Saturday, January 9, 2010

Movies are a Personal Thing

We are a fairly media-oriented family, though I can't remember the last time we've seen every movie that's up for Best Oscar when the Academy Awards ceremony comes around. It will be a few years yet before we go to movies at the theater with regularity. At the moment, it really needs to be the kind of movie we can watch with a 13-year-old, which means no hanky-panky and less gratuitous violence than we'd normally put up with.
Nonetheless, we (us adults) watch at least 5 movies a week, and try to watch one movie a week that is a "family" movie. This week it was the Beatles "Help", a few weeks ago it was the 90's remake of Little Women. You never know in our house. Greg has literally thousands of movies, including film noir, classic comedies and anything else that he decides he can't live without. We could watch the movies we actually OWN for at least five years, and never have to rent a thing. But then, Greg has watched most of the movies we own, if I haven't. Not that it makes a difference, as he'd watch quite a few of them many times, and has done so with several (Duck Soup, The General, any Laurel and Hardy....)
So it was that my friend, Connie, asked me to recommend some movies she could watch, that were "like Enchanted April". I knew exactly what she meant, and even if SHE didn't know it, I know some great movies that aren't actually British and don't have a grande dame as the central actor, but were nevertheless "like Enchanted April". I started putting the list together in my head on the way home from work. But then, I sat down with the computer and our Netflix queue, and started typing in names of movies.
First, I wrote down several movies, then looked them up on Netflix, looking at the movies they recommended. There were a few audible "No WAY!"s at their suggestions. I could do that job for Netflix, but then they probably pay the computer more than they'd pay me, and the computer is probably faster.
So anyway, a few of their ideas prompted some of mine, and then I looked at our history of rentals, going back two years. Scored some great ideas there. And it really helped to look up those grande dames, because they do tend to make great movies.
Now, understand that a lot of the recommendations I made have more to do with a feel, an intuition that some movies are just LIKE other movies, even if one of them stars Joan Plowright and the other is an ensemble piece of unknowns. Or even if some of the ones I put on my list were made in England, some in the U.S., at least one in France and one in Canada. No matter. They all have an intangible something that amounts to "it's a small, quirky movie with great characters and a big heart." Or something like that.
All this is really just a way to get to the point, which is to list the movies. For Connie. But I think it's a list that I'd give anybody who likes movies that are not big ol' Hollywood splashy productions, and who loves to look at interesting faces (isn't that a big difference between British movies and American? They put real faces in their movies, and even young lovers aren't impossibly gorgeous) in wonderful movies.
Here, for your perusal, is my list. And if you have any comments about any of them, knock yourselves out! I love these movies, so if you don't, I won't change my feelings about them after reading your pithy, well-expressed objections. If you do like them, you must be as discerning and intelligent as you look.

Amy's Movies for Connie (in no particular order):

Shirley Valentine (You go Shirley!)
Cinema Paradiso (in Italian and subtitled--DO NOT get the dubbed version)
Billy Elliot (If you haven't watched this already, get out the hanky)
The Station Agent (odd but you'll be hooked)
Pieces of April (ditto)
Eat a Bowl of Tea (Wayne Wang)
Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Ang Lee)
Mrs. Henderson Presents (LOVE Judi Dench! and it's a true story--watch the extras)
Cranford-PBS miniseries (speaking of Judi Dench)
My House in Umbria (LOVE Maggie Smith!)
Ladies in Lavendar (both Judi Dench and Maggie Smith!)
Keeping Mum (Mr. Bean Speaks!)
Waking Ned Divine (this is the Irish one, Connie)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (modern take on 1930's screwball romance)
Goodnight Mr. Tom (read the book,'s good!)
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (LOVE Joan Plowright!)
Chocolat (okay, it's French, but it just FEELS like a British indie)
Tea With Mussolini (Cher, Lily Tomlin, Joan Plowright, Judi Dench AND Maggie Smith!)
Strangers in Good Company (just watch won't believe these people aren't actors...)
Mrs. Brown (Judi...oh you get the idea!)
Mediterraneo (cute Italians on a Greek island....)
Finding Forrester (okay THIS is the one that doesn't have any grande dames, isn't it England, but it has Sean Connery and you've probably never heard of it)

And the only reason I didn't include Enchanted April in THIS list is that Connie has seen it. If you haven't, it's the movie that started all go watch it!

1 comment:

  1. You and I think so much alike. I like ALL of those movies! And I love your discription of Mediterraneo! So perfect. Cute Italians indeed! And Return to Cranford starts tomorrow night on PBS here. Cant wait!