Top 30 Films I’ve Watched in 2014

I love watching movies. The wide array of films produced has kept me glued to the screen for more than 60 hours in a year. It may seem like a waste of time but its acceptable benefit justifies the want to sit and see a popular art entertainment that the directors, writers and performers have gruelingly prepared. So why do I like watching films?

It has the ability to stir my emotion
– to make me cry, get angry, be awed and to resolve and change. If not for a long term, but at least for a while. It relates similar stories that somehow connects and lets me reflect and relive a moment of the past.

It reveals the colorful and diverse culture and traditions of different races and groups across the world – e.g. their customs, costumes, values, music, architecture and history. It is often more interesting to watch films than documentaries.

It entertains me. I don’t have to wonder but since the emergence of the media, people have always been fascinated with stories of other people, events and places. People wants to be motivated and humored, and it can be achieved through emotions induced and driven by what they see and hear.

It transports me into a place and time that I’ve never been. Films give me a glimpse of the past and a peek to the future that the writers imagine it to be. It lets me see places across continents from the driest to the wettest and from every season. And sometimes, there is a higher degree of excitement when you are about to see a place that you’ve once seen before in a movie.

It passes good information, knowledge and some life lessons. I choose films that I think will offer a valuable information that I can’t find and experience from something or anywhere else. Films teach lessons in a different way – many times, it simulates and conveys cause and effect relationships in a visual way.

However, the film industry is an art for profit too and are produced to earn a revenue from its exhibition. Many times, the social responsibility to provide a wholesome service and entertainment and to instead communicate and encourage positive values to the society is disregarded and compromised.

The following list are some of the films that I have watched last year and that I think teaches good values mostly. Most of these films were not heavily marketed in the mainstream media but offers quality material that you can take away. It is a must-watch for people who likes good information, knowledge and life lessons. Some are faith-based, drama, action, comedy and love stories. Some contains violence, swearwords, profanity and few and/or indirect themes on sex. Some can be watched with the whole family and some must be watched by adults with an open and protected mind. Be warned.

Here is my top 30 films last 2014. They are arranged in no particular order.

Disclaimer: The following storylines, movie information and reviews of the films were taken from imdb.com, rottentomatoes.com, rogerebert.com and christianitytoday.com. I do not claim them as my own work and they do not reflect my own personal view.

1. The Song
the songAn aspiring singer-songwriter’s life and marriage suffer when the song he writes for his wife propels him to stardom.

Storyline:
Aspiring singer-songwriter Jed King is struggling to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his famous father when he reluctantly agrees to a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival. Jed meets the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose, and a romance quickly blooms. Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose “The Song,” which becomes a breakout hit. Suddenly thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation, his life and marriage begin to fall apart. Written by Richard Ramsey

2. When the Game Stands Tall
When_the_Game_Stands_Tall_posterStoryline:
The journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur, who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport. The film is an adaptation of the 2003 book of the same name by Neil Hayes.

Review from IMDB by thirdgeneration:
Responding to the overtly religious criticism/ This movie was about a team that won 150 games in a row. It was based on real life coaching. (This was not a made up part of the story but intrinsic to the coach’s point of view).

To leave family/faith values out of the movie would have been like telling the story of a journey without any information about how the characters were able to get from point A to point B when no one else in history had ever done so.

Nevertheless the movie wasn’t just about the overall journey, but also included the individual stories of the coach and black and white students facing their own challenges.
The many football scenes through-out the movie were great fun to watch!

3. The Trials of Cate McCall
Cate mcCallIn order to be reinstated to the bar and recover custody of her daughter, a hotshot lawyer, now in recovery and on probation, must take on the appeal of a woman wrongfully convicted of murder.

