I haven’t been to a movie theater lately — summer movies seems to be for kids — but I hd movies on my mind so I began to make a list of ones I’ve seen in recent years. I was having trouble remembering, so I searched my datebook for titles that were not readily coming to mind. Strangely (or perhaps not) there was no correlation between the titles I remembered easily and the movies I liked, nor conversely between the ones I’d forgotten and those I’d disliked. Here are some of the movies that I saw in theaters during the last few years:
Under the heading of battling delusions and overcoming odds are two movies I liked: The Aviator — although I had never before been a DiCaprio fan, and A Beautiful Mind — his delusions seemed real to me.
Among the movies that enjoyed a lot are: Ladies in Lavender starring my favorote dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Calender Girls with Helen Mirren, Bone Collector — Denzel as a quadraplegic forensic detective plays the whole movie from his bed), Finding Neverland, Frieda, Gosford Park, and Mad Hot Ballroom — a documentary about New York City kids competing in a ballroom dancing contest. Also The Pianist, Traffic, Cider House Rules, The Adaptation, and Stepford Wives (better than I expected it to be).
A few that I enjoyed, but had forgotten about until reminded by title include Nurse Betty, Space Cowboys, Remembering the Titans, and The Contender. Being Julia and Tuscan Sun were also light-weight but enjoyable.
Here are a few I could have missed: Along Came a Spider (I love Morgan Freeman, but…); The Beat My Heart Skipped; Changing Lanes; My Dog Skip, and The Upside of Anger. Actually that last one was okay.
Two I wish I had missed are Training Day (I like Denzel, but this was a bit much) and Taking Lives. Once in a while I will actually walk out on a movie — like Titus (I used to like Anthony Hopkins), or someone I’m with will insist on walking out as was the case with Boys Don’t Cry (yes, I know it was acclaimed, but I wasn’t liking it much either.)
Of course there are movies that one has to see because everyone is talking about them: Million Dollar Baby (I loved it); Manchurian Candidate (good); Sideways (okay); Being Julia (pleasant, but I don’t get the best actress nod); Ray (well done and close to truth); 9/11 (liked it, but I’m already in the choir); American Beauty (didn’t care).
The real surprise was how much I liked Winged Migration (even though the soundtrack was a bit much). Recommended to me, but not yet seen are March of the Penguins, Parrots of Telegraph Hill, and Story of the Weeping Camel. (Coincidentally, there is an article in today’s The New York Times about the penguin flick — Compared With Their Filmmakers, the Penguins Have It Easy.)
From this brief tour one can see that I tend to like movies that are based on true stories and don’t care much for shoot-em-ups. I also notice that actors I really like, movie after movie, sooner or later end up doing movies I don’t care for at all, leading to my disappointment. For example, Anthony Hopkins — I loved Shadowlands, Remains of the Day, Howards End, 84 Charring Cross, even Nixon and Silence of the Lambs, but not much since. Same with Denzel: some good stories and performances — Crimson Tide, Malcolm X, Philadelphia, Bone Collector — and then a lot of gratuitously violent flicks. The ladies disappoint less often, if ever. Dame Dench in Mrs. Brown, Iris, Chocolat and others, has never let me down (or if she has, I don’t remember it). Hmmm, I wonder what that means.
What’s on your list?