The Princess Bride (1987). Sometimes you just want to spend a pleasant evening being entertained with the person you most enjoy sending time with. There’s no better way to spend that time than with The Princess Bride. An adorable and damn near perfect little movie.
Ghostbusters (2016). It rained on the vacation day The Beloved Spouse™ and I were to go to the Kentucky Horse park, so we found a theater and saw the Ghostbusters remake that unfortunately made most of its pre-release news because of how men dissed it in online reviews. A shame, too, because the movie is funny and well done. Not as funny as theoriginal, but that was brand new and this time we knew what to expect. Kristin Wiig never disappoints, Kate MacKinnon and Leslie Jones are going to be around for a long time, and even Melissa McCarthy—whom I can generally live without as the female Jim Carrey—was good. The movie paid just enough homage to its predecessor and was great fun. Now we’ll see if the sequel can avoid the pitfalls of Ghostbusters 2.
L.A. Confidential (1997). Maybe the most perfectly constructed crime story ever, or at leastsince Chinatown. Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson cobble together a fascinating story from a glorious mess of a book to create a completely satisfying experience; their shared Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published was richly deserved. Their efforts are helped greatly by an all-star cast at the top of their games, including Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger (Oscar for best Supporting Actress), Danny DeVito, David Straithairn, and—a true revelation right after his turn as a farmer in Babe—James Cromwell as the gleefully evil Dudley Smith.
The Insider (1999). A wonderful film in the expose vein mined so well by All the Presidents Men, Spotlight, and Quiz Show. Russell Crowe plays a tobacco executive overcome with conscience and Al Pacino the 60 Minutes producer who brings him both in from and out into the cold at the same time. Michael Mann is the director Quentin Tarantino should want to be, always leaving his mark on movie without being a hack about it. His turn as Mike Wallace is my favorite Christopher Plummer performance. Highly recommended.
A Rather English Marriage (1998). I have no idea what prompted my father to add this to his Netflix queue. Neither did he. A quirky little BBC adaptation of an Angela Lambert novel featuring outstanding performances by Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay as a bit of a British odd couple thrust together after their wives die on the same day in the same hospital. Watching the two of them take different routes in coping with their losses is never cliché, even when a reluctant gold digger (Joanna Lumley) complicates matters. Understated, offbeat, and thoroughly enjoyable.
A Walk in the Woods (2015). This has been our week to watch laid-back movies, and we picked two winners. Robert Redford stars as travel writer Bill Bryson, who gets a bug up his ass late in life to hike the Appalachian Trail. Everyone thinks he’s nuts except for an old friend he’s lost contact with who’s up for the challenge. (Nick Nolte, looking like his character in Down and Out in Beverly Hills thirty years later.) Dry humor abounds to keep a sweet movie from becoming sappy. An excellent supporting cast, including Emma Thompson, Mary Steenburgen, and Kristin Schaal (from The Daily Show) provides for no wasted scenes. L.A. Confidential and The Insider will keep you on the edge of your seat. A Walk in the Woods allows you to settle back and enjoy two old friends rediscovering their friendship.