Movie Mondays: Searching for Missing Persons

~posted by Frank

People watch movies about lost or missing people because they want to see if they will be found. While there’s nothing greater than an emotional reunion, it’s often the journey and trials of those doing the searching that are so compelling. These four films are a testament to that.

Considered a classic of the western genre and of cinema in general is The Searchers (1956). John Wayne stars as Civil War veteran Ethan Edwards, who discovers after returning to the home of his brother that his brother’s wife and son have been killed by Comanche Indians – and that his niece Debbie has been abducted. So begins a five year journey for Ethan to find Debbie, who is later played by Natalie Wood. Veteran director John Ford tells a complicated story that’s notable for its brutal depiction of white settlers and Native Americans, and is perhaps more shocking today than it was when it came out nearly fifty years ago.

Another classic that fits the bill is The Color Purple (1985). Based on the novel by Alice Walker, it tells the story of Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), who is separated from her sister Nettie at a young age and treated unspeakably bad by Mister (Danny Glover). It follows Celie over 30 years, and the complex relationships she forges with women (most notably Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery). Goldberg and director Steven Spielberg do some of their best work in this powerfully emotional film which garnered 11 Oscar nominations – but notably no awards. 

Philomena (2013), based on the nonfiction book by Martin Sixsmith, is a bittersweet tale of shame, regret and forgiveness. Judi Dench plays Philomena Lee, who was impregnated as a teen and forced to give up her son while living as an inmate in an Irish convent. Fifty years later, she meets Martin (Steve Coogan), a disgraced journalist who reluctantly agrees to write a human interest story about Philomena, and the two begin a journey that takes them to America to find her son. Alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking, director Steven Frears provides us with an ultimately uplifting tale and a wonderful vehicle for Dench and Coogan.

Last but not least is The Immigrant (2014) from director James Gray. It’s 1921, and Ewa (Marion Cotillard) and her sister Magda are Polish immigrants who arrive on Ellis Island. When Magda is quarantined with tuberculosis and Ewa’s American relatives are nowhere to be found, she desperately turns to Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) for help. She soon finds out that Bruno owns a nightclub and that prostitution is the only way she can earn the money to bribe Magda out of quarantine upon her recovery and not be sent back to Poland. Things get more complicated when she meets Bruno’s cousin Orlando (Jeremy Renner), a magician who promises her a better life. The Immigrant is as notable for Cotillard’s breathtaking performance as it is for the sumptuous production and costume design, and is must viewing for lovers of period melodrama.

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How to Prevent & Survive Identity Theft


By Ann G.

Identity theft is increasingly common, and we all should be aware of how to protect ourselves—it really could happen to any one of us! It takes some work to theft-proof your life, but it is far less work than it takes to fix the problem after there has been a breach. Here are some sites that offer practical tips and habits that will help! Continue reading

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Delicious Cooking Within Your Budget

By Ann G.

If you walk the aisles of the Library’s cookbook section (and, at the Central Library, that is several aisles!), you will see a wide range of books with delectable-looking recipes. Truffles, chocolate, caviar, fine wine—it all looks so good, and so out of reach for those of us with normal budgets. But don’t despair—you can eat just as wonderfully with ingredients that won’t break the bank! Here are some books which will give you ideas.

Cover art for Good Cheap EatsIn Good Cheap Eats, you will find 70 sets of three-course dinners, each for $10 or less for a family of four! It can be done, and creatively and deliciously.

Another option for “the time-short, budget-conscious cook” is to use fewer ingredients. In Just Five Ingredients, renowned chef Ainsley Harriott will tell you how to focus in on essentials, and use techniques to make those fewer flavors pop. Continue reading

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Going Green to Save Some Green

By Tina M.

Don’t worry, it’s all about the small things! Earth Day is April 22nd and so is our Money Smart Week. Every year, I promise to be more “environmentally friendly” and “save more money.” It’s not as easy as it looks, but by adding one thing at a time – say one thing every three months – it can help you to become more environmentally conscious.

Save on Transportation. Bike to Work, use public transportation, or carpool. You can find a list of books on bicycling here. If you can’t bike to work, at least share your ride with other people. And, if you are buying a fuel-efficient car, you might be able to get a tax break on it and save money on gas! Continue reading

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Let’s Talk Money, Honey

By Meadow P.

Money may well be the most challenging aspect of our so-called adult lives, and yet we are so reluctant to discuss it with others for fear of looking the financial fool.

Cover image for the Smart Cookie's Guide to Making More DoughIt’s time we embrace financial education and make it part of our regular conversations. A fantastic way to do this is with a “Money Club”, which is similar to a book club but focuses on financial fitness. The book that inspired me to start one is The Smart Cookies’ Guide to Making More Dough as well as this interview about a successful group who used the social pressure of their group for the good of their financial health. Some clubs read books, like the ones on this list, others work together to learn money smarts and encourage each other to take action. Try a different theme each month: “Coupon Crazy,” “Cheap Chic,” “Frugal Decorating” and so forth. And isn’t it easier to tackle tough topics with friends and food? Continue reading

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Movie Mondays: Director J.C. Chandor and Money

~posted by Frank

Director J.C. Chandor has only made three films, but he has emerged as one of America’s most accomplished young directors. Two of his films are smart, thrilling, engaging dramas about money, and are ideal viewing during Money Smart Week. Continue reading

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Knowledge is Power: Educating Yourself about Foreclosure, Scams, and Your Rights

Angeline Thomas is our guest blogger today. She is the Staff Attorney who oversees the Foreclosure Mediation and Outreach Project—a WA-based foreclosure prevention program based at Seattle University School of Law designed to connect homeowners to reputable resources through outreach and education.

No doubt, the thought of foreclosure is scary, confusing, and often overwhelming. In fact, many hard-working homeowners are willing to slap down thousands of dollars to anyone offering to save their home. Because most people don’t know all their legal options and/or their legal rights, they are willing to trust almost anyone willing to offer help. If this is you or someone you know–stop! Don’t panic and, please, don’t do anything else until you have read this blog post. Continue reading

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