Top 5 Historical Movies At The Library

Catch up on your history lessons with these excellent biopics and documentaries here at the library! Each movie examines a crucial moment or person in history. For more historical movies, click here!

Darkest Hour, directed by Joe Wright

During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly appointed British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.

12 Years A Slave, directed by Steve McQueen

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup. It is 1841, and Northup, an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps and must find the strength within to survive. Filled with powerful performances by an astonishing cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave is both an unflinching account of slavery in American history and a celebration of the indomitable power of hope.

The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper

“The King’s Speech” presents a sideways glance at a crucial period in 20th-century history as the monumentally awkward Prince Albert, or Bertie, becomes King George VI unexpectedly in 1936 when his older brother Edward VIII abdicates to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson.

Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

They Shall Not Grow Old, directed by Peter Jackson

Through the lens of auteur Peter Jackson, anything can become magical. Although the First World War took place a century ago, Jackson’s determination has brought it back to life once again. With brilliant cinematic techniques, as well as an appreciation for those who fought these unbelievably difficult battles, Jackson brings this forgotten world into bold relief. His extraordinary talent captures the madness and sheer scale of what was to become one of our great modern tragedies as human beings.

Monday Movie: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Wikipedia

In 1938, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) works as a professor of archeology, that is, when he’s not traveling the world on adventures searching for ancient artifacts. When one such artifact is brought to his attention by Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), Indiana is intrigued. He decides to pursue the adventure when he learns that his own father, Professor Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) has gone missing in a pursuit of this artifact. What is this artifact? None other than the cup of Jesus, the way to immortality: the Holy Grail. Now Indiana must journey across the world in search of his father and the Grail while the always horrific Nazis close in.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade marks the last movie of the original Indiana Jones trilogy. Indiana has already battled the Nazis in the pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark and fought against an evil cult in Temple of Doom. Now, the trilogy turns back to focus on a religious artifact as the first one did. But this time, we are introduced to Indiana’s father, a character we have not met up until this movie. And the sub-plot of Indiana’s reconciliation with his father marks one aspect of this movie that makes it great. Clearly, obsessed with his work, we learn that Henry rarely spent time with Indiana as a child, something Indiana holds against him. But now, with an army of Nazis chasing behind them, and the Grail ahead, they must learn to work together. Here, actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery thrive. The witty banter back and forth, along with some of the more heartfelt moments, make this action movie stand out as having well-written and well-performed characters. These two incredible actors truly deliver, matching each other enough that the audience recognizes a father-son connection, and yet the two are different enough to create two memorable characters.

Beyond the incredible character work, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade fits right in its action-adventure genre. From boat chases, motorcycle chases, brawls, aerial dogfights, and a long battle on a tank, The Last Crusade has enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat. And its action holds up, even by today’s standards. On top of that, the film is witty, fun, and always exciting, with enough comic relief to remind the audience of some of the absurdity of it all. I highly recommend this movie for anyone wanting to see a classic action movie, or anyone interested in the work of the late Sean Connery. There is not a dull moment.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is rated PG-13 and is available in the Logos.

*review by Brennan Kress

Top 5 Movies By Women Directors At The Library

What are some of the best movies directed by women? The library has several excellent films that were made by women directors like Greta Gerwig, Kathryn Bigelow, Kasi Lemmons, and more. Check out the list below and get started on your movie-watching!

Film descriptions provided by the publishers c/o the library catalog.

Little Women directed by Greta Gerwig

Writer-director Greta Gerwig . . . has crafted a “Little Women” that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott, and unfolds as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life.

Harriet directed by Kasi Lemmons

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, the movie tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

Bright Star directed by Jane Campion

Nineteenth century poet John Keats and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne, started out as unlikely lovers who were totally at odds with each other. However, when Brawne offers to help Keats nurse his seriously ill brother, the two soon became involved in an unstoppable romance that only his untimely death at age 25 could bring to a shattering end.

Selma directed by Ava Duvernay

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1964.

The Hurt Locker directed by Kathryn Bigelow

US Army Staff Sergeant Will James, Sergeant J.T. Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge comprise the Bravo Company’s bomb disposal unit stationed in Baghdad. While the three members face their own internal issues, they have to be aware of any person at the bomb sites, some of whom may be bombers themselves.

