Monday, March 9, 2009

Movie Recommendations

This weekend I was able to view three movies - from Oscar winning to unknown - and yet if you asked me to rank best to worst, it wouldn't stack up with the popular opinion.

Best: Taking Chance. A 2009 HBO film starring Kevin Bacon as a guilt-ridden U.S. based Marine (Colonel) who is busy crunching numbers while his fellow marines are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every night he reads the newly posted list of fallen Marines. On this night, he reads a name of a young Private First Class (PFC) Marine named Chance Phelps from his hometown and he determines to volunteer for escort duty. The movie chronicles his journey from Dover DE to the burial site in Wyoming and his interactions with people along the way. This movie was deeply touching and I was absolutely compelled to watch every frame. Some internet research yielded what I had known all along - it was based on the real life activities of the marine. His journal became a highly circulated email story and eventually found its way to HBO. The truth in this movie shone through from beginning to end.

Second: The Magdalene Sisters. This was a library find and an interesting and disturbing story. Based upon fact, but written as a fictional story, this 2002 movie depicts the asylums that were managed by the Sisters of Mercy. The worst part about these asylums is there seemed to be no rhyme or reason of why girls were committed there, except a perception of sin. The movie followed three new inmates and one existing inmate through their multiple years, essentially held as captives with no hope of discharge. One girl was raped at a family wedding - so her family committed her. One girl was seen flirting with boys at the gate of the orphanage school she attended - so the orphanage committed her. One girl had a baby out of wedlock, so her family committed her. When I described the movie to my husband he asked, "what century was this?" According to the footnote at the close of the movie, the last Magdalene "Laundry" was closed in 1996. Astonishing.

Third: Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven't heard of this 2008 movie you are totally out of touch. I was expecting a life altering experience based on the press surrounding this and its recent sweep of the awards, but maybe that was the biggest problem. My expectations were so high, there was probably no way for this movie to live up to them. The child actors were phenomenal and the circumstances of poverty in India and the struggles they are going through as they evolve into a new center of commerce were well represented. But I found myself checking my watch continually for the last 45 minutes. I also thought the brother filling the bathtub with cash at the end (won't say more to ensure no spoilers) was odd and maybe a little over the top symbolism. Overall, not the WOW I expected.

I'd recommend all three of these films. But manage your expectations. Don't expect life-altering experiences or you're bound to be disappointed.


Rhea said...

I loved Slumdog and was devastated by Magadalene Sisters. It was dark. Now, I like dark, but that was DAAARRRKKKKKK.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I saw Slumdog the week it opened--when it was just a little movie I heard about on NPR. I put it in my top 10 movies of all time.

Taking Chance captivated me and my teenagers. Sometimes less is more and this movie proved it.

Kate Hanley said...

I totally agree with your assessment of Slumdog and the Magadalenne Sisters so now I'll have to watch Taking Chance. I have read a good deal about that movie, Kevin Bacon seemed really into it. By the way, he was quite good in Frost/Nixon.