Ringing Out the Year: Going to the Movies with the Smiths Redux

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Those of you who follow my blog know that I enjoy going to the movies, and that I often mention movies I’ve seen.  In my WordPress 2015 Year in Blogging summary, I discovered that a February post, “Going to the Movies With the Smiths” was my most commented upon post this year. In the post, I discussed seeing Still Alice and some other “sad movies.” In one of those strange coincidences, just after I read my summary, I saw Stephen Liddell’s post about his top ten movies of the year, which reminded me of some movies I had seen and enjoyed earlier this year including The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Far From the Madding Crowd.

In the past couple months—the time of year when often the serious Oscar contenders arrive in theaters–my husband and I have seen some wonderful movies. For the most part, they were not movies with lots of action. The movies relied on well-written scripts, nuanced performances, and good editing. There were no superheroes, unless you put investigative reporters, astronauts, and those who challenge social mores in that category, which I suppose I do.

Of the recent movies I’ve seen, I would place Spotlight and Carol in a tie for best. They were totally different types of movies, but both were beautifully done. Spotlight tells the story of the Boston Globe’s Spotlight series that exposed the enormous problem of sexual abuse crimes by clergy within the Catholic church, along with its systemic cover up, which involved not only church hierarchy, but also government officials and organizations. Focusing first on Boston, the movie then reveals the global scope of the problem. The movie does not ignore the suffering and trauma of the survivors of the abuse, who the reporters methodically track down.  One of the movie’s taglines was “Break the story. Break the silence.”  Directing a great cast, Tom McCarthy achieved a movie that was tense and exciting, an amazing achievement for a “newspaper movie.” The audience in the movie theater applauded at the end. I felt like we all let out a collective breath, a feeling that though just a beginning, some justice had been done.

Carol is based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith. It is about two women who fall in love in 1950s New York.  Cate Blanchette and Rooney Mara give superb performances, as they convey so much with merely a glance. Kyle Chandler as Carol’s bewildered husband also does a fine job, as does Cory Michael Smith as the nerdy, creepy “notions” salesman. It is one of those movies that envelopes the viewer in its world. The score is fantastic, too.

Brooklyn and The Danish Girl were my next favorite movies. Both were also have outstanding cinematography and boast wonderful performances by the leads and supporting cast. Brooklyn is the story of an Irish immigrant (Saorise Ronan) to 1950s Brooklyn. It explores homesickness, love, and family—as well as what it meant to emigrate at that time. The Danish Girl, which I’ve written about in another post, is about artist Einar Wegener, who had one of the first sex-change operations in the 1930s. Director Tom Hooper elicits elegant and heartbreaking performances from Eddie Redmayne as Einar/Lili and an even more compelling performance from Alicia Vikander as Einar’s wife, Gerda, also an artist.

Other movies we’ve seen recently and enjoyed include The Martian and Bridge of Spies. I still want to see Trumbo, Room, and, yes, The Hunger Games. (You weren’t expecting that one, were you?) J Well, I’m also looking forward to the new Star Trek movie next summer. See, I’m not a total movie snob, as my sister refers to me. I’m also intrigued by Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman’s new movie featuring puppets.

I’m a fan of old movies, too. On Christmas Eve, my husband and I watched, or perhaps I should say re-watched, It’s a Wonderful Life. It may be a bit schmaltzy, but the 1946 Frank Capra directed movie starring the perfect Jimmy Stewart is a true classic.

So what movies have you seen recently? Do you have a favorite genre?


Thank you to all who read my blog, and especially to those who take the time to comment. It has been a true joy getting to know you. Welcome to my new readers, too!

I don’t want to end this post without acknowledging my five top commenters in 2015:

Marian Beaman Plain and Fancy Girl 

Luanne Castle, Writer Site

Rachel Carrera

Frank of A Frank Angle 

Rowena of Beyond the Flow Who keeps me up to date on all things Australian.

Do check out all of their wonderful blogs!

Happy New Year! Wishing all of you—health, happiness, good friends, the opportunity to see wonderful movies, to read fantastic books, and to enjoy the goodness of life.  And of course, let’s all wish for world peace.

See you in 2016!



32 thoughts on “Ringing Out the Year: Going to the Movies with the Smiths Redux

  1. Thanks for the recommendations. Carol is on my list of sees .. partially because it was filmed in Cincinnati (somehow a small Midwestern city became NYC) – but right now it is only at one theater (that is the furthest in the group’s locations).

    This week we’ve seen different ends of the spectrum: Star Wars and The Big Short … still want to see Joy, Carol, and Concussion (thus may get to one today).

    Cheers to your love for It’s a Wonderful Life, which chokes me up every time. Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. Thank you for the shout-out today, Merril. You are tops on my list of frequent readers/commenters. “Thank you” seems such a weak word to express my gratitude for your constant visits.

