The Shipping News, Lasse Hallstrom (2001)
This film is such suitable viewing for a wannabe writer, “It’s finding the centre of your story, the beating heart of it, that’s what makes a reporter“. Among other things, this is a story of a man recovering his sense of esteem and voice. In the process of making a new life for himself and his young daughter in the place of his ancestors, he discovers several skeletons and a new love. A beautiful portrayal of ‘sensitive’ people – those who seem to be able to tap into a universal knowledge. Kevin Spacey and Julienne Moore are brilliant. Judi Dench – of course is wonderful, but the real winner is the wonderful book that the film is based on by Annie Proulx.
The Railway Man, Jonathan Teplitzky (2013)
Can’t go past Colin Firth … ever. In this film he shows his flexibility and accomplishment as a seriously fantastic actor. Jeremy Irvine was great also as the young Eric Lomax. I don’t even mind Nicole Kidman – that’s saying something. Based on a true story, this is a testament to the capacity of the human being to transcend huge trauma and suffering through forgiveness. Having gone through my own version of the Spanish Inquisition in the past few months, this film impressed on me that although you may tell the truth, your inquisitors may not be interested in it, or be able to see it with their own colouring of the situation. When this happens, you can only practice forbearance. It also holds a powerful lesson for the way we are the ones that continue our own suffering, continuing to engage with paper tigers. “Sometime the hating has to stop“. Brilliant film.
Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater (1993)
Quite a stupid film, but I think that is the idea. Unbelievably violent, yet blaze about it. Parker Posey, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich all looking a whole lot younger!
Night at the Museum, Shawn Levy (2006)
Another story of a father finding his place in the world, although Ben Stiller isn’t so convincing to me as a father. It had the fantasy elements of the father/son relationship in Big Fish, but also the importance of a father to the imagination of a child as in Life is Beautiful. Reminder of the late, great, Robin Williams with the ever drawling Owen Wilson going head to head with Steve Coogan – a winning combo? Entertaining Sunday night film.
Cider House Rules, Lasse Hallstrom (1999)
A simple man working out what his business is. Films always speak to me. This one challenged me to work out what my business is. Maybe this is what I’ll work out in the next 10 weeks (see Via Tolosana posts). I loved Michael Caine in this film, his honour yet brokenness and Toby Maguire for his simpleness and principles. Interesting that both this and the Shipping News (the two were packaged together in a twin case) are of course by the same director and both deal with themes of unwanted children, incest and complicated family relationships. Strongly directed – I’ll put Lasse on my list. Once again also a testament to a great writer, John Irving.
Films about men, but aren’t they all? Fathers, men working out what their business is or as some would put it, with ‘failure to grow up scripts’. I can’t be too critical, after all, I think I have one of those too. Incest – not the most cheery topic, but it makes for very real and raw film material. Water nightmares – an unexpected common theme!
Shawshank Redemption, Frank Darabont (1994)
I had no idea what this film was about, having heard the name for all of the years since it was released, but expecting more of a Bourne Identity-type action thriller. This film couldn’t have been more different but at the same time, so exceed my expectations. The story of this film is so very powerful, yet hopeful. As with Cider House Rules, racism figures strongly amongst the themes of this movie, as does the play between innocence and guilt – and are these just relative concepts anyway? What is the price of freedom? Morgan Freeman has always been a favourite of mine, and once again doesn’t disappoint and as you’d expect, neither does Tim Robbins.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Robert Mulligan (1962)
Despite this film being now over 50 years old, it speaks to a universal truth and will never date. Wrongfully accused of raping a white woman, black man, Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) is defended by a lawyer who at all times stands against the bigotry and racism of his town. Meanwhile his children see literally first-hand how justice and the law are two very different things, and in turn are challenged to bring new understanding to the other ‘mockingbirds’ in their midst. I first read this book, and saw this film in Year 8 of high school, however the only thing I remember is Scout swinging on the tyre swing in the first scene. It is strange how such an image of innocence stays with me when in fact it is the central theme of this film. I had the pleasure of seeing this last night with my friend Natalie at the Marrickville Library, as they were celebrating the release of Harper Lee’s prior written, but never before released book, Go Set a Watchman. A local film buff spoke about the film, and mentioned the deep impact that making this film had on it’s actors, saying that Gregory Peck and Brock Peters remained friends until Peck died. It is worth going back in film history to see how far we have come, and yet how much further we still have to go in terms of seeing justice for all people.