The Right Stuff (1983) R
The Soviets beat us into space by launching Sputnik, but America is about to catch up. The Mercury astronauts are being trained to fly America’s spacecraft and they’re all hotshot pilots.
John Glenn (Ed Harris) and Gordo Cooper (Dennis Quaid) are some of the best pilots, but before them came Chuck Yaeger (Sam Shepard) – who broke the sound barrier. This is NASA’s effort to put a man into space and America in the 60s.
The film is based on Tom Wolfe’s great book The Right Stuff. I liked the movie because of the faithfulness to the book. It has drama, comedy, and suspense.
Julie and Julia (2009) PG-13
This movie is based on the book by Julie Powell (Amy Adams), who wants to be a writer. She decides to write a blog about her attempt to cook her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She will cook 524 recipes in 365 days. Flashbacks to Julia’s (Meryl Streep) life in France, her love of French food, her life with Paul Child, and the decision to go to cooking school offer the most interesting scenes in the movie. Julia’s enthusiasm for cooking is contagious.
You’ll long to eat great (not necessarily French) food while watching this film.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) G
Spencer Tracy heads an all star cast of crazies looking for buried treasure. When a group of motorists see a car crash, they rush to see if there are any survivors. The dying driver tells the witnesses of a secret fortune. The witnesses begin to race toward the loot. The car chases, arguments and personalities are hilarious. Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Ethel Merman and Buddy Hackett are just a few of the many comedians in this movie.
Check out The New York Times review.
Places in the Heart (1984) PG
It is 1935 and Sally Field is a young Texas widow trying to save her farm after her husband, the town sheriff, is accidentally killed. An out of work black man (Danny Glover) has a plan to save her farm. John Malkovich plays a blind boarder in her family home. In this Depression-era story, race, bigotry, fidelity and faith are tested. The ending is awesome.
Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and Lindsay Crouse round out this all-star cast. Sally Field won her second Academy Award for her performance.
The Secret of Santa Vittoria (1969) PG-13
Stanley Kramer directed this movie based on Robert Crichton’s bestseller. The story takes place during World War II in a small town in northern Italy. The fascists are no longer in power, but the Germans are about to invade the town.
The town’s drunken clown of a mayor, Bombolini, must find a way to hide the town’s one million bottles of wine. A college student, former soldier and the whole town help carry out his plan. The Nazi captain suspects he’s being cheated but cannot prove anything.
Anthony Quinn, Anna Magnani, Virna Lisi, Hardy Kruger and Sergio Franchi star in this comedy with serious overtones. Read more about the movie on TCM.
Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) R
Tom Hanks stars in this movie based on a true story. In the 1980s, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was making headlines but the American Congress was not concerned. A few people, including a hard-drinking congressman, a wealthy Texas socialite, and a rebel CIA agent, decide to help the rebels fight the Soviets.
Mike Nichols directs Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman in this complex political story of wheeling and dealing. Nobody is perfect in this movie and the clandestine help provided by the main characters will leave you wondering what would have happened if they had not succeeded.
Michael Clayton (2007) R
Michael Clayton (George Clooney) works for a large law firm. He’s a lawyer but the firm won’t let him practice law because he’s too good at fixing the law firm’s messes. When the firm’s top lawyer experiences a breakdown, Michael must clean up the defense of a chemical plant land contamination. Three billion dollars are at stake and Michael has a lot on his plate – not to mention his financial and family problems.
This was one of Sydney Pollack’s last movies and he is terrific as one of the firm’s big shot lawyers. Tilda Swinton received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as legal counsel for the chemical plant.
A great movie thriller and one of the best George Clooney films ever.
Moonstruck (1987) PG
When Loretta, an Italian America widow, agrees to marry Johnny, confirmed bachelor and mama’s boy, the fireworks begin. He asks her to visit his brother Ronny and invite him to the wedding. Not only does Loretta invite Ronny to the wedding, she falls in love with him. Her close-knit Italian family offers her their insights on love and life. Cher and Olympia Dukakis glow in their Oscar award-winning performances.
John Patrick Shanley won an Oscar for the screenplay of Moonstruck. He recently wrote the play and screenplay Doubt.
While You Were Sleeping (1995) PG
America’s sweetheart actress Sandra Bullock stars in this romantic comedy. She is a subway worker who helps a young man (Peter Gallagher) who has been mugged. His family begins to see her as his girlfriend/fiancée, and she lets them believe the lie. All is fine until she fall in love with his brother (Bill Pullman). Soon she must decide…
Cool Runnings (1993) PG
This movie is loosely based on a true story of a Jamaican bobsled team. When the Olympic trials for sprinters become a disaster, a group of young men from Jamaica enter the 1988 Olympics as a bobsled team. John Candy is the coach who must redeem himself. While the world watches, the team and coach become the laughingstock of the Olympic Games. Then they become an inspiration. The movie has a great soundtrack.