Surviving the Summer
An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis
Hollywood’s plan for the public is very clear at this time of year. The 2015 Oscars have been awarded and the best new movies will be held until the fall when we will be treated to a wave of new wonders their makers hope will win the 2016 awards. What are movie lovers supposed to do between March and September?
Children and teenagers will delight in a summer flood of blockbusters and animations. For the rest of us, this may be the time we have to face up to learning to navigate the wide array of in-home delivery systems that offer a wide range of new and recent releases. For now, let’s look at the moment.
Of the Oscar contenders, see these if you missed them: Brooklyn, Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, Room. Each is driven by superb acting that reminds us of why we love to go to the movies.
Then, to experience the enormous power of stories rooted in truth, try these:
Labyrinth of Lies – An ambitious young German prosecutor insists on probing the silence that envelops the Nazi hierarchy after WWII. If war is the language of man, he will at least hold mankind responsible for indulging in savagery.
Suffragette is a movie of unrelieved darkness that resonates in the issues of today. Facing Britain’s male power structure, women resorted to physical aggression (“War is the only language men listen to”) to gain the right to vote. It was the opening shot in the universal battle for humanity in the treatment of women. It would be a rich learning experience as part of any high school curriculum.
Testament of Youth is a profound look at the effect of WWI on British families through the experience of one wartime nurse played with grand defiance by Alicia Vikander. The absence of gruesome battle scenes allows us to focus on the lives of the wounded and their families. Vera Brittain, author of the original book said of her theme, “All of us are surrounded by ghosts.”
Trumbo is an affecting mixture of newsreels and film clips of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the pre-McCarthy era of the 1950s. After his destruction, he continued to write some of our best known movies under a pseudonym.
For total submersion in sublime fiction with inspired actors, see these:
Clouds of Sils Maria unleashes astonishing portraits by Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart of two women ablaze as they try to navigate the layers of meaning in their own lives.
I’ll See You in My Dreams deals bravely with the reality of the loss of partners, friends, home, and companionship in old age. .Blythe Danner and Sam Elliot hit no false notes in beautiful performances. The entire cast earns a salute for starting a conversation about a tough subject – the end of life.
Along with the certainty that September will bring more movies of this quality, these good ones can help us through the summer.
Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Title : After the Oscars
Word count : 500