Film Study

Course Description

Students investigate how and what ideas, values and concepts are connected through film. In analyzing film, students will examine elements of plot, setting, style, and point-of-view. Class activities include viewing, listening, researching, and analyzing film. Course could be recommended before taking a Video Production course. Some school districts have film policies which require parental permission before students can participate in classroom viewing of R-rated material. Select films that are appropriate for your classroom situation and needs. 

Sample Lecture – many of you have asked for a preview of how a lecture appears prior to purchase. Please refer to this free download. Time stamps refer to the BluRay version of the film, and hints to when comments should be made during the lecture.

Lectures and Lessons

Instructors, it is important to make these lectures your own. As you learn film terms and shots, add them to your lecture presentations and don’t forget to incorporate pop cultural references. Teaching film involves teaching every aspect of our society. Check the Internet Movie Database for updates on the celebrities.

A Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera1935

A sly business manager and two wacky friends of two opera singers help them achieve success while humiliating their stuffy and snobbish enemies.

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last updated 02-05-2016

A Trip to the Moon

A Trip to the Moon1902

A group of astronomers go on an expedition to the moon. Directed by Georges Méliès (uncredited), Writing credits include Jules Verne (novel "De la Terre à la Lune") uncredited, Georges Méliès uncredited, and H.G. Wells novel "First Men in the Moon" (uncredited) Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Aliens

Aliens1986

The planet from Alien has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough? Directed by James Cameron. Overarching Questions: How does form follow function?

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last updated 02-05-2016

As Good As It Gets

As Good As It Gets1997

A single mother/waitress, a misanthropic author, and a gay artist form an unlikely friendship after the artist is in an accident. Directed by James Brooks.  Resource: Film Terms Overarching Questions: How does the part relate to the whole?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Bowling for Columbine

Bowling for Columbine2002

Filmmaker Michael Moore explores the roots of America's predilection for gun violence. Directed by Michael Moore. Overarching Questions: How do we know what is true?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Boys Don't Cry

Boys Don't Cry1999

The story of the life of Brandon Teena, a transgendered teen who preferred life in a male identity until it was discovered he was born biologically female. Directed by Kimberley Pierce. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Boyz N The Hood

Boyz N The Hood1991

Saga of a group of childhood friends growing up in a Los Angeles ghetto. Directed by John Singleton. Resource: Film Terms Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Cellular

Cellular2004

A young man receives an emergency phone call on his cell phone from an older woman. The catch? The woman claims to have been kidnapped; and the kidnappers have targeted her husband and child next. Directed by David R. Ellis. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Chicago

Chicago2002

Murderesses Velma Kelly (a chanteuse and tease who killed her husband and sister after finding them in bed together) and Roxie Hart (who killed her boyfriend when she discovered he wasn't going to make her a star) find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago. Directed by Rob Marshall.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Crash

Crash2004

Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption. Directed by Paul Haggis. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club2013

The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.

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last updated 03-13-2014

Daylight

Daylight1996

Disaster in a New York tunnel as explosions collapse both ends of it. One hero tries to help the people inside find their way to safety. Directed by Rob Cohen.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Dead Again

Dead Again1991

In 1949 composer Roman Strauss is executed for the vicious murder of his wife Margaret with a pair of scissors. In 1990s Los Angeles a mute amnesiac woman shows up at an orphanage and private eye Mike Church is called in to investigate. Under hypnosis both the woman and Church seem to have a strange link back to the Strauss murder. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. 

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last updated 02-05-2016

District 9

District 92009

An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology. Directed by Neill Blomkamp. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Disturbia

Disturbia2007

A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer. Directed by D.J. Caruso.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Dreamgirls

Dreamgirls2006

Based on the Broadway musical, a trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s. Directed by Bill Condon.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Eagle Eye

Eagle Eye2008

Jerry and Rachel are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move. Directed by D.J. Caruso. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind2004

A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. Directed by Michel Gondry. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Evita

Evita1996

The hit musical based on the life of Evita Duarte, a B-picture Argentinian actress who eventually became the wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón, and the most beloved and hated woman in Argentina. Directed by Alan Parker. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Fargo

Fargo1996

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of pregnant Marge Gunderson. Directed by Joel Coen.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station2013

This is the true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother, whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend, who he hasn't been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to T, their beautiful 4 year old daughter. He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easy. He crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant. Written by The Weinstein Company 

