Monday, February 14, 2005

Favorite Movies - Some Capsule Reviews

Listed in alphabetical order. I add to these regularly, so drop by when you want some video rental ideas. I like guy flicks as well as chick flicks ... but if you're looking for Will Ferrell movies, this ain't da place.

Bend It Like Beckham... Soccer as metaphor for coming of age among interpersonal games and goals, with a glimpse into a culture as familiar as it is different, fueled by universally recognizable family dynamics.

Bull Durham... A hot, sexy, fun, funny, touching look at baseball and basic human drives. Sarandan, Robbins, Costner, the perfect triangle. Further analysis superfluous. See it, you'll thank me.

Crossing Delancy... This quirky, charming, ethnic urban love story is a poignant precursor of Sex and the City without the spicy language and designer shoes. Amy Irving and the much undervalued Peter Reigert top a delightful cast of "characters" whom most of us will feel like we already know.

Field of Dreams... This time it's baseball as metaphor for familial conflicts and regrets, idealism versus pragmatism, unrealized dreams and the value of believing in oneself. The perfect escape from -and gentle reminder of- reality, in virtually the perfect movie.

Mermaids... Eccentricity, adolescent (and adult) angst, fear of commitment and true innocence displayed in many forms from a variety of ages and perspectives. Cher, Winona Rider, Bob Hoskins, what's not to like.

Remember The Titans... True story of the forced integration of a southern high school and its football team, an inspirational saga of triumph over racial -and sexual- bigotry, and a lesson in how external and internal obstacles can be overcome through individual courage, teamwork, friendship, heartbreak and genuine grace. Denzel Washington heads an amazing, mostly unknown cast. Disney-schmisney, this should be required viewing for all to be reminded of what real character and leadership look like.

Shall We Dance... Get the Japanese version with subtitles; a look into a vastly different culture which easily translates in this story of self realization and communication -or lack thereof- between men and women. See the newer American version too, it's fun and has a solid sound track.

Strictly Ballroom... An Australian delight about the hilariously cutthroat world of competitive ballroom dancing. When you want something fun, fanciful and farcical, this is IT. Each character is a Character, the dialogue, scenes and dance numbers crackle with energy and whimsical charm. Wonderfully eclectic soundtrack and toe-tapping dance routines, with the best saved for last.

The Big Chill... Lawrence Kasdan's love story to a generation; a bulls-eye depiction of privileged middle class boomers as they look back at youth and forward to approaching middle age. A group of former college friends and lovers reunite for the funeral of one of their number who's committed suicide. We all knew or loved or were one of the multi-representational characters; they're hauntingly real and familiar. The themes and interactions are replete with sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, as it was then, as it often is now. Made in 1983, it still resonates 22 years later. A great way to give our kids a good look at the way we were ... and at familiar actors of our age group, then and today: Tom Berenger, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum, Glenn Close, Mary Kay Place, JoBeth Williams, Meg Tilly (and Kevin Kostner, left on the cutting room floor, appearing only as the faceless corpse). Bonus: spectacular soundtrack. This, in case there's any doubt, is one of my all-time favorite movies.

The Commitments... You haven't lived until you've heard a ragtag bunch of white Irish Gen-Xers shout "We're black and we're proud!" to a train full of baffled working class Irishmen. And you'll think you've died and gone to heaven when you hear the soul music they manage to produce out of the hell of their disenfranchised lives. Warning: should have subtitles; see it twice to get all the dialogue and hear the music again ... then buy the CD.

More to follow.



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