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THE MOVIE GUY — Movies you might have missed.

 

The Coronavirus is forcing Hollywood to take a sabbatical, meaning that there won’t be any new movies to see until May, at the earliest.

You shouldn’t be going out to the theater, but watching movies at home is perfectly fine. If there’s a silver lining to this crisis, perhaps it’s that movie fans will get a chance to catch up on their movie watch list. With that in mind, allow me to suggest some of the best films from last year that you might have missed.

2019 was filled with some wonderfully feel-good movies that had music as their center.

Perhaps my favorite is Wild Rosethe story of a recently paroled Scottish woman who embarks on an improbable country music career. Newcomer Jessie Buckley shines thanks to solid acting and superb singing. I saw this film months ago, but I still find the haunting song “Glasgow” echoing in my head all this time later.

Another favorite is Hearts Beat Loudthe story of a father who starts a band with his daughter just as she’s getting ready to leave for college. Online success complicates their relationship in this fun family drama that’s also a story of rock stardom dreams.

Yesterday and Blinded by the Light played in our local theaters, but they weren’t widely seen. Both films are a lot of fun, especially for fans of the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen. Appealing to classic rock fans is the documentary, Echo in the Canyon, which explores the explosion of pop music that came out Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s. With performances and interviews with Tom Petty, Brian Wilson, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, Beck, Fiona Apple, Nora Jones and more, this is a fascinating look at music history.

Speaking of documentaries, there are several that you might want to check out. Apollo 11 obviously delves into America’s space program with never-seen-before footage that is both visually stunning and emotionally rousing. Down on earth we have The Biggest Little Farm, the story of a young couple that decides to start an ecologically balanced farm — it’s a siren call to anybody who has ever felt the need to quit the rat race and get back in communion with nature.

For something with some more emotional fireworks, look at For Sama and The Cave. Both are harrowing, foreign language looks at the brave men and women running hospitals while under siege in Syria. These are shocking, cinematic gut-punches, and two of the best documentaries from last year.

If Parasite proved that American audiences would watch foreign language films, then I have several other great films to recommend. At the top of my list is Portrait of a Lady on Firea visually stunning tale of forbidden love in France in the 1700s. Also, acclaimed filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar reteams with Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory, the story of a Spanish filmmaker examining his past in search for meaning in his art.

Those are both very serious, so here is some lighter foreign fare. Tel Aviv on Fire tells the story of a lowly Palestinian writer who finds success at a popular soap opera when he takes advice from the commander at the Israeli security checkpoint. I am also a big fan of Ash is Purest White, a tragicomedy about a woman who watches her life rise thanks to her gangster-boyfriend, and then fall apart when she goes to prison for him. This was almost on my list of top 10 films of the year.

Finally, a fun little indie gem, Brittany Runs a Marathon, is the charming story of an average young woman who decides to get her life in order as she trains to run a marathon. Jillian Bell stars in this delightful comedy.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.

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