mike-nich

Film director Mike Nichols might be best known for his work on 1967′s The Graduate (which won him a Best Director Oscar), but that cult film is only the beginning of Nichols’ achievements behind the camera. From timeless classics like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to new classics like HeartburnWorking Girl and The Birdcage, Nichols could do it all. He also excelled in the theater world, directing such famed Broadway productions as 1964′s Barefoot in the Park and more recently a revival of Death of a Salesman with Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2012 as well as on the small screen with the acclaimed HBO miniseries Angels in America. He will be greatly missed to all arenas of entertainment.

Check out these Mike Nichols movies at the Niles Public Library:

Angels in America

Biloxi Blues

The Birdcage (also on Blu-ray)

Carnal Knowledge

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Dark Passage:

A lesser-known Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film that, despite an un-Hollywood ending, is one of their best (THE best in my opinion). The chemistry between the two has never been better. The film begins from the visual perspective of Bogart’s wronged-criminal character. The camera moves with Bogart’s eyes, so the audience only hears his voice and does not see his face for the first part of the film. Once we see Bogart, the film picks up its pace some, but throughout, this film is a strong thriller. Don’t look for everything to be resolved in the end – but aside from that, this one will keep you guessing.

Written on the Wind:

Melodrama at its finest! Directed by high-drama master Douglas Sirk, this film will make you run the gamut of all emotions. There is scandal, affairs, wronged love, unabated passions, alcoholism, miscarriages, infertility, guns, murder, etc. Sounds good, right? Well, it is. It’s like one big soap opera, but, don’t worry…it’s a top-notch soap…with Rock Hudson, Bacall, Kirk Douglas and Dorothy Malone, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her role.

Designing Woman:

A great romantic comedy with a twist. Here, the couple gets married first and then they decide to get to know each other. When they do, they find out how little they have in common. This would be just a typical run-of-the-mill rom com if it weren’t for the quick, super-sharp script (which won an Oscar) and the talents of Gregory Peck and Bacall, who have fabulous chemistry that translates perfectly on the screen. A must see for any romantic comedy fans!

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lauren-b

One of the last remaining classic actresses, Bacall was part of the Golden Age of Cinema…the 1940s-1950s. She was a screen siren from day one, with her sultry performance as the ultimate Femme Fatale in To Have and Have Not, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart. From that catapult to stardom in 1944, Bacall never looked back. She starred in three more movies with Bogart, who in addition to being her favorite leading man on screen, became her leading man off screen when they married in 1945.

Over the next few days, I will highlight some of my favorite Bacall movies. We have truly lost one of the greats.

Check out these Lauren Bacall movies at the Niles Public Library:

All I Want for Christmas (J)

The Big Sleep

Birth

Blood Alley

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robin-w

Known for both iconic acting performances, as well as highly physical stand-up routines, Williams was one of the most robust and lively comedians working today…from his early start as Mork in the cult TV show Mork and Mindy, to his famed performances as the title role in Mrs. Doubtfire, defiant teacher in Dead Poets Society and his Oscar-winning role as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting. Even after all of his acting notoriety, he never left his comedy roots, doing many successful stand-up shows as well as teaming with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg for Comic Relief, beginning in 1986.

Williams will always be remembered for his infectious humor and his over-the-top comic behavior. His death is a great loss to Hollywood and the entire world.

Check out these Robin Williams movies at the Niles Public Library:

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (voice)

Aladdin (voice)

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

August Rush

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moneyball-march

The Ides of March and Moneyball are two relatively recent films in which Philip Seymour Hoffman did not star, but rather provided crucial, essential and, as always, very strong supporting performances.

The Ides of March is a film that George Clooney not only stars in but that he also co-wrote and directed. And, really, he’s not the star here. Like Hoffman, Clooney is just a supporting player here. At the heart of The Ides of March is the Ryan Gosling character, Stephen Meyers. Stephen is the crux of this story. He is the pivot which all of the other action and characters revolve around. Stephen is a deputy campaign manager for a presidential candidate (Clooney) who at first seems untouchable. But soon, skeletons appear peeking out of the closets. Stephen finds himself caught in the middle of a potential scandal that could bring down both the campaign and his own career. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the candidate’s senior campaign manager. His time on screen is limited, but as always with Hoffman, his performance is larger than life and full of passion and vigor.

