. 

No Country for Old MenNo Country for Old Men (2007) -- No Country for Old Men was directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, who are known for their films Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and most recently, Inside Llewyn Davis. No Country for Old Men is the winner of four Oscars and is based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel by the same name. The film is a dark thriller about a hunter in Texas who stumbles upon two million dollars and the deserted scene of a bloody drug deal gone wrong. He flees but is pursued by a merciless hitman out for revenge. 

ChicagoChicago (2002) -- This dazzling musical won six Academy Awards in 2002. Dancer Velma Kelly, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and aspiring performer Roxie Hart, played by Renee Zellweger, live in the Jazz and booze infused 1920s Chicago. Both women are accused of murder and are sent to jail to await trial. While behind bars, they make a plan to win fame and public sympathy to escape death sentences.

The Prestige

Opening Lines:  “Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge.” The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn." The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige."

While growing up in Bloomington, I had the pleasure of knowing a professional stage magician.  He made a small living performing at various conventions and meetings around the United States.  As a small boy of 10, I found him fascinating.  He took me under his wing for a while and gave me what he called a beginning magic kit.  It wasn’t the type you found in magic stores. This was something special. 

Super Bowl Sunday

Whether you're excited for Super Bowl, sad another football season is ending, or just don't care, here are football related movie's and television episodes for everyone to enjoy!


Romantic Comedies

Silver Linings Playbook

SufferinSilver Linings Playbookg from bi-polar disorder and recently released from a psychiatric hospital, Pat returns to his parent’s house and determined to win back his ex-wife.   Pat meets recently widowed Tiffany, complete with her own neuroses, at a dinner at a friend’s house, where she offers to help Pat communicate with his ex-wife-as long as he enters a dance competition with her.  Constant throughout the movie is Pat and his family’s devotion to the Philadelphia Eagles- and all the rituals and good luck charms that go along with being a Birds fan.


The Waterboy

The Waterboy

Socially inept and clumsy Bobby Boucher takes his job as water boy for the university football team very seriously.  When he is fired from his position because of sheer incompetence, Bobby approaches the rival university’s coach and asks for a job.  After enduring one mean spirited comment too many, Bobby lashes out and tackles the quarterback to the ground which leads to him quickly becoming one of the most feared linebackers.



We Are MarshallWe Are Marshall

This historical drama describes the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed 37 football players on the Marshal University Thundering Herd football teams, the rebuilding of the football programs and the healing of the community.




Remember the TitansRemember the Titans

When African-American coach Herman Boone is hired to coach the T.C. William’s High School football team, the white players boycott until the former coach, Bill Yoast, comes on as assistant coach.  The team deals with several racial clashes, while the school board tells Boone that if he loses even one game he will lose his job as well.  This leads to an undefeated season, which is threatened right before the semi-finals when it is apparent the referees are intentionally calling a bad game.



Rudy dreams of playing football for Notre Dame even though his grades aren’t good enough to get into the school and he lacks the stature or talent necessary to play in such a prestigious program and instead goes to work in a steel mill.  After his best friend is killed in a car accident, Rudy decides it’s time get on with his dreams, enrolls in a junior college where after a lot of hard work he is accepted to transfer to Notre Dame.  Rudy doesn’t make the team, but gets the chance to be the “tackling dummy” and after two years of inspiring the team he’s allowed to dress for one game, where he is triumphantly carried off the field by his teammates.



HIMYM How I Met Your Mother-“Monday Night Football” (Season 2, episode 14)

When a funeral and extra-long wake on Super Bowl Sunday prevents the gang from their tradition of watching the game live while eating hot wings, they decide to tape it to watch the following night.  Everyone disrupts their regular routine in order to keep from accidently learning the outcome of the game-Ted works from home while Barney handcuffs himself to Ted’s wall.  Hilarity ensues in Lily’s classroom and as Robin tries not to listen to the recap while she’s presenting the news.


Seinfeld “The Label Maker” (Season 6, episode 12)

Jerry has two tickets to the Super Bowl, but can’t attend because of Drakes Wedding, so he gives them to Dr. Whatley-who Elaine suspects re-gifted to Jerry a Label Maker she gave him for Christmas. In an epic kerfuffle that Seinfeld is known for, the tickets go from person to person, until finally Jerry finds himself at the Super Bowl sitting next to Newman.


