A recent medical leave posed a strong challenge to my ability to stay home, observe the doctor’s restrictions, and get some rest. When I wasn’t sleeping, knitting scarves and making use of adult coloring books, I parked myself in front of the television. But I could only binge-watch so much early “X-Files” and “Portlandia” on Netflix, so I had to shake things up a bit with a variety of DVDs. Here are some that helped me keep my sanity:

The Jinx: the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst: If you’re a fan of the Netflix documentary “Making of a Murderer,” consider this multi-part HBO documentary about the strange and unlucky Robert Durst, scion of a powerful New York City real-estate family. Durst, suspected of murdering his wife Kathie in 1982 and his friend Susan Berman in 2000, is apprehended and tried after his neighbor Morris Black turns up dead and dismembered in 2001, when the film’s narrative begins. The well-researched and well-organized “Jinx” utilizes archival news footage, police evidence and interviews with key players to tell the story, but by far the most riveting component is the hours that writer and director Andrew Jarecki spent talking with a willing Durst, who comes off as more than a little spooky.

Suffragette: This new addition to the library’s DVD collection stars Carey Mulligan as Maud Watts, a laundress in 1912 London who becomes part of history when she suddenly finds herself an unlikely recruit in the fight for women’s right to vote. Her involvement in the cause places her family, her job and her home at risk. In addition to Mulligan, there are strong performances all around: Brendan Gleeson as the investigator working to bring down the suffragettes; Helena Bonham Carter as a determined, long-time leader in the movement; and Anne-Marie Duff as the woman who initially recruits Maud. Meryl Streep has high billing as well, although her character, a presence in name and photograph throughout the entire film, only makes brief appearances. The story will engage, infuriate and inspire you. And be sure to stay put for the end credits, which feature a lengthy list of when women received the right to vote in countries around the world.

The Muppet Movie: I simply love this movie. It never fails to make me happy, beginning with the opening strains of the song “Rainbow Connection,” which makes my eyes well up with sentimental tears. The many wonderful cameos, from Milton Berle to Steve Martin, always surprise me. If you need a smile, join Kermit the Frog and friends as they journey to Hollywood for a casting call while trying to evade the film’s villain, a restaurateur who specializes in frog legs. And if you need more Muppets in your life, the library has “The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz,” “Muppets from Space” and “Muppets Take Manhattan,” as well as the delightful reboot starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams, “The Muppets” and its sequel, “Muppets Most Wanted.”

Waiting for Guffman: This comedic mockumentary, set in fictional Blaine, Mo., depicts the creation of a local acting troupe’s original show celebrating the small town’s 150th anniversary. Starring Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O’Hara, it spotlights the antics of this passionate but not necessarily talented group of performers. The titular Guffman is a New York theater figure whom they hope will bring their show to Broadway. Unfortunately, the library doesn’t have this particular movie (you can always do a request for purchase), but if you like the cast and the mockumentary format, it does have the very funny “Best in Show,” about the world of dog shows.


Man Up. No recuperation is complete without a chick-flick. “Man Up” is a new addition to the Joplin Public Library’s collection. Starring my British boyfriend Simon Pegg and American actress Lake Bell, it’s a charming and funny tale of mistaken identity. Quirky Nancy, who has pretty much given up on men and dating, is wrongly thought to be Jack’s blind date. How does she handle it when the two really seem to hit it off and spend a fun-filled evening together? Will she come clean about the accidental deception, and how will he react? You’ll have to check it out to find out!