Daniel Day Lewis is one of the best actors of his generation. A versatile, powerful actor, he disappears into his roles, making the audience forget that what they are seeing is fiction. But isn’t that the mark of any good actor?
Two of his best performances were in the 1990’s: The Crucible (1996) and The Last Of The Mohicans (1992).
Based on the classic Broadway play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible, based in Salem, Massachusetts, set during the infamous Salem Witch trials. John Proctor (Daniel Day Lewis) has foolishly had an affair with Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder), the teenaged niece of a local clergyman. When accusations of witchcraft begin to overtake the town and his wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen) is accused of witchcraft, John must face his neighbors and be able to look in the mirror at the same time.
This movie is extremely powerful. While it was based on the hunt by the American government for communists in the early 1950’s, it holds up as the fight between just going along with the crowd or standing up for what you believe in.
Four years earlier, Daniel Day Lewis was the lead character in The Last Of The Mohicans, based on the book of the same name by James Fenimore Cooper. Hawkeye or Nathaniel Poe (Daniel Day Lewis) is a frontiersman in upstate New York during the French and Indian War. A romance is initiated with a British colonel’s daughter, but a war on both sides of the border brewing, Nathaniel must decide what is the best course of action for his life.
This movie is not as good as The Crucible, but it is a window into the world of rural pre-revolutionary era America that no longer exists.
I recommend both.
There is something about being a teenager that is immortal. The hormones, the questions, the sometimes difficult social hierarchy that is high school.
In the 1980’s John Hughes immortalized the teenage experience in Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Breakfast Club (1985).
In Sixteen Candles, Samantha (Molly Ringwald) is having what must seem like the worst sixteenth birthday in the history of world. Her sister’s wedding is coming up quick (meaning that her birthday has been completely forgotten about by her family), the boy she likes doesn’t know she exists and the biggest nerd in school is quite open that has a crush on her. Add into this achingly horrible day is her grandparents who seem to have a sadistic interest in embarrassing her and a foreign exchange student, Long Duc Dong and we have what may be the craziest start to adulthood ever.
Other than the very awkward stereotype of Asians represented by the character of Long Duc Dong, this movie is excellent. The chaos that this one girl goes through on her sixteenth birthday is so representative of the chaos she will ultimately experience as an adult.
A year later, The Breakfast Club premiered.
They were five students with nothing in common, except for the fact that they are spending their Saturday in school and in detention. They were described by different labels. The Brain (Anthony Michael Hall), The Athlete (Emilio Estevez), The Basket Case (Ally Sheedy), The Princess (Molly Ringwald) and The Criminal (Judd Nelson). What they will discover over the course of the day is that they have more in common than they would ever have imagined.
What I like about this movie, is that it shows that once we get past the labels and the fronts that many of us put up, we have more in common than we think.
I recommend both.
Having a sibling, especially a sister, is a tricky thing. She could either be your best friend or the person you can barely tolerate, but have to for the sake of your parents or your family.
In 2003, Jennifer Weiner published In Her Shoes. Maggie and Rose Feller are sisters, but are as different as night and day. Maggie is drop dead gorgeous, but has drifted in life. Her elder sister Rose is college educated and has a successful career as a lawyer, but her self esteem is in the dumps. The only thing they have in common is shoes. Rose’s career allows her to buy as many shoes as she likes, but she hides them in her closet. Maggie finds her sister’s shoes and happily wears them to Rose’s chagrin. Their relationship is nearly broken when Maggie sleeps with Rose’s boyfriend. Then they discover the maternal grandmother whom they have never met and the family secrets that have been buried for a very long time.
Last week, I wrote a Throwback Thursday post about the movie adaptation of this book. I got around to reading the book this week. The book is quite hefty plot wise for what is essentially a light read. Maybe it’s because I saw the movie first, but I feel like the author could have trimmed the plot a little. It’s not uncommon that when a book is made into a movie, changes are made. But the book didn’t do it for me like the movie did.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Is there anything better than chocolate? There is something about this dessert that gets taste buds going all over the world.
In Chocolat (2000), Madame Audel (Juliette Binoche) is a single mother who moves to a rural French village with her daughter a few years after World War II. The town and it’s citizens, led by Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina) is a conservative one. Madame has the audacity to open her chocolate shop on Sunday, which happens to be across from the village church. While it arouses the curiosity of some of the town folk, others are hesitant and unsure about the latest addition to the town. When a floating caravan of gypsies led by Roux (Johnny Depp) enters the town and befriends Madame, things really begin to stir.
This movie is one of the best of the early 2000’s. With an all star cast and an engaging story, this movie is enjoyable.
I recommend it.
Once upon a time, Eddie Murphy was the king of the box office. His movies did well with audiences and critics. Sadly, those days seem to be long gone.
In 1988, Eddie Murphy entered the royalty/romance genre with Coming To America.
Prince Akeem (Murphy) is the heir to the throne of the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda. He is 21 and of an age to marry. The only problem is that his wife has been chosen for him, but Akeem is not thrilled with the idea of this marriage. Breaking tradition, he travels to New York with his loyal aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to find a woman who would marry him for love, not because she has been chosen for him. Lisa McDowell (Shari Headley) works for her father at McDowell’s (not to be confused with McDonalds). She has a boyfriend, Darryl (Eriq La Salle), but is starting to spend her free time with Akeem, who has started working at McDowell’s. Akeem is trying to keep his real identity a secret, but that secret will not remain a secret for very long.
I like this movie. Breaking from the buddy cop movie genre that Murphy started in after he left Saturday Night Live, he plays Akeem with a combination of optimism and a sense of who he wants to be and who he wants to be with. The comedy in this movie comes from Hall and Murphy playing multiple characters, a feature that Murphy would later known for in movies like The Nutty Professor. The royalty/romance genre is still, even in 2015, for the most part white, it’s nice to see African and African American characters portrayed on screen as they are in this movie.
I recommend it.