The hopeful, vulnerable face of the six-year-old Russian boy in The Italian, and his moving journey from an orphanage to maybe a real family and home (Detroit Film Theatre and Michigan Theater).
The innocence and nostalgia of Flipper, along with the memorable theme song and the beautiful color outdoor photography of the Florida Keys (Redford Theatre).
The powerful, tragic drama of The Painted Veil, and the beautiful performances of Naomi Watts and Edward Norton as they found new meaning in their marriage (Michigan).
The incredible vulgarity shown in The Rape of Europa by the Nazis who destroyed great works of art, along with the many lives they ended. And the heroic, courageous efforts to protect that art (DFT and Michigan).
The two different images of female beauty (and acting styles) shown by Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe in Monkey Business. And the pure silliness of the adults whenever they drank the youth potion (Redford).
The gradual awakening of Ulrich Mühe to the oppression of life in Communist East Germany in The Lives of Others, a well-deserved pick as Oscar’s best foreign language film of 2006. And the cold horror of a young woman in Nazi-era Germany accepting (along with her friends and family) the reality of her execution in Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Michigan).
The uneasiness and fascination of watching a man learn surprising things about his parents in 51 Birch Street (DFT).
A packed house at the Redford at 12:15 a.m., as we all got swept along by the powerful climax of Gone with the Wind. It was the awesome power of old Hollywood, in a theater that preserves that era.
The parade of Tuesday night classics at the Michigan during the summer. A highlight was Frank Sinatra belting out “The Lady is a Tramp” to Rita Hayworth in Pal Joey.
The bright sunshine of a warm summer day as I walked out of another fun Saturday afternoon double feature of science fiction movies at the DFT. And the kid-friendly food that was served between movies in the Crystal Gallery Cafe.
The explosion of cheering when King Kong pounded his chest following a triumphant battle with a prehistoric monster (Redford).
The space age trilogy at the Michigan of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, In the Shadow of the Moon, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It showed the powerful effects of fact and fiction on each other during the space exploration of the 1960s and 1970s.
The delightful fun of the family-oriented Swiss-German Vitus, which I’m sure will be remade in English. And on the same evening, the sobering realism of Our Daily Bread, which (with no narrative and no music) described the food-making process, including graphic images of how meat is made (DFT).
Ol’ Blue Eyes
The different images of Frank Sinatra, from all stages of his movie career. The white-suited crooner in Till the Clouds Roll By (Redford). The romantic sailor in On the Town (Redford). The night club tough guy in Pal Joey (Michigan). The heroic soldier in Von Ryan’s Express (Redford).
The epic brilliance of War and Peace, especially the battle scenes, with their sweeping helicopter shots of thousands of live soldiers. It was overwhelming just thinking about how that scene was directed (DFT).
The grand fun of Oliver!, with its energetic music and dancing. As I watched this 1968 film that won the Best Picture Oscar, I felt like I was seeing an era of movie musicals end (Redford).
The stunned, silent atmosphere that followed the final scenes of My Kid Could Paint That, after the audience had experienced many stages in the emotional life of a family (DFT and Michigan).
The heartbreaking humanity of the final scene of Lights in the Dusk, as two lonely, worn-down people connect (DFT).
The joyful jingling of bells by children every time the word “angel” was mentioned in It’s a Wonderful Life (Redford). And the appearance of Ann Arbor’s Virginia Patton in a pivotal role in the same movie (Michigan).
And the thought that all of this still awaited movie fans at this time last year. May 2008 be just as great.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.