Since I’ve been in Connecticut (December 4, 2016) as an Interim Pastor at Wilton Baptist Church, I haven’t seen a bad movie. If I think I’m not going to like a movie, I don’t go. I’m not a movie reviewer! I pay money for my ticket and I want to be entertained.
But, because inquiring minds want to know, here is my list, in order, beginning with my favorite, with a comment or two about each:
- Hidden Figures—I loved it. Good story, well told, about an important subject—previously unknown to most of us—well acted, inspiring, educational. A small group of brilliant, black, female mathematicians played a vital role in the American space program, overcoming the obstacles both women and African-Americans faced and face in our culture. Octavia Spencer has been becoming one of my favorite actresses and she is perfect in this role.
- La La Land—A bright, clever, pretty, musical movie, but not in the tradition of Grease or Fiddler on the Roof or Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Two dreamers sing and dance their way to an unexpected conclusion. Emma Stone, who charms me in almost every movie she makes, and Ryan Gosling, who is apparently handsome, are the stars.
- Manchester by the Sea—Do not go to this movie if you only like happiness and light. This movie wrestles with the dark side of human nature, but does so with sympathy and hope. Fine acting, even by minor characters. It’s not the kind of film you love, but I suspect it sticks with you more than a few days.
- Patriots Day—“Based on the true story” of the Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt for the perpetrators. Riveting.
- Passengers—I’d be lying if I left this science fiction film to the last of my list. I’m sure serious reviewers would consider this movie too simple, but I loved it. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt were exactly what they were supposed to be, two beautiful, smart, interesting, resourceful passengers who discovered they were stranded ALONE on a space ship for the next forty or eighty years or something. They worked it out.
- Fences—I wish I could rate this movie higher, because it stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, two of my favorite actors. Washington directs the film, which was adapted from a successful stage play about an overbearing dad making life miserable for a good son. After I had seen the film, someone suggested that maybe this was Black America’s Death of a Salesman. Could be. The movie has some powerful lines and moments, but, for me, it disappointed. I wanted more hope, redemption, reconciliation, or grace from the father. It never happened.
- Lion—Another “based on a true story” film about a five-year-old Indian boy who is separated from his brother at a train station near his village and ends up utterly lost a thousand miles away. No last name. No identity. Taken into an orphanage, he is adopted by a couple in Australia. As a twenty-five year old (played by Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire), he begins an almost impossible pilgrimage to find his home village and his birth mother.
- Rogue One—The latest in the Star Wars saga, this was a mostly entertaining installment in the science fiction genre. I go to Star Wars and the Ring Trilogy and a few other series as much out of duty as anything else. I miss the Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher days.
Disclaimer # 1—My Protestant Work Ethic, even in retirement, makes me feel a bit defensive about seeing so many movies.
Disclaimer # 2— Film is an art form. These are not all movies that should be seen by the easily offended. As an English major, decades ago, I learned that good literature portrays real life. So, I’m no longer upset by Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s bawdiness or bad language in a modern movie.
Marion D. Aldridge