These are not new films, necessarily—just ones I’ve found compelling in chinks of time from these three months. I share them with you in case somehow, you too have missed out on them. In no particular order:
One Day—The movement through time in this movie is merciless and yet graceful in its disjuncture. It speeds the life of these two characters by through skipping to one day, July 15, every year, on which they’ve agreed to meet or contact each other. We see, we feel the wasting of time, the slowing of youthful brilliance, the heartbreak of disappointment, the decisions that cannot be revoked. A film that, once it was over, left me grateful for the second chances I have in my own life…
The Fall—First of all, I can’t believe more people have not raved about this film since its release in 2006. Shot in more than 26 countries in over 4 years, it weaves together a child’s imagination and a crippled man’s heartbreak to tell a story that is so emotionally truthful and devastatingly beautiful—and yet wildly fun and funny at points. This has probably taken over the top spot for my favourite movie, ever. On all levels, it speaks for itself.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty—I watched this on the plane back from Europe choir tour, and it made me want to turn around and begin a trip all over again. Wanderlust is a pretty popular term these days, but what struck me about this film is that someone as externally unremarkable as Walter Mitty has such a vivid dream life below the surface. He’s got untapped visions that are not ambitions, and through a series of yes, unlikely events, he is [and through him, we are] given the chance to realise the adventures he has always craved, proving the heart that his true friends always recognised.
Saving Mr. Banks—Another post-Europe plane watch. This one, however, had me bawling. I won’t give away any spoilers, but as stubborn Miss P. L. Travers confronts the sentimental superficiality of Walt Disney’s adaptation of her beloved Mary Poppins, she unearths a deeper connection to her own bitter past and the very real, very dear characters of her family. In many ways, Saving Mr. Banks echoes the spirit of Miss Potter—both Peter Rabbit and Mary Poppins were, after all, my childhood!—and Emma Thompson is, of course, marvelous.
Les Choristes—French independent films for the win! Think Mr. Holland’s Opus meets Charles Dickens. This is one of few films where the wit, the sarcasm, and the depth of personality break through in the inflection, assisted rather than hindered by the subtitles. Though a mid-20th-century boarding school of rowdy school boys was little better than a furnace for artistic impulses, the arrival of Monsieur Clement Mathieu must prove the power of imagination, kindness, and music to transcend stuffy rules and adolescent vulgarity.
Easy Virtue—I didn’t universally love this film. It doesn’t lend itself to that; it’s a bit like Miley Cyrus decided to drop into Downton Abbey. When young John Whittaker brings home his wife, American race car driver Larita, her brash glamor jars with the quiet propriety so carefully guarded on the Whittaker family estate. And yet the whole family has not yet realised that in the aftermath of WWI, not all change can be dismissed with a slight dig over a cup of tea. Of course, it’s hard for me not to side with the family in resenting the American’s intrusion, but the 1920s opened the door for a whole new manner of life, fully rejecting the departed era of peaceful ideals and celebrating a morality similarly departed. Despite this, the movie has moments of mischief and elegance and an even better soundtrack, largely sung by the cast itself. Again, although the ending does surprise, it’s not everything you want. But, hey, in the name of the Jazz Age…
The Giver—Confession. I have not yet read the book. Which I intend to remedy. However, what this film has to offer, distinguishing it from the myriad variations on the dystopian theme, is its statement on pain. The goal of the new order has been to erase all evils and sources of pain, even at the cost of love or depth of any emotion. But as Jonas begins to Receive memories of the past, he begins to dream in colour—and to fight for the fullness of life, for joy and love, despite the cost of unfiltered knowledge.
[Photo cred: http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/images/uploads/EmmaThompson.jpg, http://intrigue.ie/books-every-woman-read-one-day/, http://www.nadjaseale.com/2013/03/the-fall.html, http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/movies/2013/12/the_secret_life_of_walter_mitty_reviewed_ben_stiller_s_2013_movie_adaptation.html, http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1957153536/tt0435651?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_sf_16, http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/still/easy_virtue14.jpg, http://cdn-premiere.ladmedia.fr/var/premiere/storage/images/racine/bandes-annonces/video/les-choristes/12230019-1-fre-FR/Les-Choristes_reference.jpg,