Storyline:
In California, Cate McCall is an alcoholic lawyer that was put on probation and rehab. She had an argument with a judge that sent her to the Breathalyzer test and the bar put her on probation in a small office. Cate is also fighting to recover custody of her daughter that lives with her father that is moving to Seattle. Cate is assigned to defend Lacey Stubbs, who has appealed claiming that she had been wrongly accused of murdering another woman since there was a trial error. Further, Lacey also tells that she was raped by a guard in the prison. Cate, who has never lost a case, investigates the case with his friend Bridges and they find evidences that might prove that Lacey is innocent and her case is fabricated. But is she really not guilty? Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

4. A Hundred-foot Journey
Hundred footThe Kadam family leaves India for France where they open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory’s Michelin-starred eatery.
Storyline:
The family of talented cook, Hassan Kadam, has a life filled with both culinary delights and profound loss. Drifting through Europe after fleeing political violence in India that killed the family restaurant business and their mother, the Kadams arrive in France. Once there, a chance auto accident and the kindness of a young woman, Marguerite, in the village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val inspires Papa Kadam to set up a Indian restaurant there. Unfortunately, this puts the Kadams in direct competition with the snobbish Madame Mallory’s acclaimed haute cuisine establishment across the street where Marguerite also works as a sous-chef. The resulting rivalry eventually escalates in personal intensity until it goes too far. In response, there is a bridging of sides initiated by Hassan, Marguerite and Madame Mallory herself, both professional and personal, that encourages an understanding that will change both sides forever. Written by Kenneth Chisholm

5. Heaven is for Real
Heaven is for realA small-town father must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world.
Storyline:
Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL brings to the screen the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. The film stars Academy Award® nominee and Emmy® award winning actor Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo and co-stars Kelly Reilly as Sonja Burpo, the real-life couple whose son Colton (newcomer Connor Corum) claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. Colton recounts the details of his amazing journey with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth … things he couldn’t possibly know. Todd and his family are then challenged to examine the meaning from this remarkable event. Written by Sony Pictures Publicity

6. The Grand Seduction
The grand seductionTo survive, a dying Newfoundland fishing village must convince a young doctor to take up residence by any means necessary.
Storyline:
The small harbor of Tickle Cove is in dire need of a doctor so that the town can land a contract to secure a factory which will save the town from financial ruin. Village resident Murray French (Gleeson) leads the search, and when he finds Dr. Paul Lewis (Kitsch) he employs – along with the whole town – tactics to seduce the doctor to stay permanently. Written by JP Smith

Movie Info:
A small fishing village must procure a local doctor to secure a lucrative business contract. When unlikely candidate and big city doctor Paul Lewis lands in their lap for a trial residence, the townsfolk rally together to charm him into staying. As the doctor’s time in the village winds to a close, acting mayor Murray French has no choice but to pull out all the stops and begin The Grand Seduction. (c)eOne

7. Rudderless
RudderlessA grieving father in a downward spiral stumbles across a box of his recently deceased son’s demo tapes and lyrics. Shocked by the discovery of this unknown talent, he forms a band in the hope of finding some catharsis.
Storyline:
Billy Crudup plays Sam, a former high-profile advertising executive whose life is torn apart by the sudden death of his son. Living off the grid on a docked sailboat, he wastes away his days while drowning his pain in alcohol. When Sam discovers a box filled with his son’s demo tapes and lyrics, his own child’s musical talent is a revelation for him, a grieving father who felt he’d been absent from his son’s life. Communing with his deceased son’s dashed dreams, Sam learns each song and eventually musters the will to perform one at a local bar. When Quentin (Yelchin), a young musician in the audience, is captivated by the song, the unlikely duo forms a rock band that becomes surprisingly popular and revitalizes both of their lives. (C) Paramount

8. Left Behind
Left behindA small group of survivors are left behind after millions of people suddenly vanish and the world is plunged into chaos and destruction.

