My criteria for a good movie has certainly changed from my angst-y teen years when there was nothing like a good Ingmar Bergman, "let's examine death twelve different ways" flick, to entertain me and my friends. We were interested in "meaningful" films, although I tended to keep quiet about my secret love for Pollyanna. I would have lost all street cred in the "I'm a deep person, you can tell from the black clothes I wear and the significant movies I see" crowd.
As I got older, however, I more and more wanted escapist movies. I no longer wanted to walk out of a film more depressed than when I walked in. I didn't want to be haunted by images of sad children or abused adults. One of the best things about having kids is that I no longer needed an excuse to see Disney movies. Even though I'm a card-carrying feminist, I have no problem with watching all those Disney princesses and the heroes who saved them. Bottom Line: I don't need to spend mega-dollars on a ticket and a bucket of popcorn to be depressed. I can do that for free on my own time.
I am, therefore, delighted to recommend two movies I saw over the holidays. They were well worth the ticket price (which as an aside is now getting ridiculous), and the popcorn calories.
Top on my list is The King's Speech. Wow, just wow. Colin Firth plays Bertie, second-in-line for the throne, who unexpectedly becomes King when his dissolute older brother, Edward VII, abdicates. Bertie, who takes the royal name of King George VI, is a stalwart, devoted husband and father, with a painful stutter (the result of child abuse by his nanny). England is on the cusp of World War II and desperately needs a leader who can guide it through the difficult years ahead. But Bertie can barely complete a sentence without a tortuous stutter. The story is about his transformation into an inspiring speaker, a result of the treatment he undergoes by the unorthodox speech therapist, Lionel Logue, played brilliantly by Geoffrey Rush.
This is a movie about the triumph of the human spirit, the friendship between two men from different walks of life, and the selfless dedication of men and women to a nobler cause. I walked out of the movie optimistic and energized. Bravo to Colin Firth (who, for me, is still the quintessential Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice), Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter whose portrayal of Bertie's wife, Elizabeth, is in stark contrast to the role of Bellatrix LeStrange which she plays in the Harry Potter films. Her range as an actress is remarkable. Oscar nods are expected all around.
At the other end of the spectrum, and I'm sure it had a good moral to the story, but I was just too enchanted to focus on it, is Tangled, the latest animated film from Disney. The songs aren't particularly memorable, and yet, on a cold winter's day, the tale of an independent Rapunzel who joins forces with a bad guy with a heart of gold to find her true family, is just delightful. It's not a movie I'd see a dozen times (like Aladdin or The Lion King), but like a good Hershey bar, it was sweet, without being saccharine.
I wasn't particularly impressed by the host of previews I saw, but I no longer expect to have a long list of films I've got to see. I'm just pleased that these two were such unexpected pleasures.
Any other recommendations from movie-goers?
Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake - Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books - Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords