Bonnie and I love going to the movies… so how come we get out so seldom? Now that the Doodads are living with their mother we are pretty flexible for time. To complicate matters, our favourite Blockbuster video store has closed and our preferred movie theatre has shut down as well. Part of the problem is the fact there are few new movies that appeal to us. However, there has been some recent joy in discovering movies we’d never heard of. Here’s the secret. Every day I scour the listings on each of the channels that feature movies and look for the offbeat or well-regarded that we have missed — who cares if they weren’t produced this year, they’re brand new to us. Also, the refurbished Cedarbrae Library near our house has a wonderful selection of movie and TV show DVDs that always surprise us. Here are a few of our latest happy finds.
Hula Girls: Sounds like it could be a cheap sexploitation flick, especially because it was aired in the wee hours of the morning. In fact, it is a Japanese film about the plight of some young girls whose lack of a future is wrapped up in a failing mining town. It’s a low key, heartwarming piece that is reminiscent of Hollywood in the 30s, but done with grit and style that makes it a very contemporary work. We found it touching and uplifting, richly textured and appropriately sentimental for our old sensibilities.
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: This DVD was spotted at the library because the star,Frances McDormand,is one of our favourites. Listed as a comedy, it had us in tears of laughter throughout. Outrageously corny, silly and sharply caustic, it is a madcap farce set in that surreal moment just before the onset of WWII. McDormand is at her comedic best and is ably supported by a sexy Amy Adams. It’s pure escapism that will leave you smiling for days.
Sabah: When we borrow DVDs from the library we always pick more than we know we’ll get through in a week (bring ’em back on time or it’s a buck a day fine!) because some of our picks are real duds that we turn off within 10 minutes of starting. Sabah turned out to be one of those little treasures that kept us enthralled to the very last scene. It had been added to the pile because the star was Arsinee Khanjian and the plot looked like an exotic love story. In fact, the story takes place in Toronto with Toronto playing itself. It’s a coming of age story for a 40 year old woman who has been enveloped by the Moslem traditions of her Syrian family, all trying to reconcile their genuine faith and customs with contemporary Canada. Neither a put-down of Islam nor a glorification of today’s mores, it’s a touching tale of two gentle souls who find a way to reach out to find common ground. Will they live happily ever after? Who knows, but the movie makes a good start for all of us.
I give all three of these 4 stars and I hope you will enjoy them too. Let me know if you find them and what you think of them.