How To Watch Movies On Reserve At The Library

Each semester, several professors add movies to their Reserve list at the library (you can learn more about how to check out Reserve items here). This means that we have their movies ready for you at the Circulation Desk. However, many of these movies can only be watched while in the library building. There are two main ways that you can watch a movie like this while in the library:

Use your laptop or a library desktop computer + a portable DVD drive.

DVD drives can be checked out from the Circulation Desk using your student ID just like movies and books. They will just need to stay within the library building. You can also check out headphones from the Circulation Desk if needed.

Check out the media room, #324.

The library’s media room, #324 on the third floor, is equipped with a TV and DVD player. You will need to come to the Circulation Desk with your student ID to check out the room’s key, as the media room remains locked to protect the media devices. You are also encouraged to reserve this room ahead of time, since it is often in use. You can reserve the media room and other study rooms on the library website- click this link to do that.

Monday Movie: “Despicable Me”

In Despicable Me, the world is shocked when an unnamed villain steals an entire pyramid! And amongst those who are confused is Gru (Steve Carell), a villain down on his luck who is looking for one more big score to send him off into the sunset. But this new villain has upped the ante, which leads Gru to come up with one more master plan. He is going to steal the moon!

However, he first needs a shrink ray, which has been taken by the pyramid stealer, a new and young villain who goes by Vector (Jason Segel). And his fortress seems impenetrable, except for three orphan girls who sell Vector cookies. And so Gru has a plan: adopt the three orphans, use them to get the shrink ray, and then steal the moon.

On the other side of this story sits Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who spend every day hoping that someone will adopt them. And so when Gru, pretending to be a dentist, adopts them, they are suspicious at first. Though Gru adopts them for nefarious purposes, he soon grows to love the girls and becomes torn between his goals as a villain and his new responsibilities as a father.

The movie is funny throughout, heartwarming, and contains an incredible message regarding the value of relationships. Gru’s Minions add a layer of hilarity and silliness to the movie that keep the viewers engaged through the main plot movements, though perhaps they don’t warrant their own movie like they got in 2015. The main characters are well thought out, though slightly one dimensional. The three girls each grasp on to one or two of their traits which is constantly brought up, and they don’t exactly change, except in their relationship to Gru. Gru, of course, changes the most, going from a jealous villain to a caring father.

This movie provides good family fun for all ages. It also contains an important message about caring for relationships over career. The only thing that might concern some parents is the fact that the main protagonist is a villain, though a villain that is silly and cartoonish, far from a violent monster or anything like that.

Despicable Me is available in the Logos.

Rated PG: rude humor and mild action.

*reviewed by Brennan Kress

Monday Movie: “The Lorax”

the lorax

Released in early 2012, The Lorax tries to recreate on the big screen what Dr. Seuss wrote in his 1971 children’s classic. The movie, obviously, takes many creative liberties with the story, creating characters, an entire organization, and making some of the movie a musical in its own right. However, even with these changes, the movie still portrays well Dr. Seuss’ real concerns about the destruction of the environment, but more importantly, gives hope that a generation may be able to change.

The movie primarily follows young Ted (Zac Efron) and his journey to find a tree to impress the high school girl he has a crush on named Audrey (Taylor Swift). The reason for this quest is that in Thneedville, where Ted lives, no real nature exists. Instead, trees and landscapes are manufactured and the air quality is so low that the citizens must buy bottled air from Mr. O’Hare (Rob Riggle). Mr. O’Hare, due to his massive wealth, practically owns the city and wants to do what he can to keep Ted from finding an actual tree, lest Ted make air for free. 

The only person who knows anything about trees is The Once-ler (Ed Helm) who lives outside of town and who Ted visits in order to learn more. The movie then cuts back and forth from the Once-ler, who is an aspiring entrepreneur interested in making a multi-use cloth called a “Thneed” and Ted’s own adventures back in Thneedville. The Once-ler, who cuts down a beautiful forest’s trees in order to make Thneeds, is visited by the Lorax (Danny DeVito) who speaks for the trees.

