The question of our fate is one that is open ended and based upon the beliefs of the individual. Is it in our hands or is it preset even before it has begun?
The 2011 movie, The Adjustment Bureau (based on a short story, Adjustment Team, by Phillip K. Dick), is a science fiction inspired love story that is not supposed to happen. According to the powers that be, politician David Norris (Matt Damon) and contemporary dance Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) are supposed to live separate lives in New York City. But when he sees a flash of his future with Elise, David goes against those are keeping them apart, The Adjustment Bureau, to be with her. David and Elise have two choices in front of them: accept that their relationship is not meant to be or fight for it.
This movie is so good. It asks existential questions in a way that both speaks to the audience and keeps within the boundaries of the genre. Blunt and Damon have fantastic chemistry and the narrative is perfect taught with tension and suspense.
Since the beginning of Hollywood, war movies have become standard fare for filmmakers and audiences.
But there are only a few that are as hard hitting, educational and remind audiences of the true nature of war like Saving Private Ryan (1998).
Private Ryan (Matt Damon) is one of four brothers fighting in World War II. His brothers have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It is up to Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) to lead his team who have survived the Invasion of Normandy, to find Private Ryan and make sure that he returns home.
This is not your parent’s John Wayne era World War II movie. This movie does not spare the horrors and the damage that war creates. It is a brutal, in your face and reminds audiences of the sacrifices that our military men and women make for our freedom and safety.
In 1997, Driver burst into Hollywood in the film Good Will Hunting. Academically speaking, Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a genius. He works as a janitor at MIT and anonymously solves the math problems left on the black boards overnight. But Will has no direction in life and often finds himself in trouble with the law. When his anonymity is discovered by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard), Will is offered a deal that could change his life.
Under the watch of Prof Lambeau, Will will not be facing jail time if he studies mathematics with the professor and spends time with a therapist. After several therapists flounder, Will finds himself in the office of Sean Maguire (the late Robin Williams). He also finds himself attached to Skylar (Minnie Driver), a Harvard student with ambitions to attend medical school at Stanford. Can Will sustain this new path in life or will he return to his old friend Chuckie (Ben Affleck) and the way he used to live?
This movie won all of the accolades and attention that it did for a reason. It is a brilliant film and just reminds the audience that sometimes we have to take risks, especially when new paths open up in life.
Mona (Minnie Driver) has only one goal in life: to win Miss American Miss. Mona’s home life is a roller coaster. The only steadying influence is her best friend, Ruby (Joey Lauren Adams). But there is one hitch to Mona’s dreams: her child. Contestants in the pageant cannot have children. Ruby agrees to pretend to be Vanessa’s (Hallie Eisenberg) mother so Mona can compete. When a reporter starts snooping around, Mona finds that the pressure to keep the facade up is building.
Can she keep the facade up or will the truth come out, ending her dreams forever?
This movie has an element of camp to it. But then again, the entire world is that beauty pageants is campy. While this movie does not require a lot of brain cells, it is still a fun movie.
The same year, Driver stepped into romantic comedy genre with Return To Me.
Bob (David Duchovny) lost his wife in a car accident. After his wife’s death, her organs were anonymously donated. One of the recipients was Grace (Minnie Driver), a woman who has had heart problems since she was a teenager. A year after his wife’s death, Bob receives an anonymous letter from Grace, thanking him for his wife’s heart. At the same time, Bob goes on a blind date at the encouragement of his friends. The restaurant they go is owned by Grace’s grandfather (the late Carroll O’Connor). Grace is their waitress that night.
Bob asks Grace on a date and she agrees. Their relationship start to move along, but she is not ready to tell him about the surgery and the heart that is not naturally hers. Will she tell him and what will the consequences be of the reveal?
As rom-coms go, this movie is starting to slide into the same old formulaic story. But it is the performances of the lead actors that keep the movie going.
Heath Ledger belongs to an elite group of performers. His drive and talent were obvious from the earliest days of his career. His career was flying high when he passed away in 2008. While he may be gone, his movies and his legacy will live on.
In Casanova (2005) Ledger plays the legendary lover. Francesca (Sienna Miller) is the daughter of a noblewoman who is engaged to a much older man. She is also the writer of a feminist pamphlet, using the pen name of Guardi to protect her identity. Casanova is in love with Francesca, while engaged to another woman. Adding to the list of complications is the church who are all too eager to root out heretics.
I like this movie. The balance of feminism, history, myth and romance makes for a good film.
That same year, Ledger starred with Matt Damon in The Brothers Grimm. Wilhelm Grimm (Ledger) and Jacob Grimm (Matt Damon) are con artists who pretend to have access to potions and spells to keep out dark magic. Then they encounter a village where the magic, the curses and the mythical creatures are real. Now Will and Jacob must use real courage to defeat the curse and free the town.
I like this movie. Fairy tales, myth and special effects that help, not overpower the story, I couldn’t ask for more in a film.
Four years earlier, Ledger starred in A Knights Tale. William Thatcher (Ledger) is an young squire whose master has recently passed. Seeking glory, William, with the help of his companions takes on the image of a knight. While he finds the glory, the wealth and the fame, his attempt to pass as a knight might be curtailed by Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell), who is seething with jealousy as William attracts the attention of Jocelyn (Shannyn Sossamon).
I wouldn’t say that this movie is historically accurate. But it is fun and sometimes, that’s what we want in a movie.