Discover These Movies: 2004

Check out these movies next time you’re home alone on a Friday night, enjoying the quiet break from a busy week.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Though this title is quite the mouthful, don’t you dare let it distract you from the incredible duet of performances by Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey.  Based on the idea of an Alexander Pope poem, cinema matches an odd couple who stagger between blissful happiness and deep hopelessness in the romantic drama about mind-erasing.  When a relationship becomes emotionally intimate, Clementine undergoes a psychological process to erase all memory of her tender boyfriend, Joel. In desperation, Joel opts for the same procedure, offering love a chance to hang suspended between time and consciousness. Directed by Michel Gondry, the believable relationship takes you on a journey lasting 108 minutes.

The Chorus -Perhaps the most endearing foreign film of the year, this French indie invites the audience to get inside the life of a boy’s boarding school when a new music teacher disrupts the previously prudish aura. Through a mixture of discipline and motivation, the young boys are given an opportunity to choose a better quality of life. Through their instruction, the viewer is gentle and sensibly invited into the microscopic world of preserving childish tenderness. Directed by Christophe Barratier, this precious film offers a beautiful indulgence for both the visual and auditory senses.

Something the Lord Made – Harry Potter fans will find a familiar face in the original TV movie starring Brit Alan Rickman. The veteran actor dons a much less frightening role as a Caucasian Alfred Blalock, heart surgeon, making history in 1941 America. In courageous defiance of Jim Crow segregation laws, not to mention the weight of social custom, the doctor bans with a gifted African-American mechanic as they research, test, and perform the first bypass surgery on the infamous “Blue Babies” of the era. Joseph Sargent directs this film which is sure to interest more than history buffs and medical students.

Coffee and Cigarettes – Though I first saw this as a short stage scene acted between two good friends, the filmed series of vignettes is no less entertaining. This comedy sports a wide cast, including Roberto Benigni, Cate Blanchett, and Steven Wright.  The common denominator in these varying displays of obsession and addiction is the conversation aids: coffee and cigarettes. Here’s a quote to whet your palette…  “Alfred: He’s a very committed environmentalist.  Steve: Spike Jonze is a tree hugger? Jesus, I never would’ve had him down as that. Alfred: Well… I think he prefers the term ‘leaf people.’”

Sideways – Developing a new sensitivity for wine, as well as life, Jack embarks on a California vacation with his good buddy, Mike (played by Paul Giamatti).  In a remarkable bachelor experience, the men portray a human experience of midlife disappointment that is both cautionary and cathartic. Described as a “vintage comedy,” viewers will appreciate this honest prenuptial journey directed by Alexander Payne.