2009 was a good year for film.Â Early in the year we saw Valkyrie. While we weren’t optimistic about Tom Cruise in this role, the film was very good. A historical thriller, it recounted the true story.. an adapted version of course.. of the events surrounding a late attempt on Hitler’s life — one in which Bonhoeffer was involved and which led to his execution.
Not long afterward we saw “The Soloist.” It reminded me of The Fisher King, but was not a comedy and it starred Jamie Fox, simply an outstanding actor. I posted about The Soloist and the Fisher King together HERE.
Somewhere someone recommended “Lars and the Real Girl..” I think it was one morning at our theology cafe. Not long afterward I discovered that Paul Fromont had also posted on the movie back in 2008. It’s one of those stories well told that reaches into your heart. It also portrays a church community in hopeful ways — unusual these days. I picked it up in a bargain bin somewhere for $4.99.
I think it was during the summer that we saw “Gran Torino.” This one surprised me. We saw it because it was recommended and the trailer was interesting.. but it was more than we expected. Clint Eastwood did an outstanding job, as he has done more recently with Invictus.
Late in the summer we watched Leatherheads. I was intrigued by the early years of football, and also by the trailer which made it look quite funny. It’s a great romantic comedy starring the very popular George Clooney. The period feel is very strong, the acting quite strong, and you can watch it safely with young teens. It was another bargain bin find.
The most recent movies we have seen are Invictus and Blindside. Blindside stars Sandra Bullock. I’ve always considered her average as an actress, but she does a great job in this film. The story, likely you know by now, is a family taking in an older black teen whose family is either missing or out of commission. It’s a transformation story based on a true story, and hits close to home in our own lives and the lives of many friends. It’s another story that portrays some Christians with favor.
Invictus, the true story of Nelson Mandela and the winning of the 1995 World Cup, is just one of those enduring stories of commitment and leadership and courage. Morgan Freeman does a good job, as does Matt Damon. I know little about rugby, but a little more after having seen the film. Rugby players suffer from some kind of insanity, obviously. South Africa winning this series in 1995 must have been an electrifying shock to rugby fans.
Wednesday night I saw Avatar in 3d. The ratings for this film are incredibly high, and the 3d is at a new level. The story line is predictable, yet also touches on something universal. Major themes are colonization and ecology, to a lesser extent “the other,” and perhaps we are in a position to see the dynamic a little more clearly in these times. The movie is nearly three hours long. Judging by the look of the parking lot at the Cineplex near our home over the past week, it has been a huge draw.
A friend commented to me that it was spectacular, but not gripping. I think I can echo that feeling. Some movies invite us to be a tourist, others invite us on pilgrimage. Even with the 3d effects spinning out (apparently) into the audience, this movie left me still as a tourist.
Films I want to see..
A film I want to see was mentioned by another friend recently. Henry Poole is Here is another one of those mystical transformation comedies. It is now appearing in a bargain bin near you. Another is “As It is in Heaven,” a film that looks at the transformative power of singing. No, this isn’t “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” which was also a great film. Follow the link for info.
For more on the films of 2009 see this post at Prodigal Kiwis..
Related: Great film interviews and reviews via Podcast