Somebody asked me yesterday whether I still write movie reviews for the print version of Backwoods Home. Officially, I do (Dave willing). But as a practical matter, I ran out of family-friendly, English-language films of interest to a rural audience a long time ago.
P.T., the person who asked the question, hoped I would review biopix of inspiring people — particularly women.
Thought that was a great idea. With two reservations. First, most recent biopix (aside from often being about dissolute folk who wouldn’t be welcome on many backwoods homesteads) are just giant mess-blobs. Take movies like “Ray” and “La Vie en Rose.” Oscar-winning star vehicles they may be, but they try to encompass so much of the subject’s life that events, relationships, and incidents whiz by, leaving the audience (or this audience, anyhow) wondering, “Who? What? Why?”
The other problem, particular to inspirational bioflix, is that … well, they’re “inspirational.” Which in Hollywood terms means they’ve had all the juice sucked out of them. They take a complex, multi-faceted, maybe not-particularly-likeable human being and reduce his (or her) accomplishments to ooey-gooey glurge.
“Patch Adams”? Ick. That movie about the guy who invented the fabulous, failed car? Ptooey. “Finding Neverland”? I don’t care if it does star the Divine Johnny Depp; it discards one of history’s fascinatingly weird relationships and replaces it with honey-dipped sugar cubes coated with pink frosted lies.
So …. I’m asking you: what are the great, inspirational (but not “inspirational”) movies? Tell me some of your favorites in the comments section.
Your picks can be old or new. To open up the field, they can be movies about a real person or a fictional one, as long as they’re about realistic achievement. If they’re about a real person, the events shown should either substantially resemble the facts or at least not be so denatured that they’re icky-gooey-sappy. Let’s see some true grit here.
P.T. suggested one: “The Miracle Worker” — and said she wished there’d also been a movie about later parts of Helen Keller’s life. Another classic comes to my mind — the 1946 Rosalind Russell movie, “Sister Kenny”. It tells of the self-taught Australian nurse who devised successful treatments for polio symptoms when doctors considered disability or death inevitable. How? Simply by observing and acting on her observations, rather than being locked into the wrong-headed paradigm shared by all “medical experts” of her day.
So, dear readers (and especially you, great film buff G.P.), give me some inspiration!