At the Cinema: Schindler’s List

tumblr_mbvrq3Bkg91rvp3zlo1_400I really wanted to film my reaction to watching Schindler’s List immediately after watching, but decided y’all really didn’t need to see me do my version of the ugly cry. I’m fairly certain I look worse than Claire Danes when she ugly cries, which is really saying something. However, I do want to take a moment and discuss my emotional response to watching this film for the first time.

When I saw that the 20th Anniversary edition of this movie was being released on Tuesday, I knew I had to order it and add it to my ever-growing collection of purchased films. And I knew this without having ever seen the movie. I’m glad I waited or was just never exposed to Schindler’s List until now. I’m not sure I could have appreciated and had such a visceral response had I viewed as a child or teenager.

Steven Spielberg knows how to direct a movie, how to gut us emotionally and leave us reeling yet filled with hope. As I cried my eyes out at the bittersweet end to Schindler’s story, I couldn’t help but be filled with joy at all the people he had saved and all the generations that had come to be due to his compassion. Schindler is such a flawed protagonist. He begins his journey greedily – out to make money and nothing else. He views the Jewish plight as a means to an end and monetizes their suffering to grow his wealth. But somewhere along the way, the people he is unintentionally saving save him as well.  Through their thanks, kind eyes, and relief to be alive, they show Oskar just how effective one man can be, even when he’s not trying. They show him that one man can overcome the cruelty of the many. They show him that one man can change himself as well as the paths of so many lives. While so many Jews were losing their sense of humanity, Oskar was finding his own and continued throughout the war to diligently return the favor – restoring humanity so wrongfully stolen.

Was that babbling? Did that make sense? I found Schindler so compelling and Liam Neeson did a beautiful job portraying this historical figure. As did Ralph Fiennes playing his perfect foil. As Oskar grows more human, Amon turns more evil – an oddly pure evil without conscience. He even tries to do the decent thing and stop his murdering ways, but simply can’t as it’s not in his nature. The atrocities men, women, and children suffered at his hands were gut-wrenching and nearly impossible to watch. I covered my eyes multiple times. Spielberg and his creative team definitely don’t shy away from depicting these horrors in such a bluntly realistic manner.

Filming the movie in black and white was also a stunning and winning decision. It gives the film a timeless feeling – you literally have no idea whether the movie was shot years ago or just last week. The contrast between the light and dark also resonates heavily and adds a layer of depth to the movie beyond the brilliant script and acting.

Needless to say, I loved the movie and believe there aren’t many movies I’ve ever seen that can hold a candle to it. Not an easy movie to watch, not one you can sit idly on the couch and watch repeatedly, but an important film, a necessary film. If you’ve never watched it, do yourself a favor and find some time. You won’t regret it. And of course, I need to get my hands on the book is was based on!

With two movie posts in a row, it’s time to get back to book blogging! This week is dedicated to that very purpose. You can look forward to such dandies as my reviews of Swoon and The Night Strangers along with my Vanity Fair wrap-up post!

At the Cinema: Silver Linings Playbook

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I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled book review this lovely Wednesday morning for a very important announcement! You must run (no walking!) to the nearest theater to see Silver Linings Playbook. What a fantastic script and brilliant performances by all involved. I thought I loved Jennifer Lawrence before, but now I want to have her babies. She and Bradley Cooper just really impressed me with their portrayals of these deeply wounded people struggling with mental illness.

I can’t wait to read the book. If you’ve ever had experience with bipolar disorder – personal experience or just knowing someone affected – this movie will touch you deeply. And even if you haven’t, this story is such a human story that I can hardly see how anyone with a heart could not find this both heartwrenching and heartwarming. I left the theater grinning my ridiculous goofy grin and wanting to tell everyone to skip work on Monday in order to view this film – do not wait for the DVD!! Normally, I hate anything love story related, but this one just got me in the gut.

In case you don’t know what this film’s about let try to sum it up fairly concisely. Pat (Cooper) has been sentenced to 8 months in a mental institution after nearly beating his wife’s lover to death when he catches them together. During his time in the hospital, Pat is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and begins to understand that it’s something he’s battled his whole life. Deciding to change his life permanently in an effort to overcome his negativity, he takes up a strict regime of exercise and intellectual pursuits (reading!) to better himself and get his wife back. Along the way he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a similarly diagnosed woman healing after the tragic death of her husband. Their relationship is the heart of the movie.

Okay – I’m going to leave you fine people be and stop spewing all the sappy gooey gushing all over my otherwise (yeah right) slightly more mature blog.

P.S. So happy Jennifer Lawrence won the Golden Globe! I might have given her a standing ovation in the privacy of my living room and frightened my dogs a good bit.