Calvary (2014)

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Written & Directed by: John Michael McDonagh

Setting: Ireland

Calvary (also Golgotha) was, according to the Gospels, a site immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls where Jesus was crucified..

“I first tasted semen when I was seven years old.”

This jarring, heartwrenching opening line is spoken to Father James (Brendan Gleeson), in the confessional, by a parishioner. Although we see grief and compassion in his face, Father James — who communicates in dry, witty retorts — is at a loss for an empathetic response.

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Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Paperback, 307 pages

Published: 2005 by Harper Perennial (1st published 2003)

Setting: Nigeria

Literary Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist (2004), Orange Prize Nominee for Fiction Shortlist (2004), John Llewellyn Rhys Prize Nominee (2004), Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction (2004), Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book Overall (2005)

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Nigeria teeters on the brink of a political coup. This instability has been provoked by the government’s harsh repression of free speech; journalists are risking their lives to stand up for freedom. Wrapped within this larger story is the tale narrated by 15-year-old Kambili, who watches her family’s stability unravel after her brother Jaja makes his own bid for freedom.

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Mystic River (2003)

Mystic_River_posterDirected by: Clint Eastwood

Written by: Brian Helgeland, based on the novel By Dennis Lehane

Sean, Jimmy, and Dave grew up together in an Irish working class neighborhood in Boston, roaming the neighborhood and playing ball in the street. Their friendship was shattered when Dave became the victim of a horrific crime. He returned home, but the bond among the boys dissolved under the weight of their unspoken fear, guilt, and shame.

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

wallflowerWritten & Directed by: Stephen Chbosky

Dear Logan Lerman,

I am sorry I misjudged you based on your part in the miserably disappointing adaptation of The Lightning Thief.  You can’t be blamed for the fact that filmmakers butchered one of my son’s and my favorite read-alouds, and usually ones acting ability can only shine in proportion to the quality of the role, script, and direction.

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