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last updated 12-28-2015

Gran Torino

Gran Torino2008

Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

High Noon

High Noon1952

Will Kane is a town marshal. It's his wedding day and his last day as a lawman. He was about to leave town with his new bride to start a new life when some men come to town who tell him that a man he sent to prison some years ago has just been released and is arriving on the noon train. Kane and any of the townsfolk who remember him, know that he's coming to town for one thing; to get Will. Will's friends tell him to leave town which he does but Will feeling that running away is not a solution returns and intends to face him. Will tries to find support from his friends but all of them don't want to help him or are too afraid and all that they tell him is to leave, even his wife feels the same way. And as the train comes closer, Will is all alone. Article on "High Noon"

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last updated 02-05-2016

I am Sam

I am Sam2001

A mentally retarded man fights for custody of his 7-year-old daughter, and in the process teaches his cold-hearted lawyer the value of love and family. Directed by Jessie Nelson.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Inception

Inception2010

Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming. Written by Warner Bros. Pictures 

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last updated 02-05-2016

Invisible Children

Invisible Children2006

Invisible Children: Rough Cut is a 2006 American documentary film which depicts the human rights abuses by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda. Directed by Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell.

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last updated 02-05-2016

King Kong

King Kong1933

Carl Denham needs to finish his movie and has the perfect location; Skull Island. But he still needs to find a leading lady. This 'soon-to-be-unfortunate' soul is Ann Darrow. No one knows what they will encounter on this island and why it is so mysterious, but once they reach it, they will soon find out. Living on this hidden island is a giant gorilla and this beast now has Ann is it's grasps. Carl and Ann's new love, Jack Driscoll must travel through the jungle looking for Kong and Ann, whilst avoiding all sorts of creatures and beasts.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful1997

A Jewish man has a wonderful romance with the help of his humour, but must use that same quality to protect his son in a Nazi death camp. Resource: Film Terms

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last updated 02-05-2016

Lockout

Lockout2012

In 2079, in Washington, the ex-CIA Operative Snow is brutally interrogated, accused of treason against the United States. The chief of the secret service Scott Langral believes that he shot the agent Frank in a hotel room. Meanwhile, the idealistic daughter of the president of the USA, Emilie Warnock, is visiting MS One, a maximum security prison in outer space expecting to find evidences that the prisoners are actually guinea pigs of a huge corporation. When one of her bodyguards loses a hidden pistol for the dangerous prisoner Hydell, he subdues the staff in the central control room and releases the prisoners, including his brother Alex that becomes the leader of the riot. Now the veteran agent Harry Shaw offers freedom to Snow if he succeeds in rescuing the president's daughter. But the idealistic Emilie does not want to leave MS-One without the hostages.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Maria Full of Grace

Maria Full of Grace2004

A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family. Directed by Joshua Marston.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail1975

King Arthur and his knights embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge2001

A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets in this stylish musical, with music drawn from familiar 20th century sources. Directed by Baz Luhrmann.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Mud

Mud2012

Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and to reunite him with his true love.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler2015

When Louis 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.

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last updated 07-18-2015

Osama

Osama2003

A 12-year-old Afghan girl and her mother lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work. The Taliban have also forbidden women to leave their houses without a male "legal companion." With her husband and brother dead, killed in battle, there is no one left to support the family. Without being able to leave the house, the mother is left with nowhere to turn. Feeling that she has no other choice, she disguises her daughter as a boy. Now called 'Osama,' the girl embarks on a terrifying and confusing journey as she tries to keep the Taliban from finding out her true identity. Inspired by a true story, Osama is the first entirely Afghan film shot since the fall of the Taliban.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Platoon

Platoon1986

A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man. Directed by Oliver Stone.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Polyester

Polyester1981

A suburban housewife's world falls apart when her pornographer husband admits he's serially unfaithful to her, her daughter gets pregnant, and her son is suspected of being the foot-fetishist who's been breaking local women's feet.

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last updated 02-05-2016

RoboCop

RoboCop1987

Detroit - in the future - is crime-ridden, and run by a massive company. The company have developed a huge crime-fighting robot, which unfortunately develops a rather dangerous glitch. The company sees a way to get back in favor with the public when a cop called Alex Murphy is killed by a street gang. Murphy's body is reconstructed within a steel shell and named Robocop. The Robocop is very successful against criminals, and becomes a target of super villian Boddicker. Movie Script

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last updated 02-05-2016

Rosewood

Rosewood1997

A dramatization of a 1923 horrific racist lynch mob attack on an African American community. Directed by John Singleton. Overarching Questions: How do we make meaning of our world?

