Cultural Literacy: The Movies, Part 1

Having guests over often requires some shared time with certain movies. There were a few that we were able to watch with our guests last week, and that led me to think about listing some of the movies that Diane and I would likely check to see whether you were familiar with them. These are some of the movies we might insist on sharing if you dropped in for a visit.

Shakespeare in Love (Miramax Collector's Series) Shakespeare in Love : Tom Stoppard co-wrote the screenplay for this one, and it is quite a gift. There is lively dialog that is accessible to geeks like myself, while still offering something for sophisticates, too. We saw this first in its run in the theaters with Professor Jeanette Ridgway, whose field is Shakespeare, and she liked it, too. This is an R-rated film that includes some nudity and sexual situations. If you are prudish, this may bother you some. If you have kids with you when you come to visit, we’ll likely defer screening it until the kids are put to bed. The setting is London in the 1590s, where William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is trying to overcome writer’s block by finding his muse. On the spot for a comedy, “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter”, Shakespeare finds himself drawn to Viola de Lessops (Gwyneth Paltrow), a merchant’s daughter who is set for an arranged marriage to a broke nobleman. Viola also has a thing for the theater, and wants to get more involved. The Master of the Revels, though, is serious about keeping the ban on female actors enforced. Eventually, the show does go on, and the miracle lies in the playing of it.

Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures : This claymation animated pair of characters is terrific stuff, and you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy it. Wallace is a British eccentric with a passion for do-it-yourself inventions and cheese. Gromit is his faithful and exceedingly talented dog. Gromit doesn’t talk, but he sure communicates with the audience. These three shorts have our heroes going to the moon to solve the problem of a cheese shortage at home and where to take a holiday in one fell swoop; closing down a sheep rustling ring; and foiling the nefarious plot of a penguin cat-burglar.

The Princess Bride (Special Edition) The Princess Bride : This Rob Reiner film didn’t make a big splash at the box office, probably because nobody had a clue how to market it. But if you have any appreciation for self-conscious fantasy, or even just the sort of stories that you would have appreciated having your grandfather read to you as a kid, give this a try. William Goldman’s screenplay has plenty of funny and snappy repartee, and there’s action enough here with a couple of swordfights tossed in. It’s got “pirates, monsters, swordfights, honor, revenge, and true love”, so settle in on the couch and enjoy it. I always get a kick out of hearing, “No one would ever surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.”

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

One thought on “Cultural Literacy: The Movies, Part 1

  • 2006/05/29 at 9:58 am
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    I’ve seen the lot.Admittedly, ‘Princess Bride’ was ages ago, but they’re all good watch together films. ‘The wrong trousers’ is the best of the Wallace & Gromit films.

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