Growing up as a t.v. kid in the ’80s and ’90s meant that God-movies were shown during Christian holidays. Because I had satellite television, I could watch commercial-free, four-hour Bible movies. It was an exciting time.
Easter, perhaps unsurprisingly, was the BINGO of holidays for the viewing of Bible movies. I had my choice of HBO’s conservative programming (hard to imagine but true back then) and Cinemax’s more scintillating line-up. It was The Ten Commandments versus The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told versus Quo Vadis, Ben-Hur versus The Last Temptation of Christ.
I kind of love the The Robe—it has everything: a trial, excessive drinking, nightmares, a cursed object, and Richard Burton.
What most of these movies have in common, besides actor Charlton Heston, is that they are epic films. I mean that in the classic sense of heroic characters and big spectacle cinematography. They also have average running times of 2.5–3 hours. Some of the films mentioned above, when being shown on satellite cable, had an actual curtained intermission to give viewers time for a bathroom/snack break.
This meandering discussion of Bible movies is my way of introducing an ‘intermission’ into our regular scheduled programming.
I was sick with a gross cold last week and the few hours I spent between napping and bemoaning my sore sinuses were spent watching movies. My go-to default movie genres (especially when sick at home with a cold) is Westerns and Horrors, but I also managed to fit in a few Comedy-Dramas. Warning: nothing in this list requires too much brain power or concentration to get through.
The Homesman (2014, Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank)
Not a typical Western per se but it filled my requirements. Has the extra bonus of being about the transport of three women gone crazy by harsh frontier life. Felt a little disjointed at points; it’s a serious movie that has odd bits of comedy that don’t successfully meld into the overall structure. I think that may have to do with the fact that it’s a film based on a book and while I can see the quirkiness working in written form it wasn’t quite right for the film version. 3/5
Mystery Road (2013, Aaron Pedersen, Hugo Weaving)
A thriller about an Aboriginal detective investigating the murder of a young girl in the Australian Outback. I wanted this movie to be better than it was. The acting was good, the story fell short. Worth a watch if only to hear Agent Smith and Jason Stackhouse in their native accents. 2.5/5
Moonrise Kingdom (2012, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward)
Wes Anderson movie. 5/5
Quartet (2012, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Billy Connolly)
Old fart movie about a home for retired musicians centering around their annual concert to raise cash to keep the home going. Very sweet. I’d like to live there, like right now. 3.5/5
Red Dawn (2012, Chris Hemsworth)
Saddo remake of a not-so-great original that had teenagers saving their town from invading Soviets. The remake has teenagers saving their town from North Korea. At least the original featured Patrick Swayze and Powers Boothe. 0/5
Pitch Perfect (2012, Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson)
I not-so-secretly like this movie and being sick was a good excuse to re-watch it. Singing a cappella saves lives. Plus Rebel Wilson! I don’t love the Jewish jokes—is it a prerequisite to work one into every Comedy ever made? 4/5
God’s Pocket (2014, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins)
Name a Philip Seymour Hoffman movie that doesn’t feature him in an uncomfortable sex scene (bare bum optional). I guess it’s the nature of the characters he gravitated toward; sort of losers in difficult situations. This movie didn’t blow me away. I enjoyed it but I could have also instead taken a nap. I do, however, appreciate Richard Jenkins and he delivers, as usual. 3/5
Blue Ruin (2013, Macon Blair)
Great vengeance movie. I had heard about the independent film when it was first released and winning a bunch of awards. I meant to watch it when it went on circuit but for whatever reason missed it. Netflix finally rewarded me. This isn’t your typical Charles Bronson-style revenge saga, so be prepared for grim realism in an art house package. My kind of movie. 5/5
Perfect Stranger (2007, Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi)
Bruce Willis is wooden as ever, Giovanni Ribisi plays a perv, and Halle Berry perfects her dimpled smile. Not as awful as I thought it would be. This is a thriller about a reporter (Berry) investigating the death of her childhood friend. It’s also about the perils of online dating. Or the perils of message board trolling. Or, something. Maybe I fell asleep and missed the good parts? 2/5
Friday the 13th (2009, Jared Padalecki)
Remakes are never good 85% of the time (I reserve the other 15% for various incarnations of Miss Marple, although Joan Hickson will be my forever favourite). And in the case of Friday the 13th I can positively say that this remake is never good 100% of the watching time. Typical slasher movie missing all of the build-up to terror. How is that even scary? It’s not. And that’s the saddest story ever told. 0/5