To the Movies!

April 2, 2015 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

While Liam’s in school, I’ve decided to indulge in an occasional afternoon matinee. I figure I might as well take advantage of this time while I have it. Here’s a rundown of the best ones I’ve seen this school year:

Boyhood (2014)
The concept of this film fascinated me – filming in real time over 12 years as all of the actors aged. And coming in when the lead character, a boy named Mason, was the same age as my own son, just made the film resonate even more with me. I kept imagining what Liam was going to be like at nine and twelve and eighteen. I loved how the filmmaker took seemingly trivial parts of Mason’s life and showed how those are the moments that made him the young adult that he turned out to be. I’m not surprised this has Oscar-for-Best-Picture written all over it. Ethan Hawk and Patricia Arquette were both amazing in it, as well.

Incidentally, the movie was so long that I had to leave early to pick up Liam, and I missed the last 15 minutes. However, I was delighted to see it on our in-flight movie lineup on our way back from Paris, so I was finally able to finish it. A modern-day masterpiece!

Wild (2015)
This film was produced by and starred Reese Witherspoon, about the true-life journey of a woman who goes on a 3-month solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in order to recover from recent traumas in her life and rediscover who she is. I’ve always been fascinated by long-distance hiking. Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is one of my favorite books. But I doubt I would ever attempt it, especially after seeing this character, a woman very much like myself in stature and strength, struggle to survive. But survive she does, and the film’s use of flashback to let the audience slowly discover what drives her to take on this drastic adventure is truly moving. Bring along a box of tissues, for sure!

Selma (2015)
I couldn’t resist seeing this amazing biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr. about his organization of the historic march from Selma, AL to Montgomery in order to pass the Voting Rights bill of 1965. This period of history has always fascinated me – I took “History of the 1960s” my junior year of college – and the film brilliantly portrays the struggle and the people in this cause. I liked the way the filmmaker humanized Dr. King, and although I’ve heard some criticisms about the portrayal of Johnson and his aides, it didn’t detract from the movie at all in my opinion. (Although I do agree with critics — we studied Johnson and read some great biographies about him in my class, and he really was more on the side of the minorities on this issue.) I also found it fascinating to see the reporters on the scene and how important that was for the civil rights movement. I could almost picture my own grandfather among the reporters, covering race riots in the South for ABC News in New York at that time. He once told me a story about getting a brick thrown at him through the door of his news van, and how his team would get sabotaged with sugar in their gas tanks.

We just celebrated Martin Luther King’s birthday recently, and this was the first year Liam talked about it. One night before bed he asked, “When did Martin Loofer King take down the White Only signs?” So I talked to him about how different times were back then, back when grandma and grandpa were kids, and how unfair it was for a lot of people. How Dr. King had a message, and how he wanted to put things right for his people, for all people who struggled with racism. He seemed to sort of get it, though racism is a pretty heavy subject for a kindergartener. It brought to mind this podcast I heard on This American Life a couple years ago. (Fast forward to minute 13:10 to hear the part that mentions Martin Luther King. It’s amazing. I cry every time I hear it.)

American Sniper (2015)
Military movies don’t usually interest me, but I’d heard so much about Bradley Cooper’s performance that I decided to give it a go. And he is amazing in it. The film brings up a lot of issues about soldiers reintegrating into society, PTSD problems, and the strain it puts on families. I heard an interview with Cooper about how the main character, Kyle, was killed while they were writing the script and trying to get the film produced. So they had to change the ending, which in turn changed the message of the film. Powerful stuff. It reminded me a bit of The Hurt Locker, and like that film, I’m not sure I’d want to see it again. It was good, but it’s also emotionally draining. Especially because my brother-in-law served in Afghanistan, and I couldn’t help thinking of him and what he must have gone through over there. He did his fair share of kicking down doors and interrogating people with the constant threat of snipers, roadside bombs, and even friendly fire. Liam told me the other day that he wants to be in the Army when he grows up, just like Uncle Mike. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Still Alice (2015)
This film, starring Julianne Moore as a women diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, really hit home for me in light of both my grandparents having this disease before they died. It was fascinating, and heartbreaking, to see her slow descent into complete memory loss, and how her family coped with it. I can’t say it was my favorite movie of the year – the secondary characters seemed a bit flat, though Moore’s performance was a standout, of course. But I found myself contemplating how I’ll cope with my own parents if one or both of them suffers this awfulness in their later years. My mother is especially susceptible because both her parents had it. It’s one thing to hear from my aunt and my parents how they coped with my grandma and grandpa, and it’s another to have to walk that path yourself. 

Cinderella (2015)
It seemed fitting to take Violet in utero to a movie I have a feeling she’ll want to watch ad nauseum when she’s the right age. We took Liam in utero to see Walking with Dinosaurs at the Sprint Center, as I recall, and he’s wild about that special. Of course, six-year-old Liam wanted nothing to do with this “girly” movie, so I decided to see it by myself while he was at school. And it was delightful! Chock full of actors I recognized from two of my favorite TV shows (Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones), and faithfully retelling one my favorite Disney animations in a live action film, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Great casting, great SFX, and enchanting. I can’t wait to watch this over and over and over in a few years!

Not much else is striking my fancy before my due date, so this might have been my last solo movie outing. Bummer. However, I think I can totally talk James into seeing Pitch Perfect 2 when it come out, assuming our little bundle stays in the oven as long as she’s supposed to. It’ll be cutting it close – the movie comes out May 15 and Violet is due to arrive May 19 – but if my premonition that Vi will actually arrive AFTER her due date comes true, I’ll welcome one last date night to distract me. As I recall James and I saw a movie on Christmas day in 2008, two days before I went into labor. Perhaps that’s a sign!


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