Tag: howards end

5 Favorite Films

So Rottentomatoes.com has a recurring feature called 5 Favorite Films where various celebrities, mostly actors, give their 5 Favorite films.   (They even had Miss Piggy do a list (Wizard of Oz is I believe a favorite of hers).  It’s harder than it sounds to whittle everything down to 5 films.  I figure it has to be 5 movies I could watch again and again (and have).   There were so many that I wanted to pick like Clueless, Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Fiddler on the Roof, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Hoosiers, Les Miserables, Juno, Talk of the Town, His Girl Friday, Sense and Sensibility but I was good and stuck to 5 so here goes.

1. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

“You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-You-Are?  You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts.  You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, ‘Ok, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.’ You call yourself a free spirt, a wild thing, and you’re terrified someone’s going to stick you in a cage.  Well, baby you’re already in that cage.  You built it yourself.  And it’s not bound by Tulip, Texas in the west or Somaliland in the east.  It’s wherever you go.  Because no matter where you go, you just keep running into yourself”

– And no, I did not google that quote. It’s one of the few lines of dialogue from a movie that I have memorized (which I think that alone has to put it on the top of my list).  I love this movie if only for that thought.  Wherever you go you eventually have to be happy with yourself.  I love this movie because of the style.  I love the just below the surface sensuality and yet innocent romance.  I love that it’s vintage postcard to New York. I love Moon River and the rest of the music.  I love Audrey Hepburn and I love the idea that nobody is a lost cause when it comes to love.

The only thing I don’t like about this movie (and I almost had to take it off the list for this reason) is Mickey Rooney’s embarrassing performance as a Japanese photographer.

2. Sound of Music

It was tough to decide which musical to pick but I figured I had to pick one of them.  The Sound of Music is definitely the best translation of musical to movie, with the movie actually being superior to the stage production.  Julie Andrews is divine. I could listen to her voice all day.  All the child actors are great and Christopher Plummer is wonderful.  If I made a movie I would want to write a part for him.  He is so good at showing nuance in a character and making someone unlikable have a tender side.

The romance between the Captain and Maria is wonderful and I love the smoldering chemistry in the ‘Something Good’ musical number.  Also, Peggy Wood’s ‘Climb Every Mountain’ is perfect and that’s a hard song to pull off.  I love seeing Salzberg and the thrilling ending at the festival.  My Favorite Things, 16 Going on 17, Do Re Mi, Sound of Music, Problem Like Maria, are all great.

3. Howards End

Maybe my more controversial choice.  A lot of people hate this movie but I loved the book and movie.  It is about a set of educated elite sisters (played by Emma Thompson and Helena Bonham Carter) who come in contact with the traditional elitist Wilcox family who own a house called Howards End.

The movie is partly about human character and how we often try to change people and how that usually leads to disaster but also about how good intentions on the part of all can lead to disaster.  There is also a larger social commentary about class struggles and how finding happiness in assigned class is typically the best kind of happiness.  Especially aspiring higher for others is noble in idea but usually awful in execution.

I love how rich this movie.  You have minor side characters that get a full story arc.  You get to feel the heart of a character like Mr. Wilcox who would normally be nothing more than a stiff aristocrat without feeling.   When Anthony Hopkins breaks down at the ruin of his son you feel wounded along with him.  He is not a bad man but money sometimes makes him appear so to others.

There is also a wonderful undercurrent of forgiveness within the movie.  As all the characters wrong each other in one way or another and all must forgive both the person and the class they come from.  I love the acting, writing, cinematography and story.  Like I said, I love the book and love the movie.

4. Up

Anyone who attended my housewarming party knows I love the movie Up.  It has my favorite opening sequence of any movie bar none.   The love story between Carl and Ellie is beautiful and told completely in an opening montage without any words spoken, just images.  I love that a character who dies in the first 5 minutes can remain an active presence throughout the film.  I love the relationships between other characters like Carl and Russell or even Russell and the animals.

I love the story, as far fetched as it might be I totally bought it as a modern day fairy tale.  I love the spirit of travel, family, friendship and adventure.  I love the end message that life is an adventure no matter where you go.   It is my current favorite movie.

The opening montage: I just watched it for like the 300th time and it made me cry all over again. (and not like a tear drop, no like all out crying.  It just does it to me every time.  I love this movie!)

