My Wednesday Recommendations #16


1. 187(Starring Samuel L Jackson, John Heard, Kelly Rowan, Lobo Sebastian)
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Released 1997
A dedicated educator loses his passion for teaching as he struggles to survive in this tense urban drama. Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson) is a science teacher trying to make a difference in a tough Brooklyn high school, but he faces an uphill battle against students more interested in gang battles than education and an administration that won't back him up. When Garfield is nearly killed by one of his students, he takes a 15-month sabbatical from education and moves to California, where he takes a position as a substitute teacher. Garfield is startled to discover that things are even worse on the West Coast; while fellow educators Ellen (Kelly Rowan) and Dave (John Heard) offer whatever help and advice they can, Garfield's superiors are more concerned about fielding lawsuits than the safety of their teaching staff. Soon, Garfield finds his life is in danger when he tries to stand up to two of his pupils, Benny (Lobo Sebastian) and Cesar (Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez).

2. B.A.P.S(Starring Halle Berry, Natalie Desselle, Martin Landau)
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Released 1997
Nisi (Halle Berry) and Mickey (Natalie Desselle) are African-American women with two ambitions -- marry rich men who will give them lots of money, and open the world's first combination hair salon and soul food restaurant. However, eligible bachelors and business opportunities are in short supply in Decatur, Georgia, so when Nisi hears rapper Heavy D is auditioning dancers in Los Angeles for an upcoming video and concert tour, the pair hit the road for California. They fail the audition but are approached by a man named Antonio (Luigi Amodeo) with a business proposition. Antonio is the chauffeur for Mr. Blakemore (Martin Landau), a millionaire in poor health. As a young man, Mr. Blakemore was in love with a black maid who worked in his household; Antonio and Blakemore's nephew Isaac (Jonathan Fried) think Nisi bears a resemblance to the girl Blakemore once loved, so they offer her a hefty payment plus room and board to pose as the granddaughter of Blakemore's lost love. Nisi and Mickey believe that this ruse is intended to make Blakemore feel better, but in fact Isaac wants to get his hands on his uncle's fortune, and he hopes that Nisi's presence will make him easier to manipulate. Meanwhile, Nisi and Mickey look like a hurricane that hit a cut-rate clothing store, so manservant Manley (Ian Richardson) teaches them social graces and gives them advice on how to dress. In time, Manley and Mr. Blakemore become friends with Nisi and Mickey; the men learn to be less stuffy and enjoy life, while the ladies become more respectable. B.A.P.S. stands for "Black American Princesses."

3. Showgirls(Starring Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon)
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Released in 1995
Nomi Malone (Elizabeth Berkley) insists in the opening scene of Showgirls, and dance she does. In this quasi-update of All About Eve, Nomi is a drifter whose sole ambition is to headline the "Goddess" topless dance show at the Stardust in Las Vegas. Of course, even Nomi must pay her dues, and she does so at the Cheetah, grinding poles and lap dancing her way to a future. Fortunately, her roommate, Molly, works at the Stardust and invites Nomi to see the show, where she meets Crystal Conners (Gina Gershon, in the Bette Davis role), with whom she immediately forms a love/hate relationship. Nomi soon learns what she must do to get ahead, and the rest of the film documents her cat-like crawl up the showgirl ladder of success.

4. Safe Haven(Starring Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel, Cobie Smulders)
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Released 2013
An affirming and suspenseful story about a young woman's struggle to love again, Safe Haven is based on the novel from Nicholas Sparks, the best-selling author behind the hit films The Notebook and Dear John. When a mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town, her reluctance to join the tight knit community raises questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots, and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and rely on the power of love in this deeply moving romantic thriller.