We've seen a few movies the past couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, with both sons at home (and lots of snow days) and my husband out of town, the boys and I indulged in two 80's/90's classics, both featuring Robin Williams, a favorite of my sons (and mine!)
First, the boys and I watched Good Morning, Vietnam. If you've never seen this classic about the Vietnam War, it is well worth the time! Robin Williams stars as a radio disc jockey assigned to the military's Saigon radio station in 1965. He's a total cut-up (a perfect time for plenty of Williams' free-form zany improv), but as he begins to settle in and gets to know both the locals and the young Americans being sent into the jungles to fight, things take a more serious turn. Both boys liked it, though I don't think they expected its serious side. It's a warm, touching, and very funny film.
In our Robin Williams' double-feature week, we also watched Good Will Hunting, another classic that they'd never seen. This is another one to go back and watch if you never have or an excellent movie to revisit after about 15 years, as I did. It was the movie that propelled both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to stardom (my sons loved that backstory - how Ben and Matt in real life were best friends from South Boston who wrote this movie, sold it to Hollywood, starred in it, and have been ever-rising stars ever since). In the movie, they play two best friends from "Southie" (South Boston, a blue collar area). Matt's character is brilliant but gets into a lot of fights, frequently gets arrested, and works menial jobs. At one of those jobs, as a janitor at MIT, he solves an unsolvable math problem left on a blackboard and draws unwanted attention to himself. After yet another arrest, he is teamed up with an MIT math professor and must go to court-ordered therapy with the math professor's old friend, played by none other than Robin Williams. This is a more serious role for Williams, without his usual manic energy and improv; it's a wonderful movie overall. Both of my sons enjoyed it, and I was glad to have watched it again.
Fast-forward to a totally different environment this weekend, with our older son back to college, our younger son on a school-sponsored ski trip, and my husband and I alone - a truly rare occurrence! We treated ourselves two 2 newly released DVD rentals that we have really been wanting to see:
Friday night, we watched Ender's Game, a movie we had hoped to see in the theater but missed (as usual). Ender's Game is a favorite book at our house, one that my husband lent to me more than 25 years ago when we were first dating and that our older son read a few years ago and loved also (he did get to see the movie at the theater when it came out!). It's a classic science fiction story (originally published as an adult novel but more recently marketed as YA) about a young boy named Ender who is recruited by the military to attend a special battle training school in space. Earth was previously attacked by an alien species, the Formics, and narrowly defeated them. This time, Earth's leadership has a new strategy: to train young kids/teens in the latest battle technology, building on their superior dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and other skills honed by playing video games. It is an amazing, thought-provoking book about the morality of war, and the movie adaptation was very well-done. We both enjoyed it very much. I hope they make movies of the rest of the series (which we both read decades ago)! (NOTE: This is a movie about war, but most of the violence is high-tech video game-type stuff).
And on Saturday night, Ken and I watched another movie that our oldest son had seen with his friends at college and recommended to us, Captain Phillips. This is the movie based on the real-life story of Captain Phillips, a commercial cargo ship captain whose ship was boarded by Somalian pirates. Wow. It is a compelling and engaging story, with suspense and tension right from the first scene to the last. Tom Hanks does a fabulous job as the captain, as does his counterpart, the Somalian "captain" of the pirate crew who are being forced to hijack ships by a powerful warlord in their country. The movie shows you their perspective and the lack of choices the Somalians have, but your sympathy remains with Captain Phillips and his crew. Interestingly, I read that none of the Somalians starring in this movie were professional actors - they were all recruited from among real Somalian citizens...and they all did an amazing job with their roles. It's an excellent movie, but be prepared for plenty of tension.
So, we've watched some really great movies the past two weeks, both old and new. Have you seen any good movies lately?