A few movies we stumbled onto worth a viewing

We are blessed to still have a vintage movie rental store in my city. It was never a chain store, but one that has stocked up on a deep inventory, a veritable library, of old movies and new ones. It also has movies that are hard to find online for viewing. But, the best part of the selection process is the in person browsing looking through mazes of aisles on organized genres of drama, comedy, action, horror, science fiction, foreign films, series, etc.

The older movies can be rented for five days, so I usually will pick up four of them at a time. Often, I will read the summary or select one based on the actors in the film. Not all of them are great, but usually they are worth the effort. I think over the years, we have only stopped watching one or two.

On the last two visits, five of the eight movies I picked are excellent, in our opinion even though their critical ratings of each vary. And, the other three were good, so they were worth the investment. Here is a quick summary of the five to which we give a thumbs up.

  • Fathers and Daughters (2015) – starring Russel Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Kylie Rogers, Jane Fonda, Octavia Spencer, and Diane Kruger. Crowe is a Pulitzer Prize author who loses his wife in an auto accident because they were arguing and he lost focus on the driving. Seyfried is his daughter as an older woman coming to grips with her own life, after losing her mother when she was so young. The movie flips back and forth to just following her mother’s death and to her young adult life. Rogers charms us as the younger version of his daughter.
  • Night Train to Lisbon (2013) – starring Jeremy Irons, Jack Huston, Charlotte Rampling, Melanie Laurent, Martina Gedeck, Lena Olin, and several others. Irons coaxes a woman off a bridge in Bern where she was about to jump. She follows him and when she eventually leaves, he finds her coat with two tickets to Lisbon and a book that fascinates him with its life lessons and story. He travels to Lisbon to meet the author after the book’s owner eludes his efforts to find her. The story involves him connecting many dots with people who knew the author as he is moved by the impactful story. For the viewer, we are allowed to see what happened in earlier events.
  • Lebanon, PA (2010) – starring Josh Hopkins, Samantha Mathis, Rachel Kitson and others. This story involves an ad executive returning to Lebanon, PA to bury his divorced father and settle the affairs. He meets a cousin, a single father, and his two children who live across the street and watched over his father. The son is successful, but adrift not sure if he is doing what he wants to do in life. He becomes a mentor to the young teen girl who is his second cousin and befriends an unhappily married woman who taught with his father and remembers his kindness. The story is tinged with a sense of melancholy.
  • Lovely, still (2008)- starring two favorite actors, Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn, along with Adam Scott and Elizabeth Banks. Landau is a man living alone who works at a retail store, but early on you pick up he is in early stages of dementia. He comes home to find Burstyn in his house, as he left his door open that morning and she was seeing if he was alright. They begin a romance that is both touching and worrisome as you keep waiting for a shoe to drop. It is a lovely film.
  • Lies in Plain Sight (2010) – starring Martha Higareda, Chad Michael MurrayYul VazquezBenito Martinez, Rosie Perez and others. The story is a of an obviously smart blind woman returning from MIT for the funeral of her best friend and cousin who committed suicide, a shock to her and her friend’s family. She is close to the family as her mother had passed and she would often stay with them as her father worked. She learns of many small lies as she tries to figure out what happened and remembers things her cousin told her, as there was no suicide note to explain it all. Eventually she suspects things that come to a head with her discoveries.

I hope you enjoy these. If you have seen them, let me know what you think. Also, what are some other films you recommend?

A second toast to my father-in-law with a deep voice

My father-in-law’s birthday is approaching and when looking for a musical post to repost, I found this tribute to him. One of my favorite memories of him is singing old standards with my mother-in-law at night on a long trip back home.

Around the holidays, I often think of my father-in-law Tom, who had a voice that he would take to a velvety deep level. It was not bass level deep, but he could get close to that low if he needed to. He loved music and sang in his small church, actually leading a small ensemble each Sunday with his guitar. Christmas-time brought out the carols and he would relish in singing them.

Some of my favorite memories are when he asked my wife to sing with him on Sunday. She could harmonize extremely well with that deep voice of his. We would arrive at their house on Saturday night and the two of them would rehearse. My mother-in-law kept a dark house so it was very ethereal listening to them play with only small lights illuminating their efforts.

Tom had a rough childhood having to work at an early age delivering German language newspapers in Detroit. Yet, his wages would be handed to his mother to help meet their needs. His real father and mother divorced and he was raised eventually by his mother and step-father. He did not talk much about his childhood, but he did talk about his desire to be a car engineer and musician.

He could not afford to be the former, but he was a professional musician for a while playing various gigs, gatherings, etc. around the area. Unfortunately, he had a tendency to drink away too much of his profits, so my mother-in-law gave him an ultimatum delivered with his suitcases on the porch when he came home. He decided he needed to get a job away from the alcohol and they were married until he died in 1997.

Eventually, he moved down south to become a farmer, where Lee, his wife, grew up. After about a year of farming, he decided if they were going to eat, he better get a job with a salary. So, he became a textile machinery representative repairing the machines. That would be as close as he would get to being an engineer.

In addition to singing and playing the guitar (and accordion before it burned up in a fire), he loved photography and filming. We have footage of him narrating videos he recorded that are priceless with his enthusiasm and deep voice. Even small birds, butterflies, bees, etc. would be entertaining with his excited narration.

So, Tom, here is a toast to you. We hope you had a merry Christmas and please know you are in our thoughts. We hope you are playing your guitar in heaven for everyone to hear.

Note: This is one of the classic hymns my wife would harmonize with her father.

gentle woman song – Bing

Melancholy and excitement

This Mother’s Day weekend was very special with the graduation of our youngest child from college. Her two brothers joined us to celebrate this amazing young woman’s achievements. We are experiencing equal parts melancholy and excitement.

Our daughter is a terrific person and we are so proud of the woman she has become. She is smart, funny and helpful. She came into her own in college graduating cum laude with a major and three minors, and getting involved with the climbing team, common ground, and an organic garden effort on campus. She is well read and can write or converse on a multitude of topics – today we discussed the maltreatment of women, the various pandemics, the impact of climate change on viruses and business, etc.

Her mom said the best Mother’s Day gift was having her family there to celebrate our daughter’s graduation and help her move out of her campus apartment. Each member was packing, cleaning, sweeping and/ or transporting boxes, clothes, small appliances and furniture. We earned outlr tiredness.

Our daughter will be working this summer on a research project which will take advantage of her degree and climbing skills. She will be rooming with a couple of former classmates. We are excited for her, but have a healthy dose of melancholy. It is the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one.