“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” There is more sentiment in that one quote from The Shawshank Redemption than there are in most movies. This film is a true modern treasure—a timeless film that will be remembered and revered with the likes of It’s a Wonderful Life and other poignant classics. The story, based on a Stephen King short story, starts off quickly, with the trial of Andy Dufresne playing over the opening credits. The trial is not the important part here and by filming the opening in that way, director Frank Darabont lets his audience know that we do not need to show how Andy was falsely accused. It is just important to know that he is. The real importance of this film lies in the relationship between two heterosexual men and that no matter how bleak things look, one should never, ever give up hope. There is nothing strange about the relationship between Andy and Red. They just are two men who form a deep bond of love while incarcerated. The middle of the film takes the audience on various other little journeys, such as the saga of prison librarian Brooks, who gets released after 50+ years at Shawshank Prison. The stories of these other characters strengthen the movie’s base as a powerful, inspirational story about love and hope. One of the best film endings ever, the last 20 minutes of this film are even stronger than the first 20, something very few films can attest to. Anyone who has been staying away from this film because they think it is a “prison” movie is missing out on one of the best on-screen relationships (whether platonic or romantic) ever conceived. And, just try watching this one without getting a lump in your throat or tears in your eyes. For both men and women, that’s a very tall order.

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A minor league veteran (Kevin Costner) trains an undisciplined, cocky pitcher (Tim Robbins) whose goal is to get to “the show” (the major leagues). Susan Sarandon as the team’s groupie convincingly plays a women who feels she must train one player per season in ways that have little to do with their performance on the field. This film features great comic dialogue about baseball and relationships between men and woman, as well as star-making performances for Costner, Robbins, and director Ron Shelton. Her role as Annie also put Sarandon back on the map as a sexy leading lady.

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I am not a big fan of recent war movies…especially those about the Iraqi War. The ones I have seen have had a distorted message that messes up the story so much that it ruins the movie. But, the cast was so good here…I thought I would try it. And, it turned out to be a good, strong movie that is more about what war does to the people and less about why we are over there. The story revolves around three lost souls…who are on month leave from the Army and from the Middle East. Two of them want out of the Army…one is just confused with her life in general. But, in the end, they all find that the Army not only provides them with common ground, it is the stability they all need. Wonderful!

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