Movie Info:
The most important event in the history of mankind is happening right now. In the blink of an eye, the biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant, terror and chaos spread around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn. Planes fall from the sky. Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. There is no one to help or provide answers. In a moment, the entire planet is plunged into darkness.(c) Official Site

Review from Christianitytoday.com by Jackson Cuidon:
Not a “Christian movie.” Not even close.
What the film is: “Left Behind: The Ride of the Movie.” I was shocked when, a full 110 minutes after beginning the movie (105 of which could be excised without loss), we ended at a narrative point near the beginning of the first Left Behind novel. Where’s the Antichrist? Where’s this and that character?
This movie cares about none of that stuff. It cares about the thrill of a plane crash, explosions, cars soaring off bridges, chaos, panic, and disaster.

9. Begin Again
Begin AgainA chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.
Storyline:
Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City. Written by The Weinstein Company

10. God’s Not Dead
God's not deadCollege philosophy professor Mr. Radisson’s curriculum is challenged by his new student, Josh, who believes God exists.

Storyline:
Radisson finds the topic of religion painful because his Christian mother died when he was 12, though he had prayed and begged God to spare her life. This may be what led him to study philosophy so in depth that he ultimately became a philosophy professor, but his desire to now avoid the topic of religion does not mesh well with his career as a philosophy professor. His anger at God has him requesting his students quote Friedrich Nietzsche and, in exchange, he promises to allow them to skip the chapter on religion. This is not the only clue the movie makers give that they have read atheist material extensively. Radisson tells Josh that if he won’t reach a consensus with the class, he must prove God is not dead. Radisson had already explained this was a metaphor and, taken in the context of Nietzsche’s point, Josh does an excellent job of proving this. Radisson promises Josh that he will keep his comments to a minimum (Radisson won’t debate Josh), though Josh begins his argument … Written by rdnyscott

11. Mom’s Night Out
Mom's night outAll Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and fun – a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation, and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours … what could go wrong?

Storyline:
Mom Allyson feels she isn’t satisfied with her life, seeking to refill her spirit she teams up with childhood best friend Izzy and the wife of her church pastor Sondra for a girls night out. Drama ensues when they find Allyson has messed up their reservations for dinner but happen to bump into Allyson’s sister in laws ex-boyfriend who was supposed to be watching the baby. From there it’s just 80 minutes of fun as they journey across the city in search of baby Phoenix. Allyson finds herself and becomes happy with her life when she finds God, but will they find baby phoenix in time? – Written by TJ Marx

12. Promised Land
Promised LandA salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

Storyline:
Corporate salesman Steve Butler (Damon) arrives in a rural town with his sales partner, Sue Thomason (McDormand). With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, the two outsiders see the local citizens as likely to accept their company’s offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected schoolteacher (Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (Krasinski) who counters Steve both personally and professionally. Written by Focus Features

13. The Perks of being a Wallflower
The perks of being a wallflowerAn introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
Based on the novel written by Stephen Chbosky, this is about 15-year-old Charlie (Logan Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, coping with first love (Emma Watson), the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs. The introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who welcome him to the real world. Written by Anonymous

Review from christianitytoday.com (by Camerin Courtney):
A compelling look at grief and guilt and the wonderfully horrid experience that is high school.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight—all involving teens. We see several teen characters get drunk and/or high at a party. We watch Charlie go from first kiss to feeling up one of the female characters to some intense making out throughout the course of the film. These young characters deal with some tough stuff—one was sexually abused by a relative as a child, another by her mom’s boyfriend. Patrick’s closeted boyfriend gets beaten up by his dad when he catches them together. We see them make out in one scene. And we see a few fist fights and some bullying. In the midst of all this, there’s no nudity and very little language. Mostly this would all make great fodder for discussions about these tough issues many young people face.

14. The Perfect Wave
Perfect waveThe Perfect wave is a LOVE STORY, with four key pillars, a young mans love for surfing, adventure, a mothers love for her son, a young man falling in love for the first time, Gods love. The film takes the audience on a journey, as our hero searches for his ‘perfect wave’. The journey has many unexpected turns, and twists, as our hero falls in-love and looses his way, but as fate would have it, jealousy causes a breakup, and seeking to reconcile our hero travels to Mauritius where he gets stung by a box jelly fish, which changes his life forever.

