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Recommendation: Waitress, August Rush

May 25, 2009

It wasn’t a conscious choice to do two movies per recommendation post (the previous post about Role Models being the noteable exception), but I think it’s worked out well.

This pair has two things in common, they’re both a little bit difficult to watch (the character’s struggle against great odds to get where they want to go) and they both have Keri Russell in them.  Seemed a good enough connection to me.

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Title: Waitress

[Rent this from Blockbuster.com, Rent this from Netflix]

Summary: Waitress follows the story of Jenna Hunterson (Keri Russell), a waitress in the south with a mean husband (Jeremy Sisto) and an amazing talent for baking pies. When she finds out that her husband got her pregnant–thereby spoiling her plans to escape from him and her simple and often frustrating life–she’s at a loss for what to do, until her unlikely relationship with the new doctor in town (Nathan Fillion) opens up new avenues of hope and possibility in her life.

Genre: drama, uplifting, overcoming hardship

Audience: This movie deals with some sticky subjects, including unwatned pregnancy, infidelity (uncharacteristically unrelated to the unwanted pregnancy), mental and physical abuse, and divorce.  If those are topics with which you are uncomfortable, I would advise that this movie is not for you.

Occasion: In the mood for a “thinky” movie, one that will leave you thoughtful and philosophic at the end of it.  Not a good party movie.

Watch every minute? Yes.  Really.  Even if you want to turn it off, watch the whole thing, becuase the last ten minutes really make the whole movie worth it.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: Doesn’t really matter.

Why I liked it: I originally wanted to see this movie because Nathan Fillion is in it, and, as some of you may know, he was one of the main characters in a short-lived show called “Firefly.” (If you’re a sci-fi or a western fan at all, I highly recommend the show, but that’s a topic for another post, possibly on another blog.)  Once the actors of that show scattered to the wind, I’ve tried to see everything that they’ve been in, as they’re all very talented.  All I really knew about the movie, going in, was that Nathan Fillion was a romantic lead.  That was enough for me to  say, “Sign me up!”

But Waitress isn’t a romantic comedy, or even a very romantic movie.  And to say that Nathan Fillion has a romantic role in it should really just be a footnote.  In truth, it’s the story of a young woman and her struggle to improve her truly unhappy situation in life.  Her relationship with Nathan Fillion’s character is just another bend in the road that leads her toward her goal.

Often, when one goes into a movie expecting one thing and gets something completely different, she is disappointed.  But this movie was far too compelling to be disappointing.  It draws you in an makes you care about this woman and her situation.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: I love this movie, and own it, and have watched it several times, but most people will probably only want to watch it once.  It takes you on quite the emotional roller coaster.

If you liked…: The Pursuit of Happyness, Slumdog Millionaire, August Rush.

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Title:August Rush
[Rent this movie from blockbuster.com; Rent this from Netflix.com]

Summary: Evan (Freddie Highmore), a quiet boy, growing up in an orphanage, has an inherent gift for music. Despite eleven years at the orphanage, he is convinced that his parents (Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) always wanted him, and that the key to finding them is in the music.

Following the music, Evan runs away from the only home he’s ever known, in search of parents he’s never met. It’s a winding, sometimes dark, and often dangerous road on which he embarks, with only his hope and his pure belief that his family will find him. [Watch the trailer.]

Genre: drama, urban fairy tale, uplifting

Audience: Anyone with the ability to suspend disbelief for a few hours and enjoy beautiful people, beautiful music, and beautiful scene work. People very involved in music may not be able to suspend disbelief as

Occasion: This is a good one if you’re in the mood for a thought-provoking, possibly tear-inducing movie with a few dark turns that should leave you smiling at the end. Not a good party movie.

Watch every minute?Yes.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: Shouldn’t matter.

Why I liked it: When I was thinking about recommending this movie, I was a little hard-pressed to explain why I liked it as much as I do. Of course, I’m a sucker for the movies that have you smiling through your tears, so that’s a big reason, but why would I recommend it to others?

So I watched it again, and the biggest thing that makes me want to share this movie with other people is the way it suffuses you with hope. That, and the music (and the sight of Keri Russell playing a cello, which is just hot). The music is stunning. [Preview the soundtrack at fye.com]

As one user (“askjudyww“) on imdb.com said, “This is an urban fairy tale. If you [see August Rush] with the intention of poking holes in it, you can find little glitches and logic flaws. On the other hand, if you are looking for a movie that will sing to your soul (and show you some beautiful eye candy as a bonus), look no farther. The casting director and cinematographer should each get an award. This gem of a movie takes us on a journey, and the people we meet along the way are well worth the ticket price.

“A trio of beautiful performances form the heart of this film, although the secondary characters are also crisply compelling. A day after seeing it, I find that specific shots of their faces still glow in mind like pieces of a mosaic. And the music is a genuine addition, as it should be in a film of this kind. I was genuinely moved.”

It was from this comment that I pulled the genre term “urban fairy tale” and I couldn’t agree more with the beautiful way askjudyww describes the movie. I hope you’ll give this one a chance.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: There are aspects of this movie that get stuck in my head, that make me want to share it with others. I will own it; I will watch it many times. I highly recommend you consider it yourself.

If you liked…: PS, I Love You, Waitress, The Pursuit of Happyness


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