Jul 302012
 

By ELLEN BIRKETT MORRIS

I love the movies, all kinds of movies, but a really good movie is like a good book. You leave the experience changed in some way. You feel something besides your seat rattling because of the special effects. Here are four movies that will move you, make you think and possibly change the way you see the world.

The Intouchables (2011)

This French film earned a critical review from Variety for its depiction of a mixed race friendship between Philippe (played by François Cluzet), an aristocrat who is a paraplegic, and Driss (played by Omar Sy), a man from the projects who is hired to be his caretaker. But I was charmed by the relationship between the two men and the way it expanded each of them.

At its heart The Intouchables is about respect. Early on, it is clear that Driss deals with Philippe as an equal, offering no pity for his physical limitations. Mutual respect is the basis for their friendship and the springboard for discovery as the two very different men grow closer. They share music, smoke joints and even go hang gliding in a gorgeous, funny scene in which Driss is more afraid than Philippe.

Of course the world intrudes, but ultimately the two men come to realize their importance to each other, and each experiences a world made larger by their encounters.

The Station Agent (2003)

These days actor Peter Dinklage is best know for the television series “Game of Thrones,” but to me he will always be the lead actor in The Station Agent. Dinklage plays Finbar McBride, a man who inherits a train station in rural New Jersey. He moves there hoping for solitude but finds himself befriended by Joe, a genial hot dog vendor played by Bobby Cannavale, and Olivia, a woman who almost runs over him with a car, played by Patricia Clarkson.

As each character deals with personal challenges, they pull together as a group to offer support. The movie also features an appearance by a young Amber Riley, best known as Mercedes from “Glee,” who invites Fin to speak to her class for an awkward session of show and tell. This story of a reluctant makeshift family of misfits is a charmer.

 

Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

This Canadian film tells the story of an Algerian immigrant, Bachir Lazhar (played by Mohammed Fellag), who is hired to replace an elementary school teacher who committed suicide. As he endures a loss of his own, Monsieur Lazhar overcomes cultural barriers to help the children healing from their loss. Adapted from Evelyne de la Cheneliere’s play titled Bachir Lazhar, the film was Canada’s entry for best foreign language film at the 84th Academy Awards.

 

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

These days Ryan Gosling is one of Hollywood’s favorite leading men. In 2007 he starred in the indie film Lars and The Real Girl as a man who believes he is having a real relationship with a blow-up doll named Bianca.

What makes the film touching, not farcical, is the town’s acceptance of Bianca and the gentle probing of the town’s doctor Dagmar, as she attempts to get to the root of Lars’ delusion. The film is a joy to watch as Lars says goodbye to Bianca and learns how to connect with the people around him.

 

 

Ellen Birkett Morris is a writer and fan of the movies. Her poetry chapbook, Surrender, will be published by Finishing Line Press in October.


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 July 30, 2012

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