This is where the movie’s primary message comes in. The Lorax hopes that the Once-ler will learn to co-exist with the trees and the animals in the forest. But the Once-ler struggles with low production due to his unwillingness to cut down trees, and as he becomes more and more popular and his business more and more lucrative, the desire to cut down the entire forest becomes more and more real.

Opposite to The Once-ler stands Ted (who is not in Seuss’ original work, at least not named) who wants to rebuild the forest. First to impress a girl, but then when he realizes how much his world needs those trees. In doing so, the movie tackles large issues on natural preservation, and the dangers of industrialization that ignores the well-being of the planet. The movie has an incredible cast with some fun and child-friendly dialogue. The art style highly reflects Dr. Seuss’ own style which makes the movie fit right in with the world Dr. Seuss created. Colorful, funny, light-hearted, and yet surprisingly deep, The Lorax is a great movie for kids, adults, and everyone in between.


The Lorax is available in the Logos.

The Lorax is rated PG for brief mild language.

*written by Brennan Kress


Top 5 Comedy Movies At The Library

laugh neon light signage turned on
Photo by Tim Mossholder on

While comedies can have different plots and settings, from a road trip gone wrong to an awkward high school romance, they all have one thing in common: they make us laugh. Want to find funny movies at the library? Here are 5 comedic movies that are all available, and be sure to search our genre “Comedy” in our online Media Collection for even more.

*movie descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog


Mean Girls

When a young girl who has lived in Africa and been homeschooled moves to New York, she must enter a public high school. Survival of the fittest takes on a whole new meaning when she falls for the ex-boyfriend of the most popular girl in school.


O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Loosely based on Homer’s “Odyssey,” this is the story of three convicts- escapees from a prison farm in Mississippi- and their adventure as they travel home in hopes of recovering buried loot before it’s lost forever in a flood.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail

The quest for the Holy Grail by King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table is retold in the inimitable Python fashion.


Duck Soup

To rescue the small country of Freedonia from bankruptcy, Mrs. Teasdale agrees to donate 20 million dollars if Rufus T. Firefly is appointed its new president.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Toula is a quiet, devoted daughter in a big, crazy Greek family. Working in her father’s restaurant, she hides behind her family and keeps the world at a distance. One day at the restaurant she finds herself pouring coffee for a man who inspires her to change her life, and the way she sees the world . . . forever.


Bonus: Once Upon A Time . . . In Hollywood

This one’s more of a dark comedy/retelling of history, but it’s absolutely hilarious, particularly if you’re read up on 1960s history, westerns, and the Manson family.

Publisher description: From 1958 to 1963, American actor Rick Dalton knew the height of fame and fortune as the lead in the television series Bounty Law. Yet, Rick wasn’t satisfied with the work and used his popularity to try to become a movie star. By 1969, Rick’s career has stalled so much that he takes jobs as a guest star on various shows. He even starts wondering if the only way he can make a comeback is by acting in Italian productions. Cliff Booth, Rick’s long-time friend and stunt double, helps him see that possibilities for success still exist in the Los Angeles film industry if they work together.




Top 5 Family Movies At The Library

kid movie

When you need a movie for the whole family to enjoy, come visit our DVD collection! From popular animated movies to children’s classics, we have many family movies to choose from. Here are 5 great family movies to watch, all of which can be checked out.

*movie descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog

Frozen (and Frozen II)

When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell.


My Neighbor Totoro

Two young sisters spend a summer in the Japanese countryside with their father. The children’s strange new home turns out to be a wonderland filled with creatures and a trio of furry woodland sprites who can only be seen by children.


The LEGO Movie

Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.


The Incredibles (and Incredibles 2)

Bob and his wife Helen used to be among the world’s greatest crime fighters, saving lives and battling evil on a daily basis. Fifteen years later, they have been forced to adopt civilian identities and retreat to the suburbs where they live “normal” lives with their three kids, Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack. Itching to get back into action, Bob gets his chance when a mysterious communication summons him to a remote island for a top secret assignment. He soon discovers that it will take a super family effort to rescue the world from total destruction.