5. The Little Mermaid

I figured I had to pick one movie that influenced me a child and there is no debate about this.  It is Little Mermaid for sure.  The only other candidate might have been Beauty and the Beast but Little Mermaid came out first so it influenced me earlier.  I LOVED the music.  The idea of the young girl who doesn’t quite fit in totally spoke to me.  My sister and I used to sing ‘Part of Your World’ at night with both of us contending that ‘I sound the most like Ariel’.  (I totally did…).  Jodi Benson is amazing as Ariel’s voice.  She set the standard for Disney animation to come.

It is also funny with Sebastian the crab and Scuttle the bird providing great comic relief.  ‘Les Poissons’ fish stew/crab hunting song being a particular favorite that still makes me laugh.  (I’m sorry if you start that song with any American girl of my age they will join right in).  Ursula is also one of the best villains Disney has ever created.  Sounding like a cigarette smoking grandma her song ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ is definitely one of those most delicious evil songs ever written.  (I love the villain in Tangled also).  She works because she’s plenty scary without being too real for little kids (The Rescuers for instance was a little too real with wicked people kidnapping children…Not exactly something great for most kids to see).

I think it is great that they could make hand drawn animation without 3D and it is as good if not better than most of the animated work put out today with all those helps.  It will always be a favorite movie of mine. It also celebrates the ocean (Maybe that’s where I got my love of the ocean and water!)

Oh and Eric is definitely one of the most dreamy, well developed Prince’s in the Disney cannon.

So there are my 5.  What would you pick?  Please share.


Howards End

Howards End

Feeling some Downton Abbey withdrawals?  Here is a recommendation to see you through until the next BBC adaptation of Great Expectations comes in April!

Howards End by E.M. Forster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love both the movie and now the book. In fact, the movie is pretty much a perfect staging of the book, so if you like the movie you will probably like this.

It might sound odd but one of the things I love about this story is its reassurance that there is a potential for good in all of us- the rich, the poor, the educated etc. There are no villains or heroes in this story. Everyone wants to be good and lead a good life. If society, philosophy, business, or family pressures push them away from their good intentions- isn’t it still comforting to know that those intentions exist? I love Helen’s insistence that Mr. Bast not give up his “I am” for in giving this up he would be giving up his existence. She could not let humanity whittle him down. I also admire Margaret for finding the humanity in Mr. Wilcox. This is I am sure the same essential part of him that Mrs. Wilcox found and it probably allowed her to love such an imperfect man.

I love that I love every character in this story and yet I hate them all at the same time. Isn’t that the way real human beings are? Don’t we all have noble and evil in us? I believe that by ending the novel the way Forster does he concludes that a peaceful medium is obtained by most of us in life (this is symbolized by Howards End- which seems to be thrown about just like the characters- in between London and Oberton for most of the book). He is saying that the greatest peace comes from reconciling our place in the world, our right to be, and the rights of those around us to be happy with what God has given them.

The characters are particularly impressive in Howards End because so many are dynamic and interesting.  When you have a supporting character like Mr. Bast getting an entire story arc you know good writing is taking place.  In fact, it is hard to think of an accessory character in the whole story.  Everyone is studied and pondered upon.

The novel also deals with the concept of saving. Mrs. Wilcox tries to save Margaret by giving her Howards End, Margaret tries to save Henry through love, Margaret and Helen both try and save each other and certainly Helen tries to save the Basts. In the end, goodness, hope and loyalty save all and provide all with wisdom, self awareness and comfort.

My only fault with the book is I wish there had been one religious character. As comforting as philosophy and literature can be I find they fall short in satisfying eternal meanings in life. A religious character would have at least demonstrated a contrast.  I admit this desire is partly egotistical. There is something validating about reading characters that see the world like you do (a sensation I so rarely have)  and it is comforting to hear your voice coming out of any text.  On the other hand, we can learn more about ourselves through opposing points of view.  Still, in a book claiming to touch on every sphere in society it would seem that religion might factor more or less into one of those spheres.
I love A Room with a View but I like Howards End even more. RWV tells us that finding our inner-self comes from looking out of our sphere of influence- from embracing adventure and romance with all the lusts and philosophies that accompany such passions. It tells us that finding our match brings perfect completeness; whereas, Howards Ends says that finding the humanity in all people including ourselves makes us fully human. I LOVE this book!

View all my reviews

The movie is just amazing.  With such nuanced performances from Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter and Anthony Hopkins.  Plus, its gorgeously shot by the Merchant/Ivory production.  If you are having a Downton Abbey withdrawal rent this wonderful film.

Gosford Park is another winner, written by Juliian Fellows who also writes Downton Abbey