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maxmary

I’m not that fascinated by contemporary animated films. I love what Aardman Animation does (Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep), but aside from that, most animation of today leaves me yearning for the non-computerized animation of the past…where tedious work was done all by hand to bring to life a spectacular finished product. This is why when a colleague recommended an animated film for adults and older kids entitled Mary and Max, I was highly skeptical. And, boy was I surprised at what awaited me.

Mary and Max is done in the “Claymation” style of animation, meaning CLAY animation. Claymation has advanced since the days of watching Davey and Goliath in grammar school (if you are not familiar with D&G’s stop-motion style of Claymation, don’t worry – it was not worth remembering). This movie’s animation, in addition to the sweet, touching story, is most definitely worth remembering, and even savoring. Mary and Max are both endearing characters that will stay with you for a long time. I do tend to gravitate towards holding “sad sack” characters in higher esteem…Eeyore was always my favorite Pooh character, as well as the Looney Tunes’ Elmer Fudd, and the ever-pathetic Dopey, the silent dwarf. Mary and Max both fall into that category…each being sad, lonely and lost in their own unhappy worlds.

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pirate-radio

Right off the bat I will say it: NOT MY KIND OF MOVIE. But, oh well, Pirate Radio has a great cast so I thought I would give it a whirl. And, when it began, I almost said I told you so to myself. But, then the plot really kicked in and the characters all came to life right on the screen and boom, before I knew it, I was hooked.

Not by the music (most of which is pretty much the kind of music I like), not by the 60s culture, but by the characters. You REALLY get involved and attached to the characters…all of them. They all have their own quirks that really give each of them panache…and then all of them together give the movie a special touch that resonates with audiences…because they will all know characters like this. In a cast lead by Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (the token American), other British actors including Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Nick Frost and even Oscar-winner and icon Emma Thompson all lend their own spice to add color and vibe to the film that already rock with 1960s British pop.

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jamesg

Most famous for his TV work on the western Maverick (1957-1962) and The Rockford Files (1974-1980), Garner first made a name for himself in movie comedies such as Up Periscope (1959) and two Doris Day romantic comedies, Move Over, Darling and The Thrill of It All (both 1963). He went on to become a movie leading man in films like Grand Prix (1966) and Support Your Local Sheriff (1969), but never lost his strong character actor roots. He also stayed close to his early comedy roots, in movies such as Victor/Victoria (1982), Murphy’s Romance (1985), for which he was nominated for his only Oscar, and My Fellow Americans (1996).

Check out these James Garner movies at the Niles Public Library:

36 Hours

The Americanization of Emily

Barbarians at the Gate

Boy’s Night Out

Breathing Lessons

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elaine

Known for her caustic humor and rapier sharp wit, Stritch was an Emmy and Tony award-winning actress who, over the decades of her versatile career, reinvented herself many times, ending her life with a string of highly successful one-woman shows, one of which, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, won her a Tony in 2001. I had a chance to see Ms. Stritch on stage in that show and I will remember that experience fondly forever. She was a exceptionally powerful comedic voice and she will be greatly missed.

Check out these Elaine Stritch movies at the Niles Public Library:

Autumn in New York

Cadillac Man

Elaine Stritch at Liberty (DVD 792.7 E37)

Follies in Concert (DVD 782.14 F668)

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eli-wallach

Most remembered for playing hard-boiled characters in classic westerns The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Magnificent Seven, Wallach was much more than just a gritty character actor. He could play sensitive, as well as tough, sweet and compassionate, as well was strong and fearless. In later years, he turned to television and prize smaller roles in films such as The Godfather, Part III, The Holiday and, most recently, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Surprisingly, he was never nominated for an Oscar, so the Academy rectified that in in 2010 when they gave Wallach an honorary Oscar “for a lifetime’s worth of indelible screen characters.”

Check out these Eli Wallach movies at the Niles Public Library:

The Associate

Baby Doll

The Brain

The Executioner’s Song

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