Recently, I was honored to be a guest visitor at several author blogs and was asked what movies have impacted my life and my writing. I figure the responses fit in here real well.
In no particular order of importance:
1. The Stoning of Soraya M. Male chauvinism is alive and well in many parts of the world. Men have always feared women, so have sought from the beginning of time, to control them. In the States all a frightened man has to do is put out rumors about a woman, effectively ruining her life, if she does something to displease them. In this case, Soraya's abusive spouse wanted a younger woman so he claimed Soraya committed adultery which is a crime punishable by stoning.
2. The Official Story. An Oscar winner from the late 80's for best foreign film, this tells the story of a high school history teacher who begins to suspect her adopted 5 year-old daughter may be the child of Los Desaparecidos, two of an estimated thirty thousand 'subversives' arrested, tortured and murdered during Argentina's Dirty War. This is a touching and sad film whose ending is left up to the viewer, but it will not please all the characters. A vivid portrayal of Las Madres de la Plaza and the work they continue to carry out to this day.
3. Romero. The story of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, his journey from a reclusive hypochondriac, prayerful man to activist for the poor and disenfranchised--then paid for it with his life. Powerful story. Strong character arc. Raul Julia had the ability to convey emotion with only his eyes.
4. Veronica Guerin. Set in Ireland, another true story focusing on a woman investigative journalist who exposed a vicious criminal enterprise and refused to back down after she came too close. Naturally, she died for her 'sins'. Cate Blanchett is a wonder.
5. Defiance. Another true story. Is there a pattern here? Two brothers, played by two personal faves of mine, Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber, who saved the lives of thousands of Jews during WWII by hiding them in the forests of Belarus and also carried out commando raids against the Nazi's and Belarus collaborators. Very powerful--and the nice thing about this story is both men lived to a nice old age!!
6. The Accused. Jodie Foster deserved the Oscar for this role. Kelly McGillis should have won for best supporting actress. It's more than 20 years old and is still fresh and evocative, portraying society's view of women who don't "play by the rules".
7. Steel Magnolias. Is there anyone better than Shirley MacLaine? The scene at the graveside still brings tears to my eyes--then I burst out laughing. A good one if you need a good weep and the tears just won't come.
8. The Killing Fields. A tribute to the strength of the human spirit, Sidney Schanberg who never gave up trying to find the friend, Dith Pran, he was forced to leave behind when the US abandoned Cambodia. How many of us would hang in there for so long? The late Dr. Haing S. Ngor deserved his Oscar and so much more for his marvelous performance. Add to all that John Lennon's "Imagine" and you have a piece of magic.
9. Cautiva. Another beauty out of Argentina, devoted to the issue of the lawful recovery of the children born to Los Desparecidos who were taken from their mothers at time of birth then 'adopted' out to wealthy couples desiring infants and perfectly happy not asking any questions. The story is told from the POV of a 15 year old convent school girl who literally is torn from the only family she has ever known by court order then sent to live with her birth grandmother, a stranger. This is a tear jerker from start to finish. Barbara Lombardo plays the teenager Christina/Sophia. Even when silent, her face is a joy to watch as is the young woman who plays Angelica, another child of a desaparecido who survived the experience. The similarities in behaviors between them and concentration camp survivors and their children is uncanny.
that's all for now