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last updated 02-05-2016

Scream

Scream1996

A killer known as "ghost face" begins killing off teenagers, and as the body count begins rising, one girl and her friends find themselves contemplating the "Rules" of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one. Directed by Wes Craven.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Selma

Selma2014

The unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay's "Selma" tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history. Written by Miss W J Mcdermott 

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last updated 02-05-2016

Singin' In The Rain

Singin' In The Rain1952

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound. Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot1959

When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women, but further complications set in. Directed by Billy Wilder. Resource: Film Terms

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last updated 02-05-2016

Stand By Me

Stand By Me1986

After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy. Directed by Rob Reiner.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Super 8

Super 82011

During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town. Director: J.J. Abrams Writer: J.J. Abrams

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last updated 02-05-2016

Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver1976

A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge to violently lash out, attempting to save a teenage prostitute in the process.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Artist

The Artist2011

A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions. Director: Michel Hazanavicius Writer: Michel Hazanavicius

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Cove

The Cove2009

Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists, led by renowned dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health. Directed by Louie Psihoyos.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Departed

The Departed2006

Two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy's identities. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Fisher King

The Fisher King1991

A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake. Directed by Terry Gilliam.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The General

The General1926

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single handedly and straight through enemy lines. Resource: Film Terms

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush1925

The Tramp goes the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more. Directed by Charlie Chaplin.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Great Escape

The Great Escape1963

Allied Prisoner of War's plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German POW camp during World War II.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame1939

In 15th century France, a gypsy girl is framed for murder by the infatuated Chief Justice, and only the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame Cathedral can save her.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker2006

Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Article by screenwriter Mark Boal Death and Dishonor.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game2014

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

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last updated 05-09-2015

The Impossible

The Impossible2012

A regular family - Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids - travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. They get an upgrade to a villa on the coastline. After settling in and exchanging gifts, they go to the pool, like so many other tourists. A perfect paradise vacation until a distant noise becomes a roar. There is no time to escape from the tsunami; Maria and her eldest are swept one way, Henry and the youngest another. Who will survive, and what will become of them? Written by Ronaldo Ferreira

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Lion King

The Lion King1994

Tricked into thinking he killed his father, a guilt ridden lion cub flees into exile and abandons his identity as the future King.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Opposite of Sex

The Opposite of Sex1998

A 16-year-old girl visits her gay half-brother and ends up seducing his boyfriend, thus wreaking havoc on all of their lives. Directed by Don Roos.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything2014

The Theory of Everything is the story of the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, and Jane Wilde the arts student he fell in love with whilst studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Little was expected from Stephen Hawking, a bright but shiftless student of cosmology, given just two years to live following the diagnosis of a fatal illness at 21 years of age. He became galvanized, however, by the love of fellow Cambridge student, Jane Wilde, and he went on to be called the successor to Einstein, as well as a husband and father to their three children. Over the course of their marriage as Stephen's body collapsed and his academic renown soared, fault lines were exposed that tested the lineaments of their relationship and dramatically altered the course of both of their lives.

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last updated 06-04-2015

The Town

The Town2010

As he plans his next job, a longtime thief tries to balance his feelings for a bank manager connected to one of his earlier heists, as well as the FBI agent looking to bring him and his crew down. Directed by Ben Affleck.

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last updated 02-05-2016

The Walk

The Walk2015

Twelve people have walked on the moon, but only one man - Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - has ever, or will ever, walk in the immense void between the World Trade Center towers. Guided by his real-life mentor, Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley), and aided by an unlikely band of international recruits, Petit and his gang overcome long odds, betrayals, dissension and countless close calls to conceive and execute their mad plan. Robert Zemeckis, the director of such marvels as Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Back to the Future, Polar Express and Flight, again uses cutting edge technology in the service of an emotional, character-driven story. With innovative photorealistic techniques and IMAX 3D wizardry, The Walk is true big-screen cinema, a chance for moviegoers to viscerally experience the feeling of reaching the clouds. The film, a PG-rated, all-audience entertainment for moviegoers 8 to 80, unlike anything audiences have seen before, is a love letter to Paris and New York City in the 1970s, ... Written by SONY Pictures Entertainment 

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last updated 03-26-2016

To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be1942

In occupied Poland during WWII, a troupe of ham stage actors (led by Joseph Tura and his wife Maria) match wits with the Nazis. A spy has information which would be very damaging to the Polish resistance and they must prevent it's being delivered to the Germans.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Top Gun

Top Gun1986

As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

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last updated 01-16-2017

War Games

War Games1983

A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III. Directed by John Badham.

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last updated 02-05-2016

Whiplash

Whiplash2014

A young and talented drummer attending a prestigious music academy finds himself under the wing of the most respected professor at the school, one who does not hold back on abuse towards his students. The two form an odd relationship as the student wants to achieve greatness, and the professor pushes him.

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last updated 02-05-2016