Movie info:
“The Perfect Wave” is the true story of Ian McCormack who grew up surfing the waters of New Zealand. Wanting to dive deeper, Ian sets out on a journey with his best friend that will change his life as they chase the perfect wave.Travelling through Australia, Southeast Asia, and Africa, they surf incredible breaks and adventure, looking for the force that drives the world. When Ian meets Annabel, a striking and kindred soul, he abandons his friend on a new quest of love and ecstasy. Jealousy overtakes their love. Broken by his own soul, Ian chases her to an island paradise to win her back. (C) Official Site

15. Grace Unplugged
Grace UnpluggedGrace Trey is the ideal Christian teen who is also a phenomenal singer. But at the tender age of eighteen, after she gets the music break of a lifetime and is thrust into the “real world” – her faith is put to the test.

Storyline:
Grace Unplugged is an Inspirational movie starring Amanda “AJ” Michalka as 18 year old Christian singer/songwriter, Grace Rose Trey. Beautiful, highly talented and restless, Grace is so far undiscovered outside church. She performs there each Sunday with her gifted father Johnny, the praise music director at Freedom Community Chapel, a small town Alabama church. A former rock star, Johnny Trey charted a Billboard number one single 20 years before. When the hits stopped coming he crash landed hard, a one hit wonder. Johnny found Christ and a new life for his family, far from the Hollywood Hills. One day without warning, Grace leaves for Los Angeles. She has landed a record deal with the help of Johnny’s ruthless former manager and producer Frank “Mossy” Mostin. Mossy sees in Grace a potential pop superstar – the next Katy Perry. Cutting off contact with her parents, Grace seems prepared to walk away from her Christian faith and music to achieve her long-suppressed fantasy of Hollywood … Written by Chris Zarpas

16. 4 Minute Mile
4 minute mileA former track coach decides to train a student with natural athletic talent. Tragedy strikes right before the biggest race of his life, forcing him to confront everything that has been holding him back.

Storyline:

“One Square Mile” is a highly charged, emotional story of a disenfranchised teen living on the wrong side of the tracks. Desperate for a way out, his life collides with an old reclusive track coach, angry at the world with no purpose in life, with who he eventually forms a bond. The two are forced to face their circumstances as they race to save each other and ultimately – themselves.

Movie info:
A highly charged, emotional story of a disenfranchised teen living on the wrong side of the tracks. Desperate for a way out, his life collides with an old reclusive track coach, angry at the world with no purpose in life, with who he eventually forms a bond. The two are forced to face their circumstances as they race to save each other and ultimately – themselves. (C) Gravitas Ventures


17. Jimmy

JimmyThe story of a mentally challenged teenager who interacts with supernatural beings he calls “Watchers”.

Review from imdb by planktonrules:
This film is based on a story by Robert Whitlow. The title character, Jimmy (Ian Colletti) is a developmentally delayed teen living in Georgia. He’s a very likable young man but has two strange quirks—he’s deathly afraid of water and he sees people no one else sees! Now you’d think that perhaps this is a horror film…it isn’t! Instead, these are benign people who seem to be watching over him and you immediately wonder if they might not be angels. Exactly why he has both becomes apparent at the exciting conclusion of the movie.

18. The Good Lie
The Good LieSudanese refugees given the chance to resettle in America arrive in Kansas City, Missouri. where their encounter with an employment agency counselor forever changes all of their lives.

Storyline:
Four Sudanese children are orphaned after their village is massacred in the Second Sudanese Civil War. Consequently, they make an arduous and dangerous trek through the plains, enduring hardship, death and sacrifice all the way until they reach safety in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Years later, these youths are among 3600 selected for resettlement in America, only to have the one girl among them sent to Boston, while the three boys must to make a new life in Kansas City. Together, these young men must adjust to an alien culture even as the emotional baggage of their past haunts them. However, these newcomers, and their new friends like employment counselor Carrie Davis, strive to understand each other in this new home, as they make peace with their histories in a challenge that will change all their lives. Written by Kenneth Chisholm.