    I like going to the movies and see it as an escape to other worlds. Of the titles you mentioned, I like Far from the Madding Crowd, Brooklyn. Today we might see Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence of “Hunger Games” fame. According to the ads, it traces a family across 4 generations. Like you, I go to the movies to be entertained, but I also want to learn something and enjoy marvelous cinematography.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  3. I’ve made a note of the movies Merril thank you! We’re going to Plettenberg Bay on Sunday for a few weeks and we have access to Netflix. I saw Star Wars with my son and husband the other evening – quite gripping! My son and husband saw Spectre last week ..(they said not so wonderful) ..

    I love movies fullstop … am hoping to see a Netflix few while on holiday! Hunger Games does not appeal …but I’ve never followed it – I can’t remember what I’ve seen this year.

    A very happy New Year to you and family and all the very best wishes for 2016!

  4. Thank-you for name-dropping my blog. I can see we have a very similar taste in films. I saw an advert yesterday for a film coming out in January called ‘Youth’ starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel. I think it is our sort of movie 🙂

    • You’re welcome for the name-dropping. 🙂 It seemed only fair, since I you did that post on movies. “Youth” is out already here. It does look good, and it was in the same theater where we saw “Carol.” Perhaps that will be what we see next. 🙂

  5. I used to love going to movies, but not so much any more. Long story but let’s just say the smell of popcorn doesn’t sit well with me 😉 These days we catch what we can through Netflix and Amazon Prime and there’s definitely an advantage to not having to miss a few critical minutes because of a bathroom break. That said, we recently saw Crimson Peak and The Martian at a local iMax. Both were matinees so we had the theater practically to ourselves. Both films lend themselves well to a giant screen, and The Martian was in 3-D. Both were great visually. I enjoyed the story of Crimson Peak, those wonderful tropes of the Gothic novel, the contrast of red and white, the mysterious relationships, the horror of the truth. I also enjoyed The Martian even though much of it was predictable. It was entertaining and thought-provoking inasmuch as whether humans could ever live on Mars. I will say that, as with the Earth, we do leave a lot of junk around 😉 Thanks for sharing your reviews. I do want to see Carol, and you’ve given me some ideas for other movies that I think we’ll like. Happy New Year, Merril!

    • We also go to matinees. Once or twice, we’ve even gone to a morning movie! Really no crowds then. 🙂 I’m not a 3-D fan, but The Martian was much better than I expected it to be. I thought Matt Damon’s performance was very good. Happy New Year, Marie!

      • Matinees are the best because you can have dinner after 🙂 Yup, I enjoyed Damon as well but did you catch the body double, after his food was rationed? I am so glad he didn’t think he had to lose 50 pounds to pull off his role!

      • I don’t remember, but I don’t think I caught that! One of the theaters we go to has special low prices for shows that are between 4-5 PM, so we sometimes go to dinner afterward.

      • There were a couple of brief scenes when his hair was long and he had a beard. He was naked after a shower, with bruises and a pretty skeletal physique. But, it was brief and appropriately so. I like it when actors depend on their acting 🙂

  6. As both of us posted, “The Danish Girl” was an excellent film. I haven’t seen many films in the theaters for awhile in part because of the places I have lived, the ‘art-house’ films don’t even make it into town, and, like “The Danish Girl,” when they do, they tend to disappear as quickly as they showed up.

    During the coming attractions before “The Danish Girl,” the film “Gloria” was one of them. Of all of them, I really wanted to see this one Glad to hear you liked it. Since it was given only limited release in 2015, I hope to see it in the theaters here in 2016. Also the film about Jesse Owens looks like it could be really good.

    Some of the few movies I did see that I particularly enjoyed on Netflix and DVD, Mike Birbigila’s “Sleepwalk with Me” (2012),which also has humorous, yet real, look at relationships, “Chef” (2014), a lighthearted yet intelligent look at following one’s dream and the connection with family and friends, “Philomenia” (2013) with Judith Dench and Steve Coogan that is filled with the full array of human experience with awesome acting.”Silver Lingings Playbook” (2012), and the re-watching of “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), which is a must see for writers (and their muses) of all sorts (and for which, I just learned, Judith Dench won an academy award for Best Supporting Actress — just one of the many awards the film won).

    Thanks for the prompt to go back and review in my head what films have brought laughter and tears and ponderings.

  7. I love posts that give me movie ideas, Merril. I share your passion for the good ones, and apparently we have similar tastes. I have seen The Big Short (highly recommend), Spotlight (same, even better). Going to see Brooklyn today. Would love to see Carol and The Danish Girl, but may need to view on the small screen instead. Like others above, I have to drive far to see “art” films.

    Someone mentioned popcorn. I love going to the theatre and getting a nice, plump bag of fresh plain popcorn. Maybe it’s the thrill of doing something (going to movies) that was denied me in childhood. I love tasting new worlds as I enter them on the silver screen.

    Have a wonderful new year. I shared this post online. I’m sure my friends will appreciate the selections and mini reviews.

    • I haven’t seen the The Big Short yet.
      We don’t often get popcorn, but sometimes if we have a coupon or if we’re not going out to eat. We often get coffee. 🙂
      Thanks so much for the share!

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