Wednesday, June 17, 2009

They DO make 'em like they used to...occasionally

Movies: The very fact that we, as a nation, have such a wide variety of fantasies from which to escape reality is kind of embarrassing. There are people in this world to whom the mere notion of watching predominantly fictional people living mostly fictional lives on a big, flat screen would seem absolutely ludicrous. It really is kind of silly, when I think about it. But it's fun, it's lucrative for many folks, and it is a means of learning about things and people we might otherwise miss in our little spheres of existence.

I'm not a movie aficionado. I make an effort to eventually view the titles that seem to impact Hollywood positively, and others that just sound somewhat appealing or come highly recommended by people I respect and with whom I share some basic values. And speaking of values, modern film is such a different animal from what movies used to be. Cinematography has provided history, news updates, opinions, even experiments. I think that these days, as has been the case for some time, the main purpose of most movies is definitely entertainment. You really can't even compare old-style movies, and old television too, with current releases. Both have much to offer, but they're almost separate entities from each other. I guess I've always been a fan of the drama genre, regardless of whether the film is old or new.

A recent flick, Doubt, really made me think about how we as people reflect our own fears and shames onto others. The movie was a bit slow at times, yes, but definitely well-acted and very thought-provoking. Fairly new movies dealing with the theme of sacrifice have stayed with me, too--The Kite Runner and Seven Pounds were quite impressive. Even the incredibly foul-mouthed characters of Gran Torino have continued to prod me for weeks after viewing them, prompting thoughts on not just sacrifice, but also stereotypes and disadvantages. These films were well worth the time spent watching—and pondering.

But the title of this post has to do with a nice, quiet little movie that brought me back to my childhood TV and movie memories in its innocence and simplicity. It was called Love Comes Softly, and I suppose it would be classified as a Christian movie. It was recommended by several people on Netflix who were frankly surprised that they liked it as much as they did, and that was enough for me; I placed it on my queue and warned my husband that it might just be pretty darned corny.

And it was a tad corny. It was overly simplified in its portrayal of many life lessons, I'm sure. Also, there's no way a frontier woman could be so clean and pressed...and I'd point out more inconsistencies with reality, but it would ruin the movie for you. In short, it's a good story, fairly well acted, and honestly, I could have watched it alongside my 4-year-old without a single qualm. I recall seeing Michael Landon's son's name in the credits, which probably explains why it reminded me of "Little House on the Prairie" a bit. It featured some recognizable names, among them Katherine Heigl from the show "Grey's Anatomy;" Corbin Bernsen shows up as someone's husband, although I wouldn't have recognized him. But my main point is that while the movie glosses over some dirty, unpleasant realities of tragedy and daily survival in the developing western U.S., it was interesting, pretty believable, and I cared about the characters. I wanted it all to work out. When it was over, I had hope in God's ability to turn horror to happiness, in the strength of human beings, in our ability and need to help others survive and thrive.

I was also pleased that such a well-known actress had lent her talents to a project of this ilk. I'm sure it was no big budget film; I don't believe it was ever released in theaters, for that matter. The fact that a well-known young woman would act in a movie of this sort gave me even more hope than the film itself had; perhaps not all of Hollywood has been brainwashed to thirst for sex and violence in a leading role? (And to embrace Marxism?)

Anyway, those are some notables that've flickered on our screen of late. (Note: Definitely, only that last one I mentioned is kid friendly.)


Cari Skuse said...

I'm with you on that one. I rarely watch movies. But I do have some favorites like:
Christy series
Anne of Green Gables series
and Avonlea.

I know they are all available on Netflix.
Another one that I recently heard of that sounds like a good one : The Fox and the Child.

I do read all your blog entries and we need to get together soon!


Facie said...

You might have written a post about this before, but even Disney movies don't seem all that kid friendly. When Jordan was 2 or 3, I told her that Nemo's mom swam away. I did not want her to know the harsh truth that a shark ate her. Eventually kids catch on, sadly. Glad you found some good ones.

Which brings me to your other post, which I wanted to respond to. I felt your pain when I read about that girl playing better offer over Marcus. That has been one of the most difficult things about raising a kid so far (besides discipline, which is in my power to make better!). When Jordan asks some girl at the park to play with her and said girl refuses, I want to shake that girl. I have watched kids being mean to my kid, and it breaks my heart every time. And, sadly, I know it is only going to get worse.

Mel said...

Cari--thanks for the viewing recommendations! yes, when do you want to meet? we went to Buca recently (Station Square) and I thought of you guys... holler at me and we'll plan it.

Facie--Disney's favorite theme is death of a parent, followed closely by death in general. and I'm glad I'm not alone in my desire to shake other people's kids. that whole motherly protection gene is almost scary--the feelings that well up in you when you think about someone harming your child are pretty overwhelming.