19. Whiplash
whiplashA promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential.

Storyline:
Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity.
– Written by Spencer Higham

20. Chef
ChefA chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

Storyline:
Carl Casper is an acclaimed chef with a family life that seems as decaying as his artistic freedom. Those frustrations boil over into a raucous viral-videoed public confrontation against a restaurant critic who panned his cooking of food that his boss ordered him to make against his instincts. Now with his career ruined, Carl’s ex-wife offers an unorthodox solution in Miami: refit an old food truck to offer quality cooking on his own terms. Now with his young son, Percy, and old colleague, Martin, helping, Carl takes a working trip across America with that truck to rediscover his gastronomic passion. With Percy’s tech savvy and Martin’s enthusiasm, Carl finds that he is creating a traveling sensation on the way home. In doing so, Carl discovers he is serving up more than simply food, but also a deeper connection with his life and his family that is truly delicious in its own way. Written by Kenneth Chisholm

21. The Bachelor Weekend
The BAchelor WeekendA bachelor party weekend in the great outdoors takes some unexpected detours.

Storyline:
This is a laugh-out-loud comedy that’s also big on heart – a hilarious take on modern male friendship, bonding and brotherhood, set in rural Irelandbachelor party weekend takes some unexpected detours in this hilarious and heartfelt Irish comedy, about a foppish groom-to-be (Hugh O’Conor) who reluctantly agrees to go on a camping trip before his nuptials. But when his fiancee’s alpha-male brother, nicknamed “The Machine,” unexpectedly turns up, all concepts of masculinity are challenged – and a leisurely weekend in the great outdoors takes a turn for the worse.(c) Tribeca (RottenTomatoes)

22. The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
The Young and ProdigiousA ten-year-old cartographer secretly leaves his family’s ranch in Montana where he lives with his cowboy father and scientist mother and travels across the country aboard a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute.

Storyline:
T.S. Spivet lives on a ranch in Montana with his mother who is obsessed with the morphology of beetles, his father (a cowboy born a hundred years too late) and his 14 year-old sister who dreams of becoming Miss America. T.S. is a 10 year-old prodigy with a passion for cartography and scientific inventions. One day, he receives an unexpected call from the Smithsonian museum telling him that he is the winner of the very prestigious Baird prize for his discovery of the perpetual motion machine and that he is invited to a reception in his honor where he is expected to give a speech. Without telling anyone, he sets out on a freight train across the U.S.A. to reach Washington DC. There is also Layton, twin brother of T.S., who died in an accident involving a firearm in the family’s barn, which no one ever speaks of. T.S. was with him, measuring the scale of the gunshots for an experiment, and he doesn’t understand what happened.

23. Jamesy Boy
Jamesy BoyA young gang member turns his life around in prison, thanks to the friendship he forms with a convicted murderer who becomes his mentor.

Storyline:
JAMESY BOY is the story of teenager James Burns (played by Spencer Lofranco) who goes from the suburban street gangs to a maximum-security prison cell surrounded by hardened criminals. In prison, he forms a friendship with a convicted murderer (Ving Rhames) who becomes his mentor and helps him turn his life around. In this unlikely setting, James ultimately emerges with hope and a brighter future. (c) Xlrator Media (rottentomatoes.com)

James Burns overcame a life of crime and incarceration as a teenager to reinvent himself as a college-educated poet. His reckless youth and road to redemption are the subject of “Jamesy Boy,” a film with a message of inspiration, to be sure, but not much in terms of innovation. (by Christy Lemire of rogerebert.com)

24. Life of a King
Life of a KingEx-felon, Eugene Brown, establishes a Chess Club for inner city teenagers in Washington, D.C.

