If you’ve been looking for some good movies to watch, I have four here that I think you’ll enjoy.
The first is for fans of Downtown Abbey and Pride and Prejudice. It’s a four-episode, BBC TV miniseries called Wives and Daughters, and is based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, who was a popular English novelist in the mid-1800s. Gaskell is the one who also brought us the delightful Cranford and North and South, which all my daughters love.
Wives and Daughters is about Molly Gibson, the daughter of a country doctor, who suddenly has to deal with a new stepmother and a stepsister who becomes Molly’s good friend but brings a lot of baggage with her, mostly concerning men. It’s also about a man whom Molly falls in love with, but who only thinks of her as a sister.
But it’s about even more than that. It’s about the enjoyable relationship Molly has with her father and the local Squire and his family, and the issues the Squire has with his own sons. It’s also about how the women in the town and the local gentry deal with Molly.
Gaskell has a knack for showing both the good and bad about people and still making you love them. She also writes a fabulous ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending, for me, was just brilliant in so many ways. If you enjoy period romances, you’re going to love this.
The next movie is called The Hundred Foot Journey and is a humorous story about a contemporary Indian family down on its luck. The father leads them to England, but things don’t work out. So he takes them on a trip through France looking for the place to set up their restaurant. Except it’s a bit of a hare-brained idea because France doesn’t do Indian food.
The family’s vehicle breaks down outside a little town, and the father decides this is the place where they will try to build their life again. The problem is the spot he’s chosen is right across the street, the titular hundred feet, from a posh French restaurant. And the battle between the two restaurant owners begins.
You’ll laugh and fall in love with the characters in this story. And when it’s over, you’ll immediately want to go out and get some Indian food. It’s a great film.
Another wonderful fish-out-of-water story is The Good Lie, which is about three of The Lost Boys of Sudan, refugees who are resettled in America.
In 1983-2005 there was a civil war in Sudan, which lies on the southern border of Egypt. During the war, government troops and rebels of the south systematically attacked villages in southern Sudan, killing 2.5 million and displacing a million others. The Lost Boys and The Lost Girls were children who escaped the attacks and traveled by foot in search of safe refuge. For many that was over 1,000 miles across three countries to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Over half died along their epic journey, due to starvation, dehydration, sickness and disease and attack by wild animals and enemy soldiers.
In 2001, as part of a program established by the United States Government and the United Nations, approximately 3,800 Lost Boys were given the chance to leave the camps and resettle in the United States. This film is inspired by their experience. In fact, a few of the actors are actually some of those who were resettled.
The beginning of the film is about their journey. The rest is about what happens when they come to America. There are many poignant moments in this film, but there is also a good dose of humor and goodness. It’s a wonderful film to watch with the family.
My last, but certainly not least, recommendation is McFarland, USA, made by Disney and starring Kevin Costner. My family and I simply loved this movie. We loved it so much some of us ended up watching it three times because we couldn’t coordinate our schedules and so watched it again with the family members who weren’t there the first time.
It’s based, with a little literary license, on a true story about Jim White, a teacher who re-starts a cross country running program in 1980 in McFarland, a small agricultural town at the south end of California’s Central Valley. It’s another fish-out-of-water film with this White coach being introduced to Hispanic culture.
Now I know what you’re thinking—oh, jeez, another sports film. And, yes, it has many of the same story beats that you find in many sports stories. But this one seemed to make them all fresh again. All I can say is that we loved it. In fact, immediately after the third viewing, two of my daughters were so juiced about running, they went out on a run of their own.
If you like sports at all, you’ll like this one. But even if you don’t love sports, you’ll like it because it’s not really about sports. It’s about the human spirit and seeing value in the things everyone else overlooks.