Donal's picture

    Comfort Post

    I chat films with Jimmy, at my office. He's always mentioning some flick I just have to see, so before Thanksgiving I asked him for a list of films I should rent. He sent this:

    O Lucky Man!
    Nil by Mouth
    The Sporting Life
    Elevator to the Gallows
    Europa, Europa
    Barry Lyndon (you've probably seen it) No I haven't, and I am ashamed.
    Prick Up Your Ears
    The Book of Eli
    This Is England
    Sunshine Cleaning
    Haiku Tunnel
    The Tao of Steve
    Brittania Hospital

    I sent the list to my wife, who took it to Family Video, which had only one, Diabolique, which was out.

    What we actually watched was:

    Eat Pray Love
    Alice in Wonderland
    The Karate Kid
    Young Victoria
    Boogie Woogie
    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

    We also watched young Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street, which I watch every year to see Sinterklaas speak Dutch to the little girl, Mrs Shelhammer get hammered, William Frawley not be Fred Mertz, and Gene Lockhart mug at every turn as the Judge.

    As it turns out, we watched Comfort Movies. Except for Alice in Wonderland and Boogie Woogie.

    How many movies would you say you KNEW the ending before it happened? I'm not talking about you figuring out the ending of Sixth Sense or Usual Suspects or Memento or whatever (good for you, Nostradamus). No, I'm talking about movies that are essentially made with the premise that you will know the ending. You know the killer will die. You know the guy and girl will get together. You know the planet will be saved. You know the home team will win. You know George Clooney will end up in a tuxedo. You know the castaways will not get off the island.

    You know because you are supposed to know, the director expects you to know, the producer expects you to know, the actors essentially act like you know ... KNOWING is part of the experience. This is why sometimes you will hear people, when asked about a movie, say something like: "Oh, well, it was predictable, but it was still pretty good." There is in some of us a capacity to not only like a predictable movie, but like it BECAUSE of it's predictable. There are a lot of not-quite-A-level movies - The Family Man, Doc Hollywood, The Sure Thing, Invincible, Major League, Splash, The Fabulous Baker Boys and a hundred others I'm not thinking of now -- where, once the premise was laid out, I doubt I felt even the tiniest tinge of surprise at any point. And yet, I liked the movies anyway.

    I still want to see the films from the first list but here are a few thoughts on our Thanksgiving comfort films.

    Eat Pray Love
    We chose the director's cut. OK, I chose the director's cut. It either was or seemed insanely long. My wife was very much looking forward to seeing this, but even she got restless. I kept wondering where all the money came from to pay for all of Julia Roberts' self-indulgence. Maybe the book royalties?

    Alice in Wonderland
    Should have been Alice in Narnia. The characters were drawn from Lewis Carroll, but by the end you had Wonderland's cards arrayed against Looking Glass' chess pieces, and Alice in armor wielding the vorpal sword against the Jabberwocky. Even the Mad Hatter was hacking away against a knight. Bizarre.

    The Karate Kid
    Should have been The Kung-Fu Kid. We liked young Jaden Smith, and old Jackie Chan, and in most ways it was a better movie than the Macchio-Morita version. But watching a skinny American bullied by brawny Chinese seemed backwards to everything I know, and it had the same stupid, I mean, predictable and comfortable ending as the original.

    Gwyneth still working that Brit accent. Shall we reside at your enormous, park-like estate when we get married, or mine? I thought it was fairly well done.

    Maybe it was a leftover from Eat Pray Love but I didn't give a rat's ass about whether Julia Roberts was fooling Clive Owen or whether he was fooling her. They fooled us, but we didn't really care.

    Young Victoria
    The damn DVD kept locking up. I've heard it is very good. But I know the ending.

    Boogie Woogie
    I couldn't predict the ending but knew it was only a matter of time before Heather Graham got naked. Danny Huston was a riot as an art dealer who couldn't talk without laughing.

    Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
    I love Frances McDormand, but Amy Adams stole the movie. We knew Miss Pettigrew and Delysia would both find true love, but there were some nice moments.

    This is a Comfort Post, so there's nothing exciting or controversial at the end. But you knew that.




    Warning about Sunshine Cleaning -- excellent move but for some reason categorized, as least by Netflix, as a comedy.  So I was expecting something different and had a Stan from South Park "What the Hell is wrong with you people?" reaction.

    A comfort post!  I'm SO ready for a comfort post.  I'm completely destroyed that I haven't seen a one of the films (movies) your friend suggested.  (Not really)

    Of your list. I've seen Emma (just okay) and Miss Pettigrew (a real surprise--I watched it because both Frances McDormand and Amy Adams were in it, and liked it a whole lot.)

    Speaking of Amy Adams, I never get tired of "Enchanted", either.  Watched it with my grandkids first,  but enjoy it just as much on my own.

    Off the top of my head I'd say my favorite comfort movie is "Love, Actually".  Some real stuff in that movie, including a heartbreaking performance by Emma Thompson, and Liam Neeson as the dad of all dads, and I'm right there dancing at the end. It's great!


    • While you were Sleeping
    •  On Golden Pond. 
    • Fried Green Tomatoes
    • The Pursuit of Happyness"(Jaden Smith was terrific, but Will Smith was incredible).
    • The Princess Bride
    • Local Hero 
    • Tender Mercies 
    • Big Fish
    • About a Boy
    • The Butcher's Wife
    • Moonstruck
    • Remains of the Day
    • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
    • As Good as it Gets

    I'm comforted just thinking about them.


    My newest favorite movie is "13 Converstations About One Thing", it is a ensemble case lead by Alan Arkin and I was just captivated by it, but yeah, I love Amy Adams, but my favorite of her is the Sunshine Cleaning with Emily Blunt and once again Alan Arkin!

    Latest Comments