Storyline:
Life of a King is the unlikely true story of Eugene Brown and his one-man mission to give inner-city kids of Washington D.C. something he never had – a future. He discovered a multitude of life lessons through the game of chess during his 18-year incarceration for bank robbery. After his release and reentry into the workforce, Eugene developed and founded the Big Chair Chess Club to get kids off the streets and working towards lives they never believed they were capable of due to circumstances. From his daring introductory chess lessons to group of unruly high school students in detention to the development of the Club and the teens’ first local chess competitions, this movie reveals his difficult, inspirational journey and how he changed the lives of a group of teens with no endgame. (C) Millenium (rotentomatoes.com)

25. Million Dollar Arm
Million Dollar ArmA sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.

Storyline:
In 2008, J. B. Bernstein is a sports agent who finds his business being seriously outplayed by his deep-pocketed competitors. Inspired by reality shows and Indian cricket games on TV, Bernstein gets the bold idea of finding cricket players in India and training them to become pro baseball players in America. After a long search, Bernstein finds two talented, but non-cricket playing, youths, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. Together, Berthstein takes his prospects to Los Angeles where they find mastering a new sport in a foreign land a daunting challenge. As these boys struggle amid an alien culture, Bernstein must find a way to make their dream come true. In doing, Bernstein finds a deeper humanity to his work with growing friendships he never expected to have. Written by Kenneth Chisholm

26. Hope Springs
Hope SpringsAfter thirty years of marriage, a middle-aged couple attends an intense, week-long counseling session to work on their relationship.

Storyline:
Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple whose marriage has declined until they are now sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the Doctor’s intense week long marriage counseling session. Although Arnold sees nothing wrong with their 30 year long marriage, he reluctantly agrees to go on the expensive excursion. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion. Even with the Doctor’s advice, Kay and Arnold find that renewing their marriage’s fire is a daunting challenge for them both. Written by Kenneth Chisholm

Warning Before Watching:
Read the Guide from Christianitytoday.com by Camerin Courtney (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/august-web-only/hope-springs.html?start=2):
“Streep and Jones are delightful as a couple seeking new life, but a few scenes are uncomfortable.”

Discussion starters:
1. What’s your assessment of Kay and Arnold’s marriage? What’s good and what’s not so good about it?
2. Why do you think Arnold is so resistant to therapy?
3. Dr. Feld talks some about fear. What, if anything, do you think both Kay and Arnold are afraid of?
4. One of Kay’s friends tells her early in the movie that “marriages don’t change.” Do you agree or disagree?
5. At one point Kay says she thinks she’d be less lonely if she were alone. If you’re married, have you ever felt that way? If so, how did you move forward from that place?
6. If you’re in a long-term relationship, what are some things that have helped it last so long?
7. Where do you picture Kay and Arnold in five years?

The Family Corner: For parents to consider
Hope Springs is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content involving sexuality. Parents should take these words seriously. Even though all of this sexual content is within the context of marriage and there’s no actual nudity, there is an awful lot of discussion about sex—as well as some sexual activity. Kay and Arnold attempt oral sex in a movie theater, Kay masturbates in another scene, and they discuss fantasies, three-ways, positions, and other sexual topics in their therapy sessions.

27. Larry Crowne
Larry CrowneAfter losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.

Storyline:
Until he was downsized, affable, amiable Larry Crowne (Hanks) was a superstar team leader at the big-box company where he’s worked since his time in the Navy. Underwater on his mortgage and unclear on what to do with his suddenly free days, Larry heads to his local college to start over. There he becomes part of a colorful community of outcasts, also-rans and the overlooked all trying to find a better future for themselves…often moving around town in a herd of scooters. In his public-speaking class, Larry develops an unexpected crush on his teacher Mercedes Tainot (Roberts), who has lost as much passion for teaching as she has for her husband. The simple guy who has every reason to think his life has stalled will come to learn an unexpected lesson: when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might discover your reason to live. Written by Universal Pictures

Warning Before Watching:
Read the Guide from Christianitytoday.com by Camerin Courtney (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/julyweb-only/larrycrowne.html?start=3)

Discussion Starters:
1. In the opening, Larry, tidying up at the store, tells a co-worker, “It’s not just policy, it’s the right thing to do.” Do you think we are meant to admire this character? Or are we supposed to think of him as fussy and prim? Does our culture reward or encourage workers who do more than they’re required?
2. Julia Roberts performs her drunk scenes very well, making them quite funny. Do you think she thereby makes drinking look inviting, or cool?
3. The clear message is “stay in school”—college, that is. It used to be that a high school diploma was sufficient for success, but now it seems that some college education is necessary. What advice would you give a young person who wants to go to work right out of high school? Have you ever considered returning to school for a higher degree? Why?

