Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Movies For a Hot Summer Afternoon

Summer is a lazy time of the year, at least where I live. It’s too hot to be outside except between 9pm and 8am. So what to do with the time I’m sequestered in the house? Watch movies. Here are a few of my favorites that not only entertain the viewer but send a positive social message.

They are not light-hearted-brain-numbing comedies. They will make you question your place in the world, all that you value and all that you endorse. Grab some popcorn, a box of Kleenex and curl up with a pillow or your favorite person. Be ready to cheer, cry, and laugh. Be ready to feel and think.

Children of Men – Clive Owen and Julianne Moore navigate a future where reproduction has ceased and the people live under the strict control of the government. But stick with this dismal state of affairs. There is hope.

Hotel Rwanda - Ten years ago, as the country of Rwanda descended into madness, one man made a promise to protect the family he loved--and ended up finding the courage to save over 1200 people.

Akeelah and the Bee – Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne star in this heartwarming tale of a young girl from South Los Angeles who tries to make it to the National Spelling Bee.

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman – This story of a black woman in the South who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lives to become a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s won five Emmy awards.

Silkwood - The story of Karen Silkwood, a metallurgy worker at a plutonium processing plant who was purposefully contaminated, psychologically tortured and possibly murdered to prevent her from exposing blatant worker safety violations at the plant.

Erin Brockovich – Julia Roberts stars as the real-life Erin Brockovich, an unemployed single mother who becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a California power company accused of polluting a city's water supply.

Not Without my Daughter - In 1984, Betty Mahmoody's husband took his wife and daughter to meet his family in Iran. He swore they would be safe. They would be happy. They would be free to leave. He lied. Sally Field plays Betty Mamoody.

Pans Labyrinth - In this fairy tale for adults, 10-year-old Ofelia stumbles on a decaying labyrinth guarded by Pan, an ancient satyr who claims to know her destiny. With a new home, a new stepfather -- a Fascist officer in the pro-Franco army -- and a new sibling on the way, nothing is familiar to Ofelia in this multiple Oscar-winning tale set in 1944 Spain from director Guillermo del Toro. Beautifully filmed, equally disturbing and uplifting. Don't be afraid of the subtitles. It's worth it.

The Pursuit of Happyness - A struggling salesman (Will Smith) takes custody of his son (Jaden Smith) as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavor. Every parent should see this movie of struggle and triumph.

Schindler’s List - Oskar Schindler uses Jews to start a factory in Poland during the war. He witnesses the horrors endured by the Jews, and strives to save them. Winner of seven Oscars.

Philadelphia – Tom Hanks. When a man with AIDS is fired by a conservative law firm because of his condition, he hires a homophobic small time lawyer as the only willing advocate for a wrongful dismissal suit.

Boys Don’t Cry - A true story about finding the courage to be yourself told through the tragic life of Brandon Teena, a transgendered teen who preferred life in a male identity until it was discovered her secret was discovered.

Dances with Wolves – Kevin Costner’s epic portrayal of Lt. John Dunbar, an exiled solider at a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Let me know what you think. Comment and add your favorites to the list.

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