If you’re up for an evening out with your significant horse-, history-, popcorn-loving other, see “War Horse.” The horse is the star, and you can’t help but love him even if you’re not a horse person. Finest equine best friend since The Pie (Do you know what The Pie was short for?) in “National Velvet” or “My Friend Flicka.” Of course, this is no green hills of Wyoming setting. It’s the Great War, the horrible one that was supposed to be the end of all war, and the movie does a fine job of showing the horror without sending severed body parts flying. It’s a touching story—based, as the best of them are, on a novel—that became a play before Spielberg took it to the big screen. (Hard to imagine how they did this on stage!) Wonderful cinematography, and oh! what a horse.
Should you prefer to make your own popcorn this New Year’s Eve weekend, here are three films we enjoyed recently on DVD. First and foremost, they’re all well cast, all well written.
Have you ever said I was born X years too late? “Midnight In Paris” is a lovely story for those of us who romanticize the past. On a visit to Paris our struggling writer hero, played by Owen Wilson, escapes his super 21st century fiancée and demanding in-laws by taking midnight walks alone. When he finds himself time traveling to the 1920’s, he thinks he’s found his niche.
“Margin Call” is hard to describe. Yes, it gives you some insight into some of what precipitated the 2008 financial crisis, but it does so through characters played by a wonderful ensemble cast, including Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons. No companies are named, and while there’s some jargon thrown around, it’s not about the nitty-gritty of mortgages and investment banking. I’d have to call this one a thriller. The tension is relentless, building step by step as the characters realize what is about to happen to everyone around them and beyond. The beauty of this one is that no pure evil or pure innocence is portrayed. It’s all about money, and we’re all in it together. I wasn’t sure I’d like this one, but I’d call it a must-see.
Ditto “The Help.” Another wonderful ensemble cast, with Viola Davis and Emma Stone at the top of the marquee, although Octavia Spencer gets my nod for best of the best. I haven’t read the book, even though friends highly recommended it. The thing is, I remember the 50’s and 60’s and the issues that are central to this story. I decided to start with the movie. Now I’ll move on to the book. Again, must-see, now must read. Humor and relationships and universally emotional situations build bridges. The human face makes our social history come alive and helps us take the lessons to heart.
Have you seen any of these? What are your thoughts? What should I see or rent this weekend when I take my celebratory break?