Autumn Heartwarmers

by Ashley Choudry

As the seasons change, the temperature drops, and the rain sets in, many of us tend to stay in on a night and gather round the fire to watch TV or a film. This month I invite you to watch four films that will warm your heart to the core, and keep you entertained through some of the cold days of Autumn. These are great films to watch with your family, with your partner, or even by yourself. For pure enjoyment, comedy or drama, these are some of the pick of the bunch. Three of the films also deal with very realistic and relatable themes.

We start with the film that was possibly the most well received of the four, Captain Fantastic (2016).

Led by Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Green Book) this comedy-drama centres on a family forced by extremely difficult circumstances to try and reintegrate themselves back into society after a decade of isolation. After the departure of their mother, a father (Ben Cash) battles to keep his children with him through vicious opposition from their grandparents over the way he and his wife have chosen to raise them (in the wilderness, away from technology). Ben endures to prove to both his in-laws and himself that he is a good father and knows & does what’s best for his children.  It is an epitome of what most parents begin to wonder about their roles at some point in their lives and is therefore a highly polished and relatable film (as noted by various critics), which makes it all the more enjoyable and profound.

If that isn’t enough to reel you in, then how about some facts? The film received a rapturous 10-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival debut, as well as winning several audience awards. In addition, Mortensen himself was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.

Find out more about the story through watching the trailer in the link below and loan the film now in the Library:

From a family drama to one for the older generation perhaps, next on the list is, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011).

Featuring an ensemble cast, basically formed from the best of British talent in decades gone by, including; Dame Judi Dench (James Bond), Dame Maggie Smith (Harry Potter, Downton Abbey), Dame Penelope Wilton (Calendar Girls, Shaun of the Dead), Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire); this endearing comedy was a surprise box office success (and not simply with the older generation either). It sees a group of pensioners whom mostly have no knowledge of each other all decide upon moving to India, to live in a retirement hotel run by Sonny (Patel). Presented as a beautifully stylish villa, it is far from what they expected once they arrive, yet rather quaint once you get used to it.

As the runtime goes on we see the guests form firm friendships and even relationships as they come to the realization of getting older and habituating themselves within a new country & way of life. Overall, this film presents a sweet, funny story of having fun and beginning anew even at a later stage in your life. So good it even gained a sequel released in 2015, journey to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel now on DVD in the Library.

Click on the link below for a snippet of what’s to come; though it takes place outside of the titular hotel, it exemplifies seamlessly the heart and humour of the film:

One of the films the previous entry battled against at the box office was the outstanding Scorsese feature, Hugo (2011).

A far cry from Scorsese’s usual long drawn crime drama’s, this is much more of an adventure piece. Perfect for aspiring filmmakers and film students in general, it is the only entry of the month directly inspired by true events and a historical figure, George Méliès. Méliès was a pioneering filmmaker in the very early days of cinema, becoming one of the first to use storyboards and was known for directing some important early science fiction films. While key to the film, he is not the original focus however, that honour goes to the title character Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield).

In Paris 1931, Hugo’s father has passed away and his errant uncle (now his guardian) goes missing. With no parental supervision, Hugo sets out on a journey to complete the repair of a broken automaton (found by his dad, and originally worked on by the two of them), which he believes holds a message left for him from his late father and needs a key to unlock it, all while trying to avoid the authorities (Sacha Baron Cohen’s inept policeman) finding out he is without supervision. On his travels, Hugo meets the mysterious young girl Isabelle (played by the rising young actress Chloë Grace Moretz), who endeavours to help him on his quest. What ensues is a wonderous and incredible story of discovery.

While a box-office failure, Hugo was a huge hit with critics everywhere, receiving no less than 11 Oscar nominations (the most of any film that year). What makes it so endearing to critics however, is its underlying theme, the history of cinema. You see, this film is swansong to both the rise of cinema and the work of George Méliès, making it the perfect viewing for any and all film students or buffs. Even if you are not a fan of the director’s usual style, this entry remains one to watch, as well-known critic Roger Ebert states it is “unlike any other film Martin Scorsese has ever made, yet possibly the closest to his heart.”

You can loan this wonderful homage on DVD in the Library or view on e-stream now, catch a glimpse of the magic in the clip below:

Well we’ve come to the final entry for this month, and when it comes to heart-warming films, I like to think I’ve saved the absolute best for last. That entry being, Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder (2017), based on a 2012 book of the same name by R. J. Palacio. The book itself was inspired by a real-life experience of Palacio’s, of the public reaction to a young boy with Treacher Collins syndrome (a medical condition characterized by deformities of several facial features, which can vary from mild to severe).

In this incredibly touching feature, that boy is 10-year old August (Augie) Pullman; living in Brooklyn, New York; who prior to the events of the film, has endured 27 surgeries in order to see, smell and speak clearly. The film commences with Augie starting prep school (primary school for us Brits), having previously been home-schooled due to his condition. Unsurprisingly he is widely ostracized at first, being relentlessly bullied by one particular group and ignored by the rest, his experiences do however start to change once he gains his first friend. What follows is an awe-inspiring narrative of one boy’s struggle to be recognized, acknowledged, and his steady rise from being an outcast for his looks to being beloved for his courage.

Starring the accomplished Julia Roberts (Erin Brockovich, Pretty Woman), Owen Wilson (Marley & Me) and the impressive Jacob Tremblay as Augie, this is the type of truly breath taking, gut-wrenching, beautiful film that will warm you right to the core. While criticized by some for having Augie portrayed by an actor who does not share his condition, the film itself was nominated for almost as many hair & make-up awards as it was acting, which shows just how accurately the condition was depicted. If all that was not enough evidence of this entries’ credentials as a true heartwarmer, then how about the detail that it won the ‘Truly Moving Picture’ award at the Heartland Film Festival in 2017. Wonder is available exclusively on e-stream, with the added benefit that you can watch it anytime, anywhere! All thanks to the Library Services. Catch an insight into the centre of this spectacle in the link below, showcasing a clip of Augie making his first friend in prep school.

So, if you need something to warm you through these increasingly colder nights, look no further than the Library or e-stream, these four features are the perfect films to see you through. They’re also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our ever-expanding collection. Discover more in next months blog…

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