Seven feel good films for at home viewing
I can get anxious these days, when the news continues to overwhelm and that light at the end of this tunnel can feel so distant.
When I want to feel better, I go to the movies. And, thanks to streaming, I still can, from the safety of home. Here are seven more movies that make me feel better.
American Graffiti (1973)
For me, 1973 was a most important year. Like the characters in the film - which is, actually, set in the early 1960s - I graduated from high school in a small town with the determination to go to college “out of state” and fulfill whatever potential I might have. Because communication was more limited then, saying “goodbye” to childhood friends felt like the end of a chapter. That’s why, today, reaching out to old friends can bring so much meaning. Seeing this movie, for me, is like attending a virtual reunion of the Class of ’73.
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)
Few things can frighten as much as the fear of home life changing. Any family strives to maintain a sense of stability to ensure that everyone inside feels safe and secure. But that’s not easy when life outside the home becomes impossible to predict. In the hands of Steven Spielberg, uncertainty becomes a backdrop for one child’s amazing adventure. As a young boy discovers his capacity to care, Spielberg creates a memorable journey to express the stability that we can create when we willingly share the best of ourselves.
Places in the Heart (1984)
When I was a child, I would love the smell from the stove as my grandmother fried chicken on a hot day in the South. She would whistle as she cooked, carefully frying the meal that, earlier, she let me help her flour and season. And, as she created a marvelous masterpiece, she would utter such sayings as, “that which does not kill you makes you stronger,” and other such wisdom that Southern women utter as they cook. My grandmother would love this film that teaches us that not only does challenge strengthen someone, it inspires unlikely heroes in the most unusual places.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Now and then, we all want to escape it all. And we imagine how good it would feel to return to those carefree days when, as students in high school, we could simply “fake” an illness - or convince our parents how severe we were feeling - to give ourselves a much-needed day off. How could we know, at this young age, how much we would crave the chance to one carefree day as we face the pressures of day-to-day life? John Hughes’ fantasy of friendship may be at its most relevant today when we all simply need a chance to take a day away from the world outside.
Apollo 13 (1995)
There is a scene, in this classic film, when Ed Harris tosses a collection of miscellaneous materials on a table with instructions to his coworkers to make magic when miracles are needed. For those of us of a certain age, America’s participation in the space program defined the ambitions of a generation. In the 1960s, we were told that how we innovate could enable us to dream. Today, as we dream of solutions to big problems, we must again free ourselves to innovate. At a time when we need miracles, this movie reminds us how they can happen.
The Help (2011)
Sometimes we need to be reminded how lucky we are. Despite the hard times in the world, we may be fortunate enough to have food on the table and a warm bed to sleep in. But the comforts we may experience can separate us from the real issues that others face. Only when we look at the world through others’ eyes can we truly see what the world needs. This special film reminds us that what holds people together is the belief that we can endure. “The Help” reminds us what we can achieve, together, when we commit to overcome adversity.
At a time in our world with challenges that demand real leadership, Steven Spielberg’s masterful film reveals what it takes for a leader to look beyond himself to bring out the best in his nation. With restraint and artistry, Spielberg creates a most relevant film for today by tightening his focus on Lincoln’s mind and heart and limiting the scope of his story to a defining moment in history. Because he purposely creates a small film, Spielberg tells a large story about a larger-than-life hero who was, at the same time, grounded in his beliefs.
At times like these, it’s always good to feel better. That’s one reason I go to the movies.
Stay home. Stay safe.