The Family Corner: For parents to consider

Larry Crowne is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content. In addition to Larry and Mercedes’ makeout session, we see Larry in his white undies struggling into a pair of too-small slacks, and see some buxom ladies on Dean’s computer screen. Dean tells Mercedes that her figure is insufficiently curvy, in so many words. Mercedes is fond of slushy drinks she concocts in her blender, pouring liquor freely from bottles.

28. Extremely Load and Incredibly Close
Extremely LoudA nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Storyline:
A troubled young boy, Oskar, is trying to cope with the loss of his father. Oskar starts lashing out at his mother and the world. Until a year later, he discovers a mysterious key in his father’s belongings and embarks on a scavenger hunt to find the matching lock, just as he used to when his father was alive. On this journey he is bound to meet a lot of people and learn a lot about himself and his family, but will he ever find the lock? Written by Koro

29. A.C.O.D
ACODA grown man caught in the crossfire of his parents’ 15-year divorce discovers he was unknowingly part of a study on divorced children and is enlisted in a follow-up years later, which wreaks new havoc on his family.

Storyline:
A.C.O.D. follows a seemingly well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce (Adam Scott) who is forced to revisit the chaos of his parents’ (Catherine O’Hara and Richard Jenkins) bitter divorce all over again after his younger brother (Clark Duke) decides to get married. Written by The Film Arcade

Carter (Adam Scott) is a well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce. So he thinks. When he discovers he was part of a divorce study as a child, it wreaks havoc on his family and forces him to face the chaos of his past. (rottentomatoes.com)

30. Nightcrawler
NightcrawlerWhen Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.

Storyline:
NIGHTCRAWLER is a thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling – where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Written by Open Road Films

From christianitytoday.com:
Caveat Spectator
The language is the harshest part of this movie. There are more than a few F-bombs. Sex is only implied in dialogue, never shown. The film is also violent—a few characters get shot with puffs of blood spraying the air, and there are more than a few graphic crime scenes shown (bleeding bodies being treated by ambulances, a woman killed with a shotgun laying on a couch). It is worth noting that the point of the film is to show this whole industry as disgusting. (by Timothy Wainwright)

31. The Judge
The JudgeBig city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.

Storyline:
Hank Palmer is a successful defense attorney in Chicago, who is getting a divorce. When His brother calls with the news that their mother has died, Hank returns to his childhood home to attend the funeral. Despite the brittle bond between Hank and the Judge, Hank must come to his father’s aid and defend him in court. Here, Hank discovers the truth behind the case, which binds together the dysfunctional family and reveals the struggles and secrecy of the family. Written by Warren D’Souza

From Christianity.com:
Caveat Spectator
The Judge is rated “R,” primarily for language. The cussing and crude language is not as pervasive as it seems to be in most comedies these days, but it is frequent enough to be an obstacle for those who are bothered by its habitual use. There is one scene of Hank making out with a younger woman he just met and another where he kisses a former girlfriend and makes an indirect reference to his aroused state. Perhaps more distastefully, an encounter that Hank suspects may have been incestuous is played for laughs. We see Hank and his brother drinking, and reference is made to past drug use. At one point Hank urinates on another lawyer’s shoes. One of Hank’s brothers is portrayed as mildly mentally impaired; it is possible that someone uses a culturally unacceptable word for the mentally challenged—but my notes have a question mark by that notation, indicating that I was not sure if I heard it correctly. (by Kenneth R. Morefield)

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