Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library

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The Shape of Water

In 1962 Baltimore, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) works as a janitor for a military lab where they are keeping a unique sea creature captive. Elisa is mute and learns that she can communicate with the creature, sneaking into his chamber to share her lunch and teach him about music. A strong bond and love develops between the two.

Meanwhile, the lab’s head of security, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), has been torturing the creature and the plan is to kill him in order for the military to dissect and study the creature.  Elisa finds an unlikely ally in Bob, a scientist working undercover for the Russians. Elisa, Bob, her coworker Zelda (Octavia Spenser) and neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) hatch a dangerous plan to free the creature from captivity and release him back to the water.

This movie is heart-felt and the tone is reminiscent of the 1980s classic: E.T. the extra-terrestrialThe screenplay and Del Toro’s directing style is definitely worthy of the Best Picture win The Shape of Water received at the Academy Awards. Highly recommended.


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Lady Bird

This coming-of-age story takes place in Sacramento in 2002. High school student Christine (Saoirse Ronan), who has renamed herself “Lady Bird,” is just trying to figure out life. She loves her mom (Laurie Metcalf), but also feels like she can never please her and is tired of being told of how ungrateful she is. Lady Bird dreams of going to an Ivy League school on the east coast but her mom tries to get her down to reality, because they cannot afford it.

Lady Bird auditions for her school’s drama club and starts hanging with the rich, popular kids in hopes of gaining their acceptance. Through friendship, first loves and the rocky relationship with her mom, she eventually comes into her own.

I think most people can relate to Lady Bird and the trials and tribulations of that awkward stage of life, high school, that we all must go through. Although it will make you laugh, at it’s core, Lady Bird is an emotional story about growing up and learning to understand your own mother, despite her flaws. Rated R

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The Disaster Artist

James Franco plays real life actor Tommy Wiseau, who meets Greg (played by Dave Franco) at a local acting class in San Francisco. The two become fast friends and Tommy convinces him to move together to L.A. to pursue their acting careers. In fact, Tommy already has an apartment there. How old Tommy is, where he is from, and where all his money comes from has never been known – even to this day.

When securing acting gigs proves unsuccessfully, Tommy decides he is going to star, produce, and direct his own screenplay. And as mentioned, he has this unlimited supply of money to do so.

The making of The Room and his unconventional directing style tests Greg and Tommy’s friendship and is a total flop at the box office, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. However, it has become a cult classic and the real Tommy Wiseau still shows up a theaters to surprise his fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Disaster Artist, found it hilarious and now I feel like I need to see The Room!  This film is a comedic story about a man who pursues his dreams, despite the odds. Rated R

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I, Tonya

If you were around in the early 1990’s, then you are probably familiar with the scandal involving Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding and rival skater Nancy Kerrigan, America’s sweetheart, who had her knee bashed in by someone in Harding’s camp.

In this biopic, Margot Robbie plays Tonya, who is painted as a sympathetic character when you learn about her childhood. Played by Allison Janney, who won the Academy Award for her role as LaVona, Tonya’s mom is a hard task master, expecting her child to be the best skater and pushing her to the limit. She even goes as far as hitting and verbally abusing her daughter.

As a teenager, Tonya enters into a tumultuous and violent relationship with Jeff Gillooly.  Supposedly, Jeff’s friend was to hire men to send Nancy death-threat letters in hopes she would drop out of the Olympic race. That was always the original plan, but they ended up assaulting her instead. The movie doesn’t really say whether Tonya knew about  the assault. However, eventually she was convicted and was unable to compete in skating ever again, which was worse than any jail sentence since skating is all she ever knew.

Overall, I, Tonya is an entertaining portrayal of a unfortunate event in skating history that will appeal to most. Rated R

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

In this Jumanji reboot, a group of high school kids (a jock, a nerd, a popular girl, and a brainy girl) are all in detention together. Their punishment is to go through a storage room full of old magazines that need the staples removed so they can be recycled. When one of the kids discovers an old video game console with the game Jumanji loaded, they connect it to a TV and try to play after they select their characters.

Suddenly, they are magically transported into the real life game and are shocked to find out that their game characters aren’t who they thought they were. The geek is the main character who’s strength is muscle and brawn (played by the Rock); the jock is a zoologist and the main character’s weapon’s valet (Kevin Hart); the brainy girl is a kick-butt woman ninja; and the popular girl is a male map expert (played by Jack Black).

Stranded in the jungle, they have to work together to restore the eye (a precious stone) of Jumanji while fleeing from a group of bad villains and just like a video game, they have to do so with only three lives.

This funny and adventure-filled movie will appeal to the whole family. Rated PG-13

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Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Mildred (Frances McDormand) lost her daughter seven months ago. She was raped and murdered and her killer has not been found. Mildred feels like the sheriff and his department have stopped investigating. Mildred decides to rent the three billboards just outside of town and write the sheriff a message. Needless to say the sheriff is not happy. He and his fellow deputy try to convince her to take them down. But Mildred can’t be swayed. She will do whatever it takes to find her daughter’s murderer.

I really enjoyed this movie and the performances. Wasn’t a big fan of the ending but overall it was good. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both won Academy Awards for their performances in this movie. Also starring, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Abbie Cornish. Rated R

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Wish Upon

Clare’s dad, Jonathon (Ryan Phillippe), finds a box with Chinese writing on it. He thinks Clare (Joey King) will like it and gives it to her on her birthday. Clare and her two friends are always getting bullied at school, especially by the most popular girl, Darcie. Frustrated one night, Clara is holding the box and wishes that Darcie would rot. The next day, she finds out that Darcie is in the hospital actually rotting. Clare thinks it is a coincidence and keeps making wishes. But every time she makes a wish, someone she knows dies. Now Clare has to find out how to break the curse before it is too late.

I actually really liked this movie. It had a good concept and it kept me wondering what was going to happen next. And if you are a Stranger Things fan, Barb is in it! Rated PG-13