1. 13 Minutes
"13 Minutes" is what "Valkyrie" should have been. Now, I say this not to put "Valkyrie" down. I thought it was an excellent, dramatic, and action packed movie. Besides the fact that everyone in the film has a German accent except Tom Cruise, I can't remember having many negative things to say about it. Where "13 Minutes" triumphs, is the point of view from which the story is told. We see the world through the eyes of a poor, ethnic German who has decided to confront the evil around him. Using a bomb, he attempts to assassinate Hitler. He is eventually caught by the Gestapo and pays the ultimate price, but his bravery remains a story of inspiration and one worthy of being told to all those who doubt the ability of one person to make a difference in this world.
2. Our Loved Ones
Suicide comes with more ambiguity than we human beings can fathom. "Our Loved Ones" shows the unanswerable questions better than any film I have ever seen. If you know my story, then you know this film was a difficult one for me. Being confronted with suicide always brings up awful memories, but it was comforting to watch people wrestle with big issues just as I have. I could see myself in the characters. I had asked those questions. I had stared into the abyss and come up empty over and over again. The relief the film offers is the relief all who have lost someone in this manner find; we find it in life. We recognize the value in our lives through our simple act of living. For bringing this example to the forefront of my mind once again, I am thankful for this piece of cinema.
3. Holding the Man
We often owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those brave souls who came before us. Their actions paved the way for our future success. This is true of any movement focused on civil rights. "Holding the Man" focuses on two men who fall in love in the mid 70's. As their relationship blossoms, they defend themselves against close minded parents, a society that doesn't understand, the AIDS crisis, and the normal rigors of any partnership. As the credits rolled, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn't help, but look at my partner and thank those who came before us. We've never had to defend our relationship with anyone. In this brave new world, I hope we never will.
4. Sleeping Giant
Your formal education may have occurred during the school year, but every kid I knew truly grew as a person during the summer and "Sleeping Giant" proves it. In the same manner as the three boys at the heart of this film, summer was a time to be with your friends, often unsupervised. It was when you tested your limits, experimented, and succumbed to peer pressure. In those three months, you became something new... something different. While our consequences and actions were rarely as severe as those portrayed in this film, our change was no less dramatic. For all of these reasons and many more, I cannot recommend this film enough.
Right now, I want you to think about your husband, wife, or partner. Try as hard as you can to vividly picture them in your mind. Now, imagine that society didn't allow you two to be together. With that thought in mind, you are prepared for the gripping drama of "Summertime." The film focuses on two French women in the early 70's during the Women's Liberation Movement who fall in love. When one of the women is forced to move back home to her small village, the drama begins. Their secret love is tested in real ways. You, as an audience member, are left to wonder what it will take for these two to be together. Will love triumph or will the pressures of a normal life rule the day? For the answers to those questions, don't look to me. Rather, see this amazing film.
Be good to each other,