We watched four DVDs last week at the beach. Here they are, starting with my favorite:
"Amazing Grace" is the story of William Wilberforce, a member of the British parliament in the late 1700s who lobbied for the abolition of slavery. I had heard--somewhere--that the hymn "Amazing Grace" had been written by a former captain of slave ships, John Newton, who had a religious conversion during a terrible storm. But I did not know the story of William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Olaudah Equiano, and others who worked valiantly to abolish slavery in the British Empire. In fact, I knew very little about the connection between slavery and the United Kingdom...not only how the empire was built on the backs of slaves, but also how courageous it was for Britons to reject slavery at their own economic peril. (This was discussed toward the end of Half the Sky, which I finished recently.) I couldn't believe that Mike didn't know more about his brave era in British history (they abolished slavery through government, while the U.S. needed a war). He told me that it must be because the British are so humble. Yeah, right. This was my favorite of the four movies we watched last week.
We are probably two of the last people in the country who hadn't watched "The Sixth Sense." This movie recently came up in discussion at my book group, and everyone there recommended it. Bruce Willis was much younger back then! It was creepy and clever...reminded me a lot of Odd Thomas, which my book group read earlier this year. It's about a boy who sees ghosts, and it made me look behind me...especially after dark! Mike figured out the ending toward the beginning but politely kept from sharing it. Not me...I tend not to try to figure things out in advance and would prefer to be surprised at the end. I recommend this film, if you can stand a bit of suspenseful spookiness.
"Junebug" is about Madeleine, a British art gallery owner (played by the lovely Embeth Davidtz, who was Miss Honey in the wonderful film, "Mathilda") who marries George, a man from North Carolina. The newly married couple go back to North Carolina so she can woo an eccentric, self-trained artist, and they stay with his very southern, dysfunctional family. The only happy person in the family is George's sister-in-law, Ashley, played by Amy Adams (she was nominated for an Academy award for this role). It's a quiet, independent film, and it grew on me. Fair warning (and spoiler): avoid this movie if you have lost a child or have a difficulty with those circumstances. Excellent acting and I love Amy Adams. But oh my goodness, what sad lives these people lead!!! I found it all a bit depressing.
"Man on Wire" is the story of French tightrope walker Phillipe Petit's highwire walk between the World Trade Center twin towers in 1974, shortly after they were built. The film won the Academy award for best documentary in 2009, among other awards. The film has been on many critics' lists of best films of 2008. It was a fascinating story of how they engineered this legal and amazingly daring feat, but in the end I was gravely disappointed in Petit's personal character. All four of the films we saw were good, but this was my least favorite. At times I felt it moved too slowly and jumped back and forth...and I wanted to cheer for Petit but was disappointed in the way the experience changed him.