I've been extra negligent of my blog lately as we had a family staying with us for quite a bit of August (as well as taking a trip to Oklahoma) and Ria and I have been busy working on the latest issue of mater et magistra magazine (which is dedicated to history studies!).
Partly because of these history projects, we reinstated our Netflix account and have watched quite a few movies in the last month or so. Here are some really brief notes (on the ones I can remember, at least):
Captains Courageous (Spencer Tracey) - Based on the story by Rudyard Kipling. This is a great old flick that was recommended to me by my sister-in-law and we finally got around to watching just a few weeks ago. A spoiled, wealthy lad is kicked out of his exclusive boarding school for obnoxious behavior and his single father hopes to spend more time with him to help improve his ways. The boy ends up getting in a situation with some boys aboard an oceanliner and falls off the ship unseen. He's is rescued by a Portuguese fisherman and forced to help out onboard a working boat for three months.
Henry Poole is Here - An interesting, understated movie about a man who finds a waterstain on the house he's just purchased that everyone else thinks is an image of the face of Christ.
Mary, Queen of Scots - A quality period piece (made in 1971) about Mary, Queen of Scots and her rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I of England. Not very family friendly (especially one disturbing scene that I couldn't make sense of from other historical sources), but surprisingly balanced in historical viewpoint.
Tucker: The Man and His Dream - Fascinating story of an inventor who attempted to market a new line of cars in competition with the big three automakers in the late 1940s.
The Boy in Striped Pajamas - A Flannery O'Connor-ish piece about the young son of a Nazi commander who is overseeing one of the Nazi concentration camps. Quite good, in a somewhat disturbing sort of way.
Breach - A gripping (though sometimes disturbing), real-life spy thriller about the capture of Robert Hanssen - an FBI agent who perpetrated the largest breach of security in U.S. History by selling government documents to the Russians over the period of several decades. Though the details of the spy's Catholic background seem a little muddled (for example, people who attend the Latin Mass don't tend to also hold hands for grace before meals), the movie treats it on the whole (and quite reasonably) as part of the enigma of the man. Also, not a bad reminder that people aren't always who they appear to be on the surface. I will probably let my teens see this only with a little editing. The sexual deviance stuff is definitely out there (even though it's a PG-13).
Love in the Afternoon - This was sort of a random choice, partly because I'm a fan of Gary Cooper. It's a quirky comedy/romance that made John and I laugh out loud in a number of places (and ended pretty well), but was a little creepy given the age difference between Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn. Very Billy Wilder.
Playing Elizabeth's Tune - Interesting documentary on Catholic composer William Byrd, who worked for Queen Elizabeth I in spite of Catholic persecution of the day (and is one of my very favorite composers - we had his Mass for 3 Voices sung at our wedding). Fascinating, very British (somewhat Protestant) perspective.
Catholic Heroes of the Faith: The Story of Saint Perpetua - Interesting and surprisingly substantial children's cartoon about the martyrdom of Saint Perpetua and some of her companions. The quality of animation is better than the CCC movies, though not fantastic, but the dialogue is excellent. My children enjoyed this very much.
El Cid (Charlton Heston) - Epic movie (co-starring Sophia Loren) about the legendary 11th century Spanish hero and warrior. Definitely worth a watch, though not entirely appropriate for family viewing.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon (directed by Franco Zeffirelli) - A beautiful film on St. Francis of Assisi, that moves and inspires in spite of a few (surprisingly few!) 70s moments. Some disturbing elements might make it inappropriate for younger or more sensitive children. Culminates in Francis' audience with the Holy Father.
Pride and Prejudice (Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier) - A sometimes laughable, though well-acted (I love Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bennett!) 1940 version of the classic Jane Austen movie. Some of the rewrites seem a little funny after enjoying other film versions of recent years, though the film is probably most enjoyable if you're already somewhat familiar with the story.