Seaborn Hall, 8/13/20
(In no particular order)
How Do You Know, 2010
Other James L. Brooks written and directed films are better known – like Terms Of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, or Spanglish, but this romantic comedy with Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd is as entertaining and insightful as the others. A woman in a life crisis has a choice between two men who love her – one a successful, wealthy major league pitcher, the other a struggling stock broker who is about to be indicted for fraud. How will she know who to choose? Its not as simple as you might think. Jack Nicholson’s last role in film – and, unfortunately, one of his poorest performances – as the dishonest Dad.
Martin Luther changed history as we know it in the early 1500’s. This is the story of his heroic and life-risking stand against priests, nobles, a corrupt church and the Pope to bring the reformation of Christ’s grace and love to a dark world. Jospeh Fiennes as Luther.
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, 1939
Quintessential Jimmy Stewart as a freshman senator appointed for a partial term by the governor and power brokers of his state who believe they will be able to control the wide-eyed, idealistic young Congressman. As he uncovers corruption in Congress with the help of his experienced and cynical young woman assistant played by Jean Arthur, Stewart must take a stand that could end up ruining his reputation and leave his life in tatters. Only a final showdown on the Congressional floor in front of the entire nation will determine the outcome. Directed by Frank Capra.
Hero At Large, 1980
A Capraesque contemporary film starring John Ritter and Ann Archer about a struggling but idealistic actor who falls in love with his neighbor and seeks to win her affections and inspire a recessionary, crime-ridden New York City by masquerading as a super hero. Romantic, funny, inspiring, and loads of fun.
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, 2005
Based on the true story of Anneliese Michel, this film puts the supernatural and faith on trial. It stars Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter fame. This film is more about the trial of the Catholic priests accused for ‘Emily’s’ death than about the ‘exorcism’ itself, though it is accurate to the events and as to modern day Catholic exorcisms. We wrote about ‘Emily Rose’ in One Of The Most Important Films Ever Is Hardly Known. See our comprehensive and historically-based review there.
Hero (with Dustin Hoffman), 1992
A down and out loser stumbles upon a downed jetliner and inadvertently and reluctantly plays the role of the anonymous hero only to lose it to a more likely candidate who steals the limelight. What is a hero and how do real life heroes avoid the trappings of fame? Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia and Geena Davis show you how to ‘keep a low profile.’ This film is one of my personal favorites, though an offbeat and out-of-sync performance by Chevy Chase weakens it some.
The Ten Commandments (Charlton Heston version), 1956
Some think its a little cheesy or over dramatic at times, but great Biblical history that sticks to but rationally and dramatically embellishes the Old Testament story and does not water down the miracles. Moses, a great prince, rejects a budding betrothal to the woman he loves and his destiny to become Pharaoh and endures hardship with his own people in the wilderness only to have an encounter with God that changes his destiny. Returning to Egypt he confronts the young king who has taken Pharaoh’s place on the throne and struggles to understand God’s ways and free the Jewish people and lead them to the Promised Land. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille.
An immediate classic and one of the top comedies of all time. AFI places Some Like It Hot as the top comedy, but for us it would be this one. A struggling actor auditions for a daily ‘soap’ opera as a woman and to his surprise, wins the role. Now he must figure out how to live daily life and manage fame and success as a woman who is falling in love with the actress he works with every day. Will he be found out and will everything come tumbling down around him before he can find a way to be honest about his true feelings? Directed by Sydney Pollack.
The Black Shield Of Falworth, 1954
A 1954 film starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh about a young English serf who never knew his late father. Running from unfair and abusive nobles he and his sister take refuge in a sympathetic noble’s castle where he falls in love with a woman above his class and has a chance to learn his true identity and family crest – the banned and disgraced Black Shield Of Falworth – and help save England from corrupt rule.
Ben Hur (with Charlton Heston), 1959
Winner of 11 Oscars, a number only matched two times in history – by Titanic, and by The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King – this film is a true classic. In the time of Christ, a Jewish noble is betrayed by his best friend, a Roman commander, who takes his wealth, imprisons his family and sends him to the galleys to die, rowing for Roman warships. Adapted as a son by a Roman admiral when he saves his life at sea, Judah Ben Hur rises in Roman society with a new identity as a celebrated chariot racer, then returns to Jerusalem to find his family and seek vengeance at the risk of everything he has attained. A story of love and redemption overshadowed by the greatest event in human history, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Directed by William Wyler.