SimpsonsThe Simpsons “Lisa the Greek” (Season 3, episode 14)

Homer begins to bond with Lisa when he discovers her ability to pick winning football teams and uses it to help him gamble. For the 8 weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, all of Lisa’s picks wins.  When Lisa discovers Homer is just using her for her prognostic abilities, and not because he enjoys spending time with her, she quits talking to him.  Homer makes tries to make amends by inviting her to watch the Super Bowl with him, where Lisa gives him this cryptic prediction: if she still loves Homer, Washington will win; if she doesn’t, Buffalo will.

Monuments Men

It’s not often that a World War II film comes my way that stirs my soul.  It’s even rarer that what stirs my soul is not the personal story of an individual or a small group  of people standing up for what is right against the Nazi’s or an escape from a German internment camp despite impossible odds.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good war film, but most war films have the same basic features,

In Remembrance

It's that time of year where we remember who we've lost this past year. 

Everly bros

Phil Everly (January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014)

Phil Everly was one half of the Everly Brothers. “Bye Bye Love” in 1957 brought them fame and resulted in 15 Top 10 hits between 1957 and 1962.  In 1986 the Everly Brothers were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Find the Everly Brothers in our catalog here or seach on Hoopla for streaming music.


Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)

Pete Seeger was a folk singer and social activist. His best known songs are “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song).  He was one of the folksingers most responsible for popularizing “We Shall Overcome” during the Civil Rights Movement.

Find the Pete Seeger in our catalog here or seach on Hoopla for streaming music.


bobby w Bobby Womack (March 4, 1944-June 27, 2014)

This singer song writer began his career as a child with his brothers in Curtis Womack and the Womack brothers.  Sam Cooke signed the group to his label, and after some success with the newly named Valentinos, Womack played backing musician for Cooke.  Womack also wrote the Rolling Stones’ first UK number one hit “It’s All Over Now”

Check out his CDs here  or log on to Hoopla and stream his CDs for free! 


Tommy Ramone (January 29, 1949 – July 11, 2014)

The last surviving member of the influence punk band The Ramones died July 11, 2014. Born in Hungry as Erdelyi Tamas, Tommy Ramone was a founding member and drummer of the Ramones famous for the songs “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Blitzkrieg Bop”. He played on the band’s first three studio albums before leaving the Ramones to concentrate on studio work.

Listen to the Ramones on Hoopla


creaJack Bruce (14 May 1943 – 25 October 2014)

Jack Bruce was Scottish musician and composer considered by many to be one of the greatest bass players of all times.  Best known for his work in the band Cream, Bruce also had a successful solo career and occasionally performed in Ringo Star’s All-Star Band.

Check out Cream’s albums here or steam them on Hoopla.


Wayne Static (November 4, 1965 – November 1, 2014)

Born Wayne Richard Wells, Wayne Static is best known as the spikey haired lead vocalist of metal band Static X.  Formed in 1994, Static X released six studio albums.  In 2011 Wayne Static pursued a solo career and released the album Pighammer.

Find Static X’s albums on Hoopla 


bobby keysBobby Keys (December 18, 1943 – December 2, 2014)

December began with the loss of the Saxophonist and Rolling Stones sideman Bobby Keys.  A longtime friend of Keith Richards, Keys toured and played with the Rolling Stones for 40 years. His career spanned four decades and he appears on albums by Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Harrison and Joe Cocker among other prominent muscians.

See him with Joe Cocker in Mad Dogs Englishmen  or read his autobiography.





Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau (2011) stars Matt Damon as Senate candidate David Norris.  He has been tapped by an unseen group to win a seat in the Senate . . . just not this election year.  If you were to read the basic plot of the movie it would sound like a typical political thriller.  An unseen group is grooming its candidate for a high office.  Suddenly this candidate becomes enthralled with a woman who they believe will be detrimental to his career and the group’s agenda.  This unknown organization begins to exert every effort to keep their candidate away from the woman and focused on the job at hand.  As the candidate continues to try to find the woman he loves he begins to find out more about this hidden organization and begins to fight against their control and seek his own way.

