For Friday: 6 Movies Every Human Being Needs To See

July 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s movies again this week.  In particular, not summer blockbuster fare.  More specifcally, a few movies that help show us what it means to be human, and reflect back to us our selves – good and bad, courageous and fearful, honorable and less so.  One in the theater, five available on DVD.

The catalyst?  “Fruitvale Station,” which opens today.  The film won the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  It tells the true story of 22-year-old San Francisco Bay Area resident Oscar Grant, who “wakes up on the morning December 31, 2008 and feels something is in the air.”  New York Magazine’s David Edelstein says “It will rock your world.”  In his New York Times review, A.O. Scott voices the tough questions this film asks: “How could this have happened?  How did we – meaning any one of us who might see faces like our own depicted on that screen – allow it?”  A must-see this weekend.

Fruitvale Station

Next, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the classic film based on the class novel by Harper Lee.  The performances, especially that of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, tug at the heart and mind.  This is a fine movie, in the highest sense of the word, showing us what it means to be tolerant, compassionate, wise and courageous.

To Kill a Mockinbird

Third, “12 Angry Men.”  Another classic, black-and-white film with outstanding performances, this time anchored by the legendary Henry Fonda.  “12 Angry Men” teaches how to build consensus among a group of people with differing backgrounds, biases, viewpoints and personalities.  “In 2007, 12 Angry Men was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’.”

12 Angry Men b

The next three belong to Steven Spielberg, who I believe has become the historical filmmaker of our time.  And I think we need one.  Someone who documents history, reminding us (because we need to be reminded), and in some cases teaching us, about what has taken place.  “Schindler’s List” and “Amistad,” so that we never forget – about The Holocaust and about the history of slavery in this country – so that they never happen again.  “Lincoln,” so that we understand the insight, strength, cunning and politicking required of one of the greatest U.S. presidents, in order to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (abolishing slavery) and to end the Civil War.  All three warrant repeated viewing, on occasion, so that we don’t forget.

Schindler's List


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