Carl Fredericksen is a 78- year-old curmudgeon. He used to enjoy his modest life as a balloon seller when his adventure-loving wife Ellie was still alive. When she died, Carl was left with his memories and the awareness that they never made their dream journey to Paradise Falls in South America. When well-meaning officials consign Carl to Shady Oaks Retirement Home, he rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats away. He discovers that Russell, a chubby Wilderness Explorer Scout, has stowed away. In the tropical jungle, Carl and Russell find more than they expected. Charles Muntz is a crazed explorer whose newsreels once inspired Carl and Ellie; Kevin is an exotic bird with a weakness for chocolate; and Dug is an endearingly golden retriever fitted with a voice box. More importantly, Carl and Russell discover they need each other.


Bonus: Tarzan (one of my personal favorite animated movies)

Raised by gorillas, Tarzan has made the jungle his home and the animals his friends. But with the appearance of humans, the only world Tarzan has ever known and the one in which he belongs are about to become one.


Top 5 Musicals On DVD At The Library


When you’re ready to sing it out, pick up one of our musicals on DVD here at the library. You can find musicals by browsing our DVD section on the 2nd floor, or by looking them up online via the library catalog. The following list is made up of some of our most popular and well-known musicals.

*DVD descriptions provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog


Les Misérables

10th Anniversary version

25th Anniversary version

Movie version

In early 19th century France, the paroled prisoner Jean Valjean seeks redemption, regains his social standing, and rises to the rank of mayor. He encounters a beautiful but desperately ill woman named Fantine and cares for her daughter, Cosette, after her death. All the while he is obsessively pursued by the policeman Javert, who vows to make him pay for the crimes of his past.


The Phantom of the Opera

25th Anniversary version

Movie version

Tells the story of a disfigured musical genius who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, waging a reign of terror over its occupants. When he falls fatally in love with Christine, the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera, exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her extraordinary talents.


The Sound of Music

As Nazism takes over Austria, a governess and a widowed father fall in love and escape the country with his large family of musically-talented children.


West Side Story

This musical sets the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of the rivalry of two street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, in New York of the 1950s. A young woman who is sister to the Sharks’ leader has her first taste of love with the former head of the Jets.


Fiddler on the Roof

Tevye is a poor Jewish milkman with five unmarried daughters to support in a village in Czarist Russia. With a sharp-tongued wife at home and growing anti-Semitism in the village, Tevye talks to God about his troubles. His people’s traditions keep him strong when his existence is as precariously balanced as a fiddler on the roof.


Bonus: We don’t have a DVD recording of Hamilton, but we do have this excellent book that will take you behind-the-scenes of the Broadway hit.

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

O Brother, Where Art Thou? was released in the year 2000 by the Coen brothers.  It is a comedy/satire based on Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey.  It depicts aspects of magical realism during the depression in Southern Mississippi. The musical score is a driving force that is characterized as “ole timey” Southern Folk music that sets the tone of the film.

O Brother, Where Art Thou tells of adventure, temptation, and redemption. The movie stars George Clooney as Ulysses Everett McGill: a fast-talking, wise-cracking everyman who is always the smartest man in the room and on a mission to be reunited with his wife and children. His two bumbling sidekicks are Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar O’Donnell (Tim Blake Nelson); both are small time crooks who are manipulated by Everett for the promises of fortune. Through their haphazard adventures, they find themselves challenged by roadblocks. The trio encounter characters that are archetypes  straight out of Homer’s Odyssey.  These include: a cyclops, sirens, and a character akin to Poseidon or Satan. Throughout these misadventures, the trio experiences both highs and lows as divine providence (or luck) brings them to redemption.

This film earned 72 million dollars with only a 26 million dollar budget. The soundtrack won a Grammy for album of the year; it borrows heavily from both Primitive Baptist, African-American, Bluegrass, and Delta Blues.  The hit song, “Man of Constant Sorrow” was widely acclaimed by music critics and crossed over into multiple public venues.  It reached number 35 on U.S. County Music Billboard. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a truly timeless period piece that the entire family can enjoy, and a personal favorite of mine!

*It is rated PG 13 due to some mild language and suggestive scenes.  It is available at the Union University Library.