The Shootist

A while ago I wrote about one of my favorite John Wayne Movies, The Quiet Man.  The Quiet Man was a romance and a departure from the War and Western films that John Wayne was most well known for.   My second favorite John Wayne film, The Shootist is also a departure from his usual role even though it is a western, it is the story of an older gunfighter now battling a greater battle; cancer. Seeking a place to spend his last days, he takes up residence in a boarding house run by a widow who is against everything the gunfighter’s life represents while her teenage son harbors a secret desires to be just like the old shootist .

The cast for The Shootist is among the best.  Besides “The Duke” as the shootist J.B. Books, the film features Lauren Bacall as boarding house owner Bond Rodgers and Ron Howard as her son Gillom.   Despite the film’s title you won’t find a lot of shoot outs in the film.  It’s the story a dying man, who wants to die with dignity and perhaps regain a little taste of the life he could have had if his life had not taken the violent turn it did.  Yes, John Wayne is still the tough guy, but his view is now tempered as he faces his cancer and the knowledge that there is nothing he can do to win his battle against it.  Each character must in the end examine themselves as they are faced with Books’ mortality and eventual death. 

Blue Ruin

Here's one of my favorite American movies I've seen this year. I heard about this while it was making the rounds on the festival circuit last year and finally got a chance to check it out recently. It won the FIPRESCI prize at the Cannes Film Festival last summer (the international critics' prize for best independent feature). While it's worth checking out for the Virgina set cinematography, it is primarily a suspense film about how revenge never goes the way you want it to.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game...

Both the American League and National Leauge Championship Series start October 10th. Whether you're disappointed your favorite team is no longer in contention for the World Series or you just can't get enough of October baseball, these films are for you!


Field of Dreams "If you build it, he will come." An Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella hears this voice in his field one day and interprets it to mean he should build a baseball field on his farm. Once built, the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other 1919 Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the World Series appear.  He continues to hear voices, each time leading Ray to a different era of baseball and one step closer to his estranged father. 

42 This is the story of Jackie Robinson, recruited from the Negro Leagues to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945 and his historic 1947 rookie season where he broke the race barrier in Major League Baseball.

 Sandlot DVD image

The Sandlot This coming of age movie is about Scotty Smalls a new kid in the neighborhood and struggling to make friends.  After embarrassing himself in an improvised game of baseball, Scotty turns to his stepfather to teach him how to play, goes back to the sandlot to show his new skill, is befriended by the team and goes on a series of adventures with them.

Angels in the Outfield  Roger wants two things from life: to live with a real family instead of in a foster home and for the California Angels to finally win the pennant even though they are the worst team in the division.  One day some angels appear at a game to help Roger make this happen-but only Roger can see them and believes in them! Will the Angels win the pennant? Ya gotta believe!

Moneyball DVD image

Moneyball The true story of Oakland A's manager Billy Beane's sucessful attempt to build a winning baseball team by using computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.



A League of their Own This is a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  Set during World War II when a shortage of men threatens to shut down major league baseball, one major league owner convinces others to finance a woman's league.

Rookie of the Year  After his broken arm heals in an unexpected fashion, 12 year old little leaguer Henry finds that he now has the ability to pitch with incredible force. Signed by the Cubs and heading to the National League Championship game, Henry faces many challenges as a kid playing in the majors and playing alongside his heroes.


The Bad News Bears DVD


The Bad News Bears A down on his luck ex-Major Leaguer agrees to coach a ragtag little league team, whips them into shape, and takes on their nemisis in a super competitive Californian little leauge. 

Major League The Cleveland Indian's new owner wants to move the team but the only way out of the stadium contract is poor attendence. She assembles the worst baseball players and hopes for a losing season, but when the players catch wind of her plan they start winning just to spite her.

Bull Durham DVD

Bull Durham Minor Leaguer "Crash" Davis is sent to the Durham Bulls to help train up coming pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh in the way of baseball and life.  The situation is even more complicated when Annie gets thrown into the mix.  Annie and Crash each help to shape Nuke into a major league pitcher.




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