Category Archives: Movies

Now I Really Want to Go to Botswana

I’ve long had an inclination to travel to Botswana.  I was a huge fan of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books when they first came out and fell in love with their heroine Precious Ramotswe . Precious is so imbued with kindness and serenity that it leaves the reader thinking Botswana must be a kind and peaceful place too. Author Alexander McCall Smith makes the country sound intriguing, inviting and beautiful.

On Sunday night I saw the movie United Kingdom and now I really want to go to Botswana.  The movie is an account of how the country managed to establish a strong measure of independence over the ruling British by gaining  mineral rights to diamond discoveries in the country. They also decided to end their traditional monarchy and elect their first president. If that sounds like a bit of a mundane historical story line be assured it is not because at the heart of the movie United Kingdom is the love story of Botswana’s first black  president Seretse Khama and the British white woman Ruth Williams he marries while studying in London. They face considerable pressure to end their marriage especially from politicians in neighboring South Africa who are just introducing apartheid and have made interracial marriage illegal.  But the couple perseveres, winning the respect and support of the people of Botswana. Now their son Ian is the president of Botswana. 

Knowing more about the colourful  history of the country from the movie United Kingdom makes Botswana an even more alluring destination. This post is putting my personal travel planner (my husband) on notice that Botswana might need to move up the bucket list. 

Other posts………

Sometimes You Just Need a Dose of Precious

Five Things I’ll Remember About the Movie Selma

Loving

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The Biggest Loser

I came in last!  We had a little Oscar party on Sunday night with friends.  Just before the Academy Awards show started we all selected our favorites in a dozen or so main categories.  We got a point for every movie winner we chose correctly. I was the biggest loser.  

I certainly didn’t think Emma Stone in La La Land should have won the best actress award.  I chose Ruth Negga for her understated but moving performance in  Loving as a woman trying to get her mixed race marriage legally recognized.

For best actor I didn’t pick Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea I went with Viggo Mortensen who gave a thought-provoking emotional performance in Captain Fantastic as a man raising his kids alone in the wilderness.  

I selected Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water for best supporting actor. Jeff played Marcus Newman a character based on a real Texas lawman. Jeff’s portrayal was convincing but it didn’t win him the best supporting actor award.

I did get best supporting actress right since I chose Viola Davis for her powerful performance in Fences. She was the very heart of her family and the film as far as I was concerned. I also picked the right original song and music score both from La La Land even though I much prefered the soundtrack of Manchester by the Sea

I earmarked  Silence for cinematography because its  views of the Japanese wilderness and Japanese villages in the 1600s were stunning. I was wrong again because La La Land took this category. 

Manchester by the Sea got my vote for best picture, best director and best screenplay.  I thought it was far and away the top  film when it came to telling a gripping and moving story.  It only won the screenplay award. 

At the end of the evening when the scores were tallied I had picked the fewest Oscar winners. Luckily an earlier plan to actually bet money on the outcome was scrapped so at least my poor predicting skills didn’t cost me any cash.  

If you click on the links in this post you can see other posts I wrote about the nominated films. 

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Too Much Smoking

The last two movies I saw had main characters who smoked pretty much all the time. Annette Bening’s character Dorothea in Twentieth Century Women and Matthew Mc Conaughey’s character Kenny Wells in Gold.  Both movies were set in times when smoking was still the social norm but I found it very distracting to see these characters constantly lighting up cigarettes or puffing away on them. 

twentieth-century-womenI realize in the decades in which these films take place most people didn’t know about the damage of second hand smoke but it still bothered me that Dorothea was constantly smoking around her young son and Kenny around his girlfriend and associates.  

I grew up in an era when people smoked everywhere. As a teen if I went to watch a hockey game at the local arena I came home reeking of smoke from the smokers in the crowd.  When I first started teaching the staff room in my Winnipeg school was blue with smoke. Many teachers lit up as soon as they entered.  

goldI know that’s just how it was thirty and forty years ago and I fully recognize how hard it must be to quit smoking especially if you started smoking in that time when it was so acceptable. But for some reason it bothers me to see it in a movie.  The smoking on screen troubles and distracts me.  The World Health Organization published a report in 2015 calling for all movies with smoking in them to be labeled R.  Apparently about half of Hollywood movies still have characters who smoke and the WHO has done research to show if kids see these movies they think smoking is cool and want to smoke too. 

I am certainly not disputing the WHO’s findings but when I see smoking in movies I think it is anything but cool. 

Other posts…….

Sitting is the New Smoking

What Will Our Grandchildren Think?

Knuckleball- Think Mennonite Corner Gas

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Three Lessons From The Movie Arrival

  • arrivalWhen a problem of global proportions needs solving all the countries of the world should work together peacefully and productively. Isolationism and looking out for only your own country’s interests doesn’t work. 
  • We tend to fear those we don’t know.  If you haven’t traveled outside your own country or made a point of getting to know those who are very different from yourself it is easy to be scared of aliens or foreigners or immigrants who are really more like us than we might think. 
  • Live in the moment.  Enjoy and appreciate the now.  Don’t let your worries or concerns about the future color your present too much.  

Other posts………

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hidden Figures

 

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La La Land

La La Land has been nominated for a record number of Oscars. We saw it last week. Why has the movie become so popular? I think one reason is because it shows two young people following their dreams and their dreams come true. Sebastian dreams of owning and running his own jazz club and Mia dreams of being a serious film actress.  They both go through many struggles on the way to achieving their dreams and they have to make compromises. Sometimes they are close to giving up but they don’t. I know plenty of people who start out following their dreams and then often for very practical, understandable, good reasons they give up. I think people like La La Land because its characters didn’t give up.

Another reason I think people like La La Land is because Mia and Sebastian understand each other and are each other’s biggest cheerleaders when it comes to following their dreams. Many dreamers give up on achieving what others might deem the impossible because they don’t have enough support from the important people in their lives.  Mia and Sebastian believe in each other and push each other to not give up and in the end their dreams come true. 

 I am one of those multitudes of movie goers who liked La La Land perhaps because even in my mid sixties I still have dreams and I have realized the importance of having people in my life who can understand those dreams and believe along with me that they will become a reality. 

Other posts……

I’m Possible

Making Wishes in Sedona

On Walden Pond

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Fences and Legacies

fences“You are just like your father.”  Rose the mother in the movie Fences says this to her son Cory when he comes home from the Marine Corps to attend his father’s funeral.  Although Cory admits his abusive, alcoholic, unfaithful father’s shadow has always haunted him it is hard for him to accept he may have inherited any of his qualities. And yes his father Troy does have some good qualities. At the start of the movie you rather like Troy despite his non-stop verbiage that hardly lets anyone get a word in edgewise.  Troy obviously loves his wife, works hard, has friends and stands up for himself. 

Rose wants her son Cory to understand that no matter how much we might wish to be different than our parents, and no matter how much our parents might wish us to be different than them, we still inherit genes from our parents and learn certain attitudes towards life from them, and are influenced heavily by the environment in which they raise us. We cannot help but be shaped by them. It is just part of our human legacy. Of course we can try to change certain things about that legacy and not pass on the determential parts to the next generation.  Troy has three children and in the last scenes of the movie we see them interacting with each other in ways that are very different than the way their father interacted with them. It is clear they have also been influenced by Rose and their own life experiences. 

We saw the movie Fences last night and it is chock full of important themes and ideas. But the thing I am still thinking about this morning is that idea of parental legacy.  How has it effected my life and what have I done, and will I do, with that legacy? 

Other posts……

Childbirth and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence

Five Things I’ll Remember About the Movie Selma

Winnipeg and Mennonites in Gone Girl

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You Could See It For the Music Alone But You Don’t Have To

“I’d like to find out who was responsible for the music,”  said my friend Caroline.  She wanted to stay and watch the credits roll after we had seen the movie Manchester by the Sea.  I could understand why she was interested in discovering who had compiled the pitch perfect score for this beautifully acted film. 

As I watched Manchester by the Sea I was impressed by the variety of music from a haunting a capella chorale written expressly for the movie by Lesley Barber to jazz tunes like I’m Beginning to See the Light by the Ink Spots to sacred music like Handel’s He Shall Feed His Flock from the Messiah to rhythm and blues pieces like Let The Good Times Roll to Bob Dylan’s folky rock tune Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts.  I was so taken with the music that the first thing I did when I got home from the theatre was to look for a list of song credits for Manchester by the Sea.  I’ve already downloaded the soundtrack into my I-Tunes library.  

manchester-2There’s a complex variety of music in the film and sometimes you wonder for a moment why a certain piece might accompany a particular scene, but as the scene rolls out you come to understand why the music was chosen. The music in Manchester by the Sea definitely makes it even more profoundly moving and that’s saying a lot because there are scenes in this movie so deeply sad and poignant you can hardly bear to keep your eyes on the screen. 

In some of the reviews of Manchester by the Sea  there is already Oscar buzz around the performance of star Casey Affleck. There’s no doubt that his portrayal of Lee Chandler is stellar. Affleck draws in the audience ever so slowly and surprisingly as Lee reveals his story.  But I hope the soundtrack for this movie gets nominated for an Academy Award too. It’s truly something special. 

Other posts……

Loving

Hacksaw Ridge

What’s the Best Way to Raise Children

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