My favorite escape from the hot summer days is to catch a good film. Which for me is not the formula “movies” too often peddled upon us by Hollywood like mass produced merchandise from China (which, by the way, produces some great “films”). Those formula movies typically substitute special effects for plot.
Yes, I take in the mindless mayhem movies now and then while waiting for a real film to come to town. But I’m not spending more than $3 (at the “second run” theater) for the celluloid equivalent of junk food.
Fortunately, since I live in a college town, we have a five screen “art” theater which uses most of those screens for the independent and foreign films I enjoy. Even though the “discount” admission price as a senior is almost seven dollars, I make it a point to support the theater’s efforts by also parting with another $12 or so for the largest popcorn and drink. (I do get free refills and additional rewards points for that.)
I began this summer’s silver screen season with a wonderful Argentine film which won a 2009 Oscar for Best Foreign film. A retired detective decides to write a cathartic novel based on a 25-year old rape and homicide of a young woman that he investigated and continues to haunt him.
The detective looks up other key persons, including the victim’s husband, as part of his “research.” Through flashbacks, we learn what happened leading to conviction of the murderer, what happened afterward which made the detective hunted, and sets in motion a final closure to some subplots.
One of those subplots is a smoldering love for his boss, who is on a higher socio-economic level and therefore very unapproachable. I’ve of course left out all the “wow” parts because I hate to spoil endings. This is a “must see” film!
There are another half dozen films I’m awaiting, most of them based on true events:
“Get Low” stars Robert Duvall as a recluse who comes out of 40 years of seclusion to stage a funeral party while still alive. He wants each attendee to tell a story about him. Bill Murray plays the funeral director. The film is based on a true incident which purportedly attracted thousands to the event.
Although I’m not fond of biopics, I’ll definitely see “Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work.” Joan is an icon and it’ll be interesting to learn more about her rise to fame.
“Lebanon” won the top award at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival. This claustrophobic film’s principal perspective is through the gunsight of a tank during the invasion of Lebanon. Consequently, you are in that tank with the four Israeli soldiers as they experience a variety of concerns and issues. Somewhat of an anti-war film.
“Holy Rollers” is also based on real life: the exposure, about 10 years ago, of a group of Hassidic Jews who were smuggling drugs into the U.S. from Europe. How could some nice Jewish boys do such a thing? My son, the drug smuggler? Oy vey! Oy vey!
“Micmacs’ is a crazy French comedy about someone who is injured by a stray bullet and who decides to take revenge on the company that made the bullet. He is joined in this effort by a band of misfits.
“Mao’s Last Dancer’ traces the true story of an impoverished boy who, at age 11, is plucked from his rural home to train in ballet and rises to become one of the world’s top ballet dancers The real story is about the culture clash he experiences. Winner of “Best Foreign Film” at the